PCOS: acupuncture normalises ovarian volume and AMH


Acupuncture helps to normalise both ovarian volume and AMH in PCOS patients. These changes are beneficial for fertility.

Both acupuncture and exercise help to normalise overactive sympathetic nervous system in PCOS patients. Acupuncture, however, is much more effective.  Furthermore, as shown by this study, exercise has no effect on AMH nor ovarian volume.

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Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in treatment of Endometriosis

This study demonstrates that acupuncture has a synergystic effect with Chinese Herbal medicine in treatment of Endometriosis. Furthermore the effect of acupuncture and herbal medicine was found to be superior to a pharmaceutical medicine Danazol. The abstract of the study is below.
Acupuncture Chinese medicine Endometriosis

Acupuncture enhances the effects of Chinese herbal Medicine in treatment of Endometriosis

J. Shi, Z. B. Z. Ge*
, Y. Jin,Y. D. Li and J. Zhou** The 1st Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 310003, Zhejiang, China
*Sir Run Shaw Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 310016, Zhejiang, China
**College of Food Science and Biotechnology, Zhejiang Gongshang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, 310012, China. Corresponding Author Email: juezhou2006@yahoo.com.cn


The present study was aimed to investigate whether acupuncture could significantly enhance the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) in treating endometriosis model rats. A total of 40 female Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats with body weight of 200 ±20 g were included. Operational transplantation was used with animal models. The rats were randomly divided into 5 groups: sham-operation control group (Group A), model group (Group B), CHM combined with acupuncture group (Group C), CHM group (Group D), Danazol group (Group E) with 8 rats in each group. During the treatment, two rats in Group B and one rat in Group E passed away. When the treatment ended, all the left rats were sacrificed. The samples of peritoneal fluids, serum and the ectopic endometrium were taken. The serum levels of cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) and interleukin 18(IL-18) in the peritoneal fluids were detected using enzyme-linked immune-sorbent assay. The cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) mRNA expression levels in the ectopic endometrium were measured by Real-time PCR. The results showed that in the rats from Groups A, C, D and E, the serum CA-125 levels, COX-2 mRNA expression in the ectopic endometrium and the IL-18 levels in the peritoneal fluids were significantly lower than those of Group B (P<0.05). The serum CA-125 levels and COX-2 mRNA expression in the ectopic endometrium of the rats in Group C were significantly lower than those of Group D (P<0.05), while there was no significant difference between Group C and E (P>0.05). The levels of IL-18 in the peritoneal fluids of the rats in Group C were markedly lower than those of Group D and E (P<0.05). It is then concluded that acupuncture treatment can improve the effects of CHM in treating endometriosis model rats. Key words: Chinese herbal medicine acupuncture; endometriosis Reference: The Journal of Animal & Plant Sciences, 23(1): 2013, Page: 298-303 ISSN: 1018-7081

You can find a copy of the study here.

Acupuncture during ovarian stimulation improves pregnancy outcomes in women undergoing IVF

This systematic review on Acupuncture and IVF is especially interesting. The studies of the well researched German protocol show acupuncture to be effective on the day of embryo replacement. This systematic review shows that acupuncture during ovarian stimulation also plays significant role in increasing the pregnancy outcomes of IVF.

The role of acupuncture in assisted reproductive technology.
Zheng CH, Zhang MM, Huang GY, Wang W.

The aim of this paper was to provide reliable evidence by performing a systematic review and meta-analysis for evaluating the role of acupuncture in assisted reproductive technology. All randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effects of acupuncture, including manual, electrical, and laser acupuncture (LA) techniques, on the clinical pregnancy rate (CPR) and live birth rate (LBR) of in vitro fertilization (IVF) or artificial insemination were included. The controlled groups consisted of no acupuncture and sham acupuncture groups. The sham acupuncture included sham acupuncture at acupoints, sham acupuncture at non- or inappropriate points, sham LA, and adhesive tapes. Twenty-three trials (a total of 5598 participants) were included in this paper. The pooled CPR from all acupuncture groups was significantly higher than that from all controlled groups, whereas the LBR was not significantly different between the two groups. However, the results were quite distinct when the type of control and/or different acupuncture times were examined in a sensitivity analysis. The results mainly indicate that acupuncture, especially around the time of the controlled ovarian hyperstimulation, improves pregnancy outcomes in women undergoing IVF. More positive effects from acupuncture in IVF can be expected if a more individualized acupuncture programs are used.

Full text of the study can be found here.

New systematic review: Acupuncture improves Clinical Pregnancy Rates and Live Birth Rates among women undergoing IVF

Fertil Steril. 2012 Jan 11

Effects of acupuncture on pregnancy rates in women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Zheng CH, Huang GY, Zhang MM, Wang W.
Institute of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, People’s Republic of China.
To evaluate the effect of acupuncture on in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcomes.
Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Women undergoing IVF in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) who were evaluated for the effects of acupuncture on IVF outcomes.
Not applicable.
The intervention groups used manual, electrical, and laser acupuncture techniques. The control groups consisted of no, sham, and placebo acupuncture.
The major outcomes were clinical pregnancy rate (CPR) and live birth rate (LBR). Heterogeneity of the therapeutic effect was evaluated with a forest plot analysis. Publication bias was assessed by a funnel plot analysis.
Twenty-four trials (a total of 5,807 participants) were included in this review. There were no significant publication biases for most of the comparisons among these studies. The pooled CPR (23 studies) from all of the acupuncture groups was significantly greater than that from all of the control groups, whereas the LBR (6 studies) was not significantly different between the two groups. The results were different when the type of control was examined in a sensitivity analysis. The CPR and LBR differences between the acupuncture and control groups were more obvious when the studies using the Streitberger control were ignored. Similarly, if the underlying effects of the Streitberger control were excluded, the LBR results tended to be significant when the acupuncture was performed around the time of oocyte aspiration or controlled ovarian hyperstimulation.
Acupuncture improves CPR and LBR among women undergoing IVF based on the results of studies that do not include the Streitberger control. The Streitberger control may not be an inactive control. More positive effects from using acupuncture in IVF can be expected if an appropriate control and more reasonable acupuncture programs are used.

Unexplained infertility plus acupuncture: pregnancy rate of 60.9%

J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Feb;16(2):193-8.
Unexplained infertility treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine

Park JJ, Kang M, Shin S, Choi E, Kwon S, Wee H, Nam B, Kaptchuk TJ.

Asian Medicine & Acupuncture Research, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Erratum in:
J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Jul;16(7):817.


AIM: We aim to determine the safety and effectiveness of a standard therapeutic package of Korean medicine for the treatment of unexplained infertility in a cross-section of women who sought treatment at an integrative hospital in Seoul, Korea.
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Poor ovarian reserve and acupuncture

Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2009 Oct;29(10):775-9.
[Effects of electro-acupuncture on in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer (IVF-ET) of patients with poor ovarian response]

[Article in Chinese]

Chen J, Liu LL, Cui W, Sun W.

Department of Reproduction, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Shandong University of TCM, Jinan 250001, China. fusantai@126.com

OBJECTIVE: To observe the effect of electro-acupuncture therapy on oocyte quality and pregnancy outcome of patients with poor ovarian response or decreased reserve in the course of in vitro fertilization (IVF).

METHODS: Sixty cases accepting IVF-ET were randomly divided into an observation group and a control group, 30 cases in each group. The two groups were both treated with antagonist scheme for ovulation induction, and the electro-acupuncture intervention was also added in the observation group, Guanyuan (CV 4), Taixi (KI 3), Sanyinjiao (SP 6) etc. were selected. The therapeutic effects in the two groups were compared after treatment.

RESULTS: There was no significant difference between the two groups before treatment. The symptoms of kidney difficiency in the observation group were significantly improved after treatment, and the levels of serum estradiol (E2), fertilization rate, oocyte maturation rate, good quality embryos rate, and implantation rate in the observation group were superior to those in the control group on human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) injection day (all P<0.05); the levels of stem cell factor (SCF) in follicular fluid and serum in the observation group were significantly higher than those in the control group (both P<0.05). The pregnancy rate in the observation group was higher than that in the control group, and the abortion rate in the observation group was lower than that in the control group, but there was no significant difference between the two groups (both P>0.05).

CONCLUSION: Electro-acupuncture therapy has a good clinical effect for IVF patients with poor ovarian reserve, and can improve oocyte (egg) quality and pregnancy outcome.

PMID: 19873910 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

PCOS: Acupuncture and Sympathetic Nerve Activity in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Acupuncture PCOS

Acupuncture PCOS

Low-frequency Electro-Acupuncture and Physical Exercise Decrease High Muscle Sympathetic Nerve Activity in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Elisabet Stener-Victorin1*, Elizabeth Jedel2, Per Olof Janson, and Yrsa Bergmann Sverrisdottir3

1 Institution of Neuroscience and Physiology
2 Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
3 inst. neuroscience and physiology

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: elisabet.stener-victorin@neuro.gu.se.

Context: We have recently shown that polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with high muscle sympathetic nerve activity. Animal studies support the concept that low-frequency electro-acupuncture (EA) and physical exercise, via stimulation of ergoreceptors and somatic afferents in the muscles, may modulate the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Objective: The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of these interventions on sympathetic nerve activity in women with PCOS. Design: Randomized controlled trial. Setting: Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden. Outcome Measures and Subjects: Twenty women with PCOS were randomly allocated to one of three groups; low-frequency EA (n=9), physical exercise (n=5) or to an untreated control (n=6) group during 16 weeks. Direct recordings of multiunit efferent postganglionic muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) in a muscle fascicle of the peroneal nerve before and following 16 weeks of treatment. Biometric, hemodynamic, endocrine and metabolic parameters were measured. Results: Low-frequency EA (P = 0.036) and physical exercise (P = 0.030) decreased MSNA burst frequency compared to the untreated control group. Low-frequency EA group reduced sagittal diameter (P = 0.001), while physical exercise group reduced body weight (P = 0.004) and body mass index (BMI) (P = 0.004) as compared to the untreated control group. Sagittal diameter was related to MSNA burst frequency (Rs = 0.58, P < 0.005) in the EA group. No correlation was found for BMI and MSNA in the exercise group. There were no differences between the groups in hemodynamic, endocrine and metabolic variables. Conclusions: For the first time we demonstrate that low-frequency EA and physical exercise lowers high sympathetic nerve activity in women with PCOS. Thus, treatment with low-frequency EA or physical exercise with the aim to reduce MSNA may be of importance for women with PCOS. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol (June 3, 2009). doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00197.2009

Acupuncture for male and female infertility – systematic review

fertility and sterility acupunctureThe Role of Acupuncture in the Management of Subfertility

Ng E H et al Fertil Steril. 2008 Jul;90(1):1-13.
Fertility and Sterility


OBJECTIVE: To review systematically the use of acupuncture in the management of subfertility.

DESIGN: A computer search was performed via several English and Chinese databases to identify journals relevant to the subject.

RESULT(S): The positive effect of acupuncture in the treatment of subfertility may be related to the central sympathetic inhibition by the endorphin system, the change in uterine blood flow and motility, and stress reduction. Acupuncture may help restore ovulation in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome, although there are not enough randomized studies to validate this.

There is also no sufficient evidence supporting the role of acupuncture in male subfertility, as most of the studies are uncontrolled case reports or case series in which the sample sizes were small. Despite these deficiencies, acupuncture can be considered as an effective alternative for pain relief during oocyte retrieval in patients who cannot tolerate side effects of conscious sedation.

The pregnancy rate of IVF treatment is significantly increased, especially when acupuncture is administered on the day of embryo transfer.

CONCLUSION(S): Although acupuncture has gained increasing popularity in the management of subfertility, its effectiveness has remained controversial.

How Stress affects Fertility

Stress and reproductive failure: past notions, present insights and future directions Journal Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
Publisher Springer Netherlands
ISSN 1058-0468 (Print) 1573-7330 (Online)
Issue Volume 25, Numbers 2-3 / March, 2008
DOI 10.1007/s10815-008-9206-5
Pages 47-62
Subject Collection Medicine
SpringerLink Date Friday, February 15, 2008

Katrina Nakamura1 , Sam Sheps2, 3 and Petra Clara Arck4, 5(1) Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program, University of British Columbia, 6201 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1, Canada
(2) Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
(3) Western Regional Training Center for Health and Policy Research, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
(4) Charité University Medicine, Berlin, Germany
(5) Brain Body Institute, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada

Received: 24 January 2008 Accepted: 25 January 2008 Published online: 15 February 2008
Problem Maternal stress perception is frequently alleged as a cause of infertility, miscarriages, late pregnancy complications or impaired fetal development. The purpose of the present review is to critically assess the biological and epidemiological evidence that considers the plausibility of a stress link to human reproductive failure.
Methods All epidemiological studies published between 1980 and 2007 that tested the link between stress exposure and impaired reproductive success in humans were identified. Study outcomes were evaluated on the basis of how associations were predicted, tested and integrated with theories of etiology arising from recent scientific developments in the basic sciences. Further, published evidence arising from basic science research has been assessed in order to provide a mechanistic concept and biological evidence for the link between stress perception and reproductive success.
Results Biological evidence points to an immune–endocrine disequilibrium in response to stress and describes a hierarchy of biological mediators involved in a stress trigger to reproductive failure. Epidemiological evidence presents positive correlations between various pregnancy failure outcomes with pre-conception negative life events and elevated daily urinary cortisol. Strikingly, a relatively new conceptual approach integrating the two strands of evidence suggests the programming of stress susceptibility in mother and fetus via a so-called pregnancy stress syndrome.

Conclusions: An increasing specificity of knowledge is available about the types and impact of biological and social pathways involved in maternal stress responses. The present evidence is sufficient to warrant a reconsideration of conventional views on the etiology of reproductive failure. Physicians and patients will benefit from the adaptation of this integrated evidence to daily clinical practice.

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Systematic review: Acupuncture and IVF: Acupuncture improves rates of pregnancy and live birth

bmj-infertility-acupuncture1Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis

Eric Manheimer, research associate1, Grant Zhang, assistant professor1, Laurence Udoff, assistant professor2, Aviad Haramati, professor3, Patricia Langenberg, professor and vice-chair4, Brian M Berman, professor1, Lex M Bouter, professor and vice chancellor (rector magnificus)5

1 Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 2200 Kernan Drive, Kernan Hospital Mansion, Baltimore, MD 21207, USA, 2 Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Services, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 3 Department of Physiology and Biophysics and Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC, 4 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 5 VU University Amsterdam De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Correspondence to: E Manheimer emanheimer@compmed.umm.edu
Objective To evaluate whether acupuncture improves rates of pregnancy and live birth when used as an adjuvant treatment to embryo transfer in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation.

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources Medline, Cochrane Central, Embase, Chinese Biomedical Database, hand searched abstracts, and reference lists.

Review methods Eligible studies were randomised controlled trials that compared needle acupuncture administered within one day of embryo transfer with sham acupuncture or no adjuvant treatment, with reported outcomes of at least one of clinical pregnancy, ongoing pregnancy, or live birth. Two reviewers independently agreed on eligibility; assessed methodological quality; and extracted outcome data. For all trials, investigators contributed additional data not included in the original publication (such as live births). Meta-analyses included all randomised patients.

Data synthesis Seven trials with 1366 women undergoing in vitro fertilisation were included in the meta-analyses. There was little clinical heterogeneity. Trials with sham acupuncture and no adjuvant treatment as controls were pooled for the primary analysis. Complementing the embryo transfer process with acupuncture was associated with significant and clinically relevant improvements in clinical pregnancy (odds ratio 1.65, 95% confidence interval 1.27 to 2.14; number needed to treat (NNT) 10 (7 to 17); seven trials), ongoing pregnancy (1.87, 1.40 to 2.49; NNT 9 (6 to 15); five trials), and live birth (1.91, 1.39 to 2.64; NNT 9 (6 to 17); four trials). Because we were unable to obtain outcome data on live births for three of the included trials, the pooled odds ratio for clinical pregnancy more accurately represents the true combined effect from these trials rather than the odds ratio for live birth. The results were robust to sensitivity analyses on study validity variables. A prespecified subgroup analysis restricted to the three trials with the higher rates of clinical pregnancy in the control group, however, suggested a smaller non-significant benefit of acupuncture (odds ratio 1.24, 0.86 to 1.77).

Conclusions Current preliminary evidence suggests that acupuncture given with embryo transfer improves rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation.

Electro acupunture increases ovarian blod flow (PCOS)

fertility and sterility acupunctureEffect of electro-acupuncture stimulation of different frequencies and intensities on ovarian blood flow in anaesthetized rats with steroid-induced polycystic ovaries
Elisabet Stener-Victorin1 ,2 , Rie Kobayashi3 , Orie Watanabe3 , Thomas Lundeberg4 and Mieko Kurosawa3
1Department of Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg University, Box 432, SE-405 30 Göteborg, Sweden
2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg University, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sahlgrenska, SE-413 45 Göteborg, Sweden
3Basic Medical Research Centre, International University of Health and Welfare, 2600-1 Kitakanemaru, Otawara, Tochigi 324-8501, Japan
4Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Karolinska Hospital, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden



Maintenance of ovarian blood flow (OBF) is suggested to be important for regular ovulation in women with polycystic ovaries (PCO). The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether electro-acupuncture (EA) of different frequencies and intensities can improve the OBF of anaesthetized rat in the animal model of PCO.


PCO was experimentally induced by a single intramuscular (i.m.) injection of estradiol valerate (EV) in rats. Control rats were given i.m. injection of oil. The involvement of the two ovarian sympathetic nerves; superior ovarian nerve (SON) and plexus ovarian nerve (OPN), in OBF responses was elucidated by severance of SON and OPN in both control and PCO rats. How systemic circulatory changes affect OBF was evaluated by continuous recording of the blood pressure. OBF was measured on the surface of the ovary-using laser Doppler flowmetry. Acupuncture needles were inserted bilaterally into the abdominal and hind limb muscles and connected to an electrical stimulator. Two frequencies – 2 Hz (low) and 80 Hz (high) – with three different intensities – 1.5, 3, and 6 mA – were applied for 35 s.


Low-frequency EA at intensities of 3 and 6 mA elicited significant increases in OBF in the Control group compared to baseline. In the PCO group the increases in OBF were significant only when stimulating with low-frequency EA at 6 mA. After severance of the ovarian sympathetic nerves, the increased response of OBF that had been induced by low-frequency EA in both the Control and PCO group was abolished, indicating that the OBF response is mediated via the ovarian sympathetic nerves. High-frequency EA at 6 mA significantly decreased OBF and mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) in the Control group compared to baseline. In the PCO group, the same stimulation produced similar decreases in MAP, but not in OBF.


Low-frequency EA stimulation with a strong intensity (6 mA) increases OBF in rats with steroid-induced PCO whereas less strong intensity (3 mA) induces similar changes in control rats. Severance of the ovarian sympathetic nerves, abolish this OBF increase in both study groups, which suggests that the responses of OBF to EA are mediated via the ovarian sympathetic nerves.
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How acupuncture stimulates ovulation (the mechanism)

Clinical studies on the mechanism for acupuncture stimulation of ovulation
Mo X; Li D; Pu Y; Xi G; Le X; Fu Z Zhejiang College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Hangzhou.

Ovulatory dysfunction is commonly seen in gynecology clinic. It may cause infertility, amenia, functional uterine bleeding and a variety of complications. This research according to TCM theory records treating with acupuncture 34 patients suffering from ovulatory dysfunction. Changes in clinical symptoms and some relative targets are reported, plus findings in animal experiments. The theory concerning the generative and physiologic axis of women, this research involved the following points; Ganshu (UB 18), Shenshu (UB 23), Guanyuan (Ren 4), Zhongji (Ren 3), and Sanyinjiao (Sp 6). The reinforcement and reduction of acupuncture enables it to strengthen liver and kidney. Through the Chong and Ren channels it nourishes uterus to adjust the patient’s axis function and recover ovulation. Treated on an average of 30 times, the patients’ symptoms improved to varying degrees. The marked effective rate was 35.29%, the total effective rate being 82.35%. BBT, VS, CMS, and B ultrasonic picture all improved to some degree. The results also showed that acupuncture may adjust FSH, LH, and E2 in two directions and raise the progesterone level, bringing them to normal. The animal experiments confirmed this result. Results showed that acupuncture may adjust endocrine function of the generative and physiologic axis of women, thus stimulating ovulation. The results of this research will provide some scientific basis for treating and further studying this disorder.

In anovulatory infertility cases the hyperactive sympathetic system can be depressed by electro acupuncture and the function of the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis can be regulated by electro acupuncture via central sympathetic system

Relationship Between Blood Radioimmunoreactive Beta-Endorphin and Hand Skin Temperature During The Electro-Acupuncture Induction of Ovulation

By Chen Bo Ying M.D. Lecturer of Neurobiology
Institute of Acupuncture Research, and Yu Jin, MD., Prof of Gynecology Obstetricus and Gynecology Hospital Shanghai Medical University Shanghai, People’s Republic of China


Thirteen cycles of anovulation menstruation in 11 cases were treated with Electro-Acupuncture (EA) ovulation induction. In 6 of these cycles which showed ovulation, the hand skin temperature (HST) of these patients was increased after EA treatment. In the other 7 cycles ovulation was not induced. There were no regular changes in HST of 5 normal subjects. The level of radioimmunoreactive beta-endorphin (rß-E) fluctuated, and returned to the preacupunctural level in 30 min. after withdrawal of needles in normal subjects. After EA, the level of blood rß-E in cycles with ovulation declined or maintained the range of normal subjects. But the level of blood rß-E and increase of HST after EA (r=-0.677, P <0.01). EA is able to regulate the function of the hypothalamic pituitary-ovarian axis. Since a good response is usually accompanied with the increase of HST, monitoring HST may provide a rough but simple method for prediciting the curative effect of EA. The role of rß-E in the mechanism of EA ovulation induction was discussed.

KEYWORDS: Electro-Acupuncture (EA), Hand Skin Temperature (HST), radioimmunoreactive beta-endorphin (rß-E), ovulation, radioimmunoassay (RIA).
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Acupuncture, IVF/ICSI and follicle development

fertility and sterility acupunctureAcupuncture Treatment For Infertile Women Undergoing Intracytoplasmic Sperm injection
Sandra L. Emmons, MD
Phillip Patton, MD

Source: Medical Acupuncture, A Journal For Physicians By Physicians
Spring / Summer 2000- Volume 12 / Number 2
"Aurum Nostrum Non Est Aurum Vulgi"

Table 1. Outcomes for Acupuncture vs Non-Acupuncture Cycles Among 6 Women Undergoing ICSI*
Patient No.
Age, y
Non-Acupuncture Cycles
Follicles Cycles Follicles Cycles
Mean No. No. Mean No. No. Outcome
1 29 4.7 3 8 1 IUP
2 34 2 1 10 2 SAB twice
3 36 3 2 14 1 SAB
4 37 8 1 6 1 No pregnancy
5 38 1 1 4 1 Cycle canceled
6 41 2 1 6 1 SAB
Mean (SD) 3.7 (1.0) 8.4 (1.3)
*ICSI indicates intracytoplasmic sperm injection; IUP, intrauterine pregnancy; and SAB, early spontaneous abortion. P=.02 for overall acupuncture follicles vs non-acupuncture follicles.

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Chinese herbal medicine – higher success rates of pregnancy, no side-effects

Measuring the Effectiveness of Chinese Herbal Medicine in Improving Female Fertility

By: Trevor A. Wing & Elke S. Sedlmeier

Keywords: Infertility, Chinese herbal medicine, ultrasound, hormone levels.

Aim: To determine the relationship between female fertility indicators and the administration of
Chinese herbal medicine (CHM).

Design: A prospective cohort clinical study to measure accepted bio-medical
factors that affect female fertility and to determine if CHM can improve these factors as well as pregnancy outcome.

Setting: A private practice specialising in treating infertility with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The study took place between November 2003 and December 2004. Patient(s): Fifty women with the Western medical diagnosis of unexplained infertility.

Interventions: One monitored menstrual cycle measuring pre-treatment fertility factors, followed by treatment with Chinese herbal medicine and subsequent measurement of the changes in the same fertility factors.

Results: Significant differences were observed between the two time points for the majority of factors measured. Pregnancies in the sample group recorded 6 months after commencement of the last treatment were 28, with 11 live births and 7 miscarriages.

Conclusion: The study outcome demonstrates that using Chinese herbal medicine results in higher success rates of pregnancy, with no patient side-effects and a reduction in the category of patients conventionally classified as having unexplained infertility.


The research question this study seeks to answer is “Does administering Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) improve the physiological factors affecting human female fertility?” The hypothesis is that administering CHM improves the main physiological factors affecting human female fertility and therefore also the pregnancy
rate. These factors are ovarian follicle number and size, uterine endometrium thickness, uterine artery
haemodynamics, serum follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), serum progesterone levels and corpus luteum
Research aims and objectives

1. Establish a sample group of 50 new patients registering for fertility treatment at a London natural health fertility clinic.
2. Test and record a predetermined group of twelve measurements prior to treatment during one menstrual cycle.
3. Administer CHM in capsule form for one menstrual cycle.
4. Re-test the same parameters in the third cycle of treatment, continue to administer CHM for six months (or until pregnancy is achieved if this occurs in less than six months). Follow up six months after the beginning of the last patient’s treatment
5. To determine the number of pregnancies achieved.
6. Analyse results and discuss findings.
7. Draw conclusions and make recommendations for further practice and study.


The challenge for any investigative method when applied to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is that
in everyday practice, the same disease in different patients will have a different treatment principle
and herbal prescription. The information collected from the traditional Chinese examination and
assessment determines a diagnosis based on pattern differentiation and hence a treatment principle and
formula which is individualised for each patient. In our treatment of infertility there is, in addition,
a weekly modification of each patient’s formula. As there is thus no standardisation of formulae for
patients it is not appropriate to discuss the formulae themselves in this study, but rather to simply study
the effects of Chinese herbal medicine treatment on female fertility.

The method chosen was a prospective cohort primary study using a sample group of patients registered
with the clinic for TCM infertility treatment.

Patients were selected for the study on the basis that they had no Western medical condition which might have affected their fertility. In other words they were described in Western medical terms as having unexplained infertility. They also entered the study on the condition that data obtained in the course of their treatment could be used in the study anonymously.

Acupuncture useful tool for improving pregnancy rate after ART(IVF, ICSI)

fertility and sterility acupunctureFertil Steril. 2002 Apr;77(4):721-4.

Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy.
Paulus WE, Zhang M, Strehler E, El-Danasouri I, Sterzik K.

Department of Reproductive Medicine, Christian-Lauritzen-Institut, Ulm, Germany. paulus@reprotox.de

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. DESIGN: Prospective randomized study. SETTING: Fertility center. PATIENT(S): After giving informed consent, 160 patients who were undergoing ART and who had good quality embryos were divided into the following two groups through random selection: embryo transfer with acupuncture (n = 80) and embryo transfer without acupuncture (n = 80). INTERVENTION(S): Acupuncture was performed in 80 patients 25 minutes before and after embryo transfer. In the control group, embryos were transferred without any supportive therapy. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Clinical pregnancy was defined as the presence of a fetal sac during an ultrasound examination 6 weeks after embryo transfer.

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.

PCOS and Acupuncture: Electro-acupuncture normalises EV-induced changes in ovarian ARs

Effect of electro-acupuncture on ovarian expression of alpha (1)- and beta (2)-adrenoceptors, and p75 neurotrophin receptors in rats with steroid-induced polycystic ovaries.
Manni L, Lundeberg T, Holmang A, Aloe L, Stener-Victorin E.

Cardiovascular Institute and Wallenberg Laboratory, Sahlgrenska Academy, Goteborg University, SE-413 45 Goteborg, Sweden. l.manni@in.rm.cnr.it

BACKGROUND: Estradiol valerate (EV)-induced polycystic ovaries (PCO) in rats is associated with an increase in ovarian sympathetic outflow. Low-frequency (2 Hz) electro-acupuncture (EA) has been shown to modulate sympathetic markers as well as ovarian blood flow as a reflex response via the ovarian sympathetic nerves, in rats with EV-induced PCO. METHODS: In the present study, we further tested the hypothesis that repeated 2 Hz EA treatments modulate ovarian sympathetic outflow in rats with PCO, induced by a single i.m. injection of EV, by investigating the mRNA expression, the amount and distribution of proteins of alpha1a-, alpha1b-, alpha1d-, and beta2-adrenoceptors (ARs), as well as the low-affinity neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR). RESULTS: It was found that EV injection results in significantly higher mRNA expression of ovarian alpha1b- and alpha1d-AR in PCO rats compared to control rats. The p75NTR and beta2-ARs mRNA expression were unchanged in the PCO ovary. Low-frequency EA resulted in a significantly lower expression of beta2-ARs mRNA expression in PCO rats. The p75NTR mRNA was unaffected in both PCO and control rats. PCO ovaries displayed significantly higher amount of protein of alpha1a-, alpha1b- and alpha1d-ARs, and of p75NTR, compared to control rats, that were all counteracted by repeated low-frequency EA treatments, except for alpha1b-AR. CONCLUSION: The present study shows that EA normalizes most of the EV-induced changes in ovarian ARs. Furthermore, EA was able to prevent the EV-induced up regulation of p75NTR, probably by normalizing the sympathetic ovarian response to NGF action. Our data indicate a possible role of EA in the regulation of ovarian responsiveness to sympathetic inputs and depict a possible complementary therapeutic approach to overcoming sympathetic-related anovulation in women with PCOS.

PCOS (polycystic ovaries): Acupuncture reverses PCOS NFG abdundance

Electro-acupuncture reverses nerve growth factor abundance in experimental polycystic ovaries in the rat.

Bai YH, Lim SC, Song CH, Bae CS, Jin CS, Choi BC, Jang CH, Lee SH, Pak SC.

Research Division of Biological Science, Chosun University Medical School, Gwangju, Korea.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) remains one of the most common causes of anovulation in women of reproductive age. There is some evidence that nerve growth factor (NGF) is involved in the pathogenesis of PCOS. Therefore, seeking the pathogenesis of PCOS is important for controlling fertility. In traditional Oriental Medicine, acupuncture has been used for the function of ovaries. The present study was designed to determine whether electro-acupuncture (EA) could affect experimentally induced polycystic ovary (PCO) in the rat. The two acupoints Sp-6 and E-128 were stimulated to test for efficacy in the protein expression of NGF. Polycystic ovaries were induced by a single injection of estradiol valerate (4 mg i.m.). During the experimental period of 8 weeks, some of the rats were treated with EA twice weekly; this group was compared with a vehicle-treated control group and an estradiol-injected group not subjected to EA. At day 60, the protein expression of NGF was examined by immunohistochemistry in the ovaries, the adrenal glands and some parts of the brain. The estradiol treatment induced a clear PCO appearance, and was associated with a robust increase in NGF expression in the ovaries, the adrenal glands and the brain. EA treatment partly reversed the NGF abundance, particularly in the ovaries, but not in the brain. Our data show that EA affects the NGF involvement in ovarian dysfunction. Copyright 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel

Acupuncture and PCOS anovulation: Electro-Acupuncture induces regular ovulations

Effects of electro-acupuncture on anovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
Stener-Victorin E, Waldenstrom U, Tagnfors U, Lundeberg T, Lindstedt G, Janson PO.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Goteborg University, Sweden.

BACKGROUND: The present study was designed to evaluate if electro-acupuncture (EA) could affect oligo-/anovulation and related endocrine and neuroendocrine parameters in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). METHODS: Twenty-four women (between the ages of 24 and 40 years) with PCOS and oligo-/amenorrhea were included in this non-randomized, longitudinal, prospective study. The study period was defined as the period extending from 3 months before the first EA treatment, to 3 months after the last EA treatment (10-14 treatments), in total 8-9 months. The menstrual and ovulation patterns were confirmed by recording of vaginal bleedings and by daily registrations of the basal body temperature (BBT). Blood samples were collected within a week before the first EA, within a week after the last EA and 3 months after EA. RESULTS: Nine women (38%) experienced a good effect. They displayed a mean of 0.66 ovulations/woman and month in the period during and after the EA period compared to a mean of 0.15 before the EA period (p=0.004). Before EA, women with a good effect had a significantly lower body-mass index (BMI) (p<0.001), waist-to-hip circumference ratio (WHR) (p=0.0058), serum testosterone concentration (p=0.0098), serum testosterone/sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) ratio (p=0.011) and serum basal insulin concentration (p=0.0054), and a significantly higher concentration of serum SHBG (p=0.040) than did those women with no effect. CONCLUSION: Repeated EA treatments induce regular ovulations in more than one third of the women with PCOS. The group of women with good effect had a less androgenic hormonal profile before treatment and a less pronounced metabolic disturbance compared with the group with no effect. For this selected group EA offers an alternative to pharmacological ovulation induction.

Acupuncture normalizes dysfunction of hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis

Acupuncture normalizes dysfunction of hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis.

Chen BY.

Institute of Acupuncture, Shanghai Medical University, P.R. China.

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 means 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.

Acupunct Electrother Res. 1997;22(2):97-108.