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Lianne Aquilina plays leading role in acupuncture review on subfertility

Research conducted by a Stamford woman has rebuffed recent claims that acupuncture is not an effective treatment for subfertility.

The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) launched a comprehensive research review in a bid to counter an article that appeared in a national newspaper.

Lianne Aquilina
Lianne Aquilina

The council turned to Stamford acupuncture specialist and BAcC member Lianne Aquilina – who holds an MSc in applied health research and a BSc Hons in acupuncture – and the BAcC’s research manager, Mark Bovey.

Their review shows that acupuncture improves the birth rate of subfertile women undergoing reproductive treatment.

Subfertility generally describes any form of reduced fertility with prolonged time of unwanted non-conception.

The review, which is available to both health professionals and patients, is on the council’s website and includes research and evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Lianne, 38, who grew up in Stamford and has run an acupuncture practice in the town since 2005, said she had helped “hundreds” of couples conceive over the years.

“The article cast a negative shadow over what is a useful and effective intervention for subfertility,” she said.

“Had the journalist taken the time to critically review the paper or interview a professional acupuncture representative these issues would have been highlighted and a well-informed position on the topic could have been presented.”

The BAcC said the article had referred to the results of a study which found that acupuncture does not improve the chances of women undergoing IVF having a baby.

It said the study was based on the results of 848 women across 16 IVF centres in Australia and New Zealand who were given either acupuncture or sham acupuncture prior to a fresh embryo transfer.

Following the study’s publication in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) in May 2018, the British Acupuncture Council issued an official response saying the findings of the study were misleading.

The council said the women undergoing IVF had not received the recommended number of acupuncture treatments.

The president of the Italian Federation of Acupuncture Societies (FISA), Carlo Maria Giovanardi MD, also questioned its validity.

“It is essential that research explores the evidence base, and proper information is provided,” said Lianne.

“Without this approach, health professionals and women become unable to make a well-informed decision as part of their care pathway, and busy clinicians may be unable to keep up with the research landscape or even be aware of the present evidence base on a range of topics.”

In addition to teaching acupuncture general practice at the University of Lincoln for eight years, Lianne gained an additional qualification in advanced acupuncture in China, and is the co-author of an international best selling acupuncture textbook.

- The BAcC review can be found HERE.

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