A trial of more than 800 women who were trying to conceive using IVF (in vitro fertilisation) found no difference in success between those utilising the alternative treatment and those administered a sham.
Although acupuncture is not recommended on the NHS for women trying to get pregnant, it is estimated that many use it.
While the new study, conducted by a group of Australian research institutes, showed no benefit to pregnancy rates, acupuncture did assist the women’s wellbeing while undergoing IVF, which can be a traumatic process.
The results were drawn from across 16 fertility centres in Australia and New Zealand and involved women aged between 18 and 42.
The results showed the rate of live birth was 18.3 per cent among participants who received acupuncture versus 17.8 per cent who received the sham acupuncture control, a non-significant difference.
Patients were given either acupuncture, of a sham procedure where a non-insertive needle was placed away from parts of the body used in the ancient practice.
“While a short course of acupuncture may statistically be no better than sham at improving live birth and pregnancy outcomes, a psycho-social benefit from acupuncture was reported by women undergoing IVF,” said Professor Caroline Smith, who chief investigator on the study.
The results, which contradict some similar studies, were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association