Acupuncture And Infertility | Acupuncture And Female Conception Difficulties Overview

Acupuncture And Female Conception Difficulties Overview

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Traditional Chinese Medicine was used with patients with female fertility issues for centuries. In modern times it has been combined with assisted reproduction medicine such as IVF (click on the right hand side to explore) or has sometimes been used on its own in many clinics in the West.

Most practitioners offer acupuncture and some also may offer Chinese Herbal Medicine alongside it. The theory of TCM gynaecology is highly advanced, having been honed over the centuries.

Modern women may have children later and many try acupuncture to help them concieve

Modern women may have children later and many try acupuncture to help them concieve

A Little Theory Overview

The following is of course a very condensed view, as TCM theory is complex and has become highly developed over the centuries. TCM maintains that Qi (vital energy) circulates throughout the body in an orderly fashion in the healthy individual. TCM practice always aims to correct imbalances in flow, impediments to flow or unusual Qi movement to help restore the body towards harmony. Qi flows in twelve regular channels (meridians) and eight extraordinary channels, which traverse the body in the same ‘map’ for every person. Acupuncture points exist along these pathways where the Qi is said to gather, therefore the channel Qi is held to be influenced by needling these points.

Acupuncture model with female points

Acupuncture model with female points

A (Very) Little TCM Acupuncture Gynaecology Theory

The Chinese term bao gong is often translated as ‘uterus’, however it refers to all the internal female reproductive organs. The actual uterus is termed ‘zi gong’. It is supplied with all the ‘necessary materials’ for menstruation, conception, pregnancy and delivery by the organs, via the  extraordinary channels Ren, Chong, Dai and Du. Those connect to the twelve regular channels  and the organs.

Modern authors suggest perhaps the circuit of the Ren and Du channels via the Brain, Heart and Kidneys can relate to the modern equivalent, the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis controlling gynaecological functions (1).

Studies in the West have tended to focus on combining acupuncture with in vitro fertilisation technique (IVF). However, TCM traditionally had to be used for patients without the benefit of any modern technology. Today, recent media reports state the Chinese trend for trying TCM first has not diminished (2), although in the West, it may be they choose modern conventional medicine first and a small number then complement it with TCM. Should any patient choose to try acupuncture, with or without other treatments, finding a properly qualified acupuncture practitioner is essential.  In many larger cities, patients can also choose to save money by taking acupuncture at the local acupuncture teaching school, often staffed by highly experienced senior staff and final year training practitioners. Patients should always be free to choose conventional medicine if they wish to, good practitioners are not averse to patients’ rights to choose.

DISCLAIMER: NO information here is intended to be taken as medical advice – or used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Any person with any health concerns is advised instead to consult their doctor. In the case of persons seeking therapy using Traditional Chinese Medicine, this information cannot be taken as medical advice and persons are advised instead to consult a suitably qualified professional practitioner.  TCM theory is fascinating but can only really be interpreted in any meaningful way by a qualified practitioner – please do not attempt to use this information in any other way than as an interesting introduction to some topics. Many thanks.

Silhouette photo credit


1. Maciocia, G. (1998). Obstetrics and gynaecology in Chinese medicine. London: Churchill Livingstone.

2. Chang, E. (2009) Breaking the silence on Chinas infertility treatments. [online]. CNN News, Available at:


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