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Traditional Chinese medicine patterns and recommended acupuncture points in infertile and fertile women



Background Acupuncture is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and emphasises individualised treatment according to TCM patterns. Eight TCM patterns are regarded as typical for female infertility. There are no empirical data comparing these patterns in fertile and infertile women.

Objective To identify and compare the TCM patterns and recommended acupuncture points in infertile and fertile women. The hypothesis that infertile and fertile women should differ in occurrence of TCM patterns described as typical for infertility was examined.

Methods A cross-sectional study examined the distribution of TCM patterns and acupuncture points among 24 infertile and 24 fertile women. TCM patterns and points proposed by two acupuncturists were analysed. The odds ratio was used as the effect measure.

Results Three patterns were found in more than 92% of the women. Five patterns occurred more frequently among infertile (p≤0.03), and four among fertile (p≤0.02) women. Only three of the eight patterns assumed typical for infertile women were more common among infertile women. Two of the eight patterns were more common among fertile women. Acupuncture points KI3, LI3 and SP6 were chosen for almost all women, whereas CV4, CV3 and ST29 were chosen more often for infertile women (p<0.03), and SP3 more often for fertile women (p<0.001).

Conclusion The data indicate that the presence of some, and the absence of other, TCM patterns are associated with infertility. These results are not consistent with the assumed associations between eight specific patterns and infertility, as maintained by TCM textbooks.

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