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Open Access Study protocol

The effect of transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation on pregnancy rates in women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Cui Hong Zheng1*, Juan Zhang2, Jing Wu3* and Ming Min Zhang1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, 1095 Jiefang Avenue, Wuhan, Hubei 430030, China

2 Reproductive Medical Center, Wuhan General Hospital of Guangzhou Military Command, 627 Wuluo Road, Wuhan, Hubei 430070, China

3 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, 13 Hangkong Road, Wuhan, Hubei 430030, China

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Trials 2014, 15:162  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-162

Published: 9 May 2014

Abstract

Background

The latest meta-analysis demonstrated that acupuncture improves pregnancy rates among women undergoing in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer (IVF-ET), and surface acupoint stimulation, such as transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS), may have the same or better potential.

Methods/Design

To explore the effect of TEAS on the clinical pregnancy rate (CPR) and live birth rate (LBR) compared with real acupuncture and controls in women undergoing IVF, a multicenter, randomized controlled trial will be conducted. The inclusion criteria are the following: infertile women <40 years of age undergoing a fresh IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection cycle, and the study will be restricted to women with the potential for a lower success rate as defined by two or more previous unsuccessful ETs (fresh or frozen). Those who have severe illnesses possibly precluding IVF or pregnancy, have FSH levels greater than 20 IU/L, received donor eggs, had been previously randomized for this study or had undergone acupuncture (in any modality) as infertility treatment will be excluded. The subjects will be randomly assigned to the TEAS group (IVF + TEAS), the electro-acupuncture (EA) group (IVF + EA), or the control group (only IVF). A total sample size of 2,220 women is required to detect differences in CPR among the three groups. TEAS or EA treatments will start once every two or three days from day 3 of menstruation in the ovarian stimulation cycle until the day of ET. The parameters of TEAS or EA will be the following: a frequency of 2/100 Hz, a moderate electrical current of 3 to 5 mA for TEAS and 0.8 to 1.0 mA for EA. The primary outcome is CPR. Secondary outcomes are LBR, the number of oocytes aspirated and the total gonadotropin dose used in the stimulation cycle.

Discussion

This study will provide significant evidence for using a new method (TEAS) in IVF.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.govID: NCT01608048 (05/24/2012).

Keywords:
acupuncture; transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation; TEAS