Acupuncture for reduction of infertility related stress

The Effect of Acupuncture on Psychosocial Outcomes for Women Experiencing Infertility: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial
To cite this article:
Caroline A. Smith, Jane M. Ussher, Janette Perz, Bridget Carmady and ,Sheryl de Lacey. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. -Not available-, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0380.
Online Ahead of Print: October 6, 2011

Caroline A. Smith, PhD,1
Jane M. Ussher, PhD,2
Janette Perz, PhD,2
Bridget Carmady, BNat,1 and
Sheryl de Lacey, PhD3
1Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, The University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
2Health Services and Outcomes Research Group, The University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
3School of Nursing and Midwifery, Flinders University, Flinders, Australia.
Address correspondence to:
Caroline A. Smith, PhD
Centre for Complementary Medicine Research
The University of Western Sydney
Penrith South, New South Wales
Sydney 1797


Objectives: The study objectives were to examine the effectiveness of acupuncture for reducing infertility-related stress.

Design: The study design was a randomized controlled trial of acupuncture compared with a wait-list control.

Setting: The study was conducted at The University of Western Sydney.

Subjects: Thirty-two (32) women aged 20–45 years, with a diagnosis of infertility, or a history of unsuccessfully trying to conceive for 12 months or more, were the subjects of the study.

Interventions: Women received six sessions of acupuncture over 8 weeks.

Outcome measures: The primary outcomes were infertility self-efficacy, anxiety, and infertility-related stress. The women’s experience of infertility and acupuncture is also reported.

Results: At the end of the 8-week intervention, women in the acupuncture group reported significant changes on two domains on the Fertility Problem Inventory with less social concern (mean difference [MD] ?3.75, 95% confidence interval [CI] ?7.58 to 0.84, p=0.05), and less relationship concern (MD ?3.66, 95% CI ?6.80 to ?0.052, p=0.02). There were also trends toward a reduction of infertility stress on other domains, and a trend toward improved self-efficacy (MD 11.9, 95% CI ?2.20 to 26.0, p=0.09) and less anxiety (MD ?2.54, 95% CI ?5.95 to 0.86, p=0.08) in the acupuncture group compared with the wait-list control. Women described the experience and impact of acupuncture as positive relating to a sense of relaxation and time out, the engagement with the practitioner, and an intervention that had very few negative side-effects. Changes were also perceived after treatment with women describing a physical and psychologic sense of relaxation and calmness, and a changed perspective in relation to coping.

Conclusions: Acupuncture may be a useful intervention to assist with the reduction of infertility-related stress. Further research is justified.