Up to one out five couples aren’t able to conceive. The reasons for this may involve one or both partners and can vary greatly: Physical, hormonal or psychological factors may be at play. Sometimes no cause can be found and it is not clear why a pregnancy doesn’t occur.
Many couples faced with infertility opt for various treatments offered by conventional medicine, but these are often expensive, time-consuming and can involve a number of side effects. In many cases, these treatments still don’t lead to success. If all conventional options have been exhausted or couples prefer natural methods, homeopathy can be a helpful alternative.
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a treatment method that has been healing diseases naturally for more than 200 years. The term comes from Greek homoios (similar) and pathos (suffering) and is based on the Law of Similars. The German physician Samuel Hahnemann is regarded as the founder of homeopathy. The Law of Similars (“Like cures like”) is based on the idea that a substance that can cause certain symptoms in a healthy person can be used to cure similar symptoms in a sick person. This involves drawing a comparison between the symptoms caused by a certain medication in a healthy individual and the specific symptoms of a patient. Based on the results, a homeopathic preparation in which the identified substances are extremely diluted or triturated is administered. Unlike conventional medicine, the goal of homeopathy is not the eradication of disease symptoms with drugs, but the gentle activation of the body’s self-healing powers. Homeopathic medicine isn’t just used to treat symptoms, but the person as a whole. In some countries (including Germany and Austria), homeopathy may only be practiced by licensed physicians and/or naturopaths.
Homeopathy and Infertility: The Heidelberg Study
Several studies conducted at the University Hospital of Heidelberg’s Clinic for Naturopathy now reveal that homeopathy can be effectively used to counteract fertility problems. In a study led by Dr. Ingrid Gerhard, 21 women with idiopathic infertility (infertility due to hormonal causes) who received a homeopathic treatment were compared to 21 women who suffered from the same type of infertility, but received conventional hormone therapy for the duration of the study. Both groups met the same criteria (age, type of infertility, duration of infertility, type of cycle disorder) regarding factors that affect pregnancy chances. The result: Although both groups were able to record six pregnancies, only the pregnancies of the participants who received homeopathic treatment all resulted in successful births. In the hormone group, only two pregnancies resulted in births; the other four pregnancies resulted in miscarriages. The use of homeopathy therefore resulted in a baby take-home rate (BTH) three times as high as that of the conventional treatment. Another difference: In half of the women in the homeopathy group, hormonal imbalances normalized and 19 percent of the participants were able to record an improvement of other ailments as well. Women in the hormone group showed no improvements. However, 29 percent recorded that their general condition had worsened. The adverse effects of medications were higher for the hormone group.
Another study that researched the effect of homeopathy on male fertility consisted of 40 men with reduced fertility who had unsuccessfully tried have a child for at least two years. The average age of the men was 35.5 years, and the average time for which they had unsuccessfully tried to achieve a pregnancy was 4.5 years. In addition, the participants were required to submit two current pathological spermiograms. 30 of the participants suffered from various physical defects of the genitals such as an undescended testicle. Each participant was treated individually with homeopathic single-substance remedies; the average duration of treatment was 10.3 months. The result: After a few months, the participants showed significant improvement in their sperm quality and quantity. After one year, the sperm density had increased by 37.1 percent and the proportion of sperm with good motility had increased by 43 percent. Seven couples were able to record eight pregnancies, resulting in five births with a total of six healthy children; three pregnancies resulted in miscarriages. The baby take-home rate was 11.1 percent.
Who Should Consider Homeopathy?
Homeopathic remedies can be applied to fertility problems in a variety of ways. For example, it can stimulate hormone production, counteract an existing luteal phase defect or normalize an irregular cycle. Naturopathic treatments can even be effective with endometriosis and if the underlying reasons for infertility are psychological in nature. In men, homeopathic treatments can be effective as long as moving sperm are present.
However, when it comes to certain physical disorders, such as a blocked fallopian tube or ejaculatory duct, or if the male partner suffers from varicocele (varicose veins in the scrotum), homeopathy has its limitations.
How is Treatment Administered?
Before deciding on a homeopathic treatment, couples should undergo a detailed physical examination in order to exclude certain diseases that may be the cause of infertility. For women, this includes a gynecological checkup, testing of the thyroid and pituitary gland and an exam to verify ovary function. In men, sperm is tested using a spermiogram. The results will indicate whether a homeopathic treatment course is an option and what type of treatment is most suitable. The goal is to derive a holistic treatment that is able to improve general health. Each administered medication is tailored to the particular symptoms of the patient. Infertility is also often caused by psychological factors—in this case, homeopathy can help restore inner balance. The duration of the treatment depends on the particular cause but usually takes several months.
The following Homeopathic Remedies are Known to be Effective in Women:
Sepia: Facilitates hormonal balance and helps counteract endometriosis
Calcarea carbonica: Helps strengthen the uterine wall
Zincum metallicum: Helps with mental stress and supports hormonal balance
Phyto-Hypophyson L (vitex agnus-castus preparation): Cleanses the liver and kidneys
Arnica montana/aconitum napellus: Helps minimize anxiety related to the wish to have children
Pulsatilla: Stimulates ovulation and helps counteract luteal phase defects
In men, homeopathic remedies such as thuja, zincum metallicum, selenium and zincum chloratum can help enhance sperm quality.
Homeopathy and Other Factors
In addition to homeopathic treatment methods, leading a healthy lifestyle is also important for those suffering from infertility. This includes a balanced diet with essential vitamins and nutrients, moderate physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, abstaining from alcohol and nicotine, avoiding environmental toxins and reducing stress. Complementary therapies, such as (ear) acupuncture, TCM or energetic methods, can also be useful in treating infertility in combination with homeopathy.
As with all forms of infertility treatment, homeopathy cannot guarantee success. But given the significantly fewer side effects and lower costs associated with naturopathic remedies compared to conventional fertility treatments, it is certainly an option worth considering.