Can Complementary Therapies support fertility?
Many people use complementary or alternative therapies to improve their overall physical and emotional health. This could include medicines, such as herbal, vitamin, mineral, homoeopathic, nutritional and other supplements, and therapies such as Chinese medicine, chiropractic, naturopathy, osteopathy, acupuncture, homoeopathy, reflexology and aromatherapy.
There is limited evidence of the beneficial impact of complementary and alternative medicines and therapies on fertility. While improving your general health is clearly beneficial, we do not routinely recommend their use to improve your chance of conception.
If you would like to try alternative therapies while also seeking medical support for conception, it is important that you tell your doctor. While some complementary medicines may interfere with fertility treatments, acupuncture and vitamin supplements are generally not considered to be incompatible with treatments.
Acupuncture and fertility
Acupuncture is believed to:
- reduce stress, increasing quality of life while you’re undertaking treatment, and
- stimulate blood flow to the uterus, influencing the menstrual cycle and ovulation.
Some limited studies have shown that acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer may improve implantation rates. We would like to see evidence of the effectiveness of these claims in large control trials, as it is an area of interest.
Multi-vitamins and fertility
Nutrients that can help to support a healthy conception include:
- Antioxidants – protect cells from damage by free radicals in environmental and other toxins
- Coenzyme (Q10) – an important antioxidant and ‘energy nutrient’ within every cell
- Vitamin E – an antioxidant that may promote circulation to the reproductive system, including to the placenta
- Vitamin C – an antioxidant important within the ovary itself. As the developing egg needs vitamin C to mature and ovulate, more vitamin C is used up around the time of ovulation
- Mixed carotenoids – Vitamin A (retinoid) is involved in creating DNA. In small amounts it is essential for healthy foetal development, particularly for the immune system and eyes. However, you should avoid taking too much Vitamin A
- Manganese – involved in enzyme functions that have antioxidant effects and transfer genetic information
- Zinc – one of the most important nutrients for a healthy reproductive system. Involved in sexual development, ovulation and the menstrual cycle
- Selenium – an antioxidant that supports normal conception
- Omega-3 fatty acids – improving omega-3 fatty acids ensures that a woman’s fat tissue stores retain a reserve of these fatty acids for the developing foetus, a healthy pregnancy and optimally fed newborn
- B-Vitamins – Vitamin B12, B6 and folate are three B vitamins significant for the reproductive system