Can I use Chinese herbal medicine when I am undertaking an IVF cycle?

The majority of IVF specialists will recommend Chinese herbal medicine to not be taken during the course of an IVF cycle. This view is taken due to possible co interactions between the IVF drugs and Chinese herbal medicine.

Little research has been conducted into possible co interactions between IVF drugs and the herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. As a consequence, very little is known in this area, and it is an area of investigation which researchers in Chinese herbal medicine need to address.

Studying possible co-interactions is an extremely difficult task. Each individual herb needs to be tested along with all the possible herbal formula combinations. In practice, formulas in Chinese herbal medicine are highly customised to suit each specific case. Consequently, there are a myriad of possible herb combinations which could be prescribed. Research of this nature has been firmly placed in the “hard basket” by the institutions which research Traditional Chinese Medicine. In addition, the lack of standardisation in Chinese herbal medicine formulas makes it unsuitable for off the over the counter purchase. This reduces the opportunity for mass consumption which eliminates corporate incentive to drive the much needed research.

At the Fertility and IVF Acupuncture Clinic we have had past instances where patients have used Chinese herbal medicine during their IVF cycles. The use of the Chinese herbal medicine in these instances was for specific reasons. The decision each time was made in collaboration between the IVF patient and the IVF specialist. Due to the lack of scientific evidence, the Fertility and IVF Acupuncture Clinic will take no responsibility for any problems which may result when Chinese herbal medicine is used as an adjunct to IVF drugs.

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