Background: There is limited research describing the use of complementary medicines (CM) and therapies among patients with infertility.
Objective: (i) To examine the use of CM by subjects attending an infertility clinic at their first consultation and six months later; (ii) to examine men's and women's views on the effectiveness and safety of these practices; and (iii) to examine the documentation of the use of CMs and therapies in clinical notes.
Design: A prospective survey of 100 consecutive new patients presenting to an infertility clinic. Subjects were requested to complete a self-administered questionnaire at their first visit and six months later. A retrospective audit of 200 patient records.
Results: A response rate of 72% was obtained. Sixty-six percent of patients attending the infertility clinic in South Australia used CMs. Six months following the initial consultation the use of CMs had declined. The most commonly used CMs included multivitamins, herbs, and mineral supplements, and subjects consulted most frequently with naturopaths, chiropractors and acupuncturists. The use of CMs and therapies was poorly documented by clinical staff.
Conclusion: Complementary medicines and therapies are widely used by patients with infertility. Health-care practitioners and fertility specialists need to be proactive in acquiring and documenting the use of these practices. There is a need to provide further information to patients on the use of CMs and therapies. Further research examining the reasons for use of CMs and therapies is needed.