Ita O’Kelly-Browne, Irish Independent, Wednesday, February 23, 2000

Many couples are now beating a path to the doors of alternative practitioners in search of a less drastic and intrusive solution to infertility than IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) according to acupuncturist Karen Costin, who works with the 20pc of couples who suffer from what is known as ‘unexplained infertility’.

Many factors can contrive to make a couple believe that they are destined to remain childless because they have been diagnosed as suffering from ‘unexplained infertility’, which basically means that medics can find no medical reason why they cannot become pregnant.

But a whole host of factors can impede or prevent pregnancy and some are down to relatively addressable issues like diet or too much stress, according to Costin, who also works with couples who want to give birth naturally.

Acupuncture, reflexology and Chinese herbal medicine can also play a role in natural fertility treatment. Acupuncturist Costin, who practices in The National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, as well as her own private practice in Ranelagh, says that she personally has had success rates with infertile couples of around 40pc, which compares favourably with the average success rates of IVF which stand at around 30pc.

“We do not just treat a couple or more usually the woman, who tends to be the one to seek treatment for infertility, because we treat the patient holistically. But we have found that unexplained infertility responds very favourably to Acupuncture,” according to Karen, who says that Acupuncture helps to unblock energy channels in the body which can impede pregnancy taking place.

Karen says that stress is probably one of the biggest problems experienced by increasing numbers of people and most especially couples trying to cope and deal with infertility, which is itself a very complex issue.

She says that she sees increasing numbers of couples who have been through the swings and roundabouts of fertility treatment, including IVF, and as a result are very fragile and traumatised people.

“Acupuncture seeks to give the patient a sense of well being and combined with good dietary advice like eating a quality organic diet rather than one based largely on processed foods, the woman becomes healthier, more relaxed and as a result she is more likely to conceive than if she is stressed and obsessed by what she sees as her own failure”.

Karen says that the nature of Acupuncture is also, by definition, much less intrusive and much less traumatic than a procedure like IVF which she says is also expensive at between IEP2,000 and IEP 3,000 per shot.