During the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology Annual Meeting in Lyon, France, researchers from Cardiff University reported that women who used complementary therapies while undergoing invitro fertilization (IVF) were 30% less likely to become pregnant than those who used IVF alone.

First, the details as reported by the BBC.

  • The psychological and medical profiles of 818 women at the start of their IVF treatment were evaluated.

And, the results.

  • 261 or 32% of the women used some form of CAM and usually more than one type.
  • Nearly half used reflexology and over a third had used nutritional supplements.
  • Women in the CAM group had more attempts at IVF — 3 compared to 2 attempts in the non-CAM group, but were less likely to become pregnant.

The researchers believed that herbal remedies could possibly interfere with IVF drugs.

The bottom line?
During a subsequent discussion, Alison Denham, of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists suggested, “It is possible that herbs, St John’s wort, being the significant one, could interact with IVF drug treatments.”

However, Edzard Ernst, professor of complimentary medicine at Exeter University, and a frequent critic of CAM, 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.”

For more on Dr. Ernst, read here and here.

7/5/07 21:48 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.