Get help from the first registered acupuncturist in Edmonton to be board certified as a Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine.
“Just hang in there. Try every avenue; try anything you can do, ‘cause you’ll get there. You’ll end up with a family, and it’s so worth it.” – Jimmy Fallon
“My husband and I would like to extend a gracious thank you for all your help. With your assistance we have had a wonderful surprise! We are expecting a little one!” — T
Most people are affected by reproductive health challenges at some point in their lives, whether they are trying to conceive, having menstrual cycle issues, struggling with breast or prostate cancer, or struggling with low libido or poor sexual function. Thankfully, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine provide a safe, effective option for treatment. Find out more below.
Optimizing Fertility for Couples
Couples who are trying to conceive often want to do all they can to positively influence the health of their unborn baby. Some couples who seek acupuncture treatment are just starting on their fertility journey and want to get their bodies as healthy as possible before conceiving, and others have been trying to conceive for a long time, have undergone a battery of medical testing to determine the cause of their conception difficulties, and are looking for something else they can do to improve their chances of having a healthy baby.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are beneficial for couples anywhere on their fertility journey, whether they are trying to conceive naturally or using assisted reproductive technologies such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are becoming increasingly well-known and researched in relation to their benefits for optimizing fertility and enhancing reproductive health. They have been shown to regulate the hormonal system, enhance blood flow to the reproductive organs and reduce the effects of stress.
Conceiving Naturally With Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine
Many people seek out Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine when they are trying to conceive. These therapies help to optimize the menstrual cycle and sperm parameters to make conception more likely. Acupuncture has been shown to be at least as effective as medication in stimulating ovulation in women with ovulation difficulties ¹ ², can improve blood flow to the uterine lining ³ and can encourage embryo implantation4. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can also improve sperm parameters, including count, motility and morphology 5,6,7
Using Acupuncture Along With Assisted Reproductive Technologies
A research study compared IVF patients who received whole systems traditional Chinese medicine (patient-specific acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatments as they are applied in clinical practice) in preparation for and along with their IVF cycle to patients who did not. The study found that IVF patients using their own eggs were twice as likely to have a live birth if they also received whole systems traditional Chinese medicine8. Even more impressive was that IVF patients using donor eggs were over three times more likely to have a live birth if they received whole systems traditional Chinese medicine8. Patients in the whole systems traditional Chinese medicine group received an average of 10-12 treatments. Patient visits were typically once a week until the start of IVF suppression, when they increased to twice a week until oocyte retrieval.
One of the great things about this research trial is that it included acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatments that were individualized for each patient, which is reflective of how acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are practiced day-to-day in a clinical setting—most previous research trials have typically tested acupuncture or herbal protocols that weren’t individualized, which has the potential to lower the treatment effect.
It is optimal to start acupuncture treatment at least three months before the start of an IVF cycle, and research has found that women who receive at least eight acupuncture treatments before an IVF cycle have a better outcome than women who receive fewer9, but even receiving acupuncture only on the day of embryo transfer offers benefits4.
Recurrent miscarriage occurs either because of poor embryo quality (related to the genetic quality of eggs and/or sperm) or because a woman’s body is having difficulty maintaining the pregnancy, for example due to compromised thyroid function or progesterone deficiency. After three miscarriages, doctors may do chromosomal testing to identify any chromosomal abnormalities in the parents. It is important to note that having good sperm count, motility and morphology in a sperm analysis doesn’t necessarily mean that a man’s sperm is free from genetic abnormalities that can contribute to recurrent miscarriage.
Treatment of recurrent miscarriage with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine preferably starts before conception with treatment of both partners. Ideally, to most positively affect egg and sperm quality, treatment should be started at least three months before trying to conceive again.
Find out More
To find out more about how acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine benefit fertility, please also read the Women’s Reproductive Health and Men’s Reproductive Health sections. And if you have questions about your specific situation, please Contact Us.
- Song, FJ et al. 2008. Clinical observation on acupuncture for treatment of infertility of ovulatory disturbance. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu; 28(1): 21-23.
- Jiang, DS and Ding D. 2009. Clinical observation on acupuncture combined with medication for treatment of continuing anovulation infertility. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu; 29(1): 21-24.
- Stener-Victorin, E et al. 1996. Reduction of blood flow impedence in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture. Human Reproduction; 11 (6): 1314-17.
- Paulus et al. 2002. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertility and Sterility; 77 (4): 721-24.
- Gurfinkel, E et al. 2003. Effects of acupuncture and moxa treatment in patients with semen abnormalities. Asian Journal of Andrology; 5: 345-48.
- Zhang, M et al. 2002. Influence of acupuncture on idiopathic male infertility in assisted reproductive technology. J Huazhong Univ Sci Technolog Med Sci; 22 (3): 228-30.
- Pei, J et al. 2005. Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility. Fertility and Sterility; 84 (1): 141-7.
- Rubin, L et al. 2015. Impact of whole systems traditional Chinese medicine on in-vitro fertilization outcomes. Reproductive Biomedicine Online; 30: 602-12.
- Cridennda et al. Acupuncture and in vitro fertilization: does the number of treatments impact reproductive outcomes? East Wind Acupuncture
Are you suffering from painful periods month after month? Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have a very high success rate in treating painful periods. For example, one research trial that found that women with painful periods who were treated with acupuncture twice a month for six months noticed immediate improvement in menstrual pain, and a complete disappearance of menstrual pain after three months.1 This absence of menstrual pain persisted for at least six months following the treatment period.1
Overly Heavy Periods or Abnormal Spotting
It is always concerning to women when their periods are overly heavy or when they experience prolonged spotting between periods. Not only is it uncomfortable, but the blood loss can also be draining, especially if a woman is already prone to iron or other deficiencies. Women with overly heavy periods or with bleeding or spotting that regularly falls outside of the menstrual period should always be evaluated by their medical doctor. But sometimes no medical cause can be found, and women are told they need to go on birth control or undergo endometrial ablation or hysterectomy. Thankfully, there are other options. Women often see improvements, with more manageable menstrual flow and reduced days of bleeding and/or spotting within the first three months of receiving weekly acupuncture treatment and /or Chinese herbal therapy.
Irregular or Absent Periods
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help stimulate ovulation and regulate the menstrual cycle, whether the underlying cause is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), previous contraceptive pill use, high prolactin levels, hypothalamic amenorrhea or unexplained. Acupuncture can also help regulate weight in women for whom hormonal irregularities are associated with weight gain or weight loss. Premature ovarian failure is characterized by reduced ovary function before the age of 40, as well as high follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels and often low estradiol levels. It has been shown in research that acupuncture can improve menstrual frequency in some women while also improving hormone levels2. The use of Chinese herbal therapy is also important in the treatment of premature ovarian failure.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are very effective at managing premenstrual symptoms, such as irritability, abdominal discomfort, breast tenderness, sleep disturbances and digestive system discomforts. A systematic review evaluating the effectiveness of acupuncture and/or herbal medicine across various research studies found a greater than 50 percent improvement in premenstrual symptoms in women with premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder who received these treatments3.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common cause of menstrual cycle irregularity and can affect the ease with which a woman conceives. PCOS is best managed with dietary changes, regular exercise, acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and/or nutritional supplementation. In women with PCOS, acupuncture has been shown to increase ovulation frequency and regulate ovarian and adrenal hormones4. When women received 10-13 weeks of acupuncture treatments, they exhibited a higher frequency of ovulation than women in the control group, as well as more normalized hormone levels4. Acupuncture has also been shown to have a more marked effect on reducing testosterone levels and increasing menstrual frequency than physical exercise5.
Endometriosis can manifest as painful periods, pain during intercourse or with bowel movements, spotting between menstrual cycles or other symptoms, and in some cases endometriosis affects the ease with which a woman conceives. Research studies have shown that Chinese herbal medicine can decrease the need for subsequent surgeries in women with endometriosis6 and is at least as effective as western medicine for the prevention of recurrence7,8, with fewer side effects and improved rates of conception8.
Perimenopause & Menopause
Menopause refers to the time in a woman’s life when she stops menstruating—a woman is considered to have entered menopause when she has gone for 12 consecutive months without a period. Perimenopause refers to the period in which a woman’s body is transitioning into menopause. Perimenopause can last under a year or can go on for up to ten years. Symptoms of menopause and perimenopause include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, difficulties sleeping, frequent urination and decreased libido. Perimenopausal symptoms may also include worsening premenstrual syndrome, irregular periods, breast tenderness and anxiety or depression.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine can often do much to help regulate perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. In fact, research has shown that women in natural menopause who received acupuncture experienced reduced hot flash frequency and severity as well as improved quality of life9. In traditional Chinese society, menopause is referred to as Second Spring and is seen as a time of new potential and rejuvenation, as a woman’s role shifts from raising children and taking care of her family in a physical way to nurturing her own heart and spirit and caring for those around her by sharing her experience and wisdom.
Women with breast cancer can benefit from acupuncture treatment as well, both during cancer treatment and while on medication for the prevention of recurrence. Acupuncture can significantly reduce nausea and vomiting10,11 during chemotherapy or post-surgery and can help reduce lymphedema by more than 30 percent12. Acupuncture can also help reduce hot flashes that women experience while taking tamoxifen for the prevention of recurrence of breast cancer. In one study, hot flash frequency reduced by about 50 percent at the end of the treatment period, with effects of the treatments lasting up to 18 weeks after end of treatment13. Women in the study also reported improvements in anxiety, memory and concentration, sexual behavior and sleep problems13.
- Reyes-Campos, M et al. 2013. Acupuncture as an adjunct treatment for primary dysmenorrhea: a comparative study. Medical Acupuncture; 25(4): 291–94.
- Chen, Y et al. 2014. Effect of acupuncture on premature ovarian failure: a pilot study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Article ID 718675.
- Jang, S et al. 2014. Effects and treatment methods of acupuncture and herbal medicine for premenstrual syndrome/ premenstrual dysphoric disorder: systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine; 14:11.
- Johansson, J et al. 2013. Acupuncture for ovulation induction in polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism; 304 (9):E934-43.
- Jedel, E et al. 2011. Impact of electro-acupuncture and physical exercise on hyperandrogenism and oligo/amenorrhea in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism; 300:E37-45.
- Su, S et al. 2014. Reduction of surgery rate in endometriosis patients who take Chinese medicine: a population-based retrospective cohort study. Complementary Therapies in Medicine; 22 (4): 632-9.
- Weng, Q et al. 2015. Chinese medicinal plants for advanced endometriosis after conservative surgery: a prospective, multi-center and controlled trial. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine; 8 (7): 11307-11.
- Zhao, R et al. 2013. Controlling the recurrence of pelvic endometriosis after a conservative operation: comparison between Chinese herbal medicine and western medicine. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine; 19 (11): 820-25.
- Chiu, H et al. 2015. Effects of acupuncture on menopause-related symptoms and quality of life in women in natural menopause: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Menopause; 22 (2): 234-44.
- Rithirangsriroj, K et al. 2015. Efficacy of acupuncture in prevention of delayed chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting in gynecologic cancer patients. Gynecological Oncology; 136 (1): 82-86.
- Hack, C et al. 2015. Local and systemic therapies for breast cancer patients: reducing short-term symptoms with the methods of Integrative Medicine. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd; 75 (7): 675-682.
- Cassileth B et al. 2013. Acupuncture in the treatment of upper-limb lymphedema: results of a pilot study. Cancer; 119: 2455-61.
- de Valois, B et al. 2010. Using traditional acupuncture for breast cancer related hot flashes and night sweats. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; 16 (10): 1047-57.
Men’s Reproductive Health
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine have demonstrated benefits in the treatment of male reproductive health, including enhancing fertility, improving sexual performance and managing prostate health.
Optimizing Male Fertility and Sperm Parameters
In 40-50 percent of couples with fertility challenges, male subfertility contributes to the couple’s difficulties in conceiving. Acupuncture has been shown to enhance testicular blood flow1, increase the percentage of motile sperm2, increase the percentage of normal sperm3 and improve the fertilization rate in in-vitro fertilization and/or intracytoplasmic sperm injection4. Chinese herbal therapy can also improve sperm quality5. Ideally, the course of acupuncture or herbal treatment continues for at least 65 to 75 days (the amount of time it takes for sperm to complete its life cycle), but even treatment over a shorter course of time has been shown to be effective in improving male fertility.
Enhancing Male Sexual Function
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be effective at enhancing male sexual function, including premature ejaculation6 and erectile dysfunction7,8. Treatment for premature ejaculation can be started at any time. For erectile dysfunction, the best results are obtained when treatment is started within two years of the onset of problems, and sometimes diet and lifestyle changes are required for successful treatment as well.
As men age, they can be more prone to issues with prostate health, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer. Acupuncture can be effective at reducing the International Prostate Symptom Score in the management of benign prostatic hyperplasia9. Acupuncture is also helpful for men with prostate cancer, helping to reduce the Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index10 and helping to alleviate the hot flashes that can be a side effect of prostate cancer treatment11.
- Cakmak, Y et al. 2008. Point- and frequency-specific response of the testicular artery to abdominal electroacupuncture in humans. Fertility and Sterility; 90 (5): 1732-38.
- Dieterle, S et al. 2009. A prospective randomized placebo-controlled study of the effect of acupuncture in infertile patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia. Fertility and Sterility; 92 (4): 1340-43.
- Pei, J et al. 2005. Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility. Fertility and Sterility; 84 (1): 141-47.
- Zhang, M et al. 2002. Influence of acupuncture on idiopathic male infertility in assisted reproductive technology. Journal of Huazhong University of Science and Technology; 22 (3): 228-30.
- Ishikawa, H et al. 1996. Effects of guizhi-fuling-wan on male infertility with varicocele. American Journal of Chinese Medicine; 24: 327-31.
- Sunay, D et al. 2011. Acupuncture versus paroxetine for the treatment of premature ejaculation: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. European Urology; 59: 765-71.
- Kho, H et al. 1999. The use of acupuncture in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. International Journal of Impotence Research; 11(1): 41-46.
- Engelhardt P et al. 2003. Acupuncture in the treatment of psychogenic erectile dysfunction: first results of a prospective randomized placebo-controlled study. International Journal of Impotence Research: 15 (5): 343-46.
- Wang, Y et al. 2013. Electroacupuncture for moderate and severe benign prostatic hyperplasia: a randomized controlled trial. Plos One; 8(4): e59449.
- Sahin, S et al. 2015. Acupuncture relieves symptoms in chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome: a randomized sham-controlled trial. Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases; 18 (3): 249-54.Beer et al. 2010. Acupuncture for hot flashes in patients with prostate cancer. Urology; 76: 1182-88.