Thirty-five year-old Tracy had tried everything: monitoring her cycles
through body temperature, over-the-counter fertility predictors and finally,
fertility-enhancing drugs and in vitro fertilization. But after
three years of trying, she still wasn't pregnant. She began to think
she was "too old" to have a family, though she was seemingly
in great physical shape.
Tracy is not alone. Thousands of women go to fertility specialists each
year. "After fertility treatments fail, many women are told 'no' [about
having children] because of their age," says D'arcy Brown,
DC. But chiropractic may offer hope. At least one recent study showed that,
after receiving chiropractic care, previously infertile women were much
more likely to become pregnant (Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research,
2003). And while reasons behind chiropractic's success in treating
infertility aren't certain, there are a number of possibilities why
it may work.
Dr. Brown, who practices in Aspen, Colorado, believes proper alignment
works in several ways to increase the likelihood of becoming and staying
pregnant. Chiefly, improper alignment of the cranial, spinal, and pelvic
bones can hinder the nervous system, which controls a woman's reproductive
system, causing imbalances and hampering her ability to get and stay pregnant.
Distortions of the sphenoid bone in the skull- which can result
from passage through the birth canal or from accidents later in life- are
particularly problematic, says Brown, since misalignments there can affect
the cranial nerve and pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is the regulator
of a number of hormones important to fertility, including the follicle-stimulating
hormone, estrogen, and progesterone. If any of these are out of balance,
explains Brown, it can be very difficult to get pregnant.
Like Tracy, many of the patients Brown sees for infertility have tried
everything. They come to chiropractic as a last resort. Brown first talks
to them about their menstrual health history, noting signs of imbalance,
which have often been problematic since the onset of menstruation, including
heavy cramping, mood swings, and missing periods. "We balance the
body [through chiropractic]," says Brown. Patients receive a combination
of chiropractic and craniosacral adjustments, three times a week to start.
After adjustments start to hold, patients visit once or twice a week.
How long should chiropractic take to work? Not long, says Brown. "We
give it three months. Often women will become pregnant in the third or
fourth month of treatment." Brown has an impressive 75 percent success
rate so far. Unless there have been serious compromises to reproductive
health, he says, such as a history of extreme athletic activity or substance
abuse, chiropractic may set the stage for a successful pregnancy for women