Holistic therapies can be quite a controversial topic as their effectiveness for treating infertility is unproven in medical science. However, they can contribute positively to your overall wellbeing and can be considered as part of your integrated health plan.
Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese medicine that is grounded in the idea of energy flowing through the body (Qi) along invisible pathways known as meridians. Fine needles are inserted in the body during treatment to influence the flow of Qi.
There is some evidence to suggest that acupuncture can help with female fertility, specifically through influencing menstruation, ovulation and blood flow to the uterus. Women undergoing IVF treatment have also been found to be more relaxed and optimistic about the IVF process.
There is also evidence to suggest that acupuncture may improve sperm quality but there is no research on its subsequent impact on pregnancy and birth.
The evidence is mixed for herbal medicines. Several studies have indicated that Chinese herbal medicine can be effective for women with ovulation conditions but there is little indication that Western herbal medicine improves fertility.
Although herbal medicines are generally natural derived, they can contain very potent ingredients so it is extremely important to discuss with them with your specialist if you are commencing or have started any type of fertility treatment.
Yoga, massage, and meditation
Although there is little research to suggest that any of these three complementary therapies have a direct impact on fertility or pregnancy, there is a definite consensus that yoga, massage therapy and meditation provide relaxation and reduce stress. This can be incredibly beneficial for the mental, emotional and even physical health of couples working through fertility issues.
So what’s my professional opinion?
Personally, I am an advocate for taking a holistic perspective on managing fertility.
I believe that it is important to always consider the role your overall health plays in fertility and explore complementary and alternative therapies when they are relevant. For example, when working with my patients, I will routinely investigate how their immune system affects their fertility and recommend complementary therapies in cases where it is helpful for managing conditions that can impact the success of fertility treatments.
Remember to discuss any complementary therapies you are considering with your specialist to ensure you understand how it may interact with your fertility treatment.
Dr Joseph Jabbour is a private fertility specialist and OBGYN who can help you understand your unique situation. He is passionate about providing high quality care and a personalised experience. He is also one of Monash IVF’s Brisbane fertility specialists, which means he has access to extensive resources to help you realise your dream of starting a family.