Alternative infertility treatments

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Alternative treatments
Not all alternative treatments have been proven effective, but research has shown that the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture may have a very positive effect on couples trying to fall pregnant.

A European study performed in 2001 found that accupuncture could increase the success of an assisted fertilisation by up to 40%, explains Vicky Hindmarch, a Doctor of Chinese Medicine.

"We help to relax the patient generally and studies have shown that acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterus and helps it relax," she adds.

Along with patients who use acupuncture to compliment AI or IVF – before and after the treatment – Vicky also sees patients who seek acupuncture as a sole solution to infertility, and says she has had success here too. Acupuncture costs between R120 and R200 per treatment.

Infertility is on the increase
There is no doubt that infertility in South Africa is steadily increasing, and this can be put down to three factors says Dr Sulaiman Heylen:

1. Women of all cultures are postponing falling pregnant, with many waiting until their mid-thirties. Careers,waiting for financial stability and good press about modern fertility treatments are reasons given for delaying.

2. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) account for 25% of South African infertility cases. Many STDs,for example Chlamydia, make it very difficult to fall pregnant because they block the fallopian tubes,and because many do not have obvious symptoms, women are often not aware that they've been infected.

3. At least 40% to 50% of cases are due to male fertility problems and our hectic lifestyles have a lot to with this, as pollution, bad eating habits, weight gain, drinking, smoking and unhealthy lifestyles have all taken a toll.

How to find a fertility clinic

There are reputable fertility clinics in all major South African cities. Ask your regular medical practitioner to recommend one.

Infertility treatment through the state

While there is no service for infertility at primary health care level, some tertiary hospitals offer a comprehensive range of investigations and treatments.

You would need to visit your local clinic or doctor first to get a referral to visit a state fertility clinic. The costs vary from one hospital to the next. To find a fertility clinic near you, ask your medical practitioner or log onto www.services.gov.za.

What will medical aids cover?
SA medical aids do not pay for fertility treatment like IVF, but they will pay for corrective surgery (for example, if there is a uterine cyst or blockage in your fallopian tubes.

Free infertility lecture
The Medfem Clinic, Sandton, offers free comprehensive lectures on the causes and treatment of infertility once a month. To make a booking contact Sister Pam on 011 463 2244.
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