Can I combine my treatment with a complementary therapy?
Even though these methods may have no effect on the treatment outcome, they can help achieve greater emotional wellbeing
It is becoming more and more common to turn to complementary therapies for all kinds of health issues, but although there are many claims made for the successes of such therapies in helping people who have fertility problems, there is very little clear scientific evidence. Despite this many people do use complementary therapies when they are having difficulty getting pregnant, most often alongside conventional medicine.
Is it worth trying complementary therapy?
It is clear that if you decide that you don’t want any complementary therapies, this won’t have any negative outcome on the impact of your fertility treatment. However, a therapy which you find relaxing may help you emotionally if it can enable you to feel calmer and more relaxed.
There can also be an element of counselling in seeing a complementary therapist who will have time to devote to how you are feeling and what you are thinking about your situation. Just talking to someone impartial in a peaceful environment and making time for yourself to do this may have a positive impact on your well-being.
Which therapy to consider?
There are a huge variety of different complementary therapies which may be suggested for those with fertility problems whether it’s acupuncture, reflexology, aromatherapy, homeopathy, herbal medicine, hypnotherapy, reiki, traditional Chinese medicine or many more. It would be possible to spend all your time, and huge sums of money, trying out every therapy under the sun but if you want to use a complementary therapy, the most important thing is to find something you actually enjoy.
Choosing a complementary therapy is not like choosing a fertility clinic where you can look at validated success rates and make a balanced judgement. It’s more a matter of finding a therapy that suits you, that has the potential to help you feel calmer and more relaxed and also a therapist that you feel comfortable with.
Although there may be little scientific proof that complementary therapies make a tangible difference when it comes to fertility problems, it is clear that many fertility patients find them beneficial. There are, however, many other patients who choose not to have any complementary therapies and this doesn’t make their treatment any less likely to succeed.
What to consider before starting a complementary therapy?
It is always a good idea to discuss any complementary therapy you are considering with your fertility specialist before going ahead. Generally there won’t be a problem with seeing a complementary therapist alongside your conventional medical treatment but do check that there aren’t any issues, particularly if you are going to be taking supplements or herbal medicines recommended by a therapist.
Do also check that any therapist you are going to see is properly qualified and registered with the relevant professional body.
Finally, make sure you are aware how much each session will cost, and how many sessions are recommended. Complementary therapies can be expensive and costs can mount up quickly. Thinking about what you can afford and how much you want to spend before you start is a good idea.
Although there may be little proof that complementary therapies make any tangible difference to outcomes when it comes to fertility problems, many fertility patients find that they are relaxing and calming. It is important to be realistic about what they can offer amidst often unfounded claims about the impact they have on infertility, but if you are looking for something that could have a positive impact on your well-being, then they may well be worth considering.
Writer and journalist
Kate Brian is a journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility, including The Complete Guide to IVF. Kate started writing about the patient perspective on infertility after having IVF herself.
Currently, she contributes to various types of media as an expert on fertility and writes her own blog, where she gives all the latest news and views on fertility issues, as well as useful advice and links for anyone trying to have a baby.
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