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Fertility health centre

Chinese fertility treatment

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Using acupuncture and Chinese herbs for fertility

"It's as though you've been pressing your nose against the window of a chocolate shop and now you are in it," says Charlotte, "the world where people have families."

Charlotte is 41 and has recently given birth to a son she is convinced is the result of traditional Chinese fertility treatment.

With 1 in 7 couples having fertility problems, some are turning to Traditional Chinese Medicine to try to help them have a baby.

Sticking needles in your body and brewing up tea from twigs seems a long way from the highly advanced baby-making techniques of the 21st century. There are some studies suggesting that acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine may work. However, the evidence is not strong enough for the medical establishment to recommend it.

"There is currently no high-quality evidence that undergoing complementary therapies, such as acupuncture or using Chinese herbs, around the time of natural or assisted conception increases the likelihood of subsequent pregnancy," says Dr Raj Mathur, spokesperson for the British Fertility Society.

What is Chinese medicine for fertility?

Acupuncture is an ancient art – a part of traditional Chinese medicine that's been around for thousands of years. It's used to treat various conditions. In fertility terms it can be used as a stand-alone treatment or used together with Chinese herbs.

It can also be given in conjunction with more mainstream fertility treatments like IVF.

One 2011 study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine reviewed clinical trials, studies and case reports. It suggested that within a 4 month period couples with fertility issues were twice as likely to conceive using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) than they were when using Western fertility drugs or IVF.

"When talking about research we must also bear in mind the clinical evidence and research that has come from over 1,500 years of Chinese medicine treating fertility issues," says Chinese medicine expert Andrew Loosely.

"There is a great amount of evidence accumulated by thousands of practitioners in China, and around the world, who have and are helping couples to conceive their families against the odds," adds Andrew.

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