Couples undertaking fertility treatments are increasingly opting for complementary therapies to help their quest for a baby, according to a Queensland fertility specialist.
Dr Andrew Davidson, fertility specialist with City Fertility Centre Brisbane and the Gold Coast, said he supported the idea of patients opting for multi-disciplinary care.
“While I practise conventional medicine, I am happy if patients tell me they are using safe complementary therapies,” Dr Davidson said.
“I feel like there is a steady increase, perhaps about 50 per cent, of my patients opting for complementary therapies while undertaking fertility assistance.”
Complementary therapies encompass the likes of naturopathy, acupuncture, massage and homeopathy.
Dr Davidson believes these types of treatments can have a positive impact on people.
“They often feel better about themselves and about going through assisted fertility,” he said.
“They may also experience a range of positive outcomes, including a more relaxed uterus, a reduction in stress levels, an adjustment in hormone levels, improvement in sperm quality, an improvement in overall wellbeing, and a reduction in weight, smoking, caffeine, alcohol and/or drugs.”
Dr Davidson said he thought word-of-mouth recommendations were the major driver for a patient taking up a complementary therapy.
“People talk in person and chat on online health forums and they ask what each other is doing and get ideas that way,” he said.
Dr Davidson cautions, though, that there has not been a great deal of research so far that gives any explicit guarantees that complementary therapies will help those receiving assisted fertility treatments. However, he said he had personally found that therapeutic massage and acupuncture had benefited his wellbeing.
Dr Davidson said stress could make your body organs work less efficiently and could impact on hormones, so reducing that stress through complementary therapies or other means could help patients.
According to a study that was published in the British Medical Journal this year and involved a randomised controlled clinical trial of patients undergoing IVF treatment, the clinical pregnancy rates of the group that received acupuncture were significantly higher than those of the control and placebo groups*.
Dr Davidson said patients should always check with their doctor before opting for additional supplements.
*Influence of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilisation when embryo implantation has failed: a prospective randomised controlled clinical trial – di Villahermosa et al., British Medical Journal, March 2013
To learn more about complementary therapies and IVF, please read our Fact Sheet.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com