Complementary therapies to help boost fertility
by NAOMI COLEMAN, femail.co.uk
One in six couples find it hard to conceive, but many people are unaware that a variety of complementary therapies could give those looking to start a family a helping hand.
Scientific evidence shows that a range of alternative therapies from acupuncture and homeopathy to nutrition and hypnotherapy can help boost fertility.
Zita West, midwife to actress Kate Winslet, says although complementary therapies are not necessarily a cure for infertility, they can help encourage conception by bringing the body back into balance.
‘With people working harder and becoming more stressed, these days it can take longer to get pregnant,’ she says.
‘Helping the body to cope with the demands of modern life such as by employing acupuncture or sound nutritional advice can do wonders to stimulate the reproductive organs into action.’
Here is our guide to complementary therapies that can help boost fertility
The remedies, usually in tablet, tincture or powder form, are each said to produce symptoms similar to a specific disease or condition. The idea is that, rather like vaccines, they ‘kick-start’ the body’s defences against the disease or problem. Practitioners claim that because remedies are highly diluted they are still effective, but produce no side effects.
How does it work? Practitioners claim homeopathy can help women with a variety of fertility problems from blocked tubes and endometriosis to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Practitioners claim giving women with fertility problems the same hormone that is causing them the problem can aid fertility. For women who are not ovulating regularly, a homeopath may prescribe folliculinum – an extract of ovarian follicle.
According to Dr Bob Lekridge, a homeopath at Glasgow’s homeopathic hospital, giving this hormone helps kick start the reproductive system. ‘The idea behind giving a woman a hormonal remedy is to correct the imbalance of female sex hormones,’ he says.
Is it effective? There is a strong body of evidence to show that homeopathy aids fertility. A German clinical trial showed twice as many women taking daily doses of the herb agnus castus fell pregnant compared to those not taking the drug. In another German study more than half of women with fertility problems experienced improved ovulation or pregnancy after taking a homeopathic remedy.
How many sessions do I need? Practitioners recommend at least five weekly sessions, depending on the individual and fertility problem.
Contact: The British Homeopathic Association, 020-7935 2163 or visit www. www.trusthomeopathy.org ______________________________________
What is it?
Chinese acupuncture – where several needles are inserted into specific points on meridians or energy channels – works on the theory that some illnesses are derived from an imbalance in the body’s natural energies or ‘chi’.
How does it work? Traditional Chinese acupuncture targeting fertility works by encouraging fresh blood to specific points that influence our reproductive organs such as our fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus. The belief is that these organs are found on one of twelve meridian lines called the ‘conception’ meridian.
‘The theory is that depleted blood stores in a woman – such as irregular periods – can hinder ovulation so encouraging more blood to these areas will help to bring the body back into balance and stimulate ovulation,’ says acupuncturist and midwife Zita West.
Is it effective? There is some evidence to suggest that acupuncture can enhance fertility. One study from America’s Oregon Health Sciences University looked at three women receiving IVF alone and three receiving both IVF and acupuncture. Results showed that all women having acupuncture and IVF conceived, while no pregnancies occurred in those women having IVF alone.
Other studies show that acupuncture raises progesterone levels – one of the hormones needed for conception – in ovulating women by triggering the endocrine system. A German study found that male patients receiving ten treatments of acupuncture all showed a significant improvement in sperm quality.
How many sessions do I need? The first few sessions are weekly. Subsequent treatments are monthly for around three or four times just before ovulation.
Contact: For a practitioner from the British Medical Acupuncture Society, call 01925 730727 or visit www.medical-acupuncture.co.uk