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Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine Effects on Assisted Reproductive Technology

Dan Jiang, MMedSci, FBAcC, FATCM,1 Lily Li, FRCS MRCS MA (Cantab) MB/BChir BA (Hons) (Cantab)2

Simei Wan,3 and Fanyi Meng, MB, MM, MBAcC, FHEA4


Background: Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is the routine treatment for infertility. The success rate

for individual sessions is generally not high, and many patients need to undergo several cycles. To increase

their chances of success, many patients turn to acupuncture to complement ART. Many clinical trials of

acupuncture helping in vitro fertilization (IVF) have focused only on IVF–embryo transfer (ET). In some

difficult cases, when even IVF cannot be offered, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can improve the patients’

conditions to reach a level at which ART can be successful.

Cases: Six cases showed how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), using Chinese herbs, can

make IVF possible in difficult cases and how they can also help prevent miscarriage afterward. The cases

included patients with amenorrhea, sperm disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome, diminished ovarian reserve

(DOR), tubal blockage, premenopause, and premature ovarian insufficiency.

Results: Acupuncture and Chinese herbs worked together to help make ART possible or easier. The ART used

for these patients included intrauterine insemination, IVF, IVF with a donor egg, and introcytoplasmic sperm

injection. In 3 cases, IVF was not initially successful but was successful after TCM treatment.

Conclusions: These 6 cases demonstrated the positive effect of a combined approach, using acupuncture and

herbs to reduce DOR and regulate hormonal disorders, creating sustainable environments for conceiving and

maintaining pregnancy, thus, translating into clinical success. Clinical observation of these cases sheds new

light on designing future clinical trials and practice of TCM for practitioners who provide infertility treatments.

Keywords: infertility, acupuncture, Chinese herb, ART, IVF, case study

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