In vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (IVF-ET) has become an increasingly popular treatment option for subfertile couples. However, many people are exploring complementary therapies to improve their chances of success. One such therapy is whole-systems traditional Chinese medicine (WS-TCM), which has been widely used in China as a multi-dimensional intervention for IVF-ET. This blog post discusses the findings of a recent retrospective cohort study that aimed to assess the impact of WS-TCM on IVF-ET outcomes.
Methods and Patient Population
The study, conducted at a tertiary-referral academic university hospital, involved 2733 patients who underwent IVF-ET between January 2018 and June 2021. The researchers compared the outcomes of patients receiving WS-TCM therapies, including acupuncture, moxibustion, Chinese herbs, dietary and lifestyle recommendations (WS-TCM group), with those receiving conventional IVF-ET care alone (Non-WS-TCM group) during fresh IVF (n = 1048) and frozen-thawed embryo transfer (FET) cycles (n = 1685). The primary endpoint of the study was the live birth rate (LBR) per embryo transfer.
For fresh IVF cycles, the LBR per embryo transfer was found to be comparable between the WS-TCM and Non-WS-TCM groups after adjusting for potential confounders. However, a significant difference was detected in the cumulative LBR, with the WS-TCM group having a higher rate (60.5% versus 52.7%).
In FET cycles, the study found significant differences in LBR between the WS-TCM and Non-WS-TCM groups. The LBR for the WS-TCM group was 42.7%, compared to 35.3% for the Non-WS-TCM group. These findings were validated through multivariate logistic regression analysis.
The findings of this retrospective cohort study suggest that WS-TCM therapy may improve the LBRs and cumulative LBRs of subfertile women undergoing IVF-ET. The use of acupuncture, moxibustion, Chinese herbs, and dietary and lifestyle recommendations could potentially enhance IVF-ET success rates. However, it's important to note that more comprehensive, rigorous, large-scale prospective comparative studies are needed to verify these findings and determine the extent of WS-TCM's impact on IVF-ET outcomes.
In the meantime, couples considering IVF-ET may want to explore WS-TCM as a complementary therapy.