Alternative medicine refers to “natural,” non-medicated treatments. These include acupuncture, reflexology, massage, and herbal therapies. There has been much speculation that these treatments could improve fertility. Many articles have been written about their effect on IVF. We have looked at our results over a decade and have not noticed a positive or negative result. A recent French study looked at the use of alternative medical therapies within 12 months of an IVF cycle. The study was published from Cardiff University in Wales. Dr. Jacky Boivin reported the results at the European Society of Human Reproduction. The study looked at 818 women who were undergoing IVF. The average duration of infertility was greater than 4 years. All women in the study underwent at least one cycle of IVF during the study period. The pregnancy rate was 45% in 261 women who underwent alternative medical therapies. This was significantly lower than the 66% pregnancy rate in women who did not use alternative medical therapies. It is not fully understood as to why alternative therapies would reduce the pregnancy rate associated with IVF. It is important to know that other studies have shown a benefit with alternative medical treatments. All in all, the studies are divided at present.
Given this new information, we cannot encourage or discourage the use of alternative medical therapies. However, we are most concerned about herbal and “natural” hormonal substances. The composition of these is largely inconsistent and variable. If you would like to use these supplements, please discuss this with your doctor. We also want to add that excessive use of vitamins, particularly those which are lipid soluble and can accumulate in your body, is not recommended. Examples of such vitamins include A, D, E, and K. These vitamins can accumulate and have toxic effects. Some supplements contain as much as 1000% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of these vitamins.