Traditional Chinese Medicine Improving the Reproductive Outcome of In-Vitro Fertilization

In the past few years, TCM is used as an adjunct in assisted reproduction. In Dieterle et al.’s report [1], they used acupuncture in in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) with a randomized, prospective, controlled trial and found that acupuncture has a constructive result on the outcome of IVF/ICSI in the luteal phase. Another study [2] showed that acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome of IVF/ICSI, compared with no acupuncture.

The effect of clinical and ongoing pregnancy rates with repeating acupuncture on embryo transfer day 2 was higher than in the control group, but no statistical difference. They suggested that acupuncture is a safe modality for women undergoing embryo transfer.


The possible mechanism by acupuncture to improve the outcome of IVF can be concluded for four reasons: modulating neuroendocrinological factors, increasing blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, modulating cytokines, and reducing stress, anxiety, and depression [4]. In a study by Lian et al. [5], they used Erzhi Tiangui Recipe (ETR), a traditional Chinese recipe for strengthening Shen and nourishing Tiangui, in improving the ovarian reactivity in elderly sterile women.


Their study demonstrated that ETR combined with FSH could obviously decrease the dosage of FSH used, improve ovarian reactivity and pregnancy rate, and improve the quality of oocytes. The possible mechanismcould be associated with its effects in improving ovarian reactivity, elevating blood estrodiol and regulating the HPOA.


1 Dieterle S, Ying G, HatzmannW, Neuer A. Effect of acupuncture on the outcome of in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a randomized, prospective, controlled clinical study. Fertil Steril 2006; 85:1347–1351.


2 Westergaard LG, Mao Q, Krogslund M, et al. Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial. Fertil Steril 2006; 85:1341–1346.


3 Smith C, Coyle M, Norman RJ. Influence of acupuncture stimulation on pregnancy rates for women undergoing embryo transfer. Fertil Steril 2006; 85:1352–1358.


4 Anderson BJ, Haimovici F, Ginsburg ES, et al. In vitro fertilization and acupuncture: clinical efficacy and mechanistic basis. Altern Ther Health Med 2007; 13:38–48.

This review article provides the overall concepts of acupuncture as an adjunct therapy for IVF by means of an evidence-based evaluation of its efficacy and safety and an examination of possible mechanisms of action.

5 Lian F, Wang L, Zhang JW. Effect of erzhi tiangui recipe on ovarian reactivity in elderly sterile women. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 2006; 26:685–688.

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