I have been asked countless times about the success rate of acupuncture to treat female infertility. Unfortunately, I can’t offer a straight and definitive answer to this question. Presently, there aren’t any sizable, randomized and controlled clinical studies available to prove the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility. The absence of such studies is probably due to a lack of funding.
Currently, many infertility patients come for acupuncture treatment after they have exhausted all other options, and these are often the most difficult cases to treat. Until there are randomized, controlled studies to make a fair comparison between the efficacy of acupuncture and various ART techniques, no meaningful comparison can be made. In my clinical observation, although the numbers below are not statistically significant, they do show that acupuncture treatment certainly does not lack for success in the treatment of female infertility. For an example, from May to June 2006, I am pleased to report that there were eighteen pregnancies in my clinic. Eleven of these patients used acupuncture and herbal medicine exclusively and were treated from a few weeks to over a year. The other seven patients received ART treatment, mostly IVF, in addition to acupuncture and herbal medicine.
In addition, successful treatments also largely depend on the knowledge and experience of the individual practitioner. In Quebec, the minimum requirement for an acupuncturist is a three-year CEGEP degree, which is only offered at Rosemont College, but Chinese herbal medicine is not part of the curriculum. Personally, I think that it takes minimum five years of full time clinical practice in TCM gynecology, for a TCM university graduate to be reasonably proficient in infertility treatment. To increase the level of expertise of acupuncturists in this field, L’ordre des acupuncteurs du Quebec has mandated me to conduct an educational seminars, named “Treating female infertility with acupuncture”, in April of 2011.
Due to increase awareness among potential patients and infertility specialists, there is a growing number of patients seeking acupuncture treatment early in the fertility treatment process rather than making it a solution of last resort, in the last a few years. This change should have a very positive impact on the results offered by acupuncture and Chinese herbs.