Chiropractic manipulation is considered a useful tool for women struggling with infertility. Case studies compiled by researchers and chiropractors are showing a possible link between spinal adjustments and increased fertility.
What is Chiropractic Care and How Does it Work?
The word chiropractic combines the Greek words cheir (hand) and praxis (practice) to define how the hands are used to manipulate the structure of the body. Chiropractic manipulation is the complementary and alternative therapy whereby a licensed practitioner – a chiropractor – physically manipulates the body’s structure with their hands with the goal of:
- improving the body’s function and natural ability to heal itself
- correcting alignment problems (i.e. spinal alignment)
- alleviating pain
Dr. Aviva Romm shares that bodywork techniques including chiropractic manipulation help to “realign the framework of the body to relieve ’stuck‘ tension and inflammation.” Chiropractic care also reduces stress on the spinal nerves, which innervate the reproductive organs.
Dr. Craig W. Angell, DC, Chiropractic specialist trained at Northwestern College Of Chiropractic says, “The nerves that innervate our reproductive organs originate in the low back.” Fertility health can be affected if there’s a distortion, also called a subluxation (a misalignment of the vertebrae, often slight) affecting nerve function. Subluxations can interfere with the delicate nerves going to the reproductive organs and controlling the body systems that coordinate the delivery of hormones, preventing their normal function and contributing to hormone imbalance.
We often focus our healing efforts on the liver, the body’s Master Detoxifier, and the endocrine system, the body’s Master Message Center, which each play integral roles in fertility health, but overlook the importance of the body’s Master Communication System, the nervous system.
Fertility health, conception, and birth are known to be accomplished in part under the direction of the nervous system. Nerves transmit impulses or sensations to every part of the body, including the spinal cord, muscles, and organs, to help them function. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “In many cases, fertility issues may be associated with improper nervous system function, poor nutrition, high stress and poor lifestyle habits. Chiropractors are nervous system specialists and reducing interference in the nervous system is their primary goal.”
“Your body is an amazing creation that can accomplish numerous miraculous tasks including creating new life. These miraculous tasks are accomplished under the direction of the nervous system.”
– American Pregnancy Association
The Spark of Interest – Infertility and Chiropractic Care
A May 2003 discussion published in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research by Madeline Behrendt, D.C. (Doctor of Chiropractic) caught the eyes of many in both the chiropractic and infertility communities. Her compilation of the results of 15 case studies describing the response of “subluxated infertile women” to chiropractic care has since resulted in many more documented case studies.
Dr. Behrendt’s review particulars include, “Of the fifteen women studied, all were infertile, nine had previous unsuccessful assisted treatments, and were undergoing assisted treatment concurrent with entering Chiropractic care. Vertebral subluxations were detected in all the women. Chiropractic care was applied; objective and subjective findings tracked changes in health, as subluxations reduced and function improved. Each of the women became pregnant and delivered a healthy baby.” The women received chiropractic care for anywhere between 1-20 months.
Since the publication of Dr. Behrendt’s findings, subsequent case studies have documented how chiropractic care has helped women experiencing infertility as a result of a variety of factors including:
- amenorrhea, including diabetic (insulin-dependent) amenorrhea
- unexplained infertility
- chronic colitis
- for “relief of some visceral conditions relating to the colon and female reproductive organs”
- diagnosis of a “lazy (reproductive) system”
- preparing for IVF and subsequent rounds of IVF after initial failure
Many chiropractors share that they have seen amazing results that can’t always be adequately explained by traditional medical practices. Does it need to be adequately explained? The jury is out! Many chiropractors agree that additional research needs to be done, but many also feel that it may not be entirely necessary. “You will find a ton of anecdotal evidence that chiropractic care can lead to better nerve function to the reproductive organs and individuals who have become pregnant after starting chiropractic care (sometimes an unintended consequence), but finding hardcore research to back this up may be challenging,” says Dr. Angell. Much of the research of chiropractic care has been focused on low-back pain.
If you have been battling infertility and are willing to give yet one more natural therapy a try, consider trying chiropractic manipulation. Chiropractic care can be used alongside other natural therapies and medical approaches (such as IVF) to resolve infertility. Chiropractic care is often inexpensive compared to medical infertility treatments and may even be covered by your insurance plan.
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) shares links to each State’s Board of Chiropractic Examiners/Practitioners (states in the U.S.) if interested in finding a qualified chiropractor to work with.
- Angell, D.C., C., Personal Communication. August 17, 2015.
- Behrendt, D.C., M. (2003, May 2). Insult, Interference and Infertility: An Overview of Chiropractic Research. Retrieved from http://align2nourish.com/pdf/JVSR2003-1068_infertility_behrendt%20(Insult,%20Interference%20and%20Infertility_An%20Overview%20of%20Chiropractic%20Research).pdf
- Chiropractic: An Introduction. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/chiropractic/introduction.htm
- Infertility and Chiropractic. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.chiro.org/research/ABSTRACTS/Infertility.shtml
- nfertility and Chiropractic Care: Safety, Costs and Benefits. (2012, April 24). Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/infertility/infertility-and-chiropractic-care/
- Maj, S. (n.d.). Chiropractic and Infertility. Retrieved from http://communitychiropractic.net/how-we-can-help/chiropractic-research/pregnancy/
- Romm, A. (2015, June 30). How to Relieve Pain Without Taking Medications That Can Wreck Your Health – Aviva Romm. Retrieved from http://avivaromm.com/simple-steps-relieve-pain
- Williams, D.C., C. (n.d.). The Chiropractic Approach to Infertility: A Review of Recent Chiropractic Research. Retrieved from http://icpa4kids.org/Chiropractic-Research/the-chiropractic-approach-to-infertility-a-review-of-recent-chiropractic-research.html