Supplementing Fertility Treatment with Yoga, Acupuncture and Other Complementary Medicine Programs
At Dallas-Fort Worth Fertility Associates, we support the use of complementary therapies in conjunction with traditional fertility treatments. Couples who choose to combine complementary treatments, with IVF, often feel calmer and less stressed. We believe a reduction in stress, especially during treatment, has a positive effect on outcomes.
Fertility Treatment with Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine and has been around for thousands of years. During acupuncture small, thin needles will be lightly inserted into specific points of the body, where extra balance and blood flow is thought to be needed. Acupuncture is believed to be beneficial before and/or during fertility treatments to regulate menstrual cycles, hormone levels, and facilitate blood flow to the female reproductive organs.
While the data is limited as to how much acupuncture can improve outcomes, there is certainly no data that suggests it does harm. In addition, many patients have experienced increased relaxation and a reduction in stress while undergoing acupuncture. At Dallas-Fort Worth Fertility Associates, we firmly believe that a reduction in stress has a positive effect on fertility treatment. Acupuncture is usually safe during the first trimester of pregnancy, but consult with your physician based on your individual situation.
Fertility Treatment With Exercise During Treatment
For some patients, exercise is a way to reduce stress in order to maintain a healthy body and mind. While we encourage patients to be as healthy as possible, we caution the use of exercise leading up to and during fertility treatments. This is because medications taken during ovarian stimulation will cause multiple eggs to grow as once and the ovaries will enlarge. With the increased size of the ovaries comes an increased risk of ovarian torsion (or the risk that the ovaries could twist). The risk of ovarian torsion is small but significant. Therefore, limiting exercise or aggressive movements is recommended to reduce the risk.
Leading up to fertility treatments, we encourage light exercises such as walking or gentle yoga. During stimulation (the day you begin taking your injectable hormone medications) it is recommended to stop exercising all together. Your provider will counsel you as to when you may begin exercising again. For most patients, this is approximately two weeks after the transfer of the embryo. It is also safe to return to most exercises once you’ve reached the 12 week pregnancy mark.
Fertility Treatment With Meditation
Meditation is a great tool for calming the mind. It can reduce the amount of cortisol in the body and promote hormones that have a positive effect. Meditation can be a great way to prepare yourself mentally and physically for fertility treatments.
Fertility Treatment with Diet and Supplements
Although most nutrients do and should come from a healthy diet, additional supplements are recommended when attempting to conceive and undergo fertility treatments. Maintaining a healthy weight and BMI will also provide couples with the best chance of success. These supplements include:
- Daily Prenatal Vitamin
- Vitamin D
- Folic Acid (400mg)
- Omega 3 fatty acids
It’s best to consult your provider on exact dosages. We also follow ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologist) guidelines when it comes to preconception nutrition. At different points during your fertility treatments, and your pregnancy, your supplement needs may change. We recommend consulting with your provider each step of the way to ensure you are getting the right supplements for your fertility health.
It is very important to avoid and/or limit the following items:
- Herbal Medications – ask your physician about your specific herbal supplements as some may interact with medications
- Recreational drugs
- Cigarettes and second-hand smoke
- Alcohol and caffeine
Contact our fertility specialists today to learn more about how complementary medicine can add value to your fertility treatments.
About the Author:
Samuel Chantilis, M.D. is a highly trained and experienced infertility specialist in his hometown of Dallas, TX. He is board certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, and has been practicing in Texas since completing his training in 1993. Dr. Chantilis was a faculty member at UT Southwestern Medical School for five and a half years before entering private practice in January 1999 at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Dr. Chantilis has been the leading provider of IVF services at the Presbyterian Hospital ARTS program since 1999, having conducted approximately 2,500 egg retrievals.