The role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in solving infertility

I have been doing a lot of research lately about all the different types of “alternative” treatments available to help with infertility. There are literally a plethora out there and making decisions about which to choose and what to do was doing my head in.

My Dr is pretty flexible with this stuff so I have never looked too heavily into whether it is harmful before as he didn’t seem too concerned. I knew that acupuncture did have some science to support it but wasn’t really firm on the details. There were a few reasons I went off to examine things more:

1. Eric wanted me to go to a Naturopath who has had a lot of fertility success but I feel like we have already been there. This Naturopath uses her own herbs but I wasn’t fussed about that either as I felt that Chinese herbs were the more powerful option if I was choosing between the two and I was already on those.

2. I was taking 9 fucking supplements in the morning, 2 of them Chinese herbs that couldn’t be taken within half an hour of each other or anything else, including food. They were ruling my life and it was driving me crazy.

So I went off to research everything I was putting into my body and all the treatments I had been receiving. And the interesting thing is that I kept coming across this Danish study where it was indicated that herbs (and some other stuff – funnily enough reflexology) did appear to have a negative impact on pregnancy rates for those going through IVF. Interesting.

I have been a bit suspicious of herbs for awhile just watching a few other TTC blogs where others are having the same treatment as me and experiencing the same problems. I can’t say if this is it for sure but what I do believe is that they are very powerful and can easily be dispensed incorrectly. So I have now ditched the herbs that I was taking completely. One of them was a great leveler for my anxiety so I’m finding this a bit challenging but it will be worth it if I can fall pregnant.

The only two things that came out shining in the study were acupuncture (just at the time of transfer but this is down to them limiting the research to those times as opposed to it not being effective at other times – we don’t know the answers to what they don’t research) and hypnosis/meditation. Interestingly these are both things that relate to relaxation and wellbeing. Coincidence? I think not.

The important thing about these two things is that they showed no harm at all as opposed to the herbs and reflexology where pregnancy rates did seem to significantly go down.

So here is what I have decided to based on all the info I’ve found.

Herbs – I am not taking them. I won’t take them out of cycle or in cycle anymore. I feel like it is too much of a risk.

Acupuncture – I have ditched my previous acupuncturist which I feel really bad about. Now that I am seeing someone else I almost feel like I am cheating on her! It was a 20min drive each way to see her plus her sessions ALWAYS went over an hour as she is chatty and runs 2 beds at once. It was taking 2.5 hours out of my day just for one appointment. Not to mention that she had me going twice a week some weeks but once a week at minimum. It was too much. No wonder I was feeling overwhelmed.

Instead, during the week I saw a new lady who does acupuncture and kinesiology. She lives only 10 mins away, runs only 1 bed at a time and sticks to her 1 hour consult and is happy to see me fortnightly. Not even 1.5 hours out of my day and only once every two weeks! This is way better. I have never had kinesiology before and to be honest I am not sure what I think of it as seriously, it is a bit weird. Lots of bending legs and tapping heads. You wonder how anything could be going on. However I left the consult feeling a million dollars and that lasted for 24 hours.

Apparently my test showed that my FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) was out and my left side adrenals were screwed. So she did some bending and tapping to adjust me and then a bit of acupuncture after that. Basically she does the kinesiology test and then targets the acupuncture to what she finds out from this.  And I am now on day 5 of my stims for IVF #3 and this has definitely been the best stim run for me so far.

Interestingly she has also taken me off a bunch of my supplements. She said some are very powerful and they have done their job already. While going through stimulation I shouldn’t be on them as sometimes the body is getting too many messages and as a result kind of freezes and does nothing at all. Kind of like humans when they get too many messages when trying to make a decisions. You become paralysed by indecision. This made total sense to me. So we have pared back a little.

Supplements: I was on COQ10, Vitamin E, Cellgevity, a prenatal, arginine, inisotol, low dose aspirin. Many of them are thought to help with egg quality. My Dr is quite pro the COQ10. There is some positive research here.

I have now ditched the Cellgevity, arginine and inisotol as per my advice from the new acupuncturist above.

Food: I still don’t know what to think of this. I like the Chinese thought that food at this time should be warming. Seems to make sense to me, blood flow and all that. I bear in mind the alkalising thing but I am not rigid about it. I try to steer clear of sugar. Mainly as I believe that food can be both medicine and toxin, depending on what we eat, and while it is unlikely to solve all the problems it can certainly help heal our bodies.

Head stuff: I am doing a hypnosis every day and I am about to start doing Fertility Coaching which is basically just working with someone to get your head in the right place. We will do an initial session next week and if all goes well we will work together to prep for my transfer in April. Again, the results of the CAM study supported lots of this sort of thing and I could really use it. I need some guidance and focus.

So that’s where I am when it comes to all things CAM. I wanted to share it in case it helps others in any way. Obviously this is all just my opinion and interpretation of the study. You can feel free to have your own. 🙂

As I mentioned during this I am currently in the stims phase of IVF #3. My anxiety is rocking me a bit but otherwise things are going well enough. I am not talking about it as much this time (I have told only 2 people in my real world, I can’t stand the questions) but will check in at some point and let you guys know how it is going.

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28 thoughts on “The role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in solving infertility

  1. I’m so happy to see that it seems like you’re doing better. I’ve been thinking about you often. It does sound like you were on soooo much stuff…maybe your body WAS on overload. Wishing you all the luck in the world for this cycle!

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  2. That was interesting. And I really felt you on the stress of changing acupuncturists yet having it eat up so much of your week’s time so you knew it had to be done. I even giggled a little about the new one “bending and tapping.” Chuckle. XXOO

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  3. This is really helpful information, thank you for sharing your research and rècent experiences. I was told by my fertility nurse before starting IVF to stop all herbs and “extra'” vitamins. Prenatal and extra folic acid were the only ones I was supposed to take. I did get the green light for CoQ10 and vitamin D. I feel like D helps with my depression. I’m so glad to hear this stim cycle is going well. As always, I wish you all the best.
    After one of your posts I wanted to write again with something that I remind myself. No matter how I’m feeling on the inside, my son only sees the love, my smile, feels the hugs. We can feel broken, but our children see us as beautiful women.

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    • Ah yes good old vitamin D. Many of us are deficient. Now that I am having my regular sun time (and we do live in a warm sunny climate and spend quite a bit of time outside) I think I am ok with that. It def does help with mood.

      I love that little comment you left about what our children see. I love that, love that love that. It is so true and we must remember it. Thank you. Hope you are doing ok x

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  4. Ooooh, I LOVE this post. I feel like there’s so much out there on this crap, so thank you for paraphrasing all of your thoughts into tidy, bulleted points.

    I have never even heard of kinesiology until you mentioned it! I must look into this. I also want to look into fertility coaching.

    I think I’m on a similar regimen to you right now: acupuncture, hypnosis (still doing Peaceful Mind every night!), CoQ10 (how much do you take of this, btw?), prenatals, and I’ve just started the baby aspirin.

    And food, well I’m kind of a mess on that. Last time around I was really good about no sugar, no alcohol, no dairy, no gluten (no fun!), but since the miscarriage, meh. I’m still mostly gluten and dairy free, but I can’t seem to kick the sugar. I just can’t do it! And I’m not boozing it up, but I’ve been having a couple of glasses of wine a week.

    I don’t know. I wish I knew how much this stuff actually helped! I’m glad you found a few CAMs that work for you.

    And OMG! I cannot believe you’re on day 5 of stims and this is the first I’ve heard of it! I’m glad it’s going well. I’ll begin sending follicle-stimulating thoughts your way immediately. I understand not wanting to talk about it, though. I’m feeling like I might chill on the talking about it front next time, too.

    And that pretty much wraps up the Longest Comment Ever. Xo.

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    • I have been doing hypnosis regularly too. Gee we are good girls! I actually do feel nice and calm after doing it today. I did a double shot – one of the stim ones as well as a general one. I should be zen as buddha himself any minute now 😉

      I have been speaking to a lot of people about the food thing and most people seem to agree that it is conflicting and that if you can stick to healthy whole foods most of the time then you are doing well. I think I believe that too. Oh and re the booze – my Dr told us at our last appointment that we shouldn’t feel the need to give it up. As long as it is a glass every now and then and not a whole bottle he thinks it is fine. 🙂

      Yes day 5 of stims and just cruising along. I worry about how much writing about it can put too much negative energy on it sometimes, or focus on what might now happen if you know what I mean. So I’m trying to manage that.

      Thanks for the awesome comment. As always, I love hearing from you xx

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    • Oh and I take a pretty substantial dose of CoQ10. Like 4 x tables a day and they contain 150 unit each. There is a new form that is easier to absorb and I”m not on that. If I take that one (sometimes I do – depends on what is available at the store) then I usually take it back to 2 per day.

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  5. I am a big CoQ10 fan… I just wrote a post on it. I really think it helped me produce more eggs this time around. Good luck with your research, there is so much conflicting information out there, it’s a mind melt.

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  6. Ooooo – I love this post. I’m a massive knowledge fan (as you know!) and love hearing about relevant studies and scientific backgrounds for things. I think you’ve done the right think ditching the herbs. I’ve ummed and ahhed about them for ages (I saw a herbalist before I got married and she did wonders for my wellbeing), but I get a bit freaked out by them possibly changing hormone levels etc. And you’re on day 5 of stims!!!!! I had no idea!! That is very exciting and I hope you manage to maintain your zen through this cycle. And hey – I skim-read the study now (will digest in full later) and it mentioned reflexology potentially having a negative effect. I’m SO glad I read this because I was literally thinking about booking some reflexology the other day because I thought it might help, so thank you for linking to this. xxx

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    • Yeah who would have thought with reflexology? I was surprised by that too. So pleased you’ve found all this useful. I haven’t found the actual Danish study yet – just places that report on it – but it seems clear enough from that. Yes I’ve been keeping mum about the stims this time. I want to make sure my head is in the right place and only think of what I want to happen and no alternatives if you know what I mean. I will get my baby this time, Rose! I will!!!!

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  7. Thanks for sharing this Em. Looks like we’re almost cycle buddies again! I’m on cd1 today. I’m hopeful this time because of a better headspace & 3-4 months on the supplements, but I’ve unfortunately been quite the sugar junky. If this cycle is another flop, that’s one thing I’m cutting out completely again for a few months before trying again. Good luck to you! Xx

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  8. Oh my gosh, you’re on day 5 of stims? That’s amazing! Sending positive vibes and prayers your way! Sounds like you’re on a really good regimen and you’ve done your homework. I started working with an acupuncturist last June and did some herbs as well. My acupuncturist works with my clinic and so they have an understanding that herbs should be stopped one month before you start treatment because they believe it can interfere. I agree with you that herbs can be powerful stuff. That’s fantastic that you’re going to start working with a fertility coach. I started working with one several weeks back and it’s made a world of a difference in how I’ve handled this FET (in comparison to our cycle in October). I hope it works well for you!

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    • I read that about the fertility coach in one of your posts! It was just after I’d started looking for something like that and found this lady. So pleased you’ve found it helpful for you. Fingers crossed it helps me too. Thanks for the enthusiasm. I love that. x

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  9. My mom is a Naturopath – and I laugh, because I’ve used complimentary medicine since I was a teenager, and I remember pulling out my essential oils to make a headache remedy and she complained for 5 minutes and made me do it in another room because of the “smell” – and now, she makes organic soaps and lotions and all sorts of things with essential oils – but suddenly they don’t smell! LOL

    I’m glad you are finding more comfort with the new acupuncturist, and I’m sending good energy your way as you travel this path!

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  10. Pingback: IVF #3 – the stats, the lowdown and where it’s all at | The Secret Life of Emily Maine

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