Millions of couples experience difficulties when trying to become pregnant. For 15 percent of these couples, infertility cannot be traced to a specific diagnosis or condition.
In addition to lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise, fertility specialists may recommend ovulation stimulating treatments or procedures. Women can also improve their fertility by scheduling a universal screening with a gynecologist and treating any underlying infections.
However, as conception is as much of an emotional process as a biological one, many specialists now recommend a holistic approach that includes the following naturopathic treatments alongside conventional medications.
Probiotics are the polar opposite of antibiotics, a medication commonly used to treat infections. Rather than killing off harmful bacteria, probiotics introduce helpful bacteria into the body.
Probiotics regulate the body’s natural microflora, which can contain hundreds of strains of bacteria. Despite the diversity of the microbiota in the female reproductive system, the proportion of each bacterial type is remarkably stable in healthy women.
Slight fluctuations can result in a higher risk of bacterial infections and infertility. Probiotics counter microflora imbalance by introducing biome stabilizing strains such as Lactobacillus. Probiotics can also support the production of healthy sperm.
There is also growing evidence that probiotics reduce systemic inflammation caused by previous infection or stress. Reducing inflammation not only boosts the chances of successful conception but also greatly lowers the risk of complications and birth defects.
Probiotics are found naturally in yogurt and fermented foods such as kombucha and tempeh. Supplements are available, but should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision.
Probably one of the most recognizable practices from traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years. In Chinese philosophy, good health is linked to the unobstructed flow of life energy, known as qi.
During times of illness or stress, qi slows down or becomes blocked, leading to symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and infertility. During an acupuncture session, a practitioner will stimulate qi by inserting fine needles at important energy points across the body. The procedure is relatively painless and triggers no side effects. Many people feel relief after the first session.
Acupuncture is often combined with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Women may start acupuncture at least three months before beginning IVF and continue sessions until the 12th week of pregnancy. Since some energy points should be avoided during pregnancy, pregnant women should only receive acupuncture from a credentialed and experienced professional.
Natural treatments for fertility are found across Eastern medicine. Ayurvedic medicine, which originated in India and is still practiced widely today, incorporates several herbal supplements to treat infertility. For example, powder made from the Shatavari herb can promote hormone balance and lactation.
The chasteberry plant has been used to cure reproductive system ailments since the Middle Ages. Today, the herb is usually taken in supplement form. While there is some evidence that chasteberry use can support conception, the herb is not recommended for pregnant women.
Navigating infertility can be stressful, and many couples develop anxiety and depression as a result. Unfortunately, stress can make conception even more difficult, as the stress response makes the uterus a more hostile environment for sperm and any developing fetus. For this reason, stress management approaches are considered an essential part of a fertility treatment plan.
Hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for countering anxiety and stress. Hypnosis is a psychological state that triggers relaxation and suggestibility. While under hypnosis, people are better able to address emotionally heavy topics and manage their stress.
As hypnotherapy triggers the body’s relaxation response, feel-good hormones like oxytocin and dopamine flood through the body. This can reverse the damaging effects of chronic stress and facilitate conception.
As known as a Maya or Hara massage, monthly womb massages are a type of fertility treatment found across a variety of traditional medical practices.
These massages focus on the lower half of the body and apply light pressure to the abdomen, uterus, lower back, and pelvic areas. This stimulates blood flow to the reproductive organs and relaxes muscle tension.
Womb massages can also promote healing in the lower body’s ligaments, which can become stretched and misaligned due to previous pregnancy, poor posture, or digestive disorders.
As with other alternative therapies, womb massages are recommended in the first few months before conception or IVF treatments. However, they should be avoided during menstruation and early pregnancy.