Objectives: To identify, examine and summarize the available evidence on the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) outcomes.
Methods: Eight electronic databases, including PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Review, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang Database, Chinese Biomedical Database and VIP Database, were searched, supplemented by manual searches. Two researchers independently conducted the literature screening, data extraction, and methodological quality assessments. A narrative description was provided to show the general information and specific characteristics of the included studies. A bubble plot was used to visually display the overall effects of acupuncture on IVF outcomes.
Results: Eighty-two studies were identified, including 64 primary studies and 18 systematic reviews. Transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation, electric acupuncture and manual acupuncture were applied in most studies and compared with no acupuncture, sham acupuncture and placebo acupuncture control groups.
Sixty-three (98.4%) primary studies reported clinical pregnancy rate, and positive effects of acupuncture were found in 34 studies (54.0%). Live birth rate was reported in only 18 (28.1%) primary studies, of which 10 (55.6%) showed positive results. In addition, only 8 and 2 systematic reviews showed that acupuncture could increase clinical pregnancy events and live birth events, respectively. However, none of these reviews was of high methodological quality.
Conclusions: Available evidence suggests that acupuncture therapy could improve clinical pregnancy rates.