A common question from patients going through in vitro fertilisation treatment is what herbal medicine they should take. IVF is the process whereby eggs are removed from the ovaries and fertilised in a laboratory using a sperm sample before being returned to the uterus, during this process some very strong medications will be used and as such you should not take any herbal medicine during this time. Many women going through IVF have chosen to self-medicate using some very well known herbal medicines, this is inadvisable and you should always follow to the advice of your IVF consultant.
However, herbal medicine can be of benefit while preparing for IVF, both for the woman and the man. Herbs can be used to address issues such as endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, recurring miscarriage and male fertility problems, herbal medicine can be taken safely and successfully in the months preceding IVF treatment which may help to balance the system and promote healthy follicle development.
Another thing to consider during this time is taking a whole food based multi-vitamin as well as considering carefully what foods to take and avoid. Lifestyle choices play a major part in fertility and one of the most valuable things you can do while trying to conceive is to make sure your diet and lifestyle are healthy and balanced.
One often overlooked IVF issue is male fertility, it is often thought that the quality of sperm is not especially important during IVF as the egg will be fertilised manually. It is estimated that approximately 30% of infertility cases are due to inadequate sperm quality while most early miscarriages are influenced by the way the sperm and the egg interact, this shows that the importance of healthy sperm is not limited to fertilisation. There are many herbal medicines which may help to increase the quality of the sperm in the run up to IVF treatment, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that healthy lifestyle choices are just as important for the man as they are for the woman.
Although the nature of IVF does limit your choices when it comes to herbal medicine, there is still a great deal you can do to increase your chances of success and, used correctly, herbs can help to provide the best possible environment for a happy, healthy pregnancy.
Jake Bose – Clinic Herbalist