Infertility is when a pregnancy does not happen after 1 year of unprotected sex. It may be caused by conditions in male or female. In women problems may include:
- Ovulation disorders
- Problems with the fallopian tubes, uterus, or cervix
- Primary ovarian insufficiency
- Scar tissue in the pelvis
In some women, the cause may be unknown. Treatments may be available for the separate causes. Other treatments like artificial insemination may increase the chance of a pregnancy. Natural therapies may be tried to increase the chance of a pregnancy.
May Be Effective
- Chinese Herbal Medicine is the use of herbs to restore balance in the body. It may increase pregnancy rates.B1-B4, B6-B10
Unlikely to Be Effective
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution
Talk to your doctor about all herbs or pills you are taking. Some may get in the way of your treatment or other health problems you may have.
A1. Manheimer E, Zhang G, Udoff L, et al. Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2008;336:545-549.
A2. El-Toukhy T, Sunkara S, Khairy M, et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of acupuncture in in vitro fertilization. BJOG. 2008 Jul 23.
A3. Moy I, Milad MP, et al. Randomized controlled trial: effects of acupuncture on pregnancy rates in women undergoing in vitro fertilization. Fertil Steril. 2011 Feb;95(2):583-587.
A4. Qu F, Zhou J, et al. Effects of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 May;18(5):429-439.
A5. Villahermosa DI, Santos LG, et al. Influence of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilization when embryo implantation has failed: a prospective randomised controlled clinical trial. Acupunct Med. 2013 Jun;31(2):157-161.
A6. Cheong YC, Dix S, et al. Acupuncture and assisted reproductive technology. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Jul 26;(7):CD006920.
A7. Cheong YC, Dix X, et al. Acupuncture and assisted reproductive technology. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Jul 26;(7):CD006920.
A8. Shuai Z, Lian F, Li P, Yang W. Effect of transcutaneous electrical acupuncture point stimulation on endometrial receptivity in women undergoing frozen-thawed embryo transfer: a single-blind prospective randomised controlled trial. Acupunct Med. 2015;33(1):9-15.
A9. Jo J, Lee YJ. Effectiveness of acupuncture in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome undergoing in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acupunct Med. 2017 Jun;35(3):162-170.
A10. Qu F, Wang FF, et al. Transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation improves the outcomes of in vitro fertilization: a prospective, randomized and controlled study. Explore (NY). 2017 Sep-Oct;13(5):306-312.
A11. Smith CA, de Lacey S, et al. Effect of acupuncture vs. sham acupuncture on live birth rates among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2018 May 15;319(19):1990-1998.
B. Herbs and Supplements
B1. Zhang J, Li T, et al. Chinese herbal medicine for subfertile women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Sep 8;(9):CD007535.
B2. See CJ, McCuloch M, et al. Chinese herbal medicine and clomiphene citrate for anovulation: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 May;17(5):397-405.
B3. Ried K, Stuart K. Efficacy of traditional Chinese herbal medicine in the management of female infertility: a systematic review. Complement Ther Med. 2011 Dec;19(6):319-331.
B4. Tan L, Tong Y, et al. Chinese herbal medicine for infertility with anovulation: a systematic review. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Dec;18(12):1087-1100.
B5. Showell MG, Brown J, et al. Antioxidants for female subfertility. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Aug 5;(8):CD007807.
B6. Lian F, Wu HC, et al. Effects of Liuwei Dihuang Granule ([symbols; see text]) on the outcomes of in vitro fertilization pre-embryo transfer in infertility women with Kidney-yin deficiency syndrome and the proteome expressions in the follicular fluid. Chin J Integr Med. 2014 Jul;20(7):503-509.
B7. Guo J, Li D, et al. Effects of Chinese herbs combined with in vitro fertilization and embryo transplantation on infertility: a clinical randomized controlled trial. J Tradit Chin Med. 2014 Jun;34(3):267-273.
B8. Zhao Y, Du B, et al. Effects of combining low dose aspirin with a Chinese patent medicine on follicular blood flow and pregnancy outcome. Mol Med Rep. 2014 Nov;10(5):2372-2376.
B9. Ried K. Chinese herbal medicine for female infertility: an updated meta-analysis. Complement Ther Med. 2015 Feb;23(1):116-128.
B10. Zhou K, Zhang J, et al. Chinese herbal medicine for subfertile women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Oct 12;10:CD007535.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC Last Updated: 5/26/2020