Acupuncture Treatment for
Infertility and Assisted Reproduction
Alla Malko, PhD, L.Ac.
Siegler Center for Integrative Medicine
The Institute of Reproductive
Medicine and Science of Saint Barnabas (www.sbivf.com) is considered
to be the worlds best IVF Institute and it is increasingly using acupuncture
to better the chances of success for their patients. Dr. Malko works
closely with the Institute and has treated and helped countless patients
Acupuncture for Infertility
Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy are ancient Chinese methods used for the
treatment and prevention of disease. These systems are as ancient and
effective as any other medical techniques used in the world today. They
have been practiced consistently for the past five thousand years in the
Orient. Seventy percent of one quarter of the world's population uses
acupuncture and herbs as their main form of health care. Although acupuncture
has been used in England, France, and Germany for several hundred years,
only in the past two decades have Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese
Medicine (TCM) been recognized in the United States. The benefits of Acupuncture
and TCM in treatment for the infertile couple can be found in early Chinese
medical literature dating back to the 11AD. Not only do these techniques
assist in regulating the menstrual cycle and invigorating the sperm, but
they also serve to enhance the function of the whole body. This "whole
body" health approach, in turn, provides a key to unlock unlimited
potential in healing. This is especially appropriate for the over 40 couple
as it stimulates overall health to effect reproductive health and a reduction
of biological age.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese method of healing that uses needles
and/or other stimuli (e.g. pressure, vacuum, electricity, heat) on the
body anatomically defined locations or acupoints, to balance the flow
of vital energy, Qi (pronounced “chee”). By restoring the
balance of Qi in the body, acupuncture not only heals disease and pain,
but also promotes the wellness of a healthy person.
According to scientific research, these so-called acupoints correspond
to areas on the surface of the body that have been shown to have greater
electrical conductance due to the presence of a higher density of gap
junctions along cell borders. A greater metabolic rate, temperature,
and calcium ion concentration are also observed at these points.
Acupuncture is a natural and holistic treatment that has been recognized
by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an effective therapy for many
conditions and is practiced in many countries around the world today.
THE CONCEPT OF QI, YIN AND YANG,
MERIDIANS AND DISEASE IN TCM
The basis of Acupuncture that the body has an energy force running throughout
it. This energy force is known as Qi (roughly pronounced Chee). The
Qi consists of all essential life activities which include the spiritual,
emotional, mental and the physical aspects of life. A person's health
is influenced by the flow of Qi in the body, in combination with the
universal forces of Yin and Yang . If the flow of Qi is insufficient,
unbalanced or interrupted, Yin and Yang become unbalanced, and illness
may occur. Qi travels throughout the body along "Meridians"
or special pathways. The Meridians, (or Channels), are the same on both
sides of the body (paired). There are fourteen main meridians running
vertically up and down the surface of the body. Out of these, there
are twelve organ Meridians in each half of the body. There are also
two unpaired midline Meridians. There are 365 Classical acupuncture
points located along 14 Meridians that cover entire body.
Yin and Yang is an important theory in the discussion of Acupuncture
treatment, in relation to the Chinese theory of body systems. As stated
earlier Qi is an energy force that runs throughout the body. In addition,
Qi is also prevalent throughout nature as well. Qi is comprised of two
parts, Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are opposite forces, that when balanced,
work together. Any upset in the balance will result in natural calamities,
in nature; and disease in humans. Yin is signified by female attributes,
passive, dark, cold, moist, that which moves medially, and deficient
of Yang. Yang is signified by male attributes, light, active, warm,
dry, that which moves laterally, and deficient of Yin. Nothing is completely
Yin or Yang. The most striking example of this is man himself. A man
is the combination of his mother (Yin) and and his father (Yang). He
contains qualities of both. Energy constantly flows up and down these
pathways. When pathways become obstructed, deficient, excessive, or
just unbalanced, Yin and Yang are said to be thrown out of balance.
This causes illness. Acupuncture is said to restore the balance.
Some Advantages of Using
Traditional Chinese Medicine
1. TCM sees the person as an integral Mind/body organism, thereby does
not treat just symptoms/diseases. TCM ventures to stimulate the bodies
natural healing potential by treating root causes rather than just symptoms.
2. TCM, used in the treatment of infertility, minimizes undesired side
effects and accumulated toxicity from invasive procedures and drug therapies,
known and unknown.
3. Traditional Chinese medicine may be used to strengthen and balance
one's general health so that IVF, GIFT, ZIFT, ICSI, AHT and TET procedures
are more effective. The TCM patient derives general health benefits and
endocrine system balancing from specific acupuncture and herbal regimes.
Pregnancy becomes easier to achieve and postpartum recuperation happens
faster. Medical studies have been done in China to verify this type of
whole body health enhancement.
4. The widespread use of TCM suggests that it is a complete traditional
medical health care system and can be used with or without the integration
of Western medical techniques. The integration of Western medicine, as
we know it in America, began in the Orient less than a century ago. It
is called INTEGRAL CHINESE MEDICINE (ITCM). Ancient medical techniques
of acupuncture and herbs utilized with modern procedures, seem to work
Benefits of Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a safe and virtually painless form of infertility treatment.
It can be effectively used alone without invasive procedures or fertility
drugs, thus avoiding potentially negative side effects.
Acupuncture is an effective treatment for infertility, even for women
who had failed IVF/IVI attempts.
Acupuncture offers an economical solution at a fraction of the cost of
Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with IVF/IUI and other Western
Acupuncture can help increase the success rate of IVF. A German study
has shown that Acupuncture increases IVF success rate dramatically from
26% to 42%.
Acupuncture holistically improves the woman’s general health which
promotes conception and pregnancy. This also decreases chances of miscarriage.
Acupuncture can help to alleviate stress. Stress may be related to many
unknown infertility cases. High levels of stress hormones are known to
suppress fertility and reduce the chances of conception.
Acupuncture can help balance hormone levels, regulate menstrual cycles,
and alleviate menstrual pain. This helps the body to store essential energy
and to be prepared for conception.
Scientific explanation how Acupuncture treatment
has potential fertility-boosting benefits:
Increased blood flow to the uterus and therefore uterine wall thickness,
an important marker for fertility
Increased endorphin production, which, in turn, has been shown to effect
the release of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), a decapeptide
involved in regulating reproduction
Lower stress hormones responsible for infertility
Impact on plasma levels of the fertility hormones: follicle-stimulating
hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol (E2), and Progesterone
Normalization of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, a key process
A positive effect for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a hormonal
imbalance present in three percent of adolescents and adults.
1. 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].
The Institute of East-West Medicine and the Center for Reproductive Medicine
and Infertility, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York,
New York. FERTILITY AND STERILITYÂ® VOL. 78, NO. 6, DECEMBER
2002 Copyright Â©2002 American Society for Reproductive Medicine
2. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo
assisted reproduction therapy.
Wolfgang E. Paulus, M.D.,[a] Mingmin Zhang, M.D.,[b] Erwin Strehler, M.D.,[a]
Imam El-Danasouri, Ph.D.,[a] and Karl Sterzik, M.D.[a]. Christian-Lauritzen-Institut,
3. Acupuncture &IVF. Lifang Liang, OMD, PhD, L.Ac. Blue Poppy Press,
4. Acupuncture in Gynaecology and Obstetrics. Royston Low, PhD, ND, Dr.Ac.Thorsons
Publishing Group. England