To help subfertile and infertile couples get pregnant, there is research showing that it's worth considering to use holistic and integrative treatments as alternative and/or additional approaches to medications and high-tech treatments such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF). These alternatives include acupuncture, yoga, meditation, hypnosis, herbs, supplements, and other complementary therapies.
What is holistic and integrative fertility?
Holistic or integrative fertility is an approach to male and female fertility and infertility issues that considers the many aspects of a person including the mind, spirit, body, emotions, and lifestyle factors as key to maximizing natural fertility in men and women. The goal is to improve your chances of getting pregnant in the most natural way. Occasionally, holistic fertility can be added to traditional infertility medical treatments such as IVF and fertility medications.
A person’s whole health is affected by many factors including his or her mind, spirit, body, emotions, and lifestyle. Traditional medicine often does not take that part of a person's life into consideration. If one of those aspects is out of balance, then the individual’s whole health—including fertility—will be out of balance.
Aspects of holistic and integrative reproductive health
- Fertility diet and dietary adjustments
- Achieving your optimal weight
- Stress management
- Moderate exercise
By minimizing stress and feeling supported, more male and female fertility patients will continue Western treatment which improves the likelihood of success. Integrative medicine is a holistic medical discipline that takes into account the lifestyle habits of a patient. The physician works to treat the whole person rather than just the disease. The mind, body, and soul of a patient are taken into consideration to promote healing and well-being.
Holistic medicine is also based on the belief that unconditional love and support is the most powerful healer and a person is ultimately responsible for his or her own health and well-being.
Other principles of holistic medicine include the following:
- All people have innate healing powers.
- A patient is a person, not a disease.
- Healing takes a team approach involving the patient and doctor, and addresses all aspects of a person's life using a variety of health care practices.
- Treatment involves fixing the cause of the condition, not just alleviating the symptoms.
Dietary adjustments to improve fertility
Nutrition and diet can directly affect fertility and resulting pregnancies. Simple adjustments in dietary choices may be more important to your chances of pregnancy than taking medication. Supplements such as prenatal vitamins with folic acid for women and male fertility supplements including L-Carnitine can improve fertility.
Your optimal weight
Being at your optimal weight (a body mass index BMI between 18.5-24.9) can also increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Losing weight if you are overweight, or gaining weight if you are underweight, can help restore correct hormone levels and other body factors related to fertility.
Get in shape to improve your fertility
You want to get pregnant fast but where do you start? Getting into optimal shape and health is the best way to begin. Before getting pregnant there are some major changes that need to take place in order to get your body into shape for the baby. You have to ensure that you reach a healthy weight and that you are taking the proper vitamins. Fertility is a tricky thing, but it is easier if you are able to do a few simple tasks yourself.
Stress management and fertility
Stress management is an aspect of fertility treatment, affecting some individuals more than others, and some holistic fertility practices can reduce and help manage stress. Stress management initiatives, either individual efforts or through professional counseling can improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Yoga and meditation
Stress impacts fertility in a negative way. Yoga can reduce stress, and improve your chances of getting pregnant. In this study, the authors showed that by reducing patients' stress, yoga can increase the success of infertility treatment. And in another study, both yoga and meditation performed by men improved sperm parameters in men and improved fertility.
Acupuncture and fertility
Acupuncture has been proven to reduce stress, and it is often appropriate for patients undergoing fertility treatment. There are different results published; some show acupuncture helps, while others sow it does not help. For example, acupuncture prior to embryo transfer and afterward improves uterine blood flood and can increase pregnancy rates. In this study, using electroacupuncture fertility was improved.
Improve your fertility on your own, at your speed
No single approach to fertility fits all. With holistic fertility reproductive health, you can adopt such practices on his or her own. Most elements of holistic fertility are also part of what is called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM). For more information on CAM, please visit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website.
Addressing the underlying causes of infertility
When it comes to infertility, treating patients’ entire well-being instead of targeting a certain condition can be very effective because patients often have more than one factor contributing to their infertility. Using an integrative approach to improve the optimal health of a patient covers a wide variety of areas that may be contributing to their infertility.
Infertility often comes loaded with emotional tension that becomes even greater with treatments and resulting expectations. We find that integrative medicine helps patients be more emotionally prepared and in a better frame of mind to deal with these tensions ... and that can contribute to treatment success.
This applies to both men and women: Having a healthy body, keeping a healthy diet and optimal weight, and taking the right supplements can greatly increase a couple’s chances of getting pregnant and staying pregnant. With integrative medicine, a focus is placed on stress reduction, optimizing weight, eating the right diet, and taking the right vitamins and nutrients prior to and during pregnancy to prepare the body for what is to come. When a mother has a healthy diet before and during pregnancy, when she is at her minimal stress levels, it also helps to build a stronger and nervous system while protecting the child from birth defects.