Transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS) can regulate hormone levels and improve clinical pregnancy rates in patients with decreased ovarian reserve (DOR) during in vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer. Chinese researchers divided 240 patients randomly into four groups: TEAS, placebo TEAS (pTEAS), hormone treatment (HT) and a control (CON) who received standard IVF treatment with no additional interventions. TEAS involved using a transcutaneous (needle-free) electrical acupoint stimulator at the following points: Guanyuan REN-4, Zhongji REN-3, Sanyinjiao SP-6, Zigong M-CA-18, Tianshu ST-25, Shenshu BL-23, Yaoyangguan DU-3 and Mingmen DU-4. Stimulation (2 Hz at 20–25 mA) lasted for 30 minutes and was given once a day for three menstrual cycles. After three monthly courses, treatment continued during the final ovulation cycle until the day of egg retrieval. In the TEAS and HT groups post-treatment, antral follicle count and anti-Müllerian hormone levels (both measures of ovarian reserve) were found to have increased, whereas levels of oestradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level, and FSH/LH ratio were significantly decreased (indicating an improvement in hormone levels). The average gonadotropin dosage and duration required for ovarian stimulation were lower in the TEAS and HT groups than in the CON and pTEAS groups, and were lower for TEAS compared with HT. The number of oocytes retrieved and average number of embryos transferred were also significantly higher in the TEAS and HT groups compared with the other two groups. Clinical pregnancy rates in the TEAS group were markedly higher than in the other three groups (42 per cent for TEAS versus 32 per cent for HT, 22 per cent for pTEAS and 21.5 per cent for CON).
Effects of transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation on ovarian reserve of patients with diminished ovarian reserve in in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer cycles. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2015 Oct 12 [Epub ahead of print]).