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Research: Male and female infertility

Unexplained Infertility (Acupuncture)

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Unexplained Infertility (Herbs)

Measuring the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine in improving female fertility

A private practice specialising in treating infertility with Chinese herbal medicine designed a study that took place between November 2003 and December 2004, which investigated the usefulness of Chinese herbal medicine in fifty women with the Western medical diagnosis of unexplained infertility.

Results: Pregnancies in the sample group recorded 6 months after commencement of the last treatment were 28, with 11 live births and 7 miscarriages.

Conclusion: The study outcome demonstrates that using Chinese herbal medicine results in higher success rates of pregnancy, with no patient side-effects and a reduction in the category of patients conventionally classified as having unexplained infertility. The Register of Chinese herbal medicine web site provides more information on safety and other conditions that respond well to Chinese herbal medicine.

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Primary Infertility (Acupuncture)

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Primary Infertility (Herbs)

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Secondary Infertility (Acupuncture)

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Secondary Infertility (Herbs)

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Male Infertility (Acupuncture)

Acupuncture and male infertility

Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility.

Fertilty Sterility. 2005 Jul;84(1):141-7. Pei J, Strehler E, Noss U, Abt M, Piomboni P, Baccetti B, Sterzik K.

Influence of acupuncture on idiopathic male infertility in assisted reproduction therapy.

Dr. M. Zhang et al. J Huazhong University SCI Technology Medicine SCI 2002; 22(3):228-30.

Effect of acupuncture on sperm parameters of males suffering from subfertility to low sperm quality.

Arch Andrology. 1997 Sep-Oct;39(2): 155-6, Siteman S, Eltes F, Wolfson V, Lederman H, Bartoov B, Institute of Chinese Medicine, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Effects of acupuncture and moxa treatment in patients with semen abnormalities.

Asian J Androl, 2003 Dec; 5(4): 345-8, Gurfinkel E, Cedenho AP, Yamamura Y, Srougi M., Human Reproduction Division, Discipline of Urology, Sao Paulo Federal University, Paulista School of Medicine, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Idiopathic male infertility

In a prospective, controlled and blind study, nineteen patients between 24 and 42 years of age, with semen abnormalities in concentration, morphology and/or progressive motility without apparent cause, were randomized into two groups and submitted to acupuncture and moxa treatment at the therapeutic (Study Group) and the indifferent points (Control Group), respectively, for 10 weeks. The Chinese Traditional Medicine acupuncture and moxa techniques significantly increased the percentage of normal-form sperm in infertile patients with oligoastenoteratozoospermia (OAT).

Gurfinkel E , Cedenho AP , Yamamura Y , Srougi M. Effects of acupuncture and moxa treatment in patients with semen abnormalities. Asian J Androl. 2003 Dec; 5(4):345-8.

Forty men with idiopathic oligospermia, asthenospermia, or teratazoospermia were divided into a treatment group and a control group. The treatment group consisted of twenty eight patients. This group received acupuncture twice a week for a period of 5 weeks. The samples from the treatment group were randomized with semen samples from the 12 men in the untreated control group. A significant increase was found in the percentage and number of sperm without ultra structural defects after the course of acupuncture treatment.
Pei J , Strehler E , Noss U , Abt M , Piomboni P , Baccetti B , Sterzik K. Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultra structure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility. Fertil Steril. 2005; 84(11):141-7.

Low sperm count (oligospermia)

In this study researchers questioned the effect of acupuncture on males with very low sperm count. 15 were azoospermic, two pseudoazoospermic and three had severe oligoteratoasthenozoospermia (OAT). After a treatment course of acupuncture, the OAT patients had a slight increase in sperm count, however of the azoospermic patients 67% showed a definite increase in sperm count, seven of them significantly. Males with genital tract inflammation exhibited the most remarkable improvement in sperm density. Two pregnancies were achieved in conjunction with IVF-ICSI. The authors conclude that acupuncture might be a useful treatment for males with very poor sperm count, especially those with a history of genital tract inflammation. Siterman S, Eltes F, Wolfson V, Lederman H, Bartoov B. Does acupuncture treatment affect sperm density in males with very low sperm count? A pilot study. Andrologia. 2000 Jan; 32(1):31-9. SPERM


16 patients with sub fertility were treated with acupuncture twice a week for 5 weeks and compared to a control group. The sperm motility increased in the study group. Siterman S, Eltes F, Wolfson V, Zabludovsky N, Bartoov B.Effect of acupuncture on sperm parameters of males suffering from sub fertility related to low sperm quality. Arch Androl. 1997 Sep-Oct; 39(2):155-61.
28 men received a total 10 acupuncture treatments for three weeks. Researchers observed a statistically significant improvement of sperm quality following pre and post sperm analysis and hormone testing. They reported that acupuncture treatment around the time of ovulation may increase the chances of conception. Fischl F, Riegler R, Bieglmayer C, Nasr F, Neumark J. [Modification of semen quality by acupuncture in sub fertile males] Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 1984 Aug;44 (8):510-2.

Low sperm count, motility and high abnormals

Another study examined 54 males with impaired fertility. For a period of 1-3 months acupuncture treatment was given, and sperm analysis carried out before and after treatment. Of the 54 males 20% were previously diagnosed with azoospermia and immunological impairments, and showed no improvements. However a larger percentage (55.5%), successfully conceived, and a further 24% showed a significant improvements in sperm parameters. The best improvements measured was in those men with abnormal sperm morphology. Qian, Z [Clinical observation of 54 cases of male infertility treated by acupuncture and moxibustion] Journal of Chinese Medicine, 1996 Sep; 52.

Male Infertility (Herbs)

Male infertility and varicocele

Patients with male factor infertility and variocele were treated with a Chinese herbal medicine for three months. Following treatment, there was an 80% disappearance rate of the variocele. Sperm motility and count were increased following treatment as well. (Effects of guizhi-fuling-wan on male infertility with varicocele.

American Journal of Chinese Medicine. (1996) Vol 24(3-4):327-31.)

Male infertility and varicocele

Sixty patients with variocele following varicocelectomy were randomly divided into two groups. Thirty patients were treated with a Chinese herbal formula, and 30 patients in the control group were treated with intramuscular injection of human chronic gonadotropine (hCG). The pregnancy rate of patient's wives in the group treated with Chinese Medicine was 76.6%, while that in the control group was 40.0%.

(Clinical observation on effect of jingling oral liquid in treating infertile patients with varicocele after varicocelectomy. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. (2004) Vol 24(3): 220-2.)

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IVF Assistance (Acupuncture)

Acupuncture improves IFV success rate

A meta-analysis of seven clinical trials in which acupuncture was used to support embryo transfer during IVF has concluded that it improves rates of pregnancy and live birth. Dutch and American researchers analysed results from seven clinical trials (selected as eligible from a total of 108), all published since 2002 and carried out in four Western countries. They included data on 1366 women and compared acupuncture given within one day of embryo transfer, with sham acupuncture, or no additional treatment. All except one used a similar acupuncture protocol (based on Paulus et al). The analysis showed that combining real acupuncture with embryo transfer was associated with significant and clinically relevant improvements in clinical pregnancy rate. Women who underwent acupuncture were 65% more likely to have a successful embryo transfer procedure and 91% more likely to have a live birth. On the basis of ‘number needed to treat’, this means that ten women undergoing IVF would need to be treated with acupuncture to bring about one additional pregnancy. (Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2008 Mar 8;336(7643):545-9.)

IVF Assistance (Herbs)

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High FSH (Acupuncture)

High FSH and Acupuncture

High FSH levels according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) indicate a deficiency in kidney yin energy, which is normally needed to make good, fertile eggs. As in Western medicine, fertility declines with age, in Chinese Medicine, the kidney yin and energetics of the kidneys decline as we get older. Acupuncture nourishes and supports the kidney yin energy, and can reduce high FSH levels. However, high FSH levels could also be related to factors such as the movement of blood in the uterus, or the emotional state of a person and in these circumstances acupuncture can stabilise FSH levels in the body.

High FSH (Herbs)

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Blocked Fallopian Tubes (Acupuncture)

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Blocked Fallopian Tubes (Herbs)

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Ovulatory Dysfunction (Acupuncture)

Auricular acupuncture seems to offer a valuable alternative therapy for female infertility due to hormone disorders

Abstract: Following a complete gynecologic--endocrinologic workup, 45 infertile women suffering from oligoamenorrhea (n = 27) or luteal insufficiency (n = 18) were treated with auricular acupuncture. Results were compared to those of 45 women who received hormone treatment. Both groups were matched for age, duration of infertility, body mass index, previous pregnancies, menstrual cycle and tubal patency.
Women treated with acupuncture had 22 pregnancies, 11 after acupuncture, four spontaneously, and seven after appropriate medication. Women treated with hormones had 20 pregnancies, five spontaneously, and 15 in response to therapy.

Four women of each group had abortions. Endometriosis (normal menstrual cycles) was seen in 35% (38) of the women of each group who failed to respond to therapy with pregnancy. Only 4 of the women who responded to acupuncture or hormone treatment with a pregnancy had endometriosis, and 7% had normal cycles. In addition, women who continued to be infertile after hormone therapy had higher body mass indices and testosterone values than the therapy responders from this group.

Women who became pregnant after acupuncture suffered more often from menstrual abnormalities and luteal insufficiency with lower estrogen, thyrotropin (TSH) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) concentrations than the women who achieved pregnancy after hormone treatment. Although the pregnancy rate was similar for both groups, eumenorrheic women treated with acupuncture had adnexitis, endometriosis, out-of-phase endometria and reduced postcoital tests more often than those receiving hormones. Twelve of the 27 women (44%) with menstrual irregularities remained infertile after therapy with acupuncture compared to 15 of the 27 (56%) controls treated with hormones, even though hormone disorders were more pronounced in the acupuncture group.

Side-effects were observed only during hormone treatment. Various disorders of the autonomic nervous system normalized during acupuncture. Based on our data, auricular acupuncture seems to offer a valuable alternative therapy for female infertility due to hormone disorders.

By Gerhard I; Postneek F. [Auricular acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility] Gynecological Endocrinology, 1992 Sep, 6(3):171-81. (UI: 93071204) (Requested library location(s) not linked. Try F PE .)

Ovulatory Dysfunction (Herbs)

Chinese herbal medicine and PCOS

The effectiveness of a Chinese formula called ‘Tian gui fang’ in comparison with metformin was tested on patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome [PCOS]. The patients were divided into two groups and either Tian gui fang or metformin was administered for three months. After treatment, 4 out of the 8 patients on metformin had restoration of menstrual cyclicity, and two of them had a double phase BBT.

The testosterone levels had decreased. No other measures changed. In the group that received the Chinese medicine, 6 patients out of 8 had a restored cycle as well as a double phase BBT. Testosterone and the body mass index (BMI) decreased significantly. The authors conclude that both therapies can induce ovulation but that Chinese herbal medicine has a higher efficacy in restoring ovulation and normal BBT measures.

Hou J, Yu J, Wei M. ‘[Study on treatment of hyperandrogenism and hyperinsulinism in polycystic ovary syndrome with chinese herbal formula ‘tian gui fang]’. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Jie he Za Zhi. 2000; 20 (8):589.

Chinese herbal medicine and PCOS

The effectiveness of a Chinese herbal formulary was tested on patients with high LH levels due to polycystic ovary syndrome. Eight weeks of treatment with Chinese herbal medicine significantly reduced plasma LH.

Ushiroyama T, Ikeda A, Sakai M, Hosotani T, Suzuki Y, Tsubokura S, Ueki M. ‘Effects of unkei-to, an herbal medicine, on endocrine function and ovulation in women with high basal levels of luteinizing hormone secretion.’ J Reprod Med. 2001 May; 46(5):451-6.

Chinese herbal medicine and PCOS

In Japan, a Chinese herbal formulary was tested on patients with polycystic ovarian disease [PCOD] to find an effective treatment without side effects that could be used instead of clomiphene citrate or gonadotropin therapy. After a course of treatment, the FSH/ LH ratio had significantly decreased, and the ovulatory rate was 70.6%. Serum testosterone did not change during treatment. The authors conclude that the Chinese formula may be useful for the treatment of anovulation in PCOS patients.

Sakai A, Kondo Z, Kamei K, Izumi S, Sumi K. ‘Induction of ovulation by Sairei-to for polycystic ovary syndrome patients.’ Endocr J. 1999 Feb; 46(1):217-20.

Premature ovarian failure using Chinese herbal medicine

A case study from Taiwan discusses the effective treatment of premature ovarian failure using Chinese herbal medicine. Clomiphene citrate therapy over 8 months had not changed the FSH and LH levels from the post menopausal range. A course of 4 months treatment with Chinese herbal medicine based on Zuo gui wan induced an ovulation, and the patient fell pregnant. The authors conclude that Chinese herbal medicine can restore ovarian function effectively and promptly and offers another option for treating infertility in patients with premature ovarian failure.

Chao SL, Huang LW, Yen HR. ‘Pregnancy in premature ovarianfailure after therapy using Chinese herbal medicine. A case study.’Chang Gung Medical Journal 2003 Jun; 26(6): 449-52.

Chinese herbs in the treatment of hyperinsulinemia and hyperandrogenism anovulatory dysfunction

At Shanghai medical university, the effectiveness of Chinese medical herbs from the category of yin supplementing were tested on 35 patients with polycystic anovulation. The patients were treated for three months, and a variety of tests were carried out before and after the course of treatment. Testosterone levels lowered significantly. In 59.7% of patients and a regular cycle was re established. 41.2% of women became pregnant. The authors conclude that Kidney Yin nourishing herbs could provide a good microcircumstance for ovarian follicular growth, which results in ovulation and pregnancy.

Zhou LR, Yu J. [Clinical observation on treatment of hyperinsulinemia and hyperandrogenism anovulatory patient with replenishing kidney-yin drugs] Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1996Sep; 16(9): 515-8.

Chinese medicine and pituitary adenoma

Hachimijiogan, a Chinese herbal formulary (Liu wei dihuang wan + rou gui, yin yang huo, huang qi), was shown in one study to benefit female infertility due to pituitary dysfunction. Two infertile women (one with and one without a pituitary adenoma) who were resistant to medical treatment, were given Hachimijiogan which subsequently reduced the serum prolactin level, and resulted in a normal ovulatory cycle and pregnancy, without side effects.

Usuki S; Kubota S; Usuki Y. Treatment with hachimijiogan, anon-ergot Chinese herbal medicine, in two hyperprolactinemic infertilewomen’. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 1989, 68 (5) p475-8.

Pituitary dysfunction causing infertility

In another study looking at pituitary dysfunction causing infertility, 27 women were given the same formulae as discussed above.6 of the women had amenorrhea. In 15 patients, the prolactin levelsdropped to a healthy range, and remained low 6 months after the courseof treatment. Four patients with amenorrhea ovulated. Eleven patientsconceived and delivered a healthy baby. In three women, the prolactinlevel did not lower. The authors conclude that a modification of Liuwei di huang wan can be a safe and effective treatment for hyperprolactinemic women.

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Luteal Phase Defect (Acupuncture)

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Luteal Phase Defect (Herbs)

Chinese herbal medicine corrects luteal phase defects

In the treatment of female infertility in patients with luteal phase defects Wen Jing Tang reduced LH, increased progesterone mid phase, and significantly helped dominant follicle and endometrium growth. An impressive 79.6% correction to luteal phase deficits were seen in patients, together with 49.5% wanted pregnancies.

(Unkei-to for correcting luteal phase defects. J Reprod Med (2003) Vol 48 (9): 729-34.)

Chinese herbal medicine treats hyper and hypo functing luteal dysfunction in women with no periods

This study found that they achieved a 61.3% success rate in hyper and hypo functioning women with amenorrhea by giving a Chinese herbal formula called wen jing tang. Wen Jing Tang has been studied extensively (1988 – 2007) mainly by Japanese investigators, and has been shown to be effective for menstrual disorders, abnormal uterine bleeding and infertility due to its ability to regulate (by stimulation or suppression) the pituitary-ovarian endocrine axis in humans (Effects of Unkei-to on FSH, LH and estradiol in anovulatory young women with hyper – or hypo-functioning conditions.

American Journal of Chinese Medicine (2003). Vol 31 (5): 763-71.)

Wen Jing Tang Chinese herbal formula promotes ovulation in luteal phase disorder

A study conducted in 1995 reported a 62.2% successful ovulation rate in first and second grade amenorrhea in 75 patients who took wen Jing Tang Chinese herbal formula.  It has been shown to be effective for menstrual disorders, and infertility due to its ability to regulate (by stimulation or suppression) the pituitary-ovarian endocrine axis in humans thereby aiding ovulatory disorders. (The effect of unkei-to on pituitary gonodotrophin secretion and ovulation in anovulatory cycles of young women.

American Journal of Chinese Medicine (1995) Vol 23 (3-4): 223-30.)

Chinese herbal formula shows early promise in the treatment of luteal phase defects

An early study back in 1988 investigated 25 women suffering with amenorrhea, anovulatory cycle or luteal phase dysfunction. They were given wen jing tang Chinese herbal formula, resulting in a significant success rate of around 50%. (Effect of Japanese Kampo medicine on hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian function in women with ovarian insufficiency.

American Journal of Chinese Medicine (1988) Vol 16 (1-2): 47-55.)

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