News on Health & Science

Alternative Therapies Might Aid Fertility

Sandee Deppiesse and her husband, Scott, tried for three frustrating years to get pregnant. For their final desperate attempt, the couple tried acupuncture.

“My doctor gave me a 5 percent chance [of getting pregnant], given my age,” said Sandee, who is now 40. “And so I started looking, because I figured there had to be a way.”

“The longer things go, the more things you’re willing to try,” said Scott.

Sandee sought out San Francisco acupuncturist Angela Wu, who treated her with the ancient Chinese therapy.

“[Wu] just said, ‘I will get you pregnant. Don’t listen to those doctors,’ ” Sandee said.

More Western doctors are recommending acupuncture to couples with fertility problems. Dr. Vick Sahakian of UCLA believes it can reduce stress for women trying to get pregnant.

“It can improve pregnancy rates by improving blood flow to the uterus where the embryos are basically implanted,” he said.

A study by German researches found that women who used acupuncture while undergoing in-vitro fertilization increased their success rates by almost 50 percent. Sahakian said his own patients have expressed confidence in the procedure.

Tiffany Hecht is one of them. She was skeptical at first, but no longer.

“I can tell the difference from the last three in-vitros that I produced more eggs,” she said. “And to me, that is a huge sign that it is working.”

Mind-Body Program

Acupuncture is not the only alternative therapy available. A Harvard University mind-body fertility program is gaining popularity throughout the country.

The program encourages couples to share the feelings of frustration and shame associated with infertility.

“There is a lot of sadness that comes with it and a lot of pain and it’s really a lonely place to be,” said one woman in a support group.

The program also uses meditation and yoga techniques that help elicit a relaxation response to release hormones that aid reproduction.

“I think we try to control things and force them,” said psychologist Laurel Kline. “And you can’t force an egg and a sperm to get together and implant. I tell people that all the time. Part of it is you have to let go.”

The result, according to a Harvard study, is a 55 percent pregnancy rate for those who took the mind-body course.

Alternative therapies may still raise some eyebrows in the scientific community, but many of these couples say they have all the proof they need. The Depiesses say it worked for them — twice.

“I think I have two beautiful kids,” said Scott. “So yes, I believe.”

Sources: ABC News’ Judy Muller filed this report for World News

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