I don’t have any personal drum to beat when it comes to acupuncture and infertility – I know of many people feel has made all the difference to them, but equally I know of many others who are far from convinced – but I was fascinated by some new research being splashed over the Internet recently claiming that acupuncture was more successful than the commonly prescribed fertility drug clomifene citrate. I’ve just been looking at some of the reports, trying to sift what is apparently “new” research from a plethora of older papers cited to back up the evidence and the information relating to clomifene seems to come from this one paper published a year ago in the Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science.
Interestingly, the recent NICE fertility guideline suggested that in many cases where clomifene has traditionally been prescribed in the UK, it “does not increase the chances of a pregnancy of a live birth”. This refers to those who have unexplained infertility who have often been offered clomifene to “boost” their fertility. I’ve often come across women who are angry that their family doctor or fertility specialist won’t prescribe clomifene as they’re convinced that it will help them to get pregnant. It is important to understand that clomifene can only help in specific circumstances where women have problems with ovulation – and that in other circumstances doctors won’t prescribe it because it will do nothing to increase your chances of success.
Apparently the research published last year focused on women who had “ovulatory dysfunctional infertility” but given only this rather vague outline it’s impossible to know whether the results are as interesting as they may sound – it is actually far from uncommon for women with certain ovulation disorders to be resistant to clomifene and if they were included in this study, the results would hardly be surprising.