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  • "Eeyore" started this thread
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Wednesday, July 4th 2007, 11:41am

BBC News - Complementary therapy hampers IVF

By Michelle Roberts
BBC News, Health reporter in Lyon

Women using alternative therapies to boost their chance of getting pregnant may actually be doing the reverse, say UK researchers.

They found women who used complementary therapies while undergoing IVF were 30% less likely to fall pregnant than those who used IVF alone.

The Cardiff University team believe herbal remedies could possibly interfere with IVF drugs.

But experts at a fertility conference in Lyon said stress was probably key.

Indeed, the women who turned to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) had been trying fertility treatments for longer and reported being more stressed by their fertility problems than the other women in the study.

Medical profiles

She examined the psychological and medical profiles of 818 women at the start of their IVF treatment and which of them went on to use CAM in the subsequent 12 months.

Overall, 261 or 32% of the women used some form of CAM and usually more than one type.

Nearly half of these had used reflexology and over a third had used nutritional supplements.

Women in the CAM group had more attempts at IVF - three compared to two attempts in the non-CAM group, on average - but were less likely to become pregnant.

Lead researcher Dr Jacky Boivin said repeated failure with fertility treatment might prompt women to use CAMs.

"But it may be that complementary therapies diminish the effectiveness of medical interventions.

"For example, it could be that there are interactions between herbal medicines and fertility medicines.

"Perhaps women should hold off until they have tried conventional fertility treatments."


Alison Denham, of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, said: "It is possible that herbs, St John's wort, being the significant one, could interact with IVF drug treatments.

"Herbal practitioners would be aware of this possibility and prescribe accordingly."

She said non-medicine based CAM could not interact with IVF drugs and that there was a range of research supporting improvements in diet as useful in infertility.

But Edzard Ernst, professor of complimentary medicine at Exeter University, said: "The most likely explanation is that those women who are prone to stress and have more health problems are more likely to try CAM.

"So CAM could only be a marker and not the cause of stress and lower success rates."

Mr Michael Dooley, consultant gynaecologist at the Poundbury Clinic in the UK, said: "It is difficult to draw conclusions from this study because it is not comparing like with like.

"It's well recognised that some CAMs can reduce stress. And stress can have an impact on fertility."

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Wednesday, July 4th 2007, 11:58am

Oh my word

Where to turn??? There is just so much conflicting advice that it is difficult to know.

Metformin for 2 1/2 years
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Feb 07 - unsuccessful IUI
May 07 - abandonded IUI - overstimulated
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Wednesday, July 4th 2007, 12:46pm

nah - dont worry - this is another result from the same conference I posted about in the general fertility section.

I interpret the real message behind this as being:

* results of a study show that if we take X number of women then the ones that took alternative medicine had lower success rates than those that did not take alternative medicine
* however, the women that took alternative medicine were more stressed / desparate than those that didnt
* stress has been shown to majorly negatively impact on success rates
* the results of the study are most likely "stressed women have a lower success rate than unstressed women"

but most people, I thought?, knew that you shouldnt take alternative medicines at the same time as conventional medicines during an IVF/ICSI cycle because there are likely to be interactions.



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Wednesday, July 4th 2007, 3:24pm

As far as I can tell this is all down to good old common sense again isn't it. No practitioner of complimentary medicine would issue anything which would get in the way of the important drugs you take for IVF etc. Stress is certinaly the key, as we have seen time and time again. It's a bit of a catch 22 though isn't it. We are stressed cos we can't have a baby, or we are stressed cos we are going through stressful treatment! Give us a pill to take away the stress and we will be sprouting babies like billyo!
Me 35,DH 36 (Severe Oligospermia.).
4th ICSI :BFP:
I have 4 lovely big kids
Thomas Derren (Thom) July 1990
Luke Benjamin August 1993
Harley John Oliver June 1997
Alexandria Aimee Jay (Alex) July 1998
Lochlan Cassius James April 2009 (4th attempt at ICSI)



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Wednesday, July 4th 2007, 9:17pm

Hmmmmm.... St John's Wort is a complete no-no when pregnant or when trying, so goodness knows who "recommended" that particular herb for an IVF trial. Most herbalists wouldn't prescribe anything during an actual IVF cycle. Homeopaths might, but that is a different thing, as is massage, bowen, reflexology, hypnotherapy etc. And all of these alternative/complementary therapies have studies, tests and trials to say that they ARE beneficial, ARE excellent stress busters and CAN assist conception. So who do you believe? Absolutely, stress is very damaging to a cycle (and to fertility in general), so how do you combat it? Everyone has their own chillout remedy, be it therapies, chocolate or listening to music whilst in the bath, and where's the harm in that? So here's what I think - you find what works for you and go with it. And ignore the latest fads, tests and trials whilst applying a bit of common sense. I agree with Sun - the results actually show that stress is the enemy here, not alternative medicine.

Here endeth the lesson.

Zig x
Me 38, DH 44. 2002-2004 2x ICSI's, 1x egg donation. Changed clinics for own eggs ICSI/tx no.4 - BFP 27/4/05! Mummy to Isabella after early c-section 15/12/05, due to LLP. Baby No.2 (huge 'natural' surprise!) Ruby Olivia arrived 29/09/07 via emergency c-section.

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Sunday, July 8th 2007, 7:06pm

It could be coincidence i dont know but i became Pregnant 6 weeks after starting with new Accupuncture therapists this actually happened twice to me within the space of 2 years i sadly lost the first with an ivf cycle failing in between . :headache :headache
So imo they're scientific research doesnt do it for me but on the same note i truly do believe stress is the key factor in infertility or not achieving they dreamed of Bfp .
Beautiful Son Charlie William Born 15/01/08 weighing 9lbs 3oz :innocent:

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Monday, July 9th 2007, 1:58am

well, I'm a great believer in reducing stress - I got pregnant naturally (after a failed ICSI cycle and early m/c) although I think the m/c was due to bleeding which was due to undiagnosed endo which I think/suspect was damaged during EC, hence the bleeding even though I was pg. The endo was also removed during my c-section which is why I think I was so bloody lucky with #2.

anyway - we decided to wait 6+ months before the next cycle and just step away from all tx for a while. we blew a LOT of money on a 5* 2week holiday to Bali where I had full body massages every day :D and got pregnant.

of course, stress reduction alone doesnt work for everyone, and I dont think it alone would have worked for me because in the 7 years of TTC there were many times when I wasnt stressed. I think it is a combination of sorting out physical problems and reducing stress. I mean, if your man's sperm count is almost zero, aint no amount of "stress reduction" gonna get you pregnant! :rolleyes:

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Sunday, September 13th 2009, 6:49pm

RE: BBC News - Complementary therapy hampers IVF

Mmmm my accupuncturist has had brilliant success rates with IVF Patients.

Last year she said she has 23 women going under IVF.

12 Stuck to everything she told them to eat, lifestyle changes and they came weekly for their treatment and all 12 fell pregnant which all followed onto live births. (Ps this was 12 women who perhaps had already had 1/2 or 3 goes of IVF but it was their first attempt at using accupuncture alongside ivf)

The other 11 women she said didnt fallow her plan and didnt take weekly sessions with her and didnt fall pregnant.

However my accupuncture doesnt believe in herbs and always said to me she felt they did not co-inside well with the drugs for IVF and wouldnt prescribe anyone herbs who were going thru ivf.

This could well back up this article if true.
TTC Since September 2005, Me & DH both 26; Diagnosis - Unexplained Infertility.
1st round of IVF (fresh) Nov 09 - :BFN:
2nd round of IVF (frozen) April 10 - :BFN:
3rd round of IVF (Frozen) August 10 - :BFN:
4th round of IVF (Fresh) September 11 - xfingers



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Wednesday, September 30th 2009, 6:04am


Sometimes the headlines on the media reports of these studies are so misleading. The article is quite balanced and does explain the different reasons for the results, but some people (and sadly Drs too) will just read "CM hampers IVF" (not even a "might" there!) and not look into the study itself, and will recommend that IVF patients don't have CM.

As PPs have said, this study doesnt prove much b/c ppl who were good responders to IVF are less likely to turn to CM as they get pg quickly on IVF so dont need to try anything else. So as said before, CM is probably just a marker of being a poor responder rather than the cause.

The only way to know would be to do a randomised study where half get IVF with some kind of placebo to simulate the CM in question (and you could only test one type of therapy at a time), and the other get IVF and the real CM. Sadly, many CMs (eg massage, acupuncture) are v hard to find good placebos for, so this sort of trial isnt done.

Sorry to rant but this is something that really annoys me.
Me 37, DH 45
TTC#1 since Jan 09. Low AMH. Chem preg/early m/c Sept 09. Endo removed Oct 09, tubes clear. TTC naturally until end of year then maybe IVF.


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Wednesday, September 30th 2009, 9:29am

It all sounds pretty unscientific if you ask me, if there are so many factors different between the 2 groups, then you can't possibly say which of those factors causes the difference. I wondered about the mention of St John's Wort as well, as it is well known that you shouldn't take it if you are on the pill because it reduces the effectiveness, so a bit strange that anyone would take it during tx. My acupuncturist prescribed me a herbal tea mixture (she is also a gynae), and my ICSI Dr was fine with that, although I do know that a lot of Drs are against it.

4x IUI
Mar 08 IVF BFN
Oct 08 FET BFN
Apr 09 ICSI brief BFP
Aug 09 ICSI :BFP:

Me 40, DH 38

Our dream came true,

Lukas and Finn were born 13/04/10 at 36w6d biggrin2
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