The use of acupuncture to treat reproductive dysfunction has not been well investigated. Only a few clinical studies have been reported, most of which are flawed by poor design and a lack of valid outcome measures and diagnostic criteria, making the results difficult to interpret. Experimental studies, however, show that acupuncture has substantial effects on reproductive function. Here we review the possible mechanisms of action of acupuncture on the reproductive system and its effects on reproductive dysfunction, focusing in particular on polycystic ovary syndrome, the most common endocrine and metabolic disorder in women. Clinical and experimental evidence demonstrates that acupuncture is a suitable alternative or complement to pharmacological induction of ovulation, without adverse side effects. Clearly, acupuncture modulates endogenous regulatory systems, including the sympathetic nervous system, the endocrine system, and the neuroendocrine system. Randomized clinical trials are warranted to further evaluate the clinical effects of acupuncture in reproductive disorders.
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