Thursday, May 06, 2010

IVF and alternative medicine - best of both worlds ?

Many IVF patients these days use acupuncture and will often ask me whether it's fine to do so or not . I advise patients to explore additional alternative medicines options such as yoga as well. Some of my patients think that the fact I am advising this stuff means I must be a quack. Others are happy that I have an open mind and am willing to explore alternatives with them.

I never want my patients to feel they have left any stone unturned. The truth is that many patients will explore alternative medicine without telling their doctor. I prefer taking a proactive approach, so they know I am on their side, and that they do not need to hide anything from me !

I am quite happy with this approach if the intervention is simple , harmless and inexpensive. I then feel that it's worth trying, even if there is no "evidence" that it works, provided the patient understands that this is not evidence based medicine and is willing to use themselves as a clinical trial, where n=1 ! I believe in Integrative Medicine and do not feel that Western medicine has all the answers. This is especially true when dealing with problems such as poor ovarian reserve, when we have very little which is useful to offer to the patient.

There are many intangible benefits to doing this. Most importantly, the patient feels that they have done everything humanly possible , and the peace of mind this can give them is invaluable ! It helps me to keep an open mind, and I learn from my patient's experiences. I am happy to share their successes and failures with other patients - and I feel Julia Indichova's book , Inconceiveable , is a great example of what the determined and motivated patient can achieve, even when the odds are against her. In fact, it is based on these "anecdotal successes" that we can learn newer techniques for treating our patients !

However, I do draw a line , especially when the treatments are expensive. Good examples of such useless treatments are Clear Passage Therapy and Proxeed. Patients need to be protected from quacks, and a good doctor will help them to do so.

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