Women's Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Fertility Enhancement: A Review of the Literature Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVES: The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has increased in Western countries, with women identified as the primary users. Women's use of CAM in reproductive health is well documented; however, little is known about the use of CAM to enhance fertility, despite anecdotal evidence that this is a growing trend in reproductive medicine. The objective of this review was to examine the literature on women's use of CAM to enhance fertility, focusing on prevalence, motivations for use, and how information is sourced. DESIGN: A systematic search of multiple databases was conducted using key words and selection criteria. RESULTS: A total of eight articles that met the selection criteria, published between 1990 and 2010, were found and included in the review. The articles were analyzed under five key themes: "user prevalence," "user profile," "motivation for use," "expectations and satisfaction," and "referral and information sources." This review demonstrates important gaps in the evidence regarding women's use of CAM for fertility enhancement. There are no population-based studies with representative samples, no commonly accepted definitions of CAM research, and few studies describing women's motivations for and experiences of using CAM for fertility enhancement. Importantly, little is known about women's sources of information about CAM in this context. CONCLUSIONS: Nationally representative, population-based studies are required to fill the gaps in the evidence, provide prevalence rates, and inform policy and clinical practice.

publication date

  • August 2011