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Acupuncture ineffective in treating PCOS-induced infertility

28 June 2017

The findings suggested that active acupuncture, with or without Clomiphene compared to control acupuncture and placebo medication did not increase live births. Women in the control group got sham electroacupuncture at nonacupoints in the same region of the back.

A modern type of acupuncture can help treat urinary leakage in women, but the ancient technique was not effective in treating infertility in those with polycystic ovary syndrome, according to two Chinese studies published Tuesday by the USA journal JAMA.

Limitations of the study are noted in the article.

Among the women in the study, 250 were randomized to each group.

"The decreases from baseline in the International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire-Short Form score following electroacupuncture at week 18 and week 30 were clinically significant and comparable to a pelvic floor muscle training regimen", they wrote.

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In the first study, the researchers randomly assigned 504 women with stress urinary incontinence to receive either "electroacupuncture", which is acupuncture combined with electrical stimulation, or "sham electroacupuncture", which is a version of the procedure that is not expected to have benefits. By comparison, 69.8% of women in the earlier study of pelvic floor muscle training achieved a 50% decrease in urine leakage, which was considered a clinical improvement.

"The take-home message is that when acupuncture is used to treat infertility, it does not improve the chances of having a baby", he said. Mean age of the participants was 55 years.

At the end of the study, the participants in the electroacupuncture group had much less urine leakage during a one-hour stress test (about 10 grams less of urine) compared with their leakage at the start of the study, while those in the sham group showed a reduction in urine leakage of only 2.6 grams, compared with the start of the study.

By comparison, women in the sham treatment group had average leakage of 19.4 grams and experienced 7.7 episodes in a typical 72-hour period.

Acupuncture, alone or with the medication clomiphene, does not appear to be effective in treating infertility in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), according to a new worldwide study including Penn State College of Medicine. In the multicenter trial, 1,000 women in China diagnosed with PCOS were administered acupuncture either in combination with clomiphene or with a placebo.

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The researchers kept a tab on all 926 women who had completed the trial for 10 months and beyond.

What's more, the effects persisted 24 weeks after treatment and the incidence of adverse events was low. The women were given active or control acupuncture twice a week in addition to clomiphene or placebo medication for five days per ovulation cycle for up to six months.

In China and increasingly around the world, acupuncture, a fundamental part of Chinese medicine, is thought to induce ovulation and in turn improve live birth rate-but no substantive research has yet proved its effectiveness.

But acupuncture is not an effective option for co-treatment with clomiphene or alone, the study finds. "Clearly these ancient practices are helping reveal the complexity of the links between the mind and the body", the editorial said.

In Germany, acupuncture is widely practiced by physicians and has been approved as a reimbursable treatment for low back pain, the editorialists pointed out, adding that in the USA, the benefits and harms of acupuncture for the management of chronic pain are still under review. Reductions in nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy have been reported following acupuncture, but the available evidence doesn't support its use in patients with stroke, asthma, bed-wetting, or shoulder and neck pain, Briggs and Shurtleff added.

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Acupuncturists use EA for a variety of problems, including pain, anxiety, and neurological conditions.

Acupuncture ineffective in treating PCOS-induced infertility