Fertility and Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic and FertilitySo, you’re trying to conceive. Perhaps you, like many fortunate couples, will conceive within three to five months. Or perhaps you will find yourselves among the millions of fertility challenged couples. The World Health Organization defines infertility as no pregnancy after a full year of contraceptive-free trying. In Canada, this number is an estimated 11.5-15.7% for couples in which the woman is aged 18-44, a significant increase from ten years ago (1). There is a corresponding increase in the use of assisted reproductive technologies over this time period.

What causes infertility? Sometimes there is a medical explanation. Visiting your family doctor can help you rule out potential medical reasons. However, often no explanation is found. In many cases, certain lifestyle recommendations can significantly improve the chances of conception.

How can chiropractic help with fertility? Chiropractic has long been recognized as a holistic health profession. Chiropractic is a non-invasive, drug-free and hands-on approach to care that also focuses on self-empowerment and healthy lifestyle choices. Chiropractic care, in itself, can be considered a healthy lifestyle choice as it helps restore balance in spinal mechanics and nervous system function. Though many people initially seek care on account of pain or injury, one doesn’t need pain to have a problem. If you have pain or a history of physical trauma, definitely see a chiropractor! Even if you don’t, you can still book a physical examination to evaluate your spinal health. A chiropractor can help you optimize or restore spinal health and recommend ways to keep it.

Fertility and ChiropracticChiropractors are spinal health experts and spinal health can have a profound influence on overall health. Why? Because the spine supports and protects the nervous system which controls and co-ordinates all systems and processes in the body. Nerves originating in the low back provide and receive information to/from the reproductive organs. This network must be communicating freely for optimal function. Thus, if there is a structural or functional problem involving the low back or pelvis and it impairs communication, then it is possible that fertility may be compromised. Only a chiropractor, through a detailed physical examination, can locate and then correct these structural/functional problems (termed subluxations). A chiropractor can also help you tease apart other chemical, physical and emotional factors that may affect fertility. We look at the big picture.

Where is the evidence that chiropractic improves fertility? While there are yet to be any high quality, controlled studies in this area, there is an increasing number of case reports and much anecdotal support. There are a series of case reports published in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research with successful pregnancies following chiropractic care. (Please see the end of this article for links to the abstracts of these studies). More research is required to fully understand how chiropractic improves fertility and its success rate compared to other options (see table below). However, chiropractic care remains a very cost effective and safe option with an average cost per treatment of ~$40. Depending on the health history and physical examination findings, usually a course of care is recommended.

Treatment

Success Rate

Cost per treatment

Intrauterine insemination (IUI)

10-20%

$400-$900

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

28-35%

$7,750-$12,250

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)

25-30%

$15,000-$20,000

Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)

17.80%

$15,000-$20,000

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) (combined with IVF)

35.00%

$10,000-$17,000

Fertility drugs (ex: Clomid, Serophene, Milophene, etc)

20-60% (when combined with other methods)

Variable

* in Ontario, OHIP covers a portion of the fees for assisted reproductive technologies

* the above numbers were obtained from http://www.babycenter.ca

Other healthful tips… By visiting a chiropractor, you’ll likely receive other healthful tips such as the importance of managing stress, cleaning up your diet, physical fitness and reaching a healthy weight. Physical, chemical and emotional factors all play a role in your overall health and wellness. Remember: health and healing come from the inside and you have to take responsibility for your health.

Just to be clear, chiropractors do not diagnose of treat infertility. Instead, chiropractors treat the mechanical issues that may affect the nervous system. That being said, chiropractic can renew hope for those who’ve lost hope and provide a healthy alternative for those who wish to avoid costly assisted reproductive technologies and fertility medications (with dangerous side effects). Chiropractic care is safe, cost effective and even covered by most insurance plans. So, why not make chiropractic a part of your preconception plan? Find a chiropractor in your area. Or if you’re in North York, Toronto, come see me (my office).

  1. Bushnik, T, et al. (2011). Estimating the prevalence of infertility in Canada. Human Reproduction; 9(0):1-9.

Fertility and Chiropractic Abstracts:

Dr. Elisabeth Serbinski

Chiropractor

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