Chinese herbal medicine for infertility with anovulation: a systematic review

J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Dec;18(12):1087-100. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0371.


The aim of this systematic review is to assess the effectiveness and safety of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) in treatment of anovulation and infertility in women. Eight (8) databases were extensively retrieved. The Chinese electronic databases included VIP Information, CMCC, and CNKI. The English electronic databases included AMED, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Embase, and MEDLINE(®). Randomized controlled trials using CHM as intervention were included in the study selection. The quality of studies was assessed by the Jadad scale and the criteria referred to Cochrane reviewers' handbook. The efficacy of CHM treatment for infertility with anovulation was evaluated by meta-analysis. There were 692 articles retrieved according to the search strategy, and 1659 participants were involved in the 15 studies that satisfied the selection criteria. All the included trials were done in China. Meta-analysis indicated that CHM significantly increased the pregnancy rate (odds ratio [OR] 3.12, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.50-3.88) and reduced the miscarriage rate (OR 0.2, 95% CI 0.10-0.41) compared to clomiphene. In addition, CHM also increased the ovulation rate (OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.06-2.25) and improved the cervical mucus score (OR 3.82, 95% CI 1.78-8.21) compared to clomiphene, while there were no significant difference between CHM and clomiphene combined with other medicine. CHM is effective in treating infertility with anovulation. Also, no significant adverse effects were identified for the use of CHM from the studies included in this review. However, owing to the low quality of the studies investigated, more randomized controlled trials are needed before evidence-based recommendation regarding the effectiveness and safety of CHM in the management of infertility with anovulation can be provided.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anovulation / drug therapy*
  • Cervix Uteri / drug effects*
  • Cervix Uteri / metabolism
  • Clomiphene / therapeutic use
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Fertility Agents, Female / pharmacology
  • Fertility Agents, Female / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / drug therapy*
  • Infertility, Female / metabolism
  • Mucus / metabolism
  • Ovulation / drug effects*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Fertility Agents, Female
  • Clomiphene