Inoue T et al, OJOG, Vol. 3, No. 1A (2013)
Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
This pilot study recruited women with very poor fertility outlooks. They had suffered repeated IVF failures and were in their late 30s. However when they took Chinese herbs during a subsequent IVF cycle, some of these women became pregnant.
Maternal age is a significant factor in infertility treatment. Ovarian function and oocyte quality decrease with age, whereas the frequency of chromosomal abnormalities increases. In this study, improvement of oocyte quality and ovarian function were attempted using a herbal medicine comprising 7 crude drugs: Angelicae radix, Rehmanniae radix, Plantaginis semen, Lonicerae flos, Carthami flos, Ginseng radix, and Cucurbita moschata Duch. Thirty-one women who repeatedly failed to conceive by intracytoplasmic sperm injection took the herbal medicine before breakfast and dinner from the start of menstrual cycle in the ovum pickup cycle. Average patient age was 38.5 ± 0.7 years, and the average ovum pickup frequency on the first dosage day was 7.9 ± 1.5. To analyze the effects of herbal medicine intake, the number of recovered and mature oocytes, their morphology and physical qualities, as well as the rates of fertilization, oocyte development, and pregnancy was compared before and after intake. The recovered and mature oocyte numbers, oocyte morphology and physical qualities, and fertilization rate were not significantly different before and after drug intake. However, the oocyte development rate was significantly higher (58.0%) after herbal medicine intake than before (32.5%; p = 0.0003). Moreover, the successful pregnancy rate was significantly higher after intake than before (6.9% versus 0%; p = 0.0111). Herbal medicine may constitute a useful adjunct to assisted reproductive technology in women.