Acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatment for women undergoing intrauterine insemination

Sela K et al, Eur Jn Int Med, Vol 3, 2, 2011, Pgs e77–e81
European Journal of Integrative Medicine


Many couples prefer to try less invasive methods before doing IVF. IUI is one such method, that involves insemination of washed sperm to the uterus at precisely the time of ovulation. In this study (controlled but not randomised Level III) women who were being treated with acupuncture and Chinese herbs had a 50% higher pregnancy rate than those who weren’t. The average age of women in the control group was 37, while the average age of the women in the Chinese medicine group was 39. 

This result should be tested in larger RCTs.




To assess the effect of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM, acupuncture and medicinal herbs) as a therapeutic adjuvant to ovulation induction with intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedures and evaluate its contribution to pregnancy and “take-home baby” rates.

Materials and methods

A comparative retrospective study was carried out in a university – affiliated municipal hospital. All women undergoing artificial insemination by donor spermatozoa (AID) and concomitantly treated with TCM were invited to participate. The enrolled women underwent weekly TCM in parallel with medical therapy. The treatment lasted between 2 and 36 cycles (equivalent to a time period ranging from one month to one year). The control group was comprised of women who underwent AID without TCM and whose data were retrospectively retrieved from hospital files. Pregnancy was assessed by human chorionic gonadotropin findings in blood 12–14 days after IUI. The birth rate was calculated during follow-up.


A total of 29 women aged 30–45 years were enrolled in the study. The historical control group included 94 women aged 28–46 years. Women who combined TCM with the procedures for undergoing IUI had significantly higher pregnancy (OR = 4.403, 95% CI 1.51–12.835, p = 0.007) and birth rates (OR = 3.905, 95% CI 1.321–11.549, p = 0.014) than the control group.


TCM appears to be beneficial as an adjunctive treatment in IUI procedures. Randomized controlled trials are needed to further assess the role of acupuncture and herbs in this setting.