Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
9(1):5-12 · January 2014
L.-E. Grant, S. Cochrane
One in six Australian couples currently struggle with impaired fertility. In vitro fertilisation (IVF) has become the assisted reproductive technology (ART) of choice. The IVF process has inherent stresses: the invasive procedures; medication; knowledge that it might be the last possibility for pregnancy; and the high cost. Both authors have observed in different settings (one clinical and the other during a clinical trial) that women often reported an improved sense of wellbeing and emotional health due to the acupuncture intervention. This paper summarises the reported benefits of acupuncture treatment for mental and emotional health during IVF identified in published peer-reviewed research papers – both theoretically (pathogenesis and physiology) and clinically (with reference to acupuncture treatment and the therapeutic encounter). The trials reviewed, investigating mental and emotional health during IVF treatment, indicate acupuncture had positive outcomes including: reduced anxiety; reduced stress; less social and relationship concern and improved psychological coping. This paper suggests that reflecting on and valuing the therapeutic alliance, including its collaborative nature, the patient feeling cared for and a perception that practitioners are empathetic, could improve fertility outcomes and the emotional health of infertile women through the process of IVF treatment.