Electroacupuncture for reproductive hormone levels in patients with diminished ovarian reserve: a prospective observational study

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Abstract

Background

Effective methods for the treatment of reproductive dysfunction are limited. Previous studies have reported that acupuncture can modulate female hormone levels, improve menstrual disorders, alleviate depression and improve pregnancy rates. However, studies of acupuncture for diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) are lacking.

Objective

To carry out a prospective observational study aimed at assessing the effect of EA on the reproductive hormone levels of patients with DOR seeking fertility support and consider its safety.

Methods

Eligible patients with DOR received EA for 12 weeks: five times a week for 4 weeks followed by three times a week for 8 weeks. The primary outcome was the change in mean follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level at week 12. Mean luteinising hormone (LH) and serum oestradiol (E2) levels, FSH/LH ratios and symptom scale scores were simultaneously observed.

Results

Twenty-one patients with DOR were included in the final analysis. Mean FSH levels fell from 19.33±9.47 mIU/mL at baseline to 10.58±6.34 mIU/mL at week 12 and 11.25±6.68 mIU/mL at week 24. Change in mean FSH from baseline was −8.75±11.13 mIU/mL at week 12 (p=0.002) and −8.08±9.56 mIU/mL at week 24 (p=0.001). Mean E2 and LH levels, FSH/LH ratios and irritability scores were improved at weeks 12 and/or 24. Approximately 30% patients reported subjective increases in menstrual volume after treatment.

Conclusions

EA may modulate reproductive hormone levels and the effects seem to persist for at least 12 weeks after treatment with no significant side effects. EA may improve the ovarian reserve of patients with DOR, though further research is needed.

Trial registration number

NCT02229604; Results.

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