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Electro-acupuncture (EA) can enhance oocyte maturation and fertilisation rates in women undergoing IVF, Indonesian researchers have found. A randomised trial was conducted with 24 subjects in an IVF programme who were randomly allocated into verum-EA and sham-EA groups. In the verum-EA group, the acupuncture points used were Baihui DU-20, ear Endocrine MA-IC 3, Guanyuan REN-4, Zhongji REN-3, and bilateral Zigong M-CA-18, Zusanli ST-36, Chengsan BL-57, Sanyinjiao SP-6 and Taixi KID-3. Electrical stimulation (2 Hz for 30 minutes) and heat (via a heat lamp at a distance of 20 centimetres) were also applied at Guanyuan REN-4, Zhongji REN-3 and bilateral Zigong M-CA-18. Sham EA involved a needle which did not penetrate the patient’s skin being inserted at plaster pads at the same point locations. Acupuncture therapy was carried out six times twice per week prior to controlled ovarian stimulation (COS), and four times during a COS antagonistic protocol. Assessment of oocyte maturation and rate of fertilisation was performed microscopically by embryologists. Granulosa-cell apoptosis index (a measure of cellular expression of proteins involved in apoptosis and inhibition of oocyte maturation) was also calculated. The results showed that the oocyte maturation index (a measure of oocyte quality) in the verum-EA group was significantly higher than that in the sham-EA group. There were also differences in granulosa-cell apoptosis index between the verum-EA and sham-EA groups, indicating lower granulosa-cell apoptosis in the follicles, and therefore better oocyte quality in the verum-EA group. Fertilisation rates in the verum-EA group were significantly higher than in the sham-EA group, most likely influenced by the beneficial effects of EA on oocyte quality.

Electroacupuncture Enhances Number of Mature Oocytes and Fertility Rates for In Vitro Fertilization. Med Acupunct. 2019 Oct 1;31(5):289-297.