Complementary medicine can significantly enhance fertility. Experts from the College of Naturopathic Medicine highlight the different therapeutic approaches.
Roisin O Kelly
Herbalist and Naturopath
Optimal health for both the male and female is the first priority; this can take several months to achieve. This may include guidance on a very healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise, relaxation, positive thinking and meditation), herbs, castor oil packs, magnet therapy, acupuncture and/or reflexology. Each patient is assessed individually. The secret of success is to use many tools of natural healing for body and mind simultaneously. Alleviating stress is important because stress makes us more acidic and vaginal secretions need to be alkaline for sperm survival and hence conception.
Conception, although natural, is extremely complex. Many variable factors are still unidentified medically. In simple words, most couples experiencing infertility often don’t know why the woman cannot get pregnant. The naturopathic herbal approach can be really successful but is best done under the supervision of a naturopath.
There are many great herbs for both male and female fertility; herbs for the male include Horny Goat Weed. Amusing as the name may be, goats that eat this herb have been observed becoming extremely virile and look for a mate immediately! Panax Ginseng is also a great herb for general male vitality; it improves circulation to the genitalia area and increases the ability to maintain a strong erection. Vitex Agnus Castus (Chasteberry) helps to regulate the woman’s menstrual cycle and balance oestrogen and progesterone levels. 30 drops on waking (as near 6am as possible as this is pituitary time). Damiana, Peppermint and Nettle improve sex drive. Mexican Yam and False Unicorn Root cleanses and tonifies the reproductive tract. Lady’s Mantle and Motherwort, as the names imply, boost the possibility of conception. Oats, Liquorice and Astragalus raise vitality and mood.
Acupuncturist and Herbalist
Acupuncture is probably the most familiar of the treatments offered by Chinese Medicine. It has a 2000 year history of theory and commentary. It has become a staple in modern Fertility treatment since it has been verified in trial after trial by Evidence Based Medicine. Its value is that it may be used on its own or as a valuable adjunctive treatment for women undergoing Assisted Fertility Treatments. It is best to attend a practitioner who specialises in Fertility Treatments.
Acupuncture relies on the theories of Chinese Medicine to establish whether difficulty in conceiving is due to either a deficiency of resources or an obstructing condition such as Endometriosis. Pulse and Tongue Diagnosis are done to clarify what course of treatment is needed to either increase resources for pregnancy or remove obstructions. The practitioner always seeks to correct any hormonal imbalance and maximise the potential for pregnancy. Studies have now shown how Acupuncture’s reputation for reducing stress and stabilising the hormonal system has been verified by clinical testing showing lowering of Cortisol levels and regulation of the Endocrine System.
However, cutting edge practice also means Chinese Medical Theory is constantly being adapted to liaise with Western Medical treatments. It can be also be used to help with commonly diagnosed Western Medical conditions such as Hyperprolactin Disorders, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or Recurrent Miscarriage because of clotting factors. However, since Chinese Medicine treats the whole person, the woman’s health and vitality is always improved by treatment, regardless of the outcome.
Linda de Courcy
Our modern dietary habits can seem to be very convenient in this hectic world we live in, but as well as contributing to diseases like cancer and heart disease they can also prevent the reproductive organs of both men and women from functioning correctly, sometimes resulting in a couple being unable to conceive.
Using nutritional therapy to help a couple conceive would usually take a commitment of six months, the first months would focus on boosting the immune system, detoxifying the body, regulating any hormonal imbalances and (if necessary) achieving weight loss. Other essential areas to focus on are moderate exercise and stress reduction (where appropriate). During this time the woman would begin to chart her cycles to see if and when she is ovulating. It takes the sperm and eggs about three months to develop and mature so during the second three months an optimally nutritious diet would be maintained.
Success rates with IVF approximate 27% and can decline with age, but making beneficial changes to our diet can, among other things, regulate menstrual cycles, stimulate ovulation and increase sperm count, motility and survival rate dramatically.
Eating a healthy diet does not mean living on lettuce and cucumber. Good food is both satisfying and extremely tasty and goes a long way to helping the body heal itself and reproduce.