Research and reviews
These pages provide a library or resource of studies of Chinese medicine relevant to reproductive health that have been published (for the most part) in peer reviewed academic journals. Some of them are large randomised controlled trials, and some are small pilot studies that point the direction to future research but do not form the basis of therapeutic recommendations. Some of these studies show a benefit of using Traditional Chinese medicine techniques and some show no benefit.
Clinical trials examining the effect of Chinese medicine on female fertility are not so common, for several reasons mostly relating to logistics of recruitment of participants and cost. However IVF clinics provide a platform for easy recruitment of patients, and evaluation of outcomes, hence much of the research published in this area examines the effect of acupuncture (and sometimes herbs) on IVF patients.
Research on male factor fertility, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome is being carried out in various parts of the world.
Fertility and Sterility, (journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine) has published many studies on the effect of acupuncture at the time of embryo transfer. Of 16 studies, 11 reported improved chances of pregnancy. If any provisional conclusion is to be drawn, it is that acupuncture appears to benefit clinical trial groups who have an expected pregnancy rate of around only 35% or less.
Click this title to see abstracts of these papers.
Trials conducted in China and Japan have shown a beneficial effect of taking Chinese herbs before and during an IVF cycle.
Click this category to view Abstracts of 21 papers examining the effect of Chinese medicine on fertility and IVF outcomes.
Click this category to view Abstracts of 9 studies examining the effect of acupuncture on blood flow.
Click this category to view Abstracts of 13 studies examining acupuncture and sperm parameters.
Many studies have shown that stress can negatively affect fertility and in some studies (but not all) IVF outcomes. One of the suggested mechanisms for the positive impact that acupuncture can have on embryo implantation, is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety.
Click this category to view Abstracts of the 20 articles published in medical journals about stress, fertility and acupuncture.
Click this category to view Abstracts of 6 studies examining the effect of Chinese medicine on endometriosis.
Click this category to view Abstracts of 16 papers examining the effect of Chinese medicine on PCOS.
Blocked tubes is not something we often treat with Chinese medicine in the west. However in China, especially in areas where IVF is not available, treatment is offered with both acupuncture and herbs.
Click this category to view the Abstract of this study on the effect of Chinese medicine on blocked tubes.
Click this category to view Abstracts of 10 studies of acupuncture used for different pregnancy conditions.
Miscarriage is not an easy condition to study in a clinical trial setting although there is one study in China that found that herbs given to IVF patients reduced miscarriage. Animal studies indicate that acupuncture can improve the immune environment of the uterus such that implantation and placenta development is more likely to succeed.
Click this category to view Abstracts of 4 studies of Chinese medicine used for miscarriage prevention.
A number of groups in different countries have carried out meta analyses on the embryo transfer and acupuncture trials, and other reviewers have looked at the effect of Chinese medicine on other aspects of fertility treatment.
Click this category to view summaries of more than 20 reviews or meta analyses.