When women want to get pregnant, they’ll try (almost) anything in order to achieve their goal. So can complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) really help you conceive?
The alternative options
The latest research on acupuncture is encouraging – at least for couples going through in vitro fertilisation (IVF). According to recent studies, women who had acupuncture during fertility treatment were more likely to get pregnant.
In China, acupuncture is widely believed to unblock the flow of chi (energy) in the body, increasing blood flow to fertility organs and helping them to function more efficiently. Its stress-relieving properties are also thought to assist conception.
There’s anecdotal evidence – but no clinical research – to suggest that reflexology (manipulating pressure points in the feet to boost energy flow around the body) helps women conceive.
Exponents of homeopathy (in which a remedy containing a low dose of the patient’s condition is used to stimulate the body’s defences) believe the therapy can help with fertility problems.
‘To boost fertility, I give women a 30C dose of folliculinum,’ says expert GP Dr Jeni Worden, who uses homeopathy in her practice. ‘I’d also recommend seeing a registered homeopathic doctor, who may prescribe a constitutional holistic remedy such as pulsatilla, to help rebalance the body systems.’
Sugaring the pill?
It’s difficult to ascertain whether CAM really works: the placebo effect can be powerful. Despite this, some parents swear by it (for example, after nine miscarriages, one mum went on to have three children – and attributes her success to Chinese herbal medicine).
Don’t worry, be happy
Failing to conceive is very stressful… and being stressed can reduce your chances of conceiving. It’s easy to get trapped in this vicious circle, and although the only tangible benefit of some complementary therapies may be that they promote relaxation, the importance of this shouldn’t be ignored.
Practitioners of nurturing therapies such as aromatherapy and reiki (a healing technique based on non-invasive touch) believe they make women feel less anxious about life in general. Plus, whether you’re having fertility treatment or not, the knowledge that you’re doing something – no matter how unorthodox – to boost your body and soul, can only be uplifting.
As long as you keep an open mind, accept that there are no guarantees that CAM will work, and it’s not hurting you – or your bank balance – there’s no harm in trying the more fringy alternatives.
If you could be pregnant, always check with your GP or midwife before having any complementary or alternative treatments.
Now tell us what worked for you…
Did complementary therapies help you conceive?