If you have been in practice for any length of time, you probably have heard a comment from a patient saying she has gotten pregnant while under chiropractic care. Sometimes inferences are made as a joke, “Hey, my chiropractor got me pregnant.” People within the chiropractic profession aren’t always surprised by this, as improved function of the reproductive system can often result in pregnancy.
Infertility is described as the inability to become pregnant after a year of trying. Infertility impacts about 12 percent of women (7.3 million) in the United States between the ages of 15 and 44 and is becoming an increasing concern for our society.1 Infertility specialists focus on factors outside of the human body in order to solve the puzzle of infertility. Fertility drugs, like Clomid, are the main treatment for women who are infertile due to ovulation disorders. These medications regulate or induce ovulation and work like natural hormones to trigger ovulation. However, side effects of fertility drugs include dizziness, hot flashes, enlargement of the ovaries, an increase in ovarian cancer, and multiple pregnancies.2
Aside from drugs, Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is another option, with the most common form of ART being In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). IVF treatment involves retrieving mature eggs from a woman, and fertilizing them with a man’s sperm in a dish in a laboratory and implanting the embryos in the uterus, three to five days after fertilization. However, IVF treatment can be uncomfortable, can be very costly and can increase your chances of having more than one baby at a time (think the recent “Octo-mom”).
Left: Treating a pregnant patient. Right: Special donut-shaped pregnancy pillows, that allows the patient to be prone
From a non-drug perspective, some parents are looking for alternative treatments to infertility, including acupuncture, homeopathy, stress reduction and chiropractic care. In many cases involving chiropractic care, some of the women go to a chiropractor for spinal related complaints, but then become pregnant while under chiropractic care.
With infertility, it implies that there is the potential to become pregnant; therefore, it raises the question as to what is causing the problem. There are many different suggestions as to the cause, whether it is physiological, emotional, from poor nutrition, older age, environmental factors, or some other interference. Studies have shown that interference in the physiological function, as caused by vertebral subluxation, can be helped with specific chiropractic adjustments to promote optimal health and functioning.
In a study in the May 2003 issue of the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, author Madeline Behrendt did a retrospective review of fourteen separate articles that studied fifteen women suffering with infertility. The results showed a link between the application of chiropractic care and subsequent successful outcomes of pregnancy.3
The studies looked at fifteen female subjects ranging in age from 22 to 65. The prior pregnancy history of these fifteen women revealed that eleven of them had never been pregnant, three had prior pregnancies, and one had a history of a miscarriage. Nine of the fifteen women had previously been treated for infertility, with four of them undergoing infertility treatment at the time they started chiropractic care. They were under chiropractic care over a time frame of 1 to 20 months, and fourteen of the fifteen women became pregnant. Chiropractic techniques used included Applied Kinesiology, Diversified, Directional Non-Force Technique, Gonstead, Network Spinal Analysis, Torque Release Technique, Sacro Occipital Technique and ThompsonTerminal Point Technique.
Another article in the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics reviewed case studies of eleven women, ranging in age from 22 to 42. Their prior pregnancy history included one natural childbirth, two miscarriages, two failed in-vitro fertilizations, and three failed artificial inseminations. These women presented to their chiropractic office for treatment of low back pain, infertility, dysmenorrhea, ulcerative colitis, ankle pain, and neck pain (one).4 After undergoing chiropractic treatment from a period of one to twenty months, all eleven women became pregnant. Chiropractic techniques used in these studies included; Torque Release Technique, Sacro Occipital Technique, diversified, Directional Non-Force Technique, and Network Spinal Analysis.
As infertility is a growing concern with women, with the noted side effects and costly treatment going the medical route, females should be encouraged to seek chiropractic treatment. It does not appear that one technique works better than another, as many different chiropractic techniques have been utilized. Chiropractic care and the correction of vertebral subluxation may result in improved function and physiology of the reproductive system and, thus, may result in successful pregnancies and births.
Dr. Pamela Stone has been in private practice in Kennesaw, Georgia, since 2000. She is certified in Pediatrics through the Academy of Family Practice and the Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics ( C.A.C.C.P.) and is a Fellow of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. She is a Certified Pediatric Chiropractor (F.I.C.P.A.) and is certified in the Webster’s Technique. Dr. Stone can be reached at [email protected].