1. Pre-birth treatments

  • Betts D Lenox S (2006) Acupuncture For Prebirth Treatment: An Observational Study of its use in Midwifery practice. Medical Acupuncture. Vo 17 No 3
  • Betts, D The use of acupuncture as a routine pre-birth treatment, Journal of Chinese Medicine, No.76, Oct 2004

2. Breech Presentation

  • Cardini F, Weixin H. (1998). Moxibustion for correction of breechpresentation”. Journal American Medical Association. 280:1580-1584.
  • Cardini F, (2005)Lombardo P, Regalia AL, Regaldo G, Zanini A, Negri MG, Panepuccia L, Todros T. A randomised controlled trial of
    moxibustion for breech presentation  BJOG. 112(6):743-7
  • Wei Wen, Clinical Observation on the effects of version by moxibustion, Co-operative Research Group on Moxibustion Version, 1984

3. Acupressure

  • Chung UL J.( 2003) Effects of LI 4and BL 67 Acupressure on Labour Pain andUterine Contractions in the First Stage of Labour. Nurs Res. 11(4):251-60

Acupressure was taught to 66 women attending a hospital outpatient’s clinic at 40 weeks gestation by a midwife. The control group consisted of 76 women attending the same clinic when the midwife was not on duty. It was statistically significantly that more women in the acupressure group went into labour naturally. Of those using the acupressure 17% more went into spontaneous labour when compared to the control group (Ingram et al).

In another study, 127 women were randomly assigned to receive either; acupressure, light touch or no treatment during labour. Data for analysis was collected from subjective labour pain scores and external foetal monitoring strips. Findings indicated that there was a significant difference in labour pain among the acupressure group. The results of this study confirmed the effect of acupressure in lessening labour pain during the active phase of the first stage of labour (Chung et al).

  • Lee MK. Chang SB. Kang DH. (2004) Effects of SP 6 acupressure on labour pain and length of delivery time in women during labour. J Altern Complement Med.Dec:10(6):956-65

When acupressure was used in a group of 75 women randomly selected to receive acupressure or light touch only, significant differences was found between the groups in subjective labour pain scores at 30 and 60 minutes after acupressure. The total labour time (3 cm dilatation to delivery) was significantly shorter in the acupressure intervention group than in the control group. The authors concluded that acupressure was effective for decreasing labour pain and shortening the length of delivery time (Lee et al).

4. Labour

  • Gaudernack L, Forbord S, Hole E. (2007) Acupuncture administered after spontaneous rupture of membranes at term significantly reduces the length of birthand use of oxytocin . A randomised controlled trial. Midirs Midwifery Digest. Vol 17,No 2.
  • Hantoushzadeh S. Alhusseini N. Lebaschi A. (2007) The effects of Acupuncture during Labour on Nulliparous Women: A Randomised Controlled trial. Australianand New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 47:26-30
  • Lee H, Ernst E. (2004) Acupuncture for Labour Pain Management:A Systematic Review. American Journal of Gynaecology & Obstetrics. 191,1573-9
  • Ziaei S. Hajipour L. (2006) Effect of Acupuncture on Labour. International Journal of Gynaecology & Obstetrics. 92,71-72
  • Lyrenas S, Lutsch H, Hetta J, Lindberg, B. (1987).Acupuncture beforedelivery: effect on labor. Gynecol Obstet Invest. 24(4); 217-224.
  • Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P. (2001).Acupuncturefor cervical ripening and induction of labour at term – a randomised controlled trail. Wien Klin Wochenschr; 113 (23-24): 942-6.

A randomised controlled trial into the effects of acupuncture on cervical was published by Rabl 2001[12].


The objective was to evaluate whether acupuncture at term can influence cervical ripening and thus reduce the need for postdates induction. On their due dates 45 women were randomized into either an acupuncture group (25) or control group (20).

The women were then examined at two daily intervals for cervical length (measured with vaginal trasonography, cervical mucus and cervical stasis according to Bishops score). The acupuncture group also received acupuncture every two days at the acupuncture points Hegu LI 4 and Sanyinjiao Sp 6.

If women had not delivered after 10 days labour was induced by administering vaginal prostaglandin tablets. The time period from the woman’s due date to delivery was on average 5 days in the acupuncture group compared to 7.9 days in the control group. Labour was induced in 20 % of women in the acupuncture group compared to 35% in the control group. There were no differences between overall duration of labour and the first and second stage of labour.


Acupuncture at the points Hegu LI-4 and Sanyinjiao SP-6 supports cervical ripening and can shorten the time interval between the woman’s expected date of delivery and the actual time of delivery.

  • Zeisler H, Tempfer C, Mayerhofe Kr, Barrada M, Husslein P. (1998). “Influence of acupuncture on duration of labour”. Gynecol Obstet Invest; 46:22-5.

5. Nausea & Vomiting

Habek D, Barbir A Habek J et al Success of Acupuncture and Acupressure of the Pc 6 Acupoint in the Treatment of Hyperemesis Gravidarum Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Natureheilkd 2004; 11:20-23

Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J. (2002). Acupuncture to treat nausea and
vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomized trial. Birth. 29(1):1-9.

Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J. (2002) Pregnancy outcome following
women’s participation in a randomised controlled trial of acupuncture to
treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy Complement Ther Med.


1. The British Acupuncture Council recently (2019) produced a comprehensive account of the current research on acupuncture and IVF.

Here are the main points:

  • A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis found acupuncture to have a significant treatment effect in improving the birth rates of subfertile women undergoing IVF or ICSI.
  • A summary of previous reviews from 2009 to 2017 found acupuncture had a beneficial treatment effect on clinical pregnancy rate.
  • It is recommended that future research should explore the impact of acupuncture administration during ovarian stimulation. The aim should be to improve embryo and blastocyst quality, rather than focus on acupuncture post-fertilisation.
  • Acupuncture may be a suitable treatment option to help reduce stress and anxiety levels for women suffering with subfertility.
  • Research indicates that the effectiveness of acupuncture may be dose-dependent, i.e. a sufficient number of acupuncture treatments are required over an adequate period of time.
  • The scientific methods applied so far have been largely inadequate and the evidence inconclusive. Nevertheless, currently, research supports the findings that acupuncture at varied time points for an IVF or ICSI cycle, with increased frequency during ovarian stimulation as well as around the time of transfer, can have a statistically positive treatment effect on clinical pregnancy and live birth rate.

This is important reading for those with an interest in IVF and acupuncture research, use the download link to read on

2. Assisted Reproductive Techniques

  • Dieterle S, Effect of acupuncture on the outcome of in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a randomized, prospective, controlled clinical Study Fertility and Sterility2006 Apr 7
  • Smith C, Influence of acupuncture stimulation on pregnancy rates for women undergoing embryo transfer. Fertility and Sterility 2006 Apr 4
  • Westergaard LG, Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial: Fertility and Sterility 2006 Apr 4
  • Westergaard LG, Positive effects of acupuncture in ART are not mediated by changes in ovarian and endometrial production of estradiol, progesterone, and placental protein 14: Fertility and Sterility 2006Apr 4
  • Wang et al. A matched controlled study to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture for improving pregnancy rates following in-vitro fertilization – embryo transfer. Fertility and SterilityVol: 83, issue 5, Supplement ,May 2005
  • Quintero A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Cross-Over Study Evaluating Acupuncture as an Adjunct to In-Vitro Fertilization: Fertility and Sterility Vol: 81, Supplement 3, April, 2004
  • Magarelli Acupuncture & IVF poor responders: a cure? Fertility and Sterility Vol: 81, Supplement 3, April, 2004
  • Stener-Victorin Ovarian blood flow responses to electro-acupuncture stimulation at different frequencies and intensities in anaesthetized rats:. Auton Neurosci. 2003 Oct 31;108(1-2):50-6.
  • Paulus, Influence of Acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy: Fertility and Sterility Vol: 77, No. 4, APRIL 2002

3. Male Subfertility

  • Gurfinkel Effects of acupuncture and moxa treatment in patients with semen abnormalities. Asian J Androl. 2003 Dec;5(4):345-8
  • Pei J. Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility. Fertility & Sterility 2005 Jul; 84(1):141-7.  


Wang X (1987) Observations on the therapeautic effects of acupuncture with moxibustion in 100 cases of dysmenorrhoeea Journal of Chinese Medicie 7 (1): 15-7

Zhang Y, Wang C (1994) 50 case of dysfunctional uterine bleeding treating by puncturing the effective acupuncture points – a new system of acupuncture. Journal of Chinese Medicine 14 (4): 387-291

You can find further details of these and other research papers through the British Acupuncture Council website at the following link: