by Meagan Duggan Bretz


The positive role of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in treating women’s infertility is becoming more evident as research continues in this field. In reviewing the literature on this topic it is apparent that the inclusion of Chinese medicine, acupuncture in particular, in an Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatment protocol, increases the likelihood of a positive pregnancy test. The results of a study by Gillerman et al. (2018) show that “that rates of live birth and positive pregnancy tests are significantly higher following a consensus acupuncture protocol for women undergoing IVF treatment compared with a control group” (p. 52). In this clinical trial the study group received three additional acupuncture treatments before the standard two treatments on embryo transfer day. The control group only received two transfer day treatments. The results showed the study group had a 42% positive pregnancy rate compared to the control groups 15.94% positive rate (Gillerman, 2018, p.48). The point protocols used in this study were created by a consensus of 15 international acupuncturists who work primarily with women undergoing IVF treatments. In a similar study of acupuncture’s effect on IVF cycle outcomes by Guven et al. (2020), the study group received three acupuncture treatments the week of the embryo transfer, whereas the control group never received acupuncture. The results of this study showed a positive pregnancy test in 63.9% of the study group and only 33.3% of the control group (Guven, 2020, p.282). This study also concluded that the inclusion of acupuncture treatments, especially leading up to embryo transfer day, produce higher rates of pregnancy in the patients studied.

It is important to note that in both reviewed studies inclusion criteria required women to be using their own eggs, and not donor eggs. In addition, the Guven study included women with unexplained infertility as the primary diagnosis for infertility in the patient population, whereas the Gillerman study did not discuss the infertility diagnosis of its participants.