Pacific Wellness Institute Clinic: Bloor-Yorkville Toronto

Treatment of infertility by acupuncture and breathing exercise Part 1 Background

Treatment of Infertility by Acupuncture According to Circalunar and Cardiac Variability Rhythms

Tim H. Tanaka, Ph.D.
Director, The Pacific Wellness Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Visiting Research Fellow, School of Health Sciences, Tsukuba University of Technology, Japan

A part of this paper was presented at WFAS International Acupuncture Congress, cosponsored by World Health Organization, in Beijing, China, Oct. 2007.

Page updated on January 31, 2008


Acupuncture has been used to treat various gynecological and reproductive problems over the centuries in the Orient [1]. Acupuncture use in Western countries has sharply increased since 1970, mainly as an adjunct modality for chronic pain management.  More recently however, use of acupuncture has expanded widely for a variety of health problems.

In the area of female health and fertility, acupuncture has been shown to be beneficial for women with PCOS and anovulation [2], and it has been shown to increase uterine blood flow [3]. Acupuncture has also been shown to decrease the symptoms related to endometriosis [4] and primary dysmenorrhea [5, 6]. In several recent years, a growing number of research publications investigating the efficacy of acupuncture on infertility, have been appearing in peer-reviewed medical journals. Most of the papers, however, are particularly focused on the use of acupuncture in conjunction with IVF [7-12]. In April 2002, Paulus et al. from Germany reported that they had produced a higher clinical pregnancy rate in women undergoing IVF using acupuncture compared to IVF without acupuncture (42.5% versus 26.3%) [10].

Medline indexed English articles on infertility and acupuncture from 1981 to 2007

Treatment of infertility by acupuncture and breathing exercise Part 1 Background

Upon the German researcher’s success, several groups attempted to replicate their results.  Two randomized trials published in 2006 also found higher IVF pregnancy rates compared with standard IVF without acupuncture [11] or compared with patients who received ‘placebo’ acupuncture [7].  The latter study, by Westergaard et al., also employed a 2nd acupuncture group in which patients received additional acupuncture 2 days after their embryo transfer. This additional treatment did not produce any significant changes in outcome.  A ‘placebo’ controlled trial by Smith et al. did not show significant benefit of acupuncture for IVF outcome [12].  Paulus et al. then conducted a second study using placebo needles which did not indicate a significant difference between the real and placebo acupuncture groups [13].  Finally, in the fall of 2007, a University of Oklahoma group apparently* reported that they found a lower pregnancy rate among women who received the German acupuncture protocol (*Based on a news release. The original paper is not yet available, as of Jan. 2008). Despite a growing number of studies on infertility and acupuncture, the scientific basis for this therapy is still in its infancy.  More studies on laboratory animals and human trials are certainly needed in order to further clarify the mechanism and efficacy of acupuncture.

Treatment of infertility by acupuncture and breathing exercise Part 1 BackgroundCurrently, many clinical acupuncturists treat their patients based on traditional Eastern acupuncture theory, Western anatomy/physiology, and their clinical experience, while also considering the best available evidence.    The Pacific Wellness Institute located in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada has been providing various forms of alternative medicine and treatments. Over the last several years, the acupuncture department specifically, has experienced a growing number of patients with gynaecological problems and fertility concerns, and notable clinical results have been observed.  The acupuncture treatment procedures used, the rationale of this treatment and a brief summary of outcomes during a 2 year period (2004-5) are presented.