I remember attending a Grand Rounds lecture when I was working at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital’s Integrative Medicine department. The lecture topic was about “alternative therapies.” The lecturer was an oncologist, and his opening line was, “Alternative therapy – There is NO alternatives to medicine,” which I would agree – His worries of patients seeking alternatives to medicine, and hence delaying treatment is well-founded, and I feel the same about infertility treatments, especially that patients are racing against biological clock. Except, he totally had the wrong idea of what “alternative medicine” is really about. Perhaps it was in the naming of such services and therapies – It really should be named “integrative” (as we have it), or “complementary” (which people usually confuse it with “complimentary” ).
Integrative therapies include the likes of acupuncture, conventional psychotherapy, music therapy, art therapy (collectively referred to as “creative arts therapies”), and massage therapy. They are not used to replace medical treatments, but are used to maximize their effect. Researchers at Harvard were the first ones to identify that infertility patients were experiencing the same stress levels as cancer patients, and that finding trickled down to more researches and applications. In fact, there is extensive research on cancer and integrative therapies, and the findings have been promising. Generally, stress and anxiety cannot be good for your health, body, and mind no matter what you are going through. To tackle the stress and anxiety infertility may bring on, integrative services can bring benefits such as relaxation, reduction of stress, better relationship between the couple, and perhaps higher pregnancy success rates(?).
At our center, we do believe the integration of mind and body. Actually, we’ve witnessed several cases of them. I cannot tell you how many patients we have had, who have tried for years to get pregnant but could not find a reason why they cannot. They come to our center for the first consultation, and before they start their treatment, they are pregnant on their own! There is really no good medical explanation why this have happened (on many occasions), and unfortunately, this does not happen to everyone (but you can try ;)). A plausible explanation is that, after relieving the stress and anxiety about getting pregnant onto our physician and our team, people feel more relaxed, which lowers stressor and benefits conception. These miracles are perhaps thanks to the confidence our patients feel knowing our high success rates. Or, perhaps they are thanks to our nice staff and office design – When we first were designing our offices, we kept our philosophy about integrative therapies in mind – Whether or not they do any good, do no harm. If you can do some good, that’s just icing on the cake. We customized little details of our offices to promote relaxation, and we work with acupuncturists and music therapists upon patient requests. We have always heard positive feedback from patients. Chances are, if it sounds good to you, you will probably benefit from it. If it does not, be rest assured, plenty of our patients get pregnant with just the good-old-IVF. 🙂