Infertility is defined by doctors as the failure to become pregnant after a year of unprotected intercourse.
It can be caused by sex-hormone abnormalities, low thyroid function, endometriosis, scarring of the tubes connecting the ovaries with the uterus, or a host of other factors. Some of the causes of infertility readily respond to natural medicine, while others do not. The specific cause of infertility should always be diagnosed by a physician before considering possible solutions.
For most infertile women, no symptoms accompany the infertility. Some women with symptoms of obesity, acne, and excessive facial hair; heavy, irregular, or absent menstrual periods; or fluid leaking from the breasts could have hormone imbalances that might interfere with fertility.
Acupuncture may be helpful in the treatment of some cases of female infertility due to problems with ovarian function. In a preliminary trial, women who did not ovulate were treated with acupuncture 30 times over three months. Effectiveness was determined by a combination of measures indicating ovulation was returning to normal. Acupuncture treatment resulted in a marked improvement in 35% and slight improvement in 48% of trial participants.1 The beneficial results achieved with acupuncture may be due to alterations in the hormonal messages from the brain to the ovary.2
Auricular (ear) acupuncture has been studied in a preliminary trial and compared with standard hormone therapy for treatment of infertility. In both the acupuncture and hormone therapy groups, 15 out of 45 patients became pregnant. Although the pregnancy rates were similar with either treatment, side effects occurred only in women taking hormones.3 Still, double-blind trials are needed to conclusively determine whether acupuncture is a useful treatment for female infertility.
Making the decision to have children is sometimes easier than getting pregnant. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
- Stop smoking
Kick the habit now to improve your chances of getting pregnant
- Abstain from alcohol
Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages to double your potential for conception
- Cut the caffeine
Stop drinking coffee and tea, and avoid other caffeinated products
- Get to know propolis
This natural substance may improve the likelihood of pregnancy; take 500 mg twice a day
- See a specialist
Consult with a fertility expert to find out if there is a medical reason for your infertility