Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Fertility Success with IVF Revealed

Researchers have discovered that acupuncture increases live birth rates and pregnancy rates for women receiving in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments for infertility. Kidney Qi deficiency and Liver Qi stagnation are predictive of success. Many recent studies conclude that acupuncture enhances fertility but one recent study investigated success rates by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) differential diagnosis. They discovered that two types of diagnosis are more likely to respond with a higher success rate. Women diagnosed with either Kidney deficiency or Liver Qi stagnation have higher success rates than those diagnosed with phlegm dampness syndrome.

Three major groups of infertile women receiving IVF with embryo transplantation were studied. Group A consisted of 82 cases of Kidney deficiency syndrome. Group B consisted of 74 women with Liver Qi stagnation and Group C consisted of 54 cases of phlegm dampness syndrome. Electro-acupuncture was applied to all three groups. All three groups benefitted from electro-acupuncture as was quantified statistically with success rates and in the lab with increases in blood and embryo levels of HLA-G, a protein predictive of higher pregnancy and live birth rates.


In the last year, a great many studies have reached similar conclusions. Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine concluded that acupuncture increases pregnancy rates for women receiving IVF at medical clinics that otherwise have low success rates. A meta-analysis of 16 clinical trials consisting of 4,021 subjects revealed that acupuncture was successful in increasing pregnancy rates in clinics with a lower than 32% IVF success rate. The study concludes that in clinical scenarios where pregnancy rates are low, acupuncture effectively increases pregnancy rates.

In another study of women who had at least 2 unsuccessful IVF fertility treatments concluded that acupuncture increased IVF procedure success rates over both sham and control groups. The acupuncture group had a 35.7% success rate whereas the sham group had a 10.7% success rate. The control group had a 7.1% success rate. Acupuncture points used in the study were: UB18, UB22, UB23, UB52, REN3, REN4, REN5, REN7 and DU4.

One of the more surprising studies to come out recently demonstrated that acupuncture is more effective than clomifene (Clomid, Omifin) for the treatment of infertility. Acupuncture had a 76.8% success rate for the induction of ovulation and clomifene demonstrated a 48.1% success rate. Even more compelling than these findings were those of the live birth rates. Acupuncture demonstrated much higher live birth rates for women than the clomifene treated patients. Very importantly, the best results were achieved for women receiving acupuncture on the same days as the embryo transfer.

KONG, Feng-yun, Qi-yao ZHANG, Qun GUAN, Fu-qin JIAN, Wei SUN, and Yue WANG. "Effects of electro-acupuncture on embryo implanted potential of patients with infertility of different syndromes." World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion 22, no. 4 (2012): 32-36.

Manheimer, Eric, Daniëlle van der Windt, Ke Cheng, Kristen Stafford, Jianping Liu, Jayne Tierney, Lixing Lao, Brian M. Berman, Patricia Langenberg, and Lex M. Bouter. "The effects of acupuncture on rates of clinical pregnancy among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis." Human reproduction update (2013).

di Villahermosa, Daniela Isoyama Manca, Lara Guercio dos Santos, Mariana Balthazar Nogueira, Fabia Lima Vilarino, and Caio Parente Barbosa. "Influence of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilisation when embryo implantation has failed: a prospective randomised controlled clinical trial." Acupuncture in Medicine (2013).

Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science, 2012, 10(2), R246.3. Teng Hui, Liu Yu-lei, Wang Jun-ling, Xie Ying. Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shenzhen Maternal and Child Healthcare Hospital, Guangdong, China.

Johansson, Julia, et al. "Acupuncture for ovulation induction in polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized controlled trial." American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism (2013).

Hullender Rubin, Lee E., Michael S. Opsahl, Lisa Taylor-Swanson, and Deborah L. Ackerman. "Acupuncture and In Vitro Fertilization: A Retrospective Chart Review." The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2013).