Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) include acupuncture, herbal medicines and manual therapies such as massage and reflexology. People use CAMs for a range of reasons and many report that CAMs improve their wellbeing.
While CAMs may improve wellbeing, there is no evidence that they improve fertility in men or women or increase the chance of a successful pregnancy for people who have IVF treatment.
Herbal medicines are often made from many different substances. Because the substances or the doses are not always specified, it is not possible to know if they are safe to take in pregnancy.
If you are trying to have a baby, it’s important that you discuss any medication you are taking with your GP or fertility doctor, to make sure it’s safe in pregnancy. This includes:
- herbal medicines
- vitamin and mineral supplements
- homeopathic medicines
- prescription medications
- medications, such as pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications, available over the counter.
- Boivin J and Schmidt L. Use of complementary and alternative medicines associated with a 30% lower ongoing pregnancy/birth rate during 12 months of fertility treatment. Hum Reprod 2009; 24:1626-1631.
- Manheimer E, van der Windt Dl, Cheng K, Stafford K, Liu J, Tierney J, Lao L, Berman BM, Langenberg P and Bouter LM. The effects of acupuncture on rates of clinical pregnancy among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Hum Reproduction Update 2013; 19:713.
- Smith CA, de Lacey S, Chapman M and et al. Effect of acupuncture vs sham acupuncture on live births among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA 2018; 319:1990-1998.
- Smith JF, Eisenberg ML, Millstein SG, Nachtigall R, Shindel AW, Wing H, Cedars MI, Pasch L and Katz PP. The use of complementary and alternative fertility treatment in couples seeking fertility care: data from a prospective cohort in the United States. Fertil Steril 2010; 93:2169-2174.
- Xue CCL, Zhang AL, Lin V, Costa CD and Story DF. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use in Australia: A National Population-Based Survey. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2007; 13:643-650.