Pathophysiology of Infertility in Oriental Medicine


Female : Coldness in lower abdomen, inflammation inside uterus, inflammation inside ovaries, lower level of qi(energy), failure of producing eggs, obstruction of tubes, megaly of the uterus, disharmony of Yin(female) and Yang(male).

Male : Coldness in lower abdomen, lack of sperm, absence of sperm, weakness of sperm, lower level of qi(energy), clammy skin on the groin.

Treatment methods : Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and cupping.

 Acupuncture for fertility

Acupuncture therapy images

While acupuncture is used to treat muscles, bruises, and bodily injuries, it can also be used to effectively treat both male and female infertility.

Numerous clinical studies now suggest that acupuncture treatments before and after embryo transfer (IVF) may lead to increased pregnancy rates.

Why Acupuncture for Fertility?

♦ Has been shown to improve pregnancy rates.

♦ Dramatically relieves stress.

♦ Regulates the menses and increase the blood flow to the uterus.

♦ Regulates the hormones and increases the ovarian response function.

♦ Has been shown to decrease spasms and cramping that often occur during the uterine transfer/IUI.

♦ Has been shown to reduce side effects of hormone treatments.

♦ Helps to strengthen the immune system.

♦ Improves sperm count/male fertility.

Acupuncture and Success Rates

Research studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can increase pregnancy success rates when going through IVF and assisted reproductive technology (ART) therapies.

A 2002 study in Germany showed that women who received acupuncture with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) had a 42.5% success rate, compared to a 26.3% success rate for those who did not get acupuncture. In 2006 study found that acupuncture during the second half of the menstrual cycle more than doubled pregnancy rates (33.6% vs 15.6%) for women undergoing IVF or ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection – a type of IVF).  A second study in 2006 reported that acupuncture on the day of IVF embryo transfer (with acupuncture treatment administered both before and after the transfer) increased pregnancy rates from 26% to 39%.

Acupuncture, Stress and Fertility

One of the ways acupuncture infertility treatment increases fertility is by reducing stress, which often is a key factor in the fertility of both men and women. When people are under stress, the hormone cortisol is released in the brain. This alters the brain’s neurochemical balance, thus changing hormone levels and disrupting the pituitary balance and consequently affecting the reproductive cycle. Acupuncture works to calm the stress hormones (which when elevated, negatively impact on fertility) that may be increased as a result of lifestyle choices, other hormonal imbalances, or fertility challenges themselves.

Modern science shows that acupuncture affects the autonomic nervous system and activates the parasympathetic nervous system to decrease stress, muscle tension, anxiety and irritability. Acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system and increases the production of endorphins and encephalins, which are naturally occurring chemicals in the body that improve a person’s mood and overall feeling of well-being.

Acupuncture for IVF and IUI Patients

Research shows that acupuncture performed “pre” and “post” treatment is associated with a significant increase in pregnancy rates and live births. For patients scheduled to have their embryo transfer/IUI, each acupuncture appointment includes a 25 minute pre-embryo transfer/IUI session followed by a post-embryo transfer/IUI session.

Acupuncture for “Pre” and “Post” Uterine Transfer (IVF)

Acupuncture helps patients feel more calm, prepared, and grounded just prior to their embryo transfer or IUI. It makes the procedure itself an easier and more comfortable experience, but also works later on, throughout the next 24-48 hours, to help prevent future discomfort.

Acupuncture not only puts a patient’s mind at ease, but has also been shown to decrease the spasms and cramping that often occur during the uterine transfer and IUI. Our pre/post treatment is specifically designed to help decrease this cramping by relaxing the uterine muscle wall.

And finally, acupuncture has one final benefit prior to fertility procedures. It helps to influence blood flow in the uterus and endometrial lining. Influencing blood flow to the uterus is an important aspect on the day of transfer, as fertility doctors are looking for the embryo(s) or blastocyst to be in the environment possible to support implantation.

Adapted from (


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