Should you ask for acupuncture for pain relief during your next egg collection? Can acupuncture replace powerful drugs like alfentanil?

This study authors think that electro-acupuncture stands a good chance to relieve pain during egg collection. It proved to be as good as alfentanil.

Furthermore, compared with the alfentanil group, women in the electro-acupuncture group had a higher implantation rate, more pregnancies. But, what matters the most, they had more babies per embryo transfer as well.

This study was not designed to measure pregnancy rates, we need to be a bit careful with these outcomes. However, it gave an obvious proof that acupuncture can replace drugs during the egg collection.

A prospective randomized study of electro-acupuncture versus alfentanil as anaesthesia during oocyte aspiration in in-vitro fertilization

Elisabet Stener-Victorin, Urban Waldenstra, Lars Nilsson, Matts Wikland and Per Olof Janson


The aim of the present study was to evaluate the anaesthetic effect during oocyte aspiration of a paracervical block (PCB) in combination with either electro-acupuncture (EA) or intravenous alfentanil.

In all, 150 women undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer were randomized to receive either EA plus PCB or alfentanil plus PCB. Visual analogue scales (VAS) were used to evaluate subjective experiences during oocyte aspiration, and IVF outcome parameters were recorded.

No differences in pain directly related to oocyte aspiration, adequacy of anaesthesia during oocyte aspiration, abdominal pain, or degree of nausea were found between the two groups in the VAS ratings. Before oocyte aspiration, the level of stress was significantly higher in the EA group than in the alfentanil group (P < 0.05), and the EA group experienced discomfort for a significantly longer period during oocyte aspiration (P < 0.01). Compared with the alfentanil group, the EA group had a significantly higher implantation rate (P < 0.05), pregnancy rate (P < 0.05), and take home baby rate (P < 0.05) per embryo transfer.


In conclusion, EA has been shown to be as good an anaesthetic method as alfentanil during oocyte aspiration, and we suggest that EA may be a good alternative to conventional anaesthesia during oocyte aspiration.