While medications, minimally invasive surgeries, and advanced technologies have made it possible to overcome a wide range of medical obstacles to fertility, complementary alternative therapies may help in achieving pregnancy in some cases. It has been observed by many fertility experts that patients who are in optimal health and are able to effectively manage the stresses of life and infertility seem to have better chances of succeeding in treatment by being able to persist in treatment during an often difficult journey. Laurence Jacobs, M.D., recommends that patients consider complementary alternative treatments such as fertility acupuncture and yoga, available at several Fertility Centers of Illinois offices in the Chicago area, to help with the stresses of treatment and improve overall wellbeing.
Yoga is a form of exercise that uses breathing, meditation, and postures to promote relaxation, physical strength, flexibility, circulation, and energy. Specific types of yoga can be designed to target specific areas or functions of the body.
The six-week fertility yoga program offered by Fertility Centers of Illinois in partnership with Pulling Down the Moon (PDtM - www.PullingDowntheMoon.com) is focused on promoting fertility and remaining calm in response to stress. Both men and women can benefit from this program, which improves flexibility and promotes circulation in areas of the body associated with reproduction, in addition to teaching relaxation and coping techniques.
Pulling Down the Moon (PDtM) offers prenatal yoga classes in addition to fertility yoga at the Chicago location of Fertility Centers of Illinois.
Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into specific 'points' to stimulate invisible lines of energy called Qi (pronounced "chee") running under the surface of the skin. Herbal medicine is often used in conjunction with acupuncture. Traditional Chinese Medicine combines acupuncture with herbs along with other aspects including exercise, proper nutrition and creating a positive mental attitude in order to restore the yin and yang into proper balance and allow the person to achieve a harmonious, balanced state.
When couples are trying to conceive, they are often plagued by significant stress, both emotional and financial, and acupuncture may help alleviate some of this stress. The treatments help release beta endorphins from the brain which can then induce a calming effect. Many of our patients claim that acupuncture helps them to be more relaxed during fertility therapy. Patients often need to undergo several attempts at IUI and/or IVF in order to get pregnant. Any form of stress reduction (yoga, meditation, or acupuncture) can often help the women persist in their fertility treatments, thereby improving their chances for a successful outcome.
In addition, acupuncture may improve blood flow to the pelvic region, and, most importantly, improve blood flow to the ovaries and/or uterus (endometrial lining). Studies in traditional Western peer-reviewed medical journals are scarce relating to the benefits of acupuncture. However, one article published in a well-respected infertility journal, Fertility and Sterility in 2002, concluded that acupuncture seems to be a useful adjunct for improving pregnancy rates with in vitro fertilization. We often recommend acupuncture for many of our patients if the lining of the uterus is poorly responsive to fertility medication stimulation. Many women over age 38 may be 'poor responders' in that they develop fewer eggs and produce less Estrogen in response to the fertility drugs. Some of these 'poor responders' have a better stimulated response after acupuncture treatments.
Patients, however, need to be aware of potential hazards associated with some herbal supplements which could have harmful effects on reproduction. For this reason we do not recommend using Chinese herbs during active fertility treatments but only prior to therapy.
Traditional Chinese Medicine integrated with Western Reproductive Medicine may be a good choice for many patients. At Fertility Centers of Illinois (FCI) we have successfully integrated Eastern and Western medicine in order to help alleviate stress and potentially optimize our patient's fertility treatments. For more information, visit our FCI website at www.fcionline.com. We have also had a very positive experience with Pulling Down the Moon (www.PullingDowntheMoon.com), specializing in yoga, acupuncture, and meditation. There is a PDtM office at Dr. Jacobs' Buffalo Grove office. Don't just pick any name from a phonebook; you want a well trained acupuncturist, experienced in infertility. For a list of certified licensed acupuncturists experienced in treating infertility, visit www.nccaon.org or call our office at 847.549.3746.
If fertility yoga and fertility acupuncture are not for you, massage therapy can offer many of the same benefits. Thai massage, one technique offered at Fertility Centers of Illinois, is different from familiar western massage styles in that it combines the application of pressure with stretching and is much more interactive. Other styles that are offered include deep tissue, relaxation, and hot stone massage. These treatments can improve circulation, relieve stress and tension, and detoxify the body.
The ability to focus one's mind and consciously relax the body is a key element of fertility massage and is taught by instructors at Pulling Down the Moon. Patients are encouraged to use meditation techniques in times of stress to alleviate tension and calm the mind, improving the patient's overall well-being and increasing the chance of success.
The journey through infertility and its subsequent treatment often raises stress levels and can lead to frustration, anger, depression and disappointment. Infertility seems to affect all aspects of a person's life and many patients are looking for advice on how to cope more effectively.
Psychological counseling for guidance and support for stress reduction, support during and after miscarriage, decision making for donor egg, donor sperm, and/or surrogacy is offered at no charge by our full-time licensed clinical psychologists.
To learn more about fertility yoga, acupuncture, or other alternative infertility treatments, contact our Chicago, Illinois-area practice.