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Research Abstracts for Acupuncture and Infertility


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

Dieterle S, Ying G, Hatzmann W and Neuer A. Fertil Steril. 2006 May;85(5): 1347-51.

This study demonstrated that acupuncture increases ongoing pregnancies by 106% when compared to control subjects. It is important to emphasize that getting pregnant is only part of the story. We want HEALTHY pregnancies. To have the best chances to achieve a healthy pregnancy requires a comprehensive approach to your health. We cannot emphasize how important addressing your health comprehensively is for giving your baby the best chance at having a healthy and happy life.

2. Influence of acupuncture stimulation on pregnancy rates for women undergoing embryo transfer

Smith C, Fertility and Sterility 2006 Apr 4

This study examined 228 IVF patients. The group that received true acupuncture showed improvements in ongoing pregnancies of over 50% compared to subjects that received a sham acupuncture treatment. This is very clinically significant, though it did not rise to the level of statistical significance. 

3. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Cross-Over Study Evaluating Acupuncture as an Adjunct to In-Vitro Fertilization

Quintero Fertility and Sterility Vol: 81, Supplement 3, April, 2004

This was a pilot study where researchers used a completely different acupuncture protocol than the Paulus protocol, but found that in addition to duplicating the 60% increase in ongoing pregnancies of the Paulus study, there was a 180% increase in implantation rates and a significant reduction in the amount of gonadotrophins used (for an average cost savings greater than the cost of acupuncture for the cycle).


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

Westergaard LG, Fertility and Sterility 2006 Apr 4; 

This is one of the most important studies for a number of reasons. First, this study once again demonstrates that properly applied acupuncture results in IVF ongoing pregnancy increases of over 60%. However, it also demonstrates the consequences of trivializing proper training and knowledge. In this case, obstetric acupuncture was applied improperly by non-acupuncturists (untrained nurses) using acupuncture points that are contraindicated during pregnancy according to Traditional Chinese Medicine Textbooks. They chose these points based on a Western understanding of acupuncture and ignored thousands of years of accumulated knowledge in Chinese Medicine.


5. Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture 

Stener-Victorin Hum Reprod. 1996 Jun;11(6):1314-7

Successful in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer require optimal endometrial receptivity at the time of implantation. The amount of blood flow to the uterus is considered valuable in assessing endometrial receptivity. This study showed that acupuncture treatments performed twice per week for four weeks significantly increase blood flow to the uterus and may explain one mechanism for the substantial increases in pregnancies when acupuncture is incorporated.


6. Impact of Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine on In Vitro Fertilization Outcomes

Lee. E Hullender Rubin et al. Reprod. Biomed Online. 2015 Jun; 30(6): 602-612.

This retrospective cohort study reviewed 1231 patient records and compared 3 groups: those who received IVF with no additional treatment, those who received IVF with acupuncture on the day of their embryo transfer and those who received IVF with whole-systems traditional Chinese medicine (WS-TCM). WS-TCM is defined as “a complex intervention that can include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, dietary, lifestyle recommendations or both.” Looking at the primary outcome of live birth, IVF with WS-TCM was associated with greater chance of live birth in donor and non-donor cycles compared to the other 2 groups. 


7. Effects of Electro-Acupuncture on Nerve Growth Factor and Ovarian Morphology in Rats with Experimentally Induced PCOS. 

Stener-Victorin, Lundberg, et al.  Biology Of Reproduction 63, 1497-1503 (2000)

Despite extensive research on the pathogenesis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), there is still disagreement on the underlying mechanisms. The rat model for experimentally induced polycystic ovaries (PCO)—produced by a single injection of estradiol valerate—has similarities with human PCOS, and both are associated with hyperactivity in the sympathetic nervous system. Electro-acupuncture (EA) is known to reduce hyperactivity in the sympathetic nervous system. For these reasons, the model was used in the present study to investigate the effects of EA (12 treatments, approximately 25 min each, over 30 days) by analyzing NGF in the central nervous system and the endocrine organs, including the ovaries. The main findings in the present study were first, that significantly higher concentrations of NGF were found in the ovaries and the adrenal glands in the rats in the PCO model than in the control rats that were only injected with the vehicle (oil or NaCl). Second, that repeated EA treatments in PCO rats resulted in concentrations of NGF in the ovaries that were significantly lower than those in non-EA-treated PCO rats but were within a normal range that did not differ from those in the untreated oil and NaCl control groups. The results in the present study provide support for the theory that EA inhibits hyperactivity in the sympathetic nervous system. 


8. Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility. 

Pei J. Fertil Steril. 2005 Jul;84(1):141-7. 

This study showed that men receiving acupuncture had statistically significant improvements in sperm morphology.


9. Clinical studies on the mechanism for acupuncture stimulation of ovulation

 Mo J Tradit Chin Med 1993 Jun;13(2):115-9

This study examined the effects of acupuncture on stimulating ovulation and regulating ovulatory problems. The researchers concluded that acupuncture seems to increase progesterone levels and regulate FSH, LH and E2 levels. This study involved 30 acupuncture treatments and had an 82.35% effective rate.


10. Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine IVF Acupuncture: Acupuncture for Infertility.

Retrieved March 14, 2017, from

11. Image Credit: Jenny Meagor Acupuncture.

12. Lyttleton, J. (2004). Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine (pp. 8-45). Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingstone.

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