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Needle therapy "no aid to pregnancy"

Acupuncture has no bearing on a woman's chances of conceiving through IVF, new studies have shown.

Controversy has surrounded the practice due to conflicting evidence over the possible benefits. Now, two new studies have found that acupuncture has no effect on boosting a woman's chances of falling pregnant.

The first, presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in San Francisco, was led by Irene Moy from Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago.

A total of 124 women were split into two groups, with the first given genuine acupuncture for 25 minutes before and after IVF.

The second group received fake or "sham" acupuncture, where needles were inserted into the body but not at known acupuncture points.

The results showed that 43.9% of women given genuine acupuncture fell pregnant compared with 55.2% of women receiving the sham procedure.

A second study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, also found that sham acupuncture appeared to work better than genuine acupuncture.

This study involved using retractable needles, which look identical to real acupuncture needles but which retracted into the handle when pressed on the skin, still giving the appearance and sensation of entering the body.

A total of 370 women took part in the study. Of the sham group, 55.1% fell pregnant, compared with 43.8% of the authentic acupuncture group.

Copyright © Press Association 2008

Human Reproduction