Acupuncture normalizes dysfunction of hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis.

Chen BY.

Institute of Acupuncture, Shanghai Medical University, P.R. China. This article summarizes the studies of the mechanism of electroacupuncture (EA) in the regulation of the abnormal function of hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis (HPOA) in our laboratory. Clinical observation showed that EA with the effective acupoints could cure some anovulatory patients in a highly effective rate and the experimental results suggested that EA might regulate the dysfunction of HPOA in several ways, which means EA could influence some gene expression of brain, thereby, normalizing secretion of some hormones, such as GnRH, LH and E2. The effects of EA might possess a relative specificity on acupoints.
PMID: 9330669 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Clinical studies on the mechanism for acupuncture stimulation of ovulation.

J Tradit Chin Med 1993 Jun;13(2):115-9 (ISSN: 0254-6272)
Mo X; Li D; Pu Y; Xi G; Le X; Fu Z
Zhejiang College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Hangzhou.

Ovulatory dysfunction is commonly seen in gynecology clinic. It may cause infertility, amenia, functional uterine bleeding and a variety of complications. This research according to TCM theory records treating with acupuncture 34 patients suffering from ovulatory dysfunction. Changes in clinical symptoms and some relative targets are reported, plus findings in animal experiments. The theory concerning the generative and physiologic axis of women, this research involved the following points; Ganshu (UB18), Shenshu (UB 23), Guanyuan (Ren 4), Zhongji (Ren 3), and Sanyinjiao (Sp 6). The reinforcement and reduction of acupuncture enables it to strengthen liver and kidney. Through the Chong and Ren channels it nourishes uterus to adjust the patient’s axis function and recover ovulation. Treated on an average of 30 times, the patients’ symptoms improved to varying degrees. The marked effective rate was 35.29%, the total effective rate being 82.35%. BBT, VS, CMS, and B ultrasonic picture all improved to some degree. The results also showed that acupuncture may adjust FSH, LH, and E2 in two directions and raise the progesterone level, bringing them to normal. The animal experiments confirmed this result. Results showed that acupuncture may adjust endocrine function of the generative and physiologic axis of women, thus stimulating ovulation. The results of this research will provide some scientific basis for treating and further studying this disorder.

Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women

undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Manheimer E, Zhang G, Udoff L, Haramati A, Langenberg P, Berman BM, Bouter LM.

Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 2200 Kernan Drive, Kernan Hospital Mansion, Baltimore, MD 21207, USA. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether acupuncture improves rates of pregnancy and live birth when used as an adjuvant treatment to embryo transfer in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation. DESIGN: Systematic review and meta-analysis. DATA SOURCES: Medline, Cochrane Central, Embase, Chinese Biomedical Database, hand searched abstracts, and reference lists. Review methods Eligible studies were randomised controlled trials that compared needle acupuncture administered within one day of embryo transfer with sham acupuncture or no adjuvant treatment, with reported outcomes of at least one of clinical pregnancy, ongoing pregnancy, or live birth. Two reviewers independently agreed on eligibility; assessed methodological quality; and extracted outcome data. For all trials, investigators contributed additional data not included in the original publication (such as live births). Meta-analyses included all randomised patients. DATA SYNTHESIS: Seven trials with 1366 women undergoing in vitro fertilisation were included in the meta-analyses. There was little clinical heterogeneity. Trials with sham acupuncture and no adjuvant treatment as controls were pooled for the primary analysis. Complementing the embryo transfer process with acupuncture was associated with significant and clinically relevant improvements in clinical pregnancy (odds ratio 1.65, 95% confidence interval 1.27 to 2.14; number needed to treat (NNT) 10 (7 to 17); seven trials), ongoing pregnancy (1.87, 1.40 to 2.49; NNT 9 (6 to 15); five trials), and live birth (1.91, 1.39 to 2.64; NNT 9 (6 to 17); four trials). Because we were unable to obtain outcome data on live births for three of the included trials, the pooled odds ratio for clinical pregnancy more accurately represents the true combined effect from these trials rather than the odds ratio for live birth. The results were robust to sensitivity analyses on study validity variables. A prespecified subgroup analysis restricted to the three trials with the higher rates of clinical pregnancy in the control group, however, suggested a smaller non-significant benefit of acupuncture (odds ratio 1.24, 0.86 to 1.77). CONCLUSIONS: Current preliminary evidence suggests that acupuncture given with embryo transfer improves rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation.
PMID: 18258932 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] PMCID: PMC2265327

Experimental study of effect on tonifying kidney herbs in pituitary ovary adrenal gland of androgen sterilized rats

Gui SQ, Yu J, Wei MJ. Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital, Shanghai Medical University.

OBJECTIVE: To observe the effect of tonifying Kidney herbs (TKH) in pituitary, ovary, adrenal gland of androgen sterilized rats(ASR). METHODS: ASR model was established by injecting testosterone propionate subcutaneously to SD female rats of 9 days age. Morphological and hormonal change of pituitary, ovary and adrenal gland in rats of 100-107 days old before and after feeding TKH extract were observed by light and electron microscope, cell culture immunohistochemical studies and radioimmuno-assay. RESULTS: In the ASR groups, there were intracytopiasmic lipid drops, autophagy, vacuole, granulolysis of pituitary gland. There were anovulation apparently and increased the amount of lipid drops in cytoplasm of interstitial glandular cell of ovary. The fatty drops of the reticular zone of adrenal gland decreased, the numbers of AGNOR (P < 0.01) and PCNA (P < 0.01) increased significantly. The levels of FSH, LH (P < 0.05-0.005) lowered, but the levels of DHA, T (P < 0.01, 0.05, 0.001) were raised significantly. Morphological and hormonal change of all RSA returned to normal range after the treatment. CONCLUSIONS: The hyperandrogenemia were disturbed by the function of sex gland axis and adrenal in female rats of 9 days old and played an important role in pathogenesis of ASR, the TKH reduced the levels of androgen and induced ovulation through sex gland axis and adrenal level and multi-organ regulation. PMID: 10322822 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Preliminary report of the treatment of luteal phase defect by replenishing kidney. An analysis of 53 cases

Zhang HY, Yu XZ, Wang GL.
Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Shaanxi.
53 patients with Luteal phase defect (LPD) were treated with different Chinese medicinal herbs at different phases of menstrual cycle. On the 5th day of the menstrual cycle, the treatment was implemented with the rationale of “nourishing the Kidney Yin, invigorating the Spleen and replenishing the Qi, promoting the blood circulation and enriching the Blood” which might promote follicular development. The principle for the postovulatory treatment was that “invigorating the Kidney and strengthening the Yang” might enhance the development of corpus luteum and maintain its function. The patients were treated for three menstrual cycles. There were significant improvement in the luteal phase of endometrium, and prolonged basal body temperature elevation in progestational stage with a tendency for normalization of the wave forms and its amplitude after the treatment. In the mid-progestational stage, the level of serum LH and PRL were reduced (P < 0.05) and that of serum progestin (P) rose significantly (P < 0.01), as compared with those before the treatment. The findings suggested that Chinese herbal medicines capable of replenishing the Kidney could regulate the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis and thus improve the luteal function. Among the 53 cases, 22 (41.5%) conceived but 68.18% of them required other measures to preserve the pregnancy. PMID: 1477503 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility

Fertility and Sterility, Volume 84, Issue 1, July 2005, Pages 141-147

Abstract: ObjectiveTo evaluate the ultramorphologic sperm features of idiopathic infertile men after acupuncture therapy.DesignProspective controlled study.SettingChristian-Lauritzen-Institut, Ulm, IVF center Munich, Germany, and Department of General Biology, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.Patient(s)Forty men with idiopathic oligospermia, asthenospermia, or teratozoospermia.Intervention(s)Twenty eight of the patients received acupuncture twice a week over a period of 5 weeks. The samples from the treatment group were randomized with semen samples from the 12 men in the untreated control group.Main Outcome Measure(s)Quantitative analysis by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to evaluate the samples, using the mathematical formula based on submicroscopic characteristics.Result(s)Statistical evaluation of the TEM data showed a statistically significant increase after acupuncture in the percentage and number of sperm without ultrastructural defects in the total ejaculates. A statistically significant improvement was detected in acrosome position and shape, nuclear shape, axonemal pattern and shape, and accessory fibers of sperm organelles. However, specific sperm pathologies in the form of apoptosis, immaturity, and necrosis showed no statistically significant changes between the control and treatment groups before and after treatment.Conclusion(s)The treatment of idiopathic male infertility could benefit from employing acupuncture. A general improvement of sperm quality, specifically in the ultrastructural integrity of spermatozoa, was seen after acupuncture, although we did not identify specific sperm pathologies that could be particularly sensitive to this therapy.

Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture.

Stener-Victorin E, Waldenstr?m U, Andersson SA, Wikland M.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Fertility Centre Scandinavia, University of Gothenburg, S-413 45 Gothenburg, Sweden.

In order to assess whether electro-acupuncture (EA) can reduce a high uterine artery blood flow impedance, 10 infertile but otherwise healthy women with a pulsatility index (PI) >=3.0 in the uterine arteries were treated with EA in a prospective, non-randomized study. Before inclusion in the study and throughout the entire study period, the women were down-regulated with a gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogue (GnRHa) in order to exclude any fluctuating endogenous hormone effects on the PI. The baseline PI was measured when the serum oestradiol was <=0.1 nmol/l, and thereafter the women were given EA eight times, twice a week for 4 weeks. The PI was measured again closely after the eighth EA treatment, and once more 10-14 days after the EA period. Skin temperature on the forehead (STFH) and in the lumbrosacral area (STLS) was measured during the first, fifth and eighth EA treatments. Compared to the mean baseline PI, the mean PI was significantly reduced both shortly after the eighth EA treatment (P < 0.0001) and 10-14 days after the EA period (P < 0.0001). STFH increased significantly during the EA treatments. It is suggested that both of these effects are due to a central inhibition of the sympathetic activity. PMID: 8671446 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Substitution of Acupuncture for HCG in Ovulation Induction

Cai Xuefen Obstetrical & Gynecological Hospital, Zhejiang Medical University, Zhejiang Province 310006
Source: Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 17 (2):119-121,1997

By using human menopausal gonadotropin (HMG) and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), fairly good clinical therapeutic efficacy has been obtained in the treatment of infertility. However, difficulties are brought about due to the ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) easily induced by these two drugs. Therefore, we attempted to use acupuncture instead of HCG in the induction of ovulation from 1989 to 1992, and satisfactory therapeutic effect was achieved as reported in the following.

General Data?Ten patients were hospitalized with confirmed diagnosis of infertility and totally observed for 11 menstrual cycles (one patient had recurrence of OHSS for 2 times). Their ages ranged from 27 to 30 years with an average of 29 years. After treatment by HMG, all patients manifested OHSS in varying degrees. In accordance with the criteria for grading of OHSS issued by WHO, among these 11 menstrual cycles 4 cycles were mild (ovarian slight enlargement less than 5 cm with symptoms of slight malaise of lower abdomen); 7 were moderate (marked enlargement of ovary with nausea, vomiting and abdominal distension); no severe case occurred (extreme enlargement of ovary with hydrothorax, ascites, pycnemia and electrolyte disturbance). In order to prevent the exacerbation of OHSS caused by combined use of HMG and HCG, acupuncture was used after HMG treatment to replace HCG for the ovulation induction in 11 menstrual cycles of these patients.

Therapeutic Method?1.5-3 cun long filiform needles (no. 28-30) were used. The acupoints used for needling were Zigong (Extra 16), Shenshu (UB 23), Ciliao (UB 32), (the above acupoints were used bilaterally) and Guanyuan (Ren 4). Baohuang (UB 53) and Zhongji (Ren 3) were selected according to the signs and symptoms as adjuvant points. The manipulation techniques included twirling, rotating, lifting and thrusting. Reinforcing method was used in Shenshu point and the remaining points were punctured by reducing manipulation. The needling sensation should be transmitted toward both sides of lower abdomen. When arrival of Qi, retained the needles for 15 min. and manipulated the needles intermittently during the retaining period to enhance the stimulation. Moxibustion with moxa stick was used for some of these acupoints.

Observation of Therapeutic Effect
Criteria for assessment of therapeutic effect: Therapeutic effect was appraised mainly by comparison of ultrasonic B examination after needling with that before treatment and referred to the score of cervix uteri and basal body temperature to sit judgment on ovulation occurred within 24 h after 1st needling was considered as marked effect; ovulation within 72 h after 2-3 times of needling was effective; no ovulation occurred after 72 h after more than 3 times of needling was scored as ineffective.

Results of Treatment
Of the 11 menstrual cycles, marked effect was shown in 5 cycles, effective in 5 cycles and failed in 1 cycle. Among the 10 markedly effective and effective cycles, ovulation was induced in 2 cases after needling and diagnosed pregnancy by blood HCG assay and ultrasonography. In 9 of the 10 cycles treated with acupuncture for ovulation induction without using HCG and other drugs, the symptoms of OHSS were significantly remitted or even disappeared. Only in one cycle, HCG (with dosage less than for ovulation) was used after needling to maintain the function of corpus luteum and resulted in exacerbation of OHSS and finally remitted by drug treatment.

Typical Case
Fang, 27-year-old, suffered from polycystic ovary syndrome. She was unpregnant after married 2 years and the menstruation was only 1-2 times a year. The basal body temperature was monophase. No effect was observed using clomiphene and then treated with HMG. From the day 5, for bleeding due to withdrawal of progesterone, intramuscular injection of HMG was given at a dose of 150 U once a day for 8 days. The score of cervix uteri was 12 mark. The ultrasonogram showed that the size of right ovary was 9.6 cm x 7.8 cm x 4.6 cm and the left side was 9.2 cm x 7.2 cm x 4.7 cm. Both sides of ovary had 10-20 follicles with maximum size 1.8 cm. In order to avoid severe OHSS, acupuncture was used instead of HCG for ovulation induction after stopping HMG treatment. On the next day after the first needling, the basal body temperature elevated from 36.3°C to 36.8°C and the score of cervix uteri fell from 12 mark to 9 mark, and ultrasonic B examination suggested that part of the follicles were ovulated. After the l9th day of ovulation, the blood concentration of HCG started rising and after 40 days the blood level of HCG reached to 35.6 ng/ml. The ultrasonogram showed that the diameter of embryonic sac was 1.5 cm and early pregnancy was diagnosed.

It was reported in literature that using HMG-HCG in the induction of ovulation, the ovulatory rate was about 70%-90%, but the incidence of OHSS might be 10%-15.4% and even life-threatening in the severe case. At present, there were no satisfactory measures for the prevention and remission of OHSS. In most reports, it is considered that when OHSS inclines to occur, stopping injection of HCG is the effective way to avoid severe OHSS. However, stopping HCG would not only discontinue the ovulation of HCH, but also gave up the already developed follicles. Our clinical practice demonstrated that acupuncture is effective in ovulation induction and also the remission of OHSS induced by HMG. Furthermore, we also noted that in most OHSS patients enlarged ovaries and numerous developed follicles were revealed. As a result of excessive follicles developed, dysplasia of ova and insufficiency of corpus luteum often occurred, thus leading to uneasy pregnancy after ovulation. So it is reasonable to infer that using some Chinese drugs benefiting the function of corpus luteum or using certain amount of progesterone as supplementary treatment after acupuncture, the pregnancy rate could be raised.