Trying to Conceive: Alternative Methods of Treating Infertility

Khan, Priscila
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Infertility has been an issue throughout history, and yet there is very little research done on how it was approached and treated during historical times. There is even less research on how mental health and stigma around infertility can negatively impact those looking for treatment, especially women. This thesis investigates three forms of alternative medicine that have strong historical and cultural roots around the world. These are Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, and Indigenous Medicine. In addition, the mental health of infertility patients is analyzed, taking into account social and cultural factors. A selective literature review over these topics is conducted in addition to interviews of local alternative medicine practitioners in Austin, Texas. The purpose of this analysis is to detail the history and use of the three aforementioned alternative medicine methods in the context of infertility, and to explore how sociocultural perspectives on infertility affect patients’ mind states throughout treatment. Results confirm that there is little research on the efficacy and application of alternative medicine methods, yet general trends show a general success, especially when paired with treatments in the realm of conventional Western medicine. It can also be concluded that there is little to no existence of mental health support for women facing stigma and grief during infertility treatment. The study results suggest that further research on alternative medicines, implementing mental health support, and increasing positive and diverse perspectives on approaches to infertility will encourage more effective treatment for women who are trying to conceive.