Chin J Integr Med. 2011 May;17(5):386-95. Epub 2011 May 25.
Acupuncture for infertility: is it an effective therapy?
Huang DM, Huang GY, Lu FE, Stefan D, Andreas N, Robert G.
Institute of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Tongji Hospital, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China. [email protected]
Acupuncture has been used to treat infertility extensively, including ovulatory dysfunction, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (IVF-ET), and male infertility. This review summarizes the recent studies which investigated the role of acupuncture in infertility. In conclusion, most of the existing studies suggest a positive effect of acupuncture in infertility treatment.
Firstly, acupuncture may improve ovulation by modulating the central and peripheral nervous systems, the neuroendocrine and endocrine systems, the ovarian blood flow, and metabolism.
Secondly, acupuncture can improve the outcome of IVF-ET, and the mechanisms may be related to the increased uterine blood flow, inhibited uterine motility, and the anesis of depression, anxiety and stress. Its effect on modulating immune function also suggests helpfulness in improving the outcome of IVF-ET.
Finally, the studies suggest that acupuncture plays a positive role in male infertility, the mechanism of which is not yet clear.
Even though a positive effect of acupuncture in infertility has been found, well-designed multi-center, prospective randomized controlled studies are still needed to provide more reliable and valid scientific evidence. Furthermore, it is urgent and necessary to clarify the mechanism of acupuncture for infertility.