Worried about invasive fertility procedures if you’re hoping to conceive? Consider these natural alternative therapies instead.   

It’s no secret that in a developed fast-paced society like Singapore, more and more couples are postponing pregnancy, whether it’s to focus on their career or other priorities.

Our country’s dipping fertility rates reflect this, too. Singapore’s total fertility rate has been declining gradually over the years, according to the Singapore Department of Statistics. In fact, the rate even dropped to a low of 1.10 in the last few years.

As more and more couples here face fertility issues, many are turning to fertility treatments to conceive. Natural ways to boost fertility are fast gaining traction, since IVF is generally considered to be an invasive procedure.

SmartParents spoke to natural fertility experts to get the lowdown on these therapies. That said, ob-gyns have reservations about these methods of conceiving ― Dr Pamela Tan of Thomson Medical Centre and Dr Christopher Ng of GynaeMD Women's & Rejuvenation Clinic, said they were unable to comment on such treatments.

Scroll through our photo gallery to take a look at natural fertility treatments you might wish to explore if you’re trying to conceive.

1. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) 

How it works: In TCM fertility treatment, a patient’s body constitution (this reflects their unique physical, physiological and psychological functions) is determined to diagnose any existing imbalances, explains Seah Ai Wei, head, Thomson Chinese Medicine.

As the reproductive organs need to be in good shape to conceive, the treatment helps to regulate a women’s menstrual cycle. To ensure that the body ovulates when it needs to and one’s lining is thick enough for implantation, your TCM physician will diagnose deficiencies or hormone imbalances that are affecting your ovulation. Men are encouraged to bring along their semen analysis report for investigation as well.

How the treatment works: On assessing the patient’s physical constitution, the TCM physician will either use acupuncture or Chinese medicine, or a combination of both to treat them, Seah notes. A combination of both will be used if the patient isn’t undergoing Western treatment.

Patients, who will be given herbal medicine to consume daily, will need to see their TCM physician every week. Seah points out that as the type of medicine used depends on the patient’s physical constitution, herbal treatments don’t come in a fixed formula.

What to keep in mind: Do inform your TCM physician if you are undergoing fertility treatments with Western doctors. As some doctors may not encourage the consumption of Chinese medicine if their patients are undergoing Western treatment, Seah says that acupuncture will be recommended in such cases.


2. Acupuncture

How it works: In acupuncture, Seah explains that in a person, 12 meridians (energy pathways or channels) connect the different organs and parts of the body.

When fine needles are inserted at various points of the body, this improves blood flow to the reproductive organs such as the ovaries and uterus, which will boost their function. The kidneys, liver and spleen ― organs that support the reproductive organs ― are also targeted.

How the treatment works: During a typical acupuncture session, which lasts 30 to 45 minutes, it’s normal to feel slight tingling or numb sensations. Don’t come to the treatment on an empty stomach and wear loose clothing, so that your TCM physician can easily your tummy and limbs. You can resume regular activities post-treatment, but refrain from coming into contact with water for two hours after a session.

Take foods that are neutral or warm in property and digest easily ― avoid spicy or heaty foods that have strong tastes, Seah recommends. Exercising, getting sufficient rest and consuming plenty of fluids are also essential.                      

What to keep in mind:  If patients can comply with good lifestyle practices, the treatments would benefit them better, Seah notes. For instance, she recommends that patients adopt a healthy sleep routine and turn in before 11pm.


3. Mummy's Fertility Malay Uterus Massage

How it works: This fertility uterus massage is an improved version of the traditional Malay massage technique called sengkak, notes Salwa Salim, who founded Mummy’s Fertility. It promotes better hormonal balance for a regular menstrual cycle and timely ovulation.

The massage aims to remove any stagnant blood as well as dead cells and tissue, so as to cleanse out the womb, she adds. It will also loosen any tightness and tension from surrounding organs or ligaments, and improve the blood circulation to strengthen the reproductive system.

How the treatment works: Your massage therapist first takes the patient’s full personal and medical history to determine your suitability for the treatment, Salwa explains. During the massage session, you’ll get a full body massage to stimulate your body’s acupressure points. Next, she will then focus on your abdominal areas (including organs like the stomach, liver and intestines), as well as the major muscles and ligaments connected to the uterus.

While you don’t need to prepare for the session, refrain from going if you have a fever or an infection. Also, don’t eat at least two hours before your massage treatment, and make sure to  empty your bladder before a session.

What to keep in mind: A fertility massage ― with the aim of creating a body that’s optimal for fertilisation and pregnancy to occur ― is generally safe if it is carried out by a trained therapist. However, do get your doctor’s approval and any medical advice before you proceed with this treatment, Salwa advises.

4. Homeopathy

How it works: In homeopathy, the body’s natural mechanism is stimulated to heal itself through remedies prepared from plants, flowers, metals and minerals and highly diluted, notes Dr Manjusha Balekundri of Satguru Homeopathy Clinic

Homeopathic remedies help to regulate the hormones, menstrual cycles and ovulation for those struggling with infertility, she elaborates. This therapy helps to dissolve small cysts and fibroids, increase an individual’s sexual drive, as well as improve the quality and quantity of sperm.

Homeopathic remedies can reduce emotional stress associated with anger, depression and anxiety as well. The relationship between emotional stress and infertility is widely accepted, but not addressed in conventional treatment, Dr Balekundri notes. 

How the treatment works: After patients detail their ailments, Dr Balekundri will examine their test reports or advise them to go for an ultrasound or seminal analysis.  She also studies her patient’s lifestyle, food intake and family history, then uses the information to determine the root cause of their fertility issues. She next administers remedies to boost her patient’s physical, mental and emotional well-being.

She also counsels her patients on managing stress, adopting a proper diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle with exercise and proper sleep, she adds. Patients should adopt a preservative-free diet with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, multivitamins (if necessary) and an adequate intake of carbs and proteins.

What to keep in mind: Patients will need to consume homeopathic remedies either 15 minutes before or after food, multivitamins or with their Western medicines (if they are taking any for conditions like diabetes), Dr Balekundri notes.  They will also need to keep their remedies away from strong scents such as essential oils and perfumes.

5. Chiropractic care

How it works: As chronic stress can slow down the function of certain brain pathways and compromise fertility, chiropractic adjustments are made to open up these pathways, explains Dr Theo Kieu. The Light Chiropractic chiropractor notes that pathways that link the normal functioning of one’s organs, especially the reproductive organs, include the vagus nerve (a cranial nerve that connects the brain to the body) at the brainstem, as well as the nerves at the sacrum (a strong bone that helps support the weight of the upper body).

How the treatment works: Dr Kieu focuses on treating the vagus and the sacral nerves through manual adjustments as these play a significant role in reproduction. He also recommends eating fatty acid-rich foods like fish and nuts, which have been shown to improve fertility.

What to keep in mind: It’s very easy be scared of visiting a chiropractor, especially in a country where this therapy is considered new, Dr Kieu notes. However, he assures couples that chiropractic care is safe ― he has treated women from their first trimester until the day they have given birth.