The Effect of Acupuncture on Psychosocial Outcomes for Women Experiencing Infertility: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial
Caroline A. Smith, PhD, Jane M. Ussher, PhD, Janette Perz, PhD, Bridget Carmady, and Sheryl de Lacey, PhD
The study objectives were to examine the effectiveness of acupuncture for reducing infertility-related stress.
The study design was a randomized controlled trial of acupuncture compared with a wait-list control.
The study was conducted at The University of Western Sydney.
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.
Women received six sessions of acupuncture for over 8 weeks.
The primary outcomes were infertility self-efficacy, anxiety, and infertility-related stress. The women’s experience of infertility and acupuncture is also reported.
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 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.
Acupuncture may be a useful intervention to assist with the reduction of infertility-related stress. Further research is justified.