This paper, which was included above amongst those describing the embryo transfer trials, also investigated cortisol and anxiety levels before and after acupuncture was administered at precise points with either needles which penetrate the skin or "placebo" needles which prick the points but do not penetrate. No matter how the acupuncture was administered, cortisol and perceived anxiety were significantly reduced after the treatment.
BACKGROUND: Acupuncture has been used during IVF treatment as it may improve outcome. However, there are concerns about the true efficacy of this approach. This randomized double blind study aimed to compare real acupuncture with placebo acupuncture in patients undergoing IVF treatment.
METHODS: On the day of embryo transfer (ET), 370 patients were randomly allocated to either real or placebo acupuncture according to a computer-generated randomization list in sealed opaque envelopes. They received 25 min of real or placebo acupuncture before and after ET. The endometrial and subendometrial vascularity, serum cortisol concentration and the anxiety level were evaluated before and after real and placebo acupuncture.
CONCLUSIONS: Placebo acupuncture was associated with a significantly higher overall pregnancy rate when compared with real acupuncture. Placebo acupuncture may not be inert.