Infertility and Acupuncture

The information below is a compilation of articles and studies that show promising results regarding the adjunctive treament of acupuncture and conditions of infertility.

World Health Organization on the use of acupuncture for infertility:

“Acupuncture was reported to be effective in the treatment of female anovular infertility…”

“Acupuncture is also worth trying in the treatment of female infertility due to inflammatory obstruction of the fallopian tubes, where it seems to be superior to conventional therapy with intrauterine injection of gentamicin, chymotrypsin and dexamethasone.”

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Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial

Lars G. Westergaard, M.D., Ph.D., Qunhui Mao, M.D., Marianne Krogslund, Steen Sandrini, Suzan Lenz, M.D., and Jergen Grinsted, M.D., Ph.D

Objective: To evaluate the effect of acupuncture on reproductive outcomes in patients treated with IVF/intracytoplasmin sperm injection (ICSI). One group of patients received acupuncture on the day of Embryo Transfer (ET), another group on ET day and again 2 days later (i.e. closer to implantation day), and both groups were compared with a control group that did not receive acupuncture.

Result(s): Clinical and ongoing pregnancy rates were significantly higher in the ACU 1 group as compared with controls (37 of 95 [39%] vs. 21 of 87 [26%] and 34 of 95 [36%] vs. 19 of 87 [22%]). The clinical and ongoing pregnancy rates in the ACU 2 group (36% and 26%) were higher than in controls, but the difference did not reach statistical difference.

Conclusion(s): Acupuncture on the day of ET significantly improves the reproductive outcome of IVF/ICSI, compared with no acupuncture. Repeating acupuncture on ET day + 2 provided no additional beneficial effect.

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Effect of acupuncture on the outcome of in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a randomized, prospective, controlled clinical study

Stefan Dieterle, M.D., Gao Ying, M.D., Wolfgang Hatzmann, M.D. and Andreas Neuer, M.D.

Objective: To determine the effect of luteal-phase acupuncture on the outcome of IVF/intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Result(s): In group I, the clinical pregnancy rate and ongoing pregnancy rate (33.6% and 28.4%, respectively) were significantly higher than in group II (15.6% and 13.8%).

Conclusion(s): Luteal-phase acupuncture has a positive effect on the outcome of IVF/ICSI.

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A Nutritional Supplement for Improving Fertility in Women

Lynn M. Westphal, M.D., Mary Lake Polan, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., Aileen Sontag Trant, Ph.D., and Stephen B. Mooney, M.D.

Objective: To determine the impact of nutritional supplementation on optimization of reproductive health in women.

Conclusion: Nutritional supplementation may provide an attractive alternative or complement to conventional fertility therapy.

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Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy

Objective: To evaluate the effect of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in assisted reproduction therapy (ART) by comparing a group of patients receiving acupuncture treatment shortly before and after embryo transfer with a control group receiving no acupuncture.

Result(s): Clinical pregnancies were documented in 34 of 80 patients (42.5%) in the acupuncture group, whereas pregnancy rate was only 26.3% (21 out of 80 patients) in the control group.

Conclusion(s): Acupuncture seems to be a useful tool for improving pregnancy rate after ART.

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Role of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility

Raymond Chang, M.D.[a,b] Pak H. Chung, M.D.[b] and Zev Rosenwaks, M.D.[c]

Objective: To review existing scientific rationale and clinical data in the utilization of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility.

Result(s): Although the understanding of acupuncture is based on ancient medical theory, studies have suggested that certain effects of acupuncture are mediated through endogenous opioid peptides in the central nervous system, particularly ß-endorphin. Because these neuropeptides influence gonadotropin secretion through their action on GnRH, it is logical to hypothesize that acupuncture may impact on the menstrual cycle through these neuropeptides. Although studies of adequate design, sample size, and appropriate control on the use of acupuncture on ovulation induction are lacking, there is only one prospective randomized controlled study examining the efficacy of acupuncture in patients undergoing IVF. Besides its central effect, the sympathoinhibitory effects of acupuncture may impact on uterine blood flow.

Conclusion(s): Although the definitive role of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility is yet to be established, its potential impact centrally on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and peripherally on the uterus needs to be systemically examined. Prospective randomized controlled studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture in the female fertility treatment.

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Acupuncture Normalizes Dysfunction of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian Axis

By Bo-Ying Chen M.D. Professor of Neurobiology


This article summarizes the studies of the mechanism of electroacupuncture (EA) in the regulation of the abnormal function of hypothalamic pituitary-ovarian axis (HPOA) in our laboratory. Clinical observation showed that EA with the effective acupoints could cure some anovulatory patients in a highly effective rate and the experimental results suggested that EA might regulate the dysfunction of HPOA in several ways, which rneans EA could influence some gene expression of brain, thereby, normalizing secretion of some hormones, such as GnRH, LH and E2. The effects of EA might possess a relative specificity on acupoints.

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Motility of the endometrium after acupuncture treatment

Wolfgang E.Paulus, Mingmin Zhang, Erwin Strehler, Karl Sterzik, . Christian-Lauritzen-Institut, Ulm, Germany; Tongji Hosp, Tongji Medical Coll, Huazhong Univ of Science & Technology, Wuhan, China

Objective: Acupuncture seems to be a useful tool for improving pregnancy rate after assisted reproduction therapy (ART) as we have shown in a former study. Uterine peristaltic waves may displace the embryo droplet a the time of embryo transfer. To investigate the possible influence of acupuncture on uterine contractility, we visualized the motility of the endometrium by ultrasound comparing two groups with/without acupuncture treatment shortly before and after embryo transfer.

Conclusion: Acupuncture treatment does not inhibit uterine motility. Other mechanisms may be responsible for the increase of pregnancy rate after acupuncture treatment in ART.

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