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Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success

Mind-body therapies increase odds of pregnancy, studies find

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 21, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that mind-body treatment can boost the odds that infertile women will become pregnant by in vitro fertilization -- at least after more than one cycle.

Dr. Alice Domar, who specializes in mind-body therapy in Boston, assigned one group of women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) to take part in 10 sessions of a mind-body program; another group undergoing IVF did not take part. There was no difference in pregnancy rates between the two groups.

But things changed during the next cycle of IVF treatments. Then, 52 percent of the women who took part in the mind-body program became pregnant, compared with 20 percent of those in the other group.

Mind-body sessions appeared to be especially helpful for women who were more depressed, judging from test scores, the study found.

"It's clear, based on this carefully designed study, that a holistic approach to infertility care leads to better outcomes for patients," Dr. R. Dale McClure, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said in a news release from the organization.

In a related study, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, surveyed 431 infertile couples undergoing treatment and found that 28 percent had tried complementary and alternative medical therapy. Acupuncture was the most common approach (22 percent had tried it), followed by herbal therapies (17 percent) and body work (5 percent).

Wealthier people were most likely to have tried the alternative therapies, the study found.

A similar study from New York researchers found that even more of the couples tried alternative therapies: 47 percent. Of them, more than 90 percent called the therapy effective.

The studies were scheduled to be released at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting, Oct. 17-21 in Atlanta.

More information

The American Pregnancy Association has more on in vitro fertilization.

SOURCE: American Society for Reproductive Medicine, news release, Oct. 19, 2009
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