Couples have been struggling with infertility for centuries and over time, different cultures have developed different ways of fighting it, even before the days of IVF and Clomid.
Therapy options to help with fertility
Though largely unproven, a few of these methods actually have some scientific evidence backing them up that suggests they might still be relevant in your own journey to conception, so check them out!
As alternative fertility therapies go, acupuncture is fairly mainstream, and is even covered by a lot of health insurance plans (though sometimes not for fertility treatment in particular, which is worth looking into before you book an appointment). This ancient Chinese practice is thought to date back at least a few hundred (and probably several thousand) years, and has been used in the US off and on since the mid-nineteenth century. The basic theory around acupuncture involves inserting thin, sterile needles into different parts of the body to regulate channels of energy running through the body.
Acupuncture may be recommended for both male and female fertility, though it cannot be used to treat certain conditions, like endometriosis. It also produces beta endorphins that help decrease pain and stress, and could help regulate the flow of other hormones in the body.
Some medical professionals suggest continuing acupuncture through the early weeks of pregnancy, but it’s particularly important that acupuncture during this timeframe be done by a certified acupuncturist, as there are certain areas of the body that should be avoided in acupuncture after conception.
Most of the scientific basis for yoga as a fertility aid is based around the importance of stress relief in terms of fertility. When yoga is recommended for fertility by medical professionals, it is generally as some kind of supplement to fertility treatment, or as a replacement for a more high-impact daily exercise routine, like jogging, that might not be the best idea in conjunction with IVF or with fertility-raising drugs. Staying fit is great for your fertility, but some fertility treatments can make high-impact exercise risky.
The first thing to remember about using herbal supplements as therapy to improve fertility is that the qualities that make them useful are also qualities which could lead to side effects if they’re used at the same time as certain medications. Because of this, you should check with your healthcare provider before starting an herbal regimen to make sure that it won’t unexpectedly interact with a medication you are already taking.
Red raspberry leaf, red clover, stinging nettle and dandelion are among the most commonly recommended herbs for fertility. Of the four, red raspberry leaf, which is high in calcium, has no major known side-effects or interactions with medications, but dandelion has been known to interact poorly with several medications. Stinging nettle is not recommended for use after pregnancy, and may contribute to miscarriage, as well as interacting badly with several medications. Red clover should not be used with blood thinning recommendations or by people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Jani R Jensen, MD. “Fertility herbs: Do they enhance fertility?” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Aug 6 2015. Web.
- “How Acupuncture Can Relieve Pain and Improve Sleep, Digestion and Emotional Well-being.” UCSD. Regents of the University of California, 2017. Web.
- “Yoga: In depth.” NCCIH. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Sep 26 2013. Web.