Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth
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Journal of Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture reduces epidural use

Journal of Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture reduces epidural use | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
Acupuncture reduces epidural use  

A trial carried out in Sweden has found that women who received manual acupuncture (MA) or electro-acupuncture (EA) during labour used less epidural analgesia than women who received standard care. The longitudinal randomised controlled trial recruited 303 nulliparous women with normal pregnancies who were randomised to receive 40 minutes of either manual acupuncture (MA) or electro-acupuncture (EA), or standard care without acupuncture (SC). Subjective visual analogue pain scores did not differ between the three groups, however fewer women in the EA group used epidural analgesia (46%) compared with those in the MA group (61%) and SC group (70%). (Acupuncture with manual and electrical stimulation for labour pain: a longitudinal randomised controlled trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Jun 9;14:187).

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Acupuncture a Baby Boon for Celebrities

Acupuncture a Baby Boon for Celebrities | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
Many stars swear by acupuncture for assistance in conceiving children and maintaining good health during pregnancy. After years of infertility, popstar Celine D...
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Acupuncture as pain relief during delivery: a randomized controlled trial. [Birth. 2009] - PubMed - NCBI

Acupuncture as pain relief during delivery: a randomized controlled trial. [Birth. 2009] - PubMed - NCBI | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
Birth. 2009 Mar;36(1):5-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-536X.2008.00290.x.Acupuncture as pain relief during delivery: a randomized controlled trial.Borup L, Wurlitzer W, Hedegaard M, Kesmodel US, Hvidman L.Source

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby, Brendstrupgaardsvej, 8200 Aarhus N, Denmark.


Many women need some kind of analgesic treatment to relieve pain during childbirth. The objective of our study was to compare the effect of acupuncture with transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) and traditional analgesics for pain relief and relaxation during delivery with respect to pain intensity, birth experience, and obstetric outcome.


A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 607 healthy women in labor at term who received acupuncture, TENS, or traditional analgesics. Primary outcomes were the need for pharmacological and invasive methods, level of pain assessed by a visual analogue scale, birth experience and satisfaction with delivery, and pain relief evaluated at 2 months postpartum. Secondary obstetric outcomes were duration of labor, use of oxytocin, mode of delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, Apgar score, and umbilical cord pH value. Analysis complied with the intention-to-treat principle.


Use of pharmacological and invasive methods was significantly lower in the acupuncture group (acupuncture vs traditional, p < 0.001; acupuncture vs TENS, p = 0.031). Pain scores were comparable. Acupuncture did not influence the duration of labor or the use of oxytocin. Mean Apgar score at 5 minutes and umbilical cord pH value were significantly higher among infants in the acupuncture group compared with infants in the other groups.


Acupuncture reduced the need for pharmacological and invasive methods during delivery. Acupuncture is a good supplement to existing pain relief methods.


PubMed comprises more than 23 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Acupuncture (but Probably Should) by Zita West

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Acupuncture (but Probably Should) by Zita West | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
To celebrate Acupuncture Awareness Week we clear up some of the common misconceptions surround this ancient Chinese treatment and speak to leading acupuncturist Zita West to find out more.


10 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT ACUPUNCTURE (BUT PROBABLY SHOULD)To celebrate Acupuncture Awareness Week we clear up some of the common misconceptions surrounding this ancient Chinese treatment and speak to leading acupuncturist Zita West to find out more...

By Alexia Dellner 04 March 2014 Next article


Acupuncture dates back more than 3,000 years, with some acupuncturists arguing that it’s actually closer to 4,000 years old. It is based on the ancient Chinese belief that there are channels of energy (qi or chi) called meridians, flowing through the body that are important for health and wellbeing. ‘According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), obstructions to the flow of energy along these channels can result in physical, mental and emotional imbalance, which may eventually lead to disease. Stimulating acupuncture points frees the flow of energy so the body can re-establish its natural balance,’ says Zita. Got it?


2.3 million acupuncture treatments are carried out each year, making acupuncture one of the most popular complementary therapies practiced in the UK today. Zita trained as a midwife before becoming an acupuncturist and her A-list client roster includes Kate Winslet, Stella McCartney, Jemma Kidd, Cate Blanchett, Anne-Marie Duff and Sophie Wessex. All of whom went to see Zita while they were pregnant. Which brings us to our next point…


The jury’s still out on this one, but one report from the University of Maryland stated that acupuncture could increase a woman’s chance of pregnancy by 65%. ‘Moods, hormones and cycles govern women who are trying for a baby,’ explains Zita. ‘TCM makes a connection between the heart and the uterus, following the principle that qi becomes blocked by strong emotions. If the qi is unable to flow down to the uterus because of stress, worry or anger blocking the way, it will inevitably be harder to maintain regular cycles and fall pregnant.’


Yikes! But don't worry; these days acupuncture needles are usually made out of stainless steel and are prepackaged, sterilised and disposable. They are very fine in diameter, about the thickness of two human hairs.


Although needles are more traditional, if the idea of someone sticking needles into your forehead makes you queesy, don't fret. It’s possible to enjoy the benefits of acupuncture without the needles by either using finger pressure or small electrical charges.


‘The ancient Chinese didn't have all the scans and blood tests we have today, so instead they had to make a diagnosis based on observation and took into account attributes such as the colour of the skin, heat distribution throughout the body and the emotional aspects of that person,’ says Zita. ‘They did this by looking at the tongue, taking the pulses and working out where the patterns of disharmony lay within the body which linked to a Meridan system (12 in total which correspond to different organs) and as a result, were able to offer a treatment specific to each individual.’


Believe it or not, acupuncture actually feels pretty nice (when done properly). ‘I would say that the sensation a person experiences is often unique to them,’ says Zita. ‘They may initially feel a dullness or tingling around the insertion site, but this is often very pleasant. Once this feeling settles down, the body may begin to feel heavy, easing you into a very restful state.’


A recent Korean study showed that ear acupuncture can help people lose weight, with better results if practitioners stimulated five points instead of just one. Participants in the two-month study saw BMI drop by up to 6 percent and they also had less body fat and a smaller waist. There's no need-le to diet anymore then!


A 2013 study published in the journal PLOS Medicine showed that patients who suffer from depression may benefit more from acupuncture alongside their usual care, compared with usual care alone. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of York in the UK who found that after 3 months of acupuncture, patients with moderate to severe depression showed a significant reduction in average depression.


This ensures that acupuncture is safe, effective and free from any negative side affects. A good acupuncturist should also be kind and understanding, says Zita. ‘An acupuncturist needs to really be with their client in order for them to reach full potential. They need to recognise boundaries and instinctively know when an issue needs referring to a doctor or midwife.’ Find a trained acupunturist near you on the British Acupuncture Council’s website.

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Pregnancy and acupuncture

Pregnancy and acupuncture | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
What does one of the oldest healing practices in the world have to do with your fertility? Modern science says a lot, actually.


Planning on becoming a mum one day? Hopefully you’ll be one of the eight in 10 women who fall pregnant within a year.

If you struggle to conceive you’ve got plenty of options, including IVF, the use of which has more than doubled in the past 10 years. But there’s a more natural approach that could be just as effective: acupuncture.


According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture helps regulate qi, a form of energy that flows through your body. When qi is thrown off balance, health issues can occur.

“Research is being carried out in clinics and hospitals worldwide, verifying the beneficial use of traditional Chinese medicine in treating infertility,” says Jane Lyttleton, clinical director of The Acupuncture IVF Support Clinic.


So how does being needled help? “It depends on what’s causing your infertility,” says Lyttleton. Here, five main conditions her clinic treats:


Polycystic ovary syndrome “Acupuncture can reduce some of the internal factors that prevent polycystic ovaries from working properly,” says Lyttleton. A study in theAmerican Journal of Physiology found repeated acupuncture treatments increased ovulation frequency in PCOS patients.


Endometriosis “Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been shown to be effective for reducing the symptoms of endometriosis and improving fertility,” says Lyttleton. “They work to reduce inflammation and regulate the patient’s immune activity.”


Poor ovary function “Acupuncture can help with irregular periods by regulating hormones to improve menstrual cycle regularity, which will in turn increase fertility.”


Male infertility “Clinical trials have demonstrated the benefit of acupuncture to sperm quality – especially when there is low motility [when sperm aren’t moving forward correctly] or high numbers of abnormal forms,” says Lyttleton.


Stress It’s not news that stress can have a negative impact on fertility. Thankfully those little needles can be great for stress reduction, says Lyttleton. “Acupuncture can raise your endorphin levels and reduce stress hormones allowing your body and mind to relax immediately.” Om...


Need(le) to know: Your acupuncture questions, sorted.

*Who’s it for? “We have two main groups of patients,” says Jane Lyttleton, a Chinese medicine infertility treatment expert. “Women in their late 30s to early 40s, who want to use every strategy they can or who have tried IVF with no success. The second group: younger women having difficulty conceiving from having a gynaecological condition, like endometriosis or PCOS.”


*Does it hurt? It’s nothing like the flu jab, says David Lee, program leader for acupuncture at Endeavour College of Natual Health. “If the needle is placed in the right position you won’t feel a thing.” Typically they stay in for 20-25 minutes – enough time for a nap.


*How much does it cost? Consultation and treatment ranges from $75-90 per session. You won’t pay in full if you have health cover.


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New - Infertility To Pregnancy With Acupuncture

New - Infertility To Pregnancy With Acupuncture | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
New fertility research demonstrates that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treat infertility and promote pregnancies and live birth rates.


on 22 March 2014


A new clinical study concludes that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have potent effects in reversing infertility. Several types of patients suffering from infertility participated in the study including those using IVF, IUI and those using no biomedical assistance. All types showed significantly improved successful pregnancy rates. 

The researchers cited prior investigations measuring the biological mechanisms by which acupuncture enhances fertility. The researchers note that beta-endorphins and related neurotransmitters stimulated by acupuncture causes the secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). This exerts a regulatory effect on the menstrual cycle and ovulation. Acupuncture has been shown to enhance the micro-circulation of blood in the uterus through the inhibition of excess sympathetic nerve activity in the uterus. The researchers also note that their research is consistent with another investigation finding acupuncture successful in improving IVF outcomes.

The researchers note that the success rate of IVF is 24% (for 4 or more embryos transferred) as a standalone therapy. The combination of IVF with acupuncture has a significantly higher success rate of 42.5%. They note that the improved success rate is both indicates a safe and economical way to assist women undergoing fertility treatments. A total of 52.38% of women in the study conceived with acupuncture and/or herbal medicine without biomedical assistance. Another 9.52% conceived with acupuncture and/or herbs combined with IVF (in vitro fertilization) and 4.76% conceived with IUI (intrauterine insemination) combined with acupuncture.

Most women conceived within the first 12 months of the clinical trial. Measurements were made up to two years from the onset of acupuncture therapy. Several women did not complete the full 2 year course of the study. The study’s success rate may have been higher if all participants completed the full 2 year treatment regime. The women in the study consisted of 85.7% with primary infertility and 14.3% with secondary infertility. No adverse events were reported as a result of acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments. 

Acupuncture was the primary treatment method in this current investigation. Chinese herbal medicine supplemented acupuncture in several cases. Based on a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) differential diagnosis, herbal formulas Chai Hu Shu Gan San and Tao Hong Si Wu Tang were used. These formulas were added in cases wherein the TCM diagnostics indicated liver qi stagnation and blood stasis in the uterus respectively. We’ll take a look at the exact acupuncture points used in the study but first a quick look at the inclusion criteria.

Patients were admitted to the study if they met 5 inclusion criteria and did not meet 6 exclusion criteria. Patients had to be of child bearing age and between 21 and 45 years of age. Patients were required to be married with no conception after a least one year of unprotected sex during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycles. Patients had to be non-smokers and non-alcoholics. Patients needed to be willing to receive acupuncture and/or Chinese medicinal herbs and the husband had to have a healthy sexual activity ability and sperm analysis was required to be normal.

Patients with major heart, kidney, respiratory, liver function disorders and HIV were excluded. Women using illicit and investigational drugs were also excluded. If a patient used Traditional Chinese Medicine recently, they too were not able to participate in the study. Additionally, patients with any illness or issue that would impair compliance with the treatment schedule were excluded.

Acupuncture Treatment
Initially, acupuncture was administered 2-3 times per week following menstruation. During ovulation, acupuncture was administered on 3 consecutive days. This typically landed on days 12, 13 and 14. During the luteal phase, acupuncture was administered at a rate of approximately 2-3 times per week. The acupuncture needles were sterile, disposable needles of gauge 0.22 X 25mm and were inserted to a depth of 10-20mm. Deqi was stimulated at each point twice and the needle retention time was 25 minutes.

The acupuncture point selection was based on a TCM differential diagnosis. The primary point selection consisted of the following:

EX-CA1 (Zigong)
M-CA-23 (Sanjiaojiu, Qipang: bottom 2 points only)
SP6 (Sanyinjiao)
CV6 ( Qihai)
CV4 (Guanyuan)
CV3 (Zhongji)

Secondary points used in the study were:

CV12 (Zhongwan)
SP10 (Xuehai)
ST36 (Zusanli)
LR3 (Taichong)

The CV6, CV4, CV3 combination reflects a choice used classically by luminaries of the field. This combination powerfully nurtures the dantien, translated as the elixir field, sea of qi or energy center. Zigong is another point widely used in TCM for the treatment of infertility. Overall, the acupuncture point combinations reflect best practice choices within the TCM system.

The researchers provided a general overview of the study’s relevance and focus. They note that approximately 15% of women in the child bearing years experience infertility. There are a broad range of issues leading to infertility. The causes range from dysfunction of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovulation to hormonal imbalances. The researchers note that studies show that acupuncture regulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and therefore menstruation. Additional research demonstrates that acupuncture regulates endocrine system functions and therefore addresses hormonal disorders. In TCM, the diagnoses of blood stasis and liver qi stagnation were common to many of the participants. Based on these principles, the focus of the treatments were to enhance circulation in the uterus and ovaries to improve fertility.

The researchers note that “acupuncture shows promising success in treating female infertility as compared with IVF (in vitro fertilization) alone without acupuncture….” They also note that acupuncture and herbal medicine show a “positive effect” on treating several types of female infertility. They note that acupuncture with or without herbal medicine supplementation shows promise in the treatment of female infertility.

Similar Acupuncture Points
A recent meta-analysis concurs with this new study on the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of infertility and the effectiveness of the acupuncture point selection. The researchers determined common acupuncture points across multiple studies demonstrating effectiveness in promoting fertility. The comprehensive analysis of fertility treatments revealed that four key acupuncture points were significantly effective. Acupuncture points SP6 (Sanyinjiao), CV4 (Guanyuan), CV3 (Zhongji) and Zigong (Ex-CA1) demonstrated clinical efficacy.

Comparative Acupuncture Points
Another study of acupuncture points compared women receiving infertility treatments versus women receiving acupuncture for other concerns. A cross sectional study of 48 women consisted of two groups. Group 1 consisted of 24 women who were treated for infertility. Group 2 consisted of 24 women who were fertile and received acupuncture for other concerns. The acupuncture points common to both groups were K3, LV3 and SP6. The women receiving infertility treatments more often received the acupuncture points CV4, CV3 and ST29. For group 2, they received needling at SP3 more often than the women receiving treatment for infertility.

Pregnancy and Live Birth Rates
Researchers conclude that acupuncture improves both the pregnancy and live birth rates of women receiving in vitro fertilization and embryo transplantation (IVF-ET). During the investigation, researchers uncovered a biochemical mechanism by which acupuncture enhances fertility. In addition, the researchers compared successful IVF-ET rates with Chinese medicine differential diagnoses and made an interesting discovery.

The researchers found that electroacupuncture increases blood levels of HLA-G (human leukocyte antigen) “and the level of HLA-G secreted in embryos for the patients in the process of IVF-ET.” Presence of the HLA-G protein is predictive of higher pregnancy and live birth rates according to modern research conducted at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The researchers compared the Chinese medicine differential diagnostics for the women in the study. There were 82 kidney deficiency, 74 liver qi stagnation and 54 phlegm-dampness cases. The HLA-G levels were significantly higher during embryo transplantation as a result of electroacupuncture treatment for the kidney deficiency and liver qi stagnation groups. This corresponded to differences in the “high-quality embryo rate” with the kidney deficiency group having a 73 percent yield, the liver qi stagnation group having a 70 percent yield and the phlegm dampness group having a 54 percent high-quality yield. Of interest, all three groups had similar improvements in fertilization and pregnancy rates following the application of electroacupuncture. The researchers concluded that, due to electroacupuncture, “the pregnancy outcome and the pregnancy rate are improved.”

Anovulation Infertility
Additional research concludes that acupuncture is successful for the treatment of infertility. A clinical trial was conducted at the Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion at Ruikang Hospital, an affiliate of Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine. A total of 40 cases were invested using a standard treatment protocol of electroacupuncture combined with moxibustion. The effective rate for the treatment regime was 85% based on the pregnancy rate documented in follow-up visits.

The researchers measured the effects of acupuncture and moxibustion on anovulatory infertility, a type of infertility caused by the lack of ovulation. Following the treatment regime, FSH, LH and E2 levels improved. In addition, the thickness of the endometrium increased and the follicle diameter increased. The higher pregnancy rates and objective testing resulted in the research team finding acupuncture and moxibustion successful in enhancing fertility for women with anovulatory infertility.

Electroacupuncture and moxibustion were applied to Zigong (EX-CA-1), CV4 (Guanyuan) and Zhongji (CV3). An additional choice of acupuncture points was made with the Ling Gui Ba Fa method. Ling Gui Ba Fa, translated as the eightfold method of the sacred tortoise, is a method for choosing effective acupuncture points selected from the eight confluent points of the eight extraordinary vessels based on the time of day. This method is based on the theory of the nine palaces and eight trigrams to determine acupuncture points that are most effective for a given period of time.

The earliest account of the Ling Gui Ba Fa method is found in the Zhen Jiu Zhi Nan, A Guide to Acupuncture and Moxibustion, written by Dou Hang-qing in the Jin dynasty. The eight confluent points, which are the palette of point selection, are SP4, PC6, SI3, UB62, GB41, TB5, LU7 and KI6. More conventional methods employ the standard use of differential acupuncture channel diagnoses and indications to select from these acupuncture points.

In other research, investigators concluded that acupuncture was able to improve “menstrual frequency and decrease circulating androgens in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).” Infertility is an unwanted complication associated with some forms of PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and acupuncture showed significant clinical improvements in the women studied.

Another study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism concludes that low frequency electroacupuncture improved menstrual frequency and balanced sex steroid levels in women with PCOS. The study measured improvements in a wide range of endocrine variables such that the researchers concluded that electroacupuncture may help induce ovulation in women attempting to conceive since participants showed significant improvements in monthly menstrual frequency. There are similarities in the acupuncture point selection in this study with the study of women with anovulatory infertility.

Acupuncture was applied to CV3, CV6, ST29, SP6, SP9, LI4 and PC6. All needles were stimulated manually until deqi arrived. Thirty minutes of 2Hz electroacupuncture was applied to CV6, CV6, ST29, SP6 and SP9 for each treatment. LI4 and PC6 were manually stimulated every 10 minutes to evoke sensation. Needle length ranged from 30 to 50mm and the diameter was 0.32mm. Needle depth ranged from 15 to 35mm. Acupuncture was administered twice per week for two weeks, one time per week for six weeks and once every other week for eight weeks for a total of 14 acupuncture treatments over a 16 week period.

Additional research demonstrates a consensus among acupuncture experts on best practice treatment protocols for acupuncture enhancement of assisted reproductive technology (ART) fertility treatments. ART includes all fertility treatments in which both the eggs and sperm are handled. ART includes in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI). In this study, researchers set out to determine if a consensus exists on high priority acupuncture points for the enhancement of ART.

ART has been used in the USA since 1981. Although acupuncture and Chinese medicine for the treatment of infertility is a time honored practice, the combination of acupuncture with ART has emerged in recent years as an effective approach for improving pregnancy and live birth rates. In this study, researchers administered 3 rounds of questionnaires to 15 international acupuncture fertility experts to determine if a consensus exists on best practice protocols.

The investigation revealed that several key components are central to acupuncture in combination with ART. The timing of an acupuncture treatment in relation to the menstrual cycle is of great importance. An acupuncture treatment administered between day 6 and 8 of the “stimulated ART cycle” is optimal. In addition, it is ideal to have two acupuncture treatments “on the day of embryo transfer.” Pre-transfer acupuncture points of high priority are SP8, SP10, LV3, ST29 and CV4. Post-transfer points include GV20, KI3, SP6, PC6 and KI3. Auricular acupuncture points Shenmen and Zigong were also determined to be of high priority.

Pharmaceuticals and Acupuncture
New research demonstrates higher ovulation and pregnancy rates for women receiving acupuncture combined with clomiphene (clomifert, clomid) compared with women receiving clomiphene only. Clomiphene is a selective estrogen receptor modulator. It inhibits hypothalamus feedback to stimulate production of gonadotropins, hormones that affect fertility including FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone).

The study measured a control group of 19 women and an acupuncture group of 17 women. The control group received 50mg of oral clomiphene at a rate of once per day for a total of 50 menstrual cycles. The acupuncture group received the clomiphene at the same dosage and rate plus regular acupuncture treatments. The researchers measured changes in ovulation, endometrial thickness, cervical mucus, pelvic fluid, and follicular development. The acupuncture group showed a significantly higher rate of both ovulation and conception than the group receiving medication only.

In another recent study of 5,807 women, it was demonstrated that acupuncture improves clinical pregnancy rates and live birth rates for women receiving IVF (in vitro fertilization). A study published in the American Journal of Reproductive Immunology shows that the application of acupuncture to acupoints ST36 and SP6 was shown to prevent egg implantation failure and another study of 309 women concluded that electroacupuncture “significantly improved the clinical outcome of ET (embryo transfer).”

A recent study measured the biochemical mechanisms by which acupuncture increases IVF success rates. In a randomized controlled study, it was concluded that, “Acupuncture could improve the poor receptive state of (the) endometrium due to mifepristone by promoting Th2 cytokines secretion and inhibiting Th1 cytokines to improve blastocyst implantation.”

Sperm Motility and Acupuncture
Male infertility is also of major concern. Researchers conclude that acupuncture restores sperm motility. Laboratory experiments measured the effects of electroacupuncture on infertility by stimulating acupoints located on the scalp, abdomen and legs. The researchers measured “a trend of improved motility and increased number of motile epididymal spermatozoa in the H+EA (electroacupuncture) group.” The researchers note that electroacupuncture enhances “cell proliferation through improvement of Sertoli cell functions.” Sertoli cells are activated by follicle-stimulating hormone and are located in the convoluted seminiferous tubules, the anatomical structure in the testes where spermatozoa are produced.

Researchers disrupted spermatogenesis using a scrotal heat-treated rat model. Electroacupuncture was applied to GV20 (Baihui), CV4 (Guanyuan), ST36 (Zusanli) and SP6 (Sanyinjiao) for a total of ten acupuncture sessions. After 79 days following the heat treatment, motile spermatozoa were found in the heat-treated group that received electroacupuncture. No motile spermatozoa were found in the rats that did not receive electroacupuncture. The electroacupuncture group also showed a significant increase in PCNA-positive cells and inhibin B levels. In addition, the electroacupuncture group demonstrated a higher Johnsen’s score through day 56. As a result of these findings, the researchers conclude that electroacupuncture “may facilitate the recovery of spermatogenesis and may restore normal semen parameters in subfertile patients.”

Comfort In The Clinical Setting
Another team of researchers took a less utilitarian approach. Their research concludes that acupuncture reduces anxiety in women undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilization). A randomized-controlled study of 43 women undergoing IVF measured changes in anxiety levels.

A total of four acupuncture treatments over a period of four weeks at a rate of once per week were administered. The acupuncture group received acupuncture at acupoints Yintang, HT7 (Shenmen), PC6 (Neiguan), CV17 (Shanzhong) and DU20 (Baihui). The control group received needle stimulation at non-acupuncture points near the areas of the true acupuncture points (sham acupuncture).

The true acupuncture group showed a significant reduction in anxiety while the sham acupuncture group did not. The researchers concluded that acupuncture reduces anxiety and psychological strain for women undergoing IVF. This research focuses on the integration of acupuncture with modern medical practices and represents a trend in modern investigations.

At the Healthcare Medicine Institute (HealthCMi), we follow this type of research very closely. Positive clinical outcomes for the treatment of female infertility is a consistent trend in modern reserach. Take a look at this video of recent Acupuncture CEU/PDA course on the treatment of pelvic inflammatory disorder, a major cause of infertility. This course is ABORM (American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine) approved.



A prominent acupuncturist specializing in the treatment of infertility is Dr. Ting Ting Zhang. Members of the Healthcare Medicine Institute attended a conference at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) in San Francisco, California where she covered some of her latest advances in the field. Dr. Zhang is the Gynecology Department Chair of Yue Yang Hospital at the Shanghai University of TCM.

Dr. Zhang presented new ultrasound and hormone testing research revealing that certain Chinese herbal medicines promote ovulation and egg development, increase sperm motility and count and prevent miscarriage.  Further, biomedical data confirms that Chinese herbal medicine greatly increases the conception rate of women undergoing artificial insemination.

Dr. Zhang opened up the conference with some basic statistics. A recent study of 500 child bearing age women who were NOT treated with Chinese herbal medicines resulted in a 60-70% conception rate given regular sexual intercourse. At 6 months, the rate increases to 75-80%. At 1 year, the rate increases to 80-90%.

From age 30 to 34, 1 in 7 women experience infertility. Between the ages of 35 and 40, 1 in 5 women are infertile and between the ages of 40 and 44, 1 in 4 women experience difficulties with infertility. In up to 55% of cases, infertility is caused by a female reproductive disharmony. In 25-40% of cases, infertility is caused solely by a male reproductive issue. In 20% of all cases, infertility is caused by both the male and female partners.

Dr. Zhang’s clinical outcomes demonstrated a very high rate of clinical success in reversing infertility. Dr. Zhang noted that “infertility is a symptom, not a disease.” She posits her great success to the teachings of the great Dr. Tai.

Dr. Zhang presented Chinese medicine differential diagnostics in relation western medical findings. Basal body temperature (BBT) charts were revealed to express a process of emerging yin essence in the first 12 days of a menstrual cycle followed by a powerful yang stage. A direct reading of the BBT chart translates into an exact Chinese medicine diagnosis. In addition, Dr. Zhang introduced methods for analyzing hormone tests. For example, high FSH is linked to yin deficiency and high LH is linked to yang deficiency.

A multitude of ways to view BBT, ultrasound, sexual hormone tests and other western related data were correlated into the Chinese medicine theoretical framework. Dr. Zhang closed the divide between biomedical medical data and Chinese medicine differential diagnostics in her presentation. Acupuncturists can now read the biomedical data, make a Chinese medicine differential diagnosis and choose from the correct herbal medicines to promote conception and a healthy pregnancy.

Common conditions leading to infertility are kidney yin and yang deficiency, liver qi stagnation and blood stasis. For women, the main concern is to harmonize the menstrual cycle. Dr. Zhang presented important herbal formulas to address many clinical scenarios and included special herbs to promote ovulation and nourish the fetus.

Dr. Zhang presented herbal remedies to prevent anti-sperm antibodies such as AsAb and other autoimmune system disorders from leading to infertility. Dr. Zhang covered the topic of uterine fibroids, their exact relationship to infertility and how to overcome any impediments they may present. This requires, at the very minimum, an ultrasound test of existing fibroids to determine their exact placement and size. Surgical removal of fibroids may be required in some cases.

Dr. Zhang presented step-by-step methods to take an abnormal BBT charted cycle to one that follows a healthy pattern from follicular phase through ovulation to luteal phase and menstruation. The herbal medicines restore the normal ovulation window, optimize the fertility cycle and enhance the process of a healthy pregnancy and fetus. Dr. Zhang detailed the exact herbs needed to promote egg maturation and those needed to facilitate uptake and transport of eggs into and through the fallopian tubes. Further, she presented a detailed herbal medicine regime to optimize the window of opportunity for patients undergoing IVF and IUI. In cases where artificial insemination has previously failed, adding Chinese herbs balances the health of the patient such that artificial insemination becomes successful.

Adam White, L.Ac. is the CEO of the Healthcare Medicine Institute. He notes that “Dr. Ting Ting Zhang has managed to fully integrate the biomedical model for the treatment of primary and secondary infertility into the Chinese medicine system. We now have a fully integrated understanding of biomedical medical test data in terms of Chinese medicine theory and we have a new understanding of herbs that promote the various stages of conception. Dr. Zhang and her colleagues at Shanghai University of TCM have employed biomedical testing methods to measure the effects of herbal medicines on processes such as ovum development and release, fallopian tube function, and fetal development. Thanks to Dr. Zhang, the clinical efficacy of Chinese medicine in the treatment of infertility has advanced tremendously.”

Chui, Shiu Hon, Fung Chun Chow, Yim Tong Szeto, Kelvin Chan, and ChristopherWK Lam. "A Case Series on Acupuncture Treatment for Female Infertility with some cases supplemented with Chinese Medicines." European Journal of Integrative Medicine (2014).

Fan Qu, Jue Zhou, Mark Bovcey, Giovanna Franconi, Kelvin Chan, Caroline Smith et al. Does acupuncture improve the outcome of in vitro fertilization? Guidance for future trials. European Journal of Integrative Medicine 2012; 4(3): e234 - e244.

Eric Manheimer, Grant Zhang, Laurence Udoff, Aviad Haramati, Patricia Langenberg, Brian M Berman et al. Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta- analysis. British Medical Journal 2008;336;545-549.

Exploration of clinical regularities in acupuncture-moxibustion treatment for infertility. Qin-feng Huang. JOURNAL OF ACUPUNCTURE AND TUINA SCIENCE, Volume 10, Number 2. (2012), 72-76, DOI: 10.1007/s11726-012-0574-0.

Acupunct Med 2012;30:12-16 doi:10.1136/acupmed-2011-010089. Traditional Chinese medicine patterns and recommended acupuncture points in infertile and fertile women. Oddveig Birkeflet, Petter Laake2, Nina Vollestad.

XU, Yin, and Miao ZHANG. "Efficacy observation on 40 cases of anovulatory infertility treated by acupuncture and moxibustion." World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion 23, no. 1 (2013): 40-43.

Electrical and manual acupuncture stimulation affects estrous cyclicity and neuroendocrine function in a DHT-induced rat polycystic ovary syndrome model. Yi Feng1,2, Julia Johansson1, Ruijin Shao1, Louise Mannerås Holm1, Håkan Billig1, Elisabet Stener-Victorin1,3 . Experimental Physiology. DOI: 10.1113/expphysiol.2011.063131.

Elizabeth Jedel, Fernand Labrie, Anders Odén, Göran Holm, Lars Nilsson, Per Olof Janson, Anna-Karin Lind, Claes Ohlsson, and Elisabet Stener-Victorin. Impact of electro-acupuncture and physical exercise on hyperandrogenismand oligo/amenorrhea in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 300: E37–E45, 2011.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:88 doi 10.1186/1472-6882-12-88. 7 July 2012. Development of an acupuncture treatment protocol by consensus for women undergoing Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatment. Caroline A Smith, Suzanne Grant, Jane Lyttleton and Suzanne Cochrane.

Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2012 Feb;32(2):113-6. Effects of electroacupuncture on embryo implanted potential for patients with infertility of different symptom complex]. Kong FY, Zhang QY, Guan Q, Jian FQ, Sun W, Wang Y. Department of Reproduction, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Shandong University of TCM, Jinan, China.

Fertil Steril. 2005 Jan;83(1):30-6. Secretion of human leukocyte antigen-G by human embryos is associated with a higher in vitro fertilization pregnancy rate. Yie SM, Balakier H, Motamedi G, Librach CL.

JOURNAL OF ACUPUNCTURE AND TUINA SCIENCE. Volume 10, Number 2 (2012), 77-80, DOI: 10.1007/s11726-012-0575-z. Therapeutic effect observation on combined acupuncture and medication for ovulation. Xue-su Yu, Xing-qiang Yan and Yu-yu Shen.

Effects of acupuncture on pregnancy rates in women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cui Hong Zheng, M.D.; Ph.D.a, Guang Ying Huang, M.D., Ph.D.a; Ming Min Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.b; Wei Wang, M.D., Ph.D.c.. Fertility and Sterility. 1-11-2012.
Gui, Juan; Xiong, Fan; Li, Jing; Huang, Guangying. Effects of Acupuncture on LIF and IL-12 in Rats of Implantation Failure. American Journal of Reproductive Immunology. Am J Reprod Immunol. 1600-0897. 2012.

Fertility and Sterility. Volume 96, Issue 4, October 2011, Pages 912-916. Increase of success rate for women undergoing embryo transfer by transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation: a prospective randomized placebo-controlled study. Rong Zhang Ph.D., Xiao-Jun Feng B.S., Qun Guan B.S., Wei Cui M.S., Ying Zheng M.S., Wei Sun B.S., Ji-Sheng Han M.D.

T. G. Wegmann, H. Lin, L. Guilbert, and T. R. Mosmann, “Bidirectional cytokine interactions in the maternal-fetal relationship: is successful pregnancy a TH2 phenomenon?” Immunology Today, vol. 14, no. 7, pp. 353–356, 1993.

Juan Gui, Fan Xiong, Jing Li, and Guangying Huang, “Effects of Acupuncture on Th1, Th2 Cytokines in Rats of Implantation Failure,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 893023, 10 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/893023.

Electroacupuncture enhances spermatogenesis in rats after scrotal heat treatment. Volume 2, Issue 1. 3-2012. Pages 53 - 62. Jing Gao, Yan Zuo, Kam-Hei So, William S.B. Yeung, Ernest H.Y. Ng and Kai-Fai Lee.

Effect of acupuncture on symptoms of anxiety in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: a prospective randomised controlled study. Daniela Isoyama, Emerson Barchi Cordts, Angela Mara Bentes de Souza van Niewegen, Waldemar de Almeida Pereira de Carvalho, Simone Tiemi Matsumura, Caio Parente Barbosa. Acupunct Med acupmed-2011-010064. Published Online First: 12 April 2012 doi:10.1136/acupmed-2011-010064.

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The size of an acupunture needle: image uploaded by @TheBAcC

The size of an acupunture needle: image uploaded by @TheBAcC | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |

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Acupuncture | Common uses of acupuncture | Health Library | NHS Inform

Acupuncture | Common uses of acupuncture | Health Library | NHS Inform | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
AcupunctureCommon uses of acupuncture

There is no one health condition or set of conditions that acupuncture is meant to treat. Instead, acupuncturists use the treatment for an extremely wide range of health conditions.

The use of acupuncture is not always based on scientific evidence. This means that practitioners may use acupuncture to treat a certain health condition, even though there have not been scientific trials showing that acupuncture works for that condition. For more information about the evidence on acupuncture and specific health conditions, seeEvidence for acupuncture.

Sometimes, patients combine acupuncture with conventional treatments that have been prescribed by a GP or hospital consultant. If you are being treated by an acupuncturist for a health condition, it is advisable to discuss this with your GP.

NICE recommended uses

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) provides guidelines to the NHS on use of treatments and care of patients. Currently, NICE recommends that acupuncture is considered as a treatment option for one condition:

lower back painOther common uses

Acupuncture is often used to treat musculoskeletal conditions (of the bones and muscles) and pain conditions, including:

headache and migrainechronic pain, including neck and back painjoint paindental painpost-operative pain

Many acupuncturists use acupuncture to treat a far wider range of conditions, including:

post-operative nausea and vomitingallergies, including hay fever and eczemafatiguedepression and anxietydigestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)infertility and menstrual disordersinsomniaLast updated: 18 January 2012

Continue to next section: Safety and regulation of acupuncture

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Chronic Female Pelvic Pain - "Acupuncture has also been used as a treatment for nonmenstrual chronic pelvic pain"

Chronic Female Pelvic Pain - "Acupuncture has also been used as a treatment for nonmenstrual chronic pelvic pain" | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
Learn about Chronic Female Pelvic Pain. Includes overview, cause, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, exams and tests, prevention, and medications.



Alternative pain treatments

Alternative pain treatments for chronic female pelvic pain aren't well studied. But they are considered helpful for managing stress and building mental mastery over pain.

Acupuncture and transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS) have shown some success in relieving painful menstrual periods. Acupuncture has also been used as a treatment for nonmenstrual chronic pelvic pain, but it isn't yet well studied.1

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Morning sickness - how it can affect you

Morning sickness - how it can affect you | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
An early pregnancy sign, feeling sick is a common symptom of pregnancy - but how long will it last and what can you do?

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Acupuncture Weekly - headlines on acupuncture and pain

Acupuncture Weekly - headlines on acupuncture and pain | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |

Acupuncture Weekly, by Shaftesbury Clinic: Your weekly digest of acupuncture news and views. From Shaftesbury Clinic, Bedford.


Headlines and links on acupuncture and ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, dental pain, lower back pain and more.

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Western medical doctor, Dr. Weil, on the mechanisms of acupuncture: "It has also demonstrated clinical success in achieving pregnancy when used in conjunction with in-vitro fertilization."

Western medical doctor, Dr. Weil, on the mechanisms of acupuncture: "It has also demonstrated clinical success in achieving pregnancy when used in conjunction with in-vitro fertilization." | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
Learn more about acupuncture and acupuncture treatment for a variety of medical conditions, from Dr. Weil, your trusted health advisor.




What is acupuncture?
Contrary to popular Western belief, acupuncture is not just a system for inserting very fine needles into specific body locations to alleviate pain. It is a complete medical protocol focused on correcting imbalances of energy in the body. From its inception in China more than 2,500 years ago, acupuncture has been used traditionally to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, as well as to improve general health.


The traditional explanation for acupuncture's effectiveness is that it modifies the flow of energy (known as qi or chi) throughout the body, but there is no scientific consensus that this is actually its mechanism of action. Research published in the May 30, 2010 online edition of Nature Neuroscience demonstrated that the effects of needling include influencing the activity of adenosine, an amino acid which becomes active in the skin after an injury to ease pain. This may explain in part why pain relief is often experienced with the therapy. In fact, much research in the West has focused on this pain-relieving effect, rather than acupuncture's traditional role of balancing energy to address a wide range of disorders, and the more subtle mechanisms that may be responsible for its overall benefits to health.


Acupuncture was popularized in the States during the early 70's after President Nixon opened relations with China. At the time, a New York Times reporter, James Reston, had an appendectomy in a Chinese hospital using acupuncture as a means to decrease his post-surgical pain.


What is acupuncture used for?

Because the goal of acupuncture is to promote and restore the balance of energy, which flows throughout the body, it can be used for a wide variety of conditions, from emotional disorders (anxiety, depression) to digestive complaints (nausea, vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome). It can be beneficial for pain syndromes due to an injury or associated with chronic degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. It can also be helpful in treating neurological problems like migraines or Parkinson's disease, or as a rehabilitation strategy for individuals who suffered a stroke. Respiratory conditions, including sinusitis and asthma have been relieved with acupuncture, as have many gynecologic disorders and infertility. Acupuncture has also proved beneficial for reducing fatigue and addictions, and for promoting overall well-being.


Studies in the U.S. indicate that acupuncture can help relieve chronic low back pain, dental pain, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia and symptoms of osteoarthritis. It has been shown to assist in the treatment of emotional pain syndromes such as post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as controlling chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. It has also demonstrated clinical success in achieving pregnancy when used in conjunction with in-vitro fertilization.


What should one expect on a visit to a practitioner of acupuncture?

Typically, the first visit involves a comprehensive health history assessment. Questions that are included may seem strange, but in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) - which encompasses acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage and other modalities - energy flow and whole-body interaction are the keys to diagnosing all physical disease. For example, the practitioner may ask to examine your tongue, feel your pulse to help determine energy flow, or ask many questions related to bowel habits and diet, even if these seem to have nothing to do with the primary complaint.


After the initial consultation and assessment, the needles are placed in very specific locations. Upon insertion, one may feel a momentary sharp or stinging sensation; however, many report they don't even feel the majority of the insertions. It is common to experience a deep ache for a short time in some of the points. The needles may then be gently manipulated and some practitioners may use heat or even electricity with the needles.


The depth to which the needles are inserted varies according to the treatment and the practitioner; however, needles should never be positioned deep enough to puncture organs (other than the skin). The needles are usually left in place for five to 20 minutes, usually no longer than 60 minutes, and then removed.  Following a treatment, practitioners will usually reassesses the client and often give suggestions for home care. It is also typical to suggest supplemental Chinese herbs to enhance the achievement of energetic balance. Acute symptoms may require only two to four treatments; whereas for chronic cases, it is common to have as many as 12 or more treatments, usually over a course of eight to 10 weeks. Regular monthly visits may be suggested as preventive measures to decrease stress, improve energy or boost immunity.


Are there any side effects or indications where acupuncture should be avoided?

Those with bleeding disorders or who are taking blood thinners should check with their doctors before having acupuncture. The most common side effects are bleeding and bruising at the site, along with minor pain and soreness. It is recommended that a disinfectant such as alcohol be swabbed over the area prior to needle insertion to decrease the very small possibility of infection. Obviously, needles should be clean and never shared between clients. Rarely, a needle may break. The worst case scenario is a punctured organ.


However, serious complications are extremely rare when acupuncture is performed by a qualified, certified practitioner. A review of the international research literature revealed pneumothorax (a punctured lung) to be the only life-threatening complication to have occurred among tens of thousands of patients over nine separate trials. No post-acupuncture infections were reported in any of the studies.


What is Dr. Weil's view regarding acupuncture?

Although there are certification courses offered to medical doctors to learn acupuncture, preferably, the practitioner will be trained in a TCM program to be maximally qualified. An understanding and background in TCM is important in achieving optimal results with acupuncture. Look for practitioners who have thorough knowledge and training in this modality of treatment and who specialize in TCM or acupuncture as their primary form of treatment.


Acupuncture is increasingly recognized by Western medicine as an effective alternative or adjunct to conventional treatments for stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, joint conditions, low back pain, and asthma as well as for the side effects of chemotherapy and nausea related to pregnancy. Dr. Weil often recommends acupuncture for other pain-related conditions, especially osteoarthritis. Acupuncture to alleviate acute sinusitis can be quite effective, as can acupuncture on the ear for quelling addictions. Acupuncture used with TCM can work well for addressing autoimmune conditions and infertility. Because acupuncture has so many positive effects on the body with minimal incidence of side effects, it is often considered in creating an integrative medicine treatment plan.

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Acupunturist Zita West: "How my amazing mother inspired Call the Midwife"

Acupunturist Zita West: "How my amazing mother inspired Call the Midwife" | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
How my amazing mother inspired Call the Midwife: She was a cross between kind Nurse Jenny and Sister EvangelinaZita West's mother Ita Devanney was a midwife in the FortiesHelped to delivery hundreds of babies every yearHated being made to retire in 1984 aged 60Worked in a care home right up until her death



PUBLISHED: 01:54, 24 December 2013


"It was while working in a hospital in Warwick in the Nineties that I started using acupuncture alongside mainstream obstetrics to help women suffering from morning sickness.

I later moved to the Hale Clinic where Princess Diana was a patient, and then as my client base grew I decided to open my own clinic in Harley Street."

Shaftesbury Acupuncture Clinic's insight:

This is an interesting article, Zita is a well known acupuncturist and midwife.

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Acupuncture and pelvic pain in pregnancy

Acupuncture and pelvic pain in pregnancy | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
Low back and pelvic pain in pregnancy: This was assignment number two’s topic. I’ve written before on the good effect acupuncture has in this area. Last week I read everything that there was to read in English on the treatment of low back and pelvic pain in pregnancy with acupuncture. Safety, for both mother and baby, was carefully assessed in these trials which found that acupuncture does not have a higher rate of serious adverse reactions for the mother or the baby than was experienced in the control groups. A Cochrane Reviewreports that there is moderate-quality evidence for pain relief and improved functionality with acupuncture treatment for these conditions. But I loved this quote from an editorial in the British Medical Journal:

“Those caring for women with pregnancy related pelvic pain now need to press for increased availability of acupuncture.”

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Heavily pregnant Gwen Stefani pops into acupuncture clinic with husband Gavin and their two boys in tow

Heavily pregnant Gwen Stefani pops into acupuncture clinic with husband Gavin and their two boys in tow | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |

By BOBBIE WHITEMAN PUBLISHED: 03:34, 28 December 2013 | UPDATED: 03:36, 28 December 2013


With the baby bump getting noticeably bigger every day, Gwen Stefani may be feeling the stress of carrying her new child.


The very pregnant rocker, 44, was spotted going into an acupuncture clinic in the Korea Town neighborhood of Los Angeles on Friday.

Husband Gavin Rossdale joined her for the trip with their boys Kingston, seven, and five-year-old Zuma. The 48-year-old also carried the family's tiny Pomeranian pooch.


Me and the boys: Heavily pregnant Gwen Stefani went to an acupuncture clinic on Friday with her two boys, Kingston, seven, and five-year-old Zuma in tow 


The blonde continued her pregnancy fashion parade of the last few months, proving that a blossoming tummy is no bar to looking great.

The stylish beauty rocked a black, thigh-length tunic over black, crisply-ironed trousers, rolled up at the ankles to show off a pair of high-top, black spikey-heeled boots that looked like they would be difficult to walk in even without the bump out front.

She brightened up her ensemble with a colourful kimono-inspired jacket top for her relaxing appointment.


Bumpsadaisy: The 44-year-old rocker showed off her blossoming tummy in a chic black ensemble teamed with a colourful kimono-style jacket with stylised flowers 


Gwen's signature platinum-blonde hair was pulled back and teased up into a beehive, with a few tendrils falling around her perfectly made-up face. 

Her eyes were covered up behind orange-rimmed shades and her ruby lipstick matched her perfectly manicured nails.

The boys in her life were more casually dressed. Kingston and Zuma both sported yellow and black Everlast boxing shirts teamed with knee-length baggy shorts.


Leading him on: Gavin Rossdale, 48,  was part of the family outing and handled dog walking duties


Their Bush frontman dad teamed a white T-shirt with black jeans, a black vest, black trainers and a broad smile as he walked along.

The couple, who have been married 11 years, have not commented on their third pregnancy, so it is not known if they are expecting a girl or another boy.

However, former No Doubt front woman Stefani subtly confirmed it when she was seen cradling her bump at the Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts Inaugural Gala in Beverly Hills that she attended with Gavin on October 17.


Boys in the hood: Zuma held on to the family's pooch while Dad chatted to him and Kingston as they waited for Gwen to finish her appointment with the acupuncturist

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The Effects of Adjuvant Whole-Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine [acupuncture] on In Vitro Fertilization Live Births: A Retrospective Cohort Study | Abstract

The Effects of Adjuvant Whole-Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine [acupuncture] on In Vitro Fertilization Live Births: A Retrospective Cohort Study | Abstract | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary MedicineThe Effects of Adjuvant Whole-Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine on In Vitro Fertilization Live Births: A Retrospective Cohort Study

To cite this article:
RubinLee Hullender, OpsahlMichael, WiemerKlaus, HumphreyAngela, AllenPatrick, MistScott, and AckermanDeborah. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. May 2014, 20(5): A12-A13. doi:10.1089/acm.2014.5029.abstract.

Published in Volume: 20 Issue 5: May 7, 2014

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The use of complementary and alternative fertility treatment in couples seeking fertility care: data from a prospective cohort in the United States

The use of complementary and alternative fertility treatment in couples seeking fertility care: data from a prospective cohort in the United States | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
Fertility and Sterility, Volume 93, Issue 7, Pages 2169-2174, 1 May 2010, Authors:James F. Smith, M.D., M.S.; Michael L. Eisenberg, M.D.; Susan G. Millstein, Ph.D.; Robert D. Nachtigall, M.D.; Alan W. Shindel, M.D.; Holly Wing, M.A.; Marcelle Cedars, M.D.; Lauri Pasch, Ph.D.; Patricia P. Katz, Ph.D.; Infertility Outcomes Program Project Group





To determine the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among couples seeking fertility care and to identify the predictors of CAM use in this population.


Prospective cohort study.


Eight community and academic infertility practices.


A total of 428 couples presenting for an infertility evaluation.


Interviews and questionnaires.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine therapy.


After 18 months of observation, 29% of the couples had utilized a CAM modality for treatment of infertility; 22% had tried acupuncture, 17% herbal therapy, 5% a form of body work, and 1% meditation. An annual household income of ≥$200,000 (odds ratio 2.8, relative to couples earning <$100,000), not achieving a pregnancy (odds ratio 2.3), and a positive attitude toward CAM use at baseline were independently associated with CAM use.


A substantial minority of infertile couples use CAM treatments. CAM was chosen most commonly by wealthier couples, those not achieving a pregnancy, and those with a baseline belief in the effectiveness of CAM treatments.

 Key WordsComplementary and alternative medicine; motivation; outcome; prospective; infertility

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ABCs of Fertility: Acupuncture, Babies, Chinese Medicine

ABCs of Fertility: Acupuncture, Babies, Chinese Medicine | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
Benefits of Acupuncture Include:

1.improved uterine lining

2.increased blood flow to the uterus

3.regulation of hormones

4.reduction of stress associated with fertility problems

Recently a study demonstrated that sperm quality and motility was improved after the men received acupuncture treatments. The men treated experienced increased sperm motility levels, increased the number and percentage of healthy sperm, and significant improvements in sperm structure and quality as compared to a control group. An important German study that received notable attention in the American press showed that acupuncture significantly increased the effectiveness of IVF success. Impressively, pregnancies were documented in 34 out of 80 patients (42.5%) in the acupuncture group as compared to 21 out of 80 patients (26.3%) in the control group. Part II of this article will explain how to use Western infertility treatments and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) together.

It is advisable to begin acupuncture 3 months before attempting to get pregnant, but most women wait until they are actively trying to conceive. In my practice, I see women 2 times weekly until we get a positive pregnancy test result and 1 time weekly for the first trimester to reduce the risk of miscarriage.

The main goal of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is to keep the body in balance or to restore balance. This is one reason why TCM is so effective with fertility which depends on a balanced body.




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"I had my second baby, thanks to acupuncture," reveals mum of two Pamela Flood -

"I had my second baby, thanks to acupuncture," reveals mum of two Pamela Flood - | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
Former Miss Ireland says she was so stressed over wanting a second baby, she struggled to conceive.


Pamela admitted: "Harrison happened so easily for us but Elsie was another story."

UPDATED 07 MAY 2014 10:37 AM

Former Miss Ireland says she was so stressed over wanting a second baby, she struggled to conceive. 

Pamela Flood has attributed acupuncture to having her second baby.

The  television presenter and columnist writes about her experience in today’s issue of Mothers & Babies with the Irish Independent.


“I’m not someone who gets very stressed out about things but I wanted to have another baby so badly that my anxiety was at an all-time high about it,” she writes.

“Harrison happened so easily for us but Elsie was another story. After she was recommended to me by two unconnected people, I decided to go along to see acupuncturist Nin Thew, who has a particular interest in and gift for all things baby related.”

Acupuncturist Thew has two practices – one in Stradbally, County Laois and another in Monpellier beside the Phoenix Park.

“I started with Nin, going once every few weeks, back in September of 2012. Elsie was conceived only four months later and I continued to see Nin throughout my pregnancy.”

“It’s one thing to take all your supplements and watch your diet when baby’s on board but sometimes it takes a little extra care to keep things on an even keel. I honestly found the acupuncture invaluable for this. Each to their own, but I couldn’t recommend it more. You just have to see Nin' ‘baby wall of fame’ to see the results she has had over the years. “Flood says her pregnancy went pretty smoothly, and again attributes that to Thew: “I would walk into her practice feeling uptight and walk out as chilled as be damned.

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Old acupuncture news: TIME Magazine from 1971: "Medicine: Yang, Yin and Needles"

Old acupuncture news: TIME Magazine from 1971: "Medicine: Yang, Yin and Needles" | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |

Monday, Aug. 09, 1971


What do Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands, Premier Lon Nol of Cambodia and Columnist James Reston of the New York Times have in common with uncounted, unknown Asians? All have recently undergone acupuncture, the ancient Chinese practice of inserting needles into various parts of the body to treat a catalogue of ills from arthritis to impotence. The prominence of these patients, and displays of acupuncture for the benefit of American visitors to mainland China, have increased interest in the treatment without diminishing its mystery.


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A systematic review and meta-analysis of acupuncture in in vitro fertilisation - El-Toukhy - 2008 - BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology - Wiley Online Library

A systematic review and meta-analysis of acupuncture in in vitro fertilisation - El-Toukhy - 2008 - BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology - Wiley Online Library | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |


Complimentary and alternative therapies are widely used, with acupuncture ranking among the most popular therapies being used.5,34,35As a result, a link between acupuncture and IVF outcome is likely to be of considerable interest to clinicians and patients alike.

Advocates of acupuncture have suggested that it could improve IVF outcome through a number of possible mechanisms, including a central sympathoinhibitory effect, resulting in increased uterine blood flow, which in turn might improve endometrial receptivity;6stimulation of beta-endorphins release, which could influence steroid hormone secretion;36–39 and a direct, or endocrine-mediated, inhibitory effect on uterine activity.41

This systematic review and meta-analysis used the clinical pregnancy and live birth rates as indicators of the effect of acupuncture performed during IVF treatment on cycle outcome. The findings of our review fail to show a significant improvement in the clinical pregnancy or live birth rates associated with the use of acupuncture whether performed at the time of TVOR or around the time of ET. According to our results, the true effect of acupuncture performed at the time of TVOR on IVF outcome ranges from up to 13% relative reduction to a 24% relative increase in the chance of a clinical pregnancy and that of acupuncture performed around the time of ET ranges from up to 4% relative reduction to a 58% relative increase in the chance of a clinical pregnancy per IVF cycle started compared with no acupuncture.

The results of our systematic review and meta-analysis differ from those of the recently published systematic review examining the effects of acupuncture performed around the time of ET on pregnancy rates among women undergoing IVF.14 There are two reasons for such difference. First, our search identified an additional study,20 which was not included in the earlier review. Second, we included all five arms of the study of Benson et al.,32 whereas the review of Manheimer et al.14 excluded three arms of that study, partly because they restricted their analysis to needle acupuncture only. Even if we exclude the laser acupuncture arms of the study of Benson et al.,32 the results of our meta-analysis would remain unchanged (RR = 1.25, 95% CI 0.97–1.62, P = 0.09).

Importantly, our review highlights the uneven methodological quality of all the randomised studies published on the use of acupuncture during IVF treatment. Although all studies had a randomised design, very few described the randomisation procedure. In addition, lack of information on allocation concealment and blinding of assessors meant that important sources of bias in these studies could not be excluded.41 The review also illustrates the significant heterogeneity present among the studies examining the value of acupuncture performed around the time of ET. This heterogeneity could be attributed to the inconsistency in the definition of the intervention used, time of commencement of the intervention, whether sham acupuncture was used, variations in patient populations studied and IVF treatment protocols employed and differences in the quality features between the studies and their relatively small sample sizes.12,13 Another feature that has been postulated to be important to IVF outcomes is whether the acupuncture was ‘on-site’ (i.e. acupuncture being performed at the same location as ET) or ‘off-site’ (acupuncture being delivered in a setting some distance away from the IVF unit). For example, it has been hypothesised that the negative results from the study of Craig et al. may have been due to the added stresses of travelling to and fro between the acupuncture and the IVF centres.20

In addition to methodological limitations, the included studies varied considerably in the way acupuncture was delivered, the specific points used, the total dose of acupuncture given and the treatment provider (Tables 2–5). It has been suggested that the dosage of acupuncture used in some of the randomised trials included in this systematic review was very low and that higher dosages could have improved the efficacy of acupuncture.42 However, when the dose of acupuncture was increased in the study of Westergaard et al.,28 the statistically significant improvement in clinical pregnancy rate among the acupuncture group compared with the control group was lost and the early pregnancy loss rate increased. Likewise, the study of Smith et al.29 included an additional session of acupuncture on day 9 of stimulation but failed to show a significant improvement in IVF outcome after acupuncture. In a recent matched controlled study, Wang et al.43 found that acupuncture performed twice weekly during the follicular and luteal phases of an IVF cycle did not improve the clinical and continuing pregnancy rates. This inconsistency in the results indicates that any beneficial effect attributed to acupuncture is unlikely to be strictly dose related.

Further difficulty in interpreting the results of the published randomised studies relates to the mechanism whereby acupuncture could improve IVF outcome. Proponents of acupuncture use suggested that it could improve uterine blood flow and hence uterine receptivity.44This assumption is based mainly on the results of one study, which included only ten subfertile women undergoing pituitary suppression.6 However, the only randomised study, which assessed blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries before and after ET, failed to show any difference in the pulsatility index between the acupuncture and the control groups.26 The same research group33performed a prospective cohort study on 164 women undergoing IVF and found that acupuncture treatment did not inhibit uterine activity as previously suggested.

Another suggested benefit from acupuncture, which might potentially lead to improvement in IVF success rate, was reduction of stress levels and improvement in psychological wellbeing in women undergoing IVF.28,30,45 Interestingly, the only two randomised trials that attempted to test this hypothesis failed to provide supportive evidence. The study of Smith et al.29 found more women in the control group reporting sense of ‘relaxation’ and feeling ‘calm and peaceful’ after ET (67 and 64%, respectively) compared with the acupuncture group (51 and 55%, respectively). Furthermore, Domar et al.31 reported no significant differences between the study and the control groups in optimism levels after ET.

The choice of the control intervention also varied between the studies that examined the effect of acupuncture performed around the time of ET and could have contributed to the conflicting results reported in these studies. Paulus et al.27 and Myers12 raised the possibility that acupuncture might exaggerate pregnancy rates after IVF through a placebo effect. Contrary to this suggestion, pooling the results of the four studies in which no placebo intervention was employed in the control group yielded an effect size closer to the line of unity than the studies that employed a sham acupuncture technique. Furthermore, different forms of sham acupuncture were employed in the four studies that examined the effect of acupuncture at the time of ET on IVF outcome. The lack of a reproducible and reliable sham acupuncture technique that does not affect the acupoints (e.g. by acupressure or shiatsu) and is devoid of any negative effect12undermines the reliability of the results of these studies, may explain to a certain extent the significant degree of heterogeneity present among these studies and underlines one of the many difficulties faced in conducting such trials.42,46,47

Given the cost, relative invasiveness of acupuncture, potential for harm and the significant variation in the inherent features of the published studies, women embarking on IVF should be advised that based on current knowledge, there is insufficient evidence that receiving acupuncture during IVF treatment (whether at time of oocyte collection or ET) improves cycle outcome. Our review shows clearly that despite the publication of 13 trials of acupuncture during IVF, well-designed and conducted research into the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of acupuncture carried out as an adjunct to IVF treatment is still needed before clinicians could recommend its use.

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Research: The York acupuncture safety study: prospective survey of 34,000 treatments by traditional acupuncturists (2000) | BMJ

Research:  The York acupuncture safety study: prospective survey of 34,000 treatments by traditional acupuncturists (2000) | BMJ | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |
Participants, methods, and results The study involved a prospective postal audit of treatments undertaken during a four week period in 2000. All 1848 professional acupuncturists who were members of the British Acupuncture Council and were practising in the United Kingdom were invited to record details of adverse events and mild transient reactions after treatment. Standardised self report forms were used. Participating practitioners also provided information on themselves, including age, sex, length of training, and years of practice. To have a 95% probability that no serious event occurs in n treatments, a survey sample size needs to be three times n.4 On this basis, a sample of 30 000 treatments was sought. Piloting indicated that a four week period was needed. A total of 574 practitioners participated, 31% of the total population. The mean age of participants was 44.8 years (range 23-79 years), 65% were female, and 62% had been practising acupuncture for more than five years. Information on sex, training college, and length of practice was available from the British Acupuncture Council's database. Participants were sufficiently representative of the population of practitioners for a re-weighting of the primary data to be unnecessary. Participating practitioners reported on 34 407 treatments. Practitioners were asked to give details of any adverse events they considered to be “significant,” including any event that was “unusual, novel, dangerous, significantly inconvenient, or requiring further information.” There were no reports of serious adverse events, defined as events requiring hospital admission, leading to permanent disability, or resulting in death (95% confidence interval 0 to 1.1 per 10 000 treatments). Practitioners did, however, report 43 minor adverse events, a rate of 1.3 (0.9 to 1.7) per 1000 treatments. The most common events were severe nausea and fainting (table). Three avoidable events—two patients had needles left in, and one patient had moxibustion burns to the skin—were caused by practitioners' errors. View this table: In this window In a new window Details of 43 minor adverse events associated with 34 407 acupuncture treatments, all reported as “significant” by practitioners Participating practitioners recorded 10 920 mild transient reactions occurring in 5136 treatments, 15% (14.6% to 15.3%) of the 34 407 total. Some local reactions at the site of needling were reported—mild bruising in 587 (1.7%) cases, pain in 422 (1.2%) cases, and bleeding in 126 (0.4%) cases. Patients experienced an aggravation of existing symptoms after 966 (2.8%) treatments, 830 (86%) of which were followed by an improvement, possibly indicating a positive “healing crisis.” The most commonly reported mild transient reactions were “feeling relaxed” in 4098 (11.9%) cases and “feeling energised” in 2267 (6.6%) cases, symptoms that often indicate an encouraging response to treatment.3

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Acupuncture, pain and analgesia (painkillers) : Study resources and references

Acupuncture, pain and analgesia (painkillers) : Study resources and references | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |

Chapman, C. R., Colpitts, Y. M., and Benedetti, C.; Event-related potential correlates of analgesia; comparison of fentanyl, acupuncture, and nitrous oxide. Pain 1982. Vol.14, p.327-337. This study was undertaken to determine whether different analgesic treatments result in a common change in the event-related potentials (ERP) elicited during painful dental stimulation. The effects of electrical acupuncture delivered at 2 Hz to LI-4, the opiate fentanyl 0.1 mg i.v., and the inhalation analgesia mixture of 33% nitrous oxide in oxygen were examined in volunteers undergoing painful tooth pulp stimulation. ERPs were recorded at vertex and subjects provided reports of pain intensity. Discriminant function analysis was used to determine which subset of the pain report and ERP variables could best discriminate baseline from treatment conditions without regard to specificity of treatment. Together with pain report, amplitude of the ERP positive deflection at 250 msec was a significant indicator of analgesia across the 3 treatments. Other changes specific to the individual treatments were also observed. Since the 250 msec amplitude measure was not redundant statistically with pain report, the ERP data provided significant new information about analgesia even though pain report was a very sensitive measure. Pain report alone could account for 48% of the variance across treatments while ERP measures alone accounted for 34%.

Gejervall, A. L., Stener-Victorin, E., Moller, A., Janson, P. O., Werner, C., and Bergh, C.; Electro-acupuncture versus conventional analgesia: a comparison of pain levels during oocyte aspiration and patients' experiences of well-being after surgery. Hum Reprod 12-17-2004.

Martelete, M.; Comparative study of the analgesic effect of TNS, electroacupuncture, and meperidine in the treatment of post operative pain. Acupunct Electrother Res 1985. Vol.10, p.183-193. Seventy two patients, from 15 to 60 years old, in good physical status and submitted to surgery in the upper or lower abdominal, rectal or lumbar areas were studied. In the immediate postoperative period, they were randomly divided in three groups and each group was submitted to one of the following treatments: intravenous meperidine, transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TNS) or electroacupuncture (EA). Each treatment was divided in two phases with one hour interval between them. Each phase was constituted of 30 minutes of stimulation in case of TNS and EA and fractionated administration of meperidine in all groups. The pain level was evaluated through a visual analogue scale before and after each phase of treatment. The results were compared among groups and, on each group, between the phases of treatment. In all surgery types, the postoperative pain relief presented by TNS and EA groups of patients was greater than that of meperidine treated group. But, the analgesia presented by the EA treated group of patients lasted longer and increased with the repetition of treatment. The differences of behaviour of TNS and EA analgesia suggest that their neurochemical mechanisms may not be the same. Clinical trial. 

Wang, H.; A study in the effectiveness of acupuncture analgesia for colonoscopic examination compared with conventional premedication. Am J Acupunct 1992. Vol.20[3], p.217-221. 

Wang, H. H., Chang, Y. H., Liu, D. M., and Ho, Y. J.; A clinical study on physiological response in electroacupuncture analgesia and meperidine analgesia for colonoscopy. Am J Chin Med 1997. Vol.25[1], p.13-20. Fifty-nine patients underwent consecutive colonoscopic examination with premedication of electroacupuncture analgesia (EA) were compared with conventional meperidine analgesia (MA) in pain relief and changes of neurotransmitters in serum. The results showed that analgesic efficacy of both groups were the same but with less side effects in the EA group (P < 0.01) especially in regard to dizziness. Serum concentration of beta-endorphin in both groups has a similar curve change at 4 different phases during colonoscopy. Serum concentration of epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine and cortisol showed no significant difference between these two groups. The analgesic effect of EA and MA during colonoscopic examination may be closely related to beta-endorphin production in serum Department of Internal Medicine, China Medical College Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan Reviewed in FACT, 1997, Vol. 2(3) p. 106-107. 

White, A. R.; Electroacupuncture May be Useful Analgesia for Colonoscopy. FACT 1997. Vol.2[3], p.106-107. Original article ' A clinical study on physiological response in electroacupuncture analgesia and meperidine analgesia for colonoscopy.' (Wang,H.H.; Chang, Y.H.; Liu,D.M.; et al), Amercan Journal of Chinese Medicine, 1997, Vol 25, P. 13-20.

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Bedford Acupuncture's curator insight, February 24, 2014 9:52 PM

SC: "Pain and analgesia - a useful bibliography and summary of resources and studies comparing acupuncture and painkillers for painful conditions."

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The science of acupressure: references and resources

The science of acupressure: references and resources | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |


Dullenkopf, A., Schmitz, A., Lamesic, G., Weiss, M., and Lang, A.; The influence of acupressure on the monitoring of acoustic evoked potentials in unsedated adult volunteers. Anesth.Analg. 2004. Vol.99[4], p.1147-1151. 

Rose, J. B. and Watcha, M. F.; Postoperative nausea and vomiting in paediatric patients. Br J Anaesth. 1999. Vol.83[1], p.104-117. 

White, P. F.; Are nonpharmacologic techniques useful alternatives to antiemetic drugs for the prevention of nausea and vomiting? [editorial; comment]. Anesth.Analg. 1997. Vol.84[4], p.712-714. 

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Shaftesbury Clinic's curator insight, February 14, 2014 10:16 AM

Acupressure is acupuncture without the needles, this is particularly suitable for children, and the needle-phobic, as illustrated above.


We offer acupressure and we also treat children of all ages at Shaftesbury Clinic, Bedford.

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Clinical studies on the mechanism for acupuncture stimulation of ovulation [J Tradit Chin Med. 1993] - PubMed - NCBI

Clinical studies on the mechanism for acupuncture stimulation of ovulation [J Tradit Chin Med. 1993] - PubMed - NCBI | Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth |

J Tradit Chin Med. 1993 Jun;13(2):115-9.


Clinical studies on the mechanism for acupuncture stimulation of ovulation

Mo X1, Li D, Pu Y, Xi G, Le X, Fu Z.Author information 




Ovulatory dysfunction is commonly seen in gynecology clinic. It may cause infertility, amenia, functional uterine bleeding and a variety of complications. This research according to TCM theory records treating with acupuncture 34 patients suffering from ovulatory dysfunction.


Changes in clinical symptoms and some relative targets are reported, plus findings in animal experiments. The effect of acupuncture in improving ovulation and the rationale are discussed. According to TCM theory concerning the generative and physiologic axis of women, this research involved the following points: Ganshu (UB 18), Shenshu (UB 23), Guanyuan (Ren 4), Zhongji (Ren 3), and Sanyinjiao (Sp 6).


The reinforcement and reduction of acupuncture enables it to strengthen liver and kidney. Through the Chong and Ren channels it nourishes uterus to adjust the patient's axis function and recover ovulation. Treated on an average of 30 times, the patients' symptoms improved to varying degrees. The marked effective rate was 35.29%, the total effective rate being 82.35%. BBT, VS, CMS, and B ultrasonic picture all improved to some degree. The results also showed that acupuncture may adjust FSH, LH, and E2 in two directions and raise the progesterone level, bringing them to normal. The animal experiments confirmed this result.


Results showed that acupuncture may adjust endocrine function of the generative and physiologic axis of women, thus stimulating ovulation. The results of this research will provide some scientific basis for treating and further studying this disorder.

PMID: 8412285 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


PubMed comprises more than 23 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.

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