PCOS: Acupuncture increases blood flow to ovaries

Multiple studies had been done by Stener-Victorin showing an increase in ovarian blood flow (OBF) in both humans and animals as a result of acupuncture. Pulsatility Index (PI) was used as a measure of blood flow resistance in the uterine arteries and according to Chiang et al in 2000, the higher the PI, the lower the pregnancy rate. In order to bring down the PI level, Stener-Victorin tested the efficacy of acupuncture and found that blood flow impedance was reduced after 4 consecutive weeks of twice-weekly acupuncture sessions. 10 infertile but otherwise healthy women with a PI of more than 3.0 achieved a PI of less than 0.0001 after the eighth electroacupuncture session. When experimented on anaesthetized rats, low frequency electroacupuncture significantly lowered OBF. These OBF measurements were tracked using ultrasound doppler flow meter on the surface of the left ovary. In other words, it may be that acupuncture could increase pregnancy rate by increasing blood flow in the uterine arteries. The response appears to be mediated by the ovarian sympathetic nerves as a reflex response.

Acupuncture may help to modulate sympathetic outflow to the ovaries. Again in 2003, Stener-victorin’s study established that ovarian concentrations of vasoconstrictor ET-1 were significantly lower in the PCO group receiving acupuncture as opposed to the healthy control group. The results indicate that EA modulates the neuroendocrinological state of the ovaries, most likely by modulating the sympathetic nerve activity in the ovaries, which may be a factor in the maintenance of steroid-induced PCO.


  1. E. Stener-Victorin, T. Lundeberg, S. Cajander et al., “Steroid-induced polycystic ovaries in rats: effect of electro-acupuncture on concentrations of endothelin-1 and nerve growth factor (NGF), and expression of NGF mRNA in the ovaries, the adrenal glands, and the central nervous system,” Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, vol. 1, article 33, 2003.
  2. Stener-Victorin, Waldenstrom, Andersson, Wikland, “Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture,” Hum Reprod. 1996 Jun;11(6):1314-7.
    Chiang CH, Hsieh TT, Chang MY, Shiau CS, Hou HC, Hsu JJ, et al, “Prediction of pregnancy rate of in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer in women aged 40 and over with basal uterine artery pulsatility index,” J Assist Reprod Genet 2000; 17:409-14.
  3. Stener-Victorin E, Kobayashi R, Kurosawa M, “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.
  4. Stener-Victorin E, Fujisawa S, Kurosawa M., “Ovarian blood flow responses to electroacupuncture stimulation depend on estrous cycle and on site and frequency of stimulation in anesthetized rats,” J Appl Physiol (1985). 2006 Jul;101(1):84-91.