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Forsch Komplementmed. 2013;20(2):112-8. doi: 10.1159/000350717. Epub 2013 Apr 12.

[Modalities of acupuncture treatments in assisted reproductive technology--a comparison of treatment practice in Swiss, German, and Austrian fertility centers with findings from randomized controlled trials].

[Article in German]

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Universität Bern, Kollegiale Instanz für Komplementärmedizin KIKOM, Bern, Schweiz.



One in 5 couples is affected by infertility. To increase the effectiveness of assisted reproductive technology (ART) adjuvant acupuncture treatments are frequently administered. However, little is known about acupuncture treatment modalities employed in fertility centers. The aim of our study was to assess modalities of acupuncture treatments in fertility centers and compare them with investigated acupuncture treatments in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) related to ART.


Referring to fertility centers listed on the websites of the Swiss, German, and Austrian national fertility associations, 180 centers were invited to participate in an online survey assessing the provision of acupuncture in ART. Survey results were compared with data from 17 RCTs.


Acupuncture was offered by 33 (38.4%) of all responding fertility centers (n = 86; responder rate = 47.8%). In 39.4% the selection of acupuncture points is standardized or semi-standardized (24.2%) and in 27.3% based on individual TCM-diagnosis. Body acupuncture using needle stimulation was mentioned most frequently (84.8%). Some clinics reported additional use of auricular acupuncture (24.2%) and moxibustion (21.2%). Treatment providers were mainly physician-acupuncturists (84.8%). Compared to the RCTs, we found strong differences in point selection, mode of stimulation, and professional background of treatment providers.


Less than 40% of all fertility centres in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria offering acupuncture employ standardized acupuncture treatment protocols. To increase external validity of acupuncture research in ART, and to investigate clinical effectiveness of this adjuvant intervention, semi-standardized and individualized point selection should be considered, and treatment provision by non-acupuncturists should be omitted in future trials.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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