The Mind-Body Connection: How Alternative Medicine Can Boost the Success of IVF
Science has struggled to prove a clear correlation between stress and infertility. However, there is plenty of evidence supporting that a happy, healthy body and mind is a factor in IVF success rates. As these statistics continue to come to light, more doctors are suggesting alternative medicine therapies to couples who seek IVF treatments. These alternative treatments include things like counseling, acupuncture, yoga, massage, and herbal supplements.
The following examples are how alternative medicine works to augment the newest advances is western medicine, helping couples experience successful IVF treatments.
Counseling. The trauma of failed conception, miscarriages, or difficulties with IVF treatments can take their toll on both an individual’s and a couple’s well-being. It is crucial that couples become a team through this process. A counselor can help each of you individually, and/or as a couple, to prepare for your IVF journey, to learn how to support one another, and to ensure you are on the same page once a successful pregnancy is a reality and true parenting is about to begin.
Acupuncture. The news is exciting when it comes to acupuncture and IVF and fertility rates. Recent studies out of the U.S., Denmark, Canada, and Germany have shown how incorporating acupuncture before, during, and after IVF treatments can boost success rates. The following highlights some of these important findings:
- Germany: In a study of 225, 116 received acupuncture after they ovulated, and 109 receive placebo acupuncture treatments. The women who received the real acupuncture treatments experienced an IVF success rate of 33.6%. The placebo group’s success rates were only 15.3%. In another German study pairing acupuncture with IVF, conception rates were as high as 42.5% in the group of women who received real acupuncture, versus 26.3% for those who did not.
- Denmark. A Danish study examined the effects of acupuncture administered on the day embryo transfer takes place. According to their study, 39% of the women who received acupuncture had successful embryo transfers compared with 26% of women who didn’t have acupuncture.
- Canada. A study done in British Columbia showed that acupuncture increased live birth rates in women with IVF by as much as 15%.
Other studies have also correlated fewer ectopic pregnancies, decreased chances of miscarriage, and higher live birth rates.
Relaxation Techniques. One of the problems with correlating stress and infertility is that stress is hard to quantify. While one woman may express high levels of stress, another may not be present to her stress, even though it’s affecting her physical or emotional well-being. A 2012 study published in the Archives of Women’s Health, showed that women with mental, mood and anxiety disorders had lower success rates than their mentally healthy counterparts. Women with certain diagnosable mental disorders had IVF success rates around 38%. Women without these conditions had success rates of 57%. Using relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, Yoga, and massage can help to reduce the stress and anxiety that contributes to diagnosable mental health disorders.
Herbal supplements and a healthy diet. There is a correlation between miscarriage and nutritional deficiencies. Make sure you eat a well-balanced diet and speak with your healthcare provider about the dietary and herbal supplements that will foster the healthiest environment for your baby. Avoid eating fast foods, processed foods, or any foods that are known to detract from physical well-being. In addition to improving your chances of a healthy live birth, you will also benefit from improved physical and mental health.
The more you can to do keep your mind and body healthy, the better chances you have of a successful IVF outcome. Discuss alternative medicine options with your healthcare practitioner or your IVF clinic to learn more about the role they can play in your IVF treatments.
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