The Liebell Clinic: Chronic Pain & Wellness Solutions
Infertility,Your Spine, and Ears...
What is the Connection?
By Dr. Donald Liebell
You’ve been through all the medical tests—but not much, if anything at all has revealed a reason why you aren’t getting pregnant. Every standard physical examination and diagnostic procedure says everything is normal. You wonder what could be wrong, but nobody seems to have any answers.
You’re not alone. According to the American Pregnancy Association, every day in America 16,438 women become pregnant, while 5,479 couples struggle with fertility problems. The Center for Disease Control has reported that over 6 million women in the United States are infertile.
The good news is that there have been some glowing reports in the news, as well as studies in peer-reviewed professional health care journals, that reveal help from two fascinating and surprising sources: chiropractic and ear acupuncture.
Although both of these approaches are absolutely not fertility treatments in the direct medical sense; they have been the answer for many couples who were trying desperately to conceive a child. How could this be true?
Spinal Nerves and Reproductive Organs
In May 2003, a study was published in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research. It revealed an impressive correlation between initiating chiropractic spinal care and resolving fertility problems. This study involved 15 women who had previously been unable to get pregnant. All participants were examined by doctors of chiropractic, and were found to have mechanical problems in their spines (vertebral subluxations). In this particular study, all of the participants became pregnant with 2-20 months of initiating chiropractic spinal treatment.
Eleven other successful fertility case studies were published in another scientific periodical, the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics. Once again, the women in this study suffered from spinal problems, which were interfering with nerve impulses going to their reproductive organs. The authors also commented on the tremendous costs and risks of various fertility treatments, such as in-vitro fertilization, compared to holistic or total-body health treatments.
Chiropractic treatment to the spine (adjustment) is not accepted by conventional Western medicine as a fertility treatment. Nor do we chiropractors claim that we actually treat fertility. The fact is that a woman’s inability to conceive a child can indeed be caused by spinal nerve problems—which is precisely what a doctor of chiropractic is trained to detect and treat.
Your spine, under normal conditions protects your superhighway of nerves and your spinal cord. The spinal nerves come out of openings at each level of the spine, branch off and travel all over the body. This is the main way your brain communicates with your body. If there is a structural or mechanical malfunction in the joints of the spine, blockage to normal nerve transmission can occur, which can lead to various health problems. This is the basic premise of chiropractic.
It stands to reason that if nerve signals to reproductive organs and related structures are blocked or distorted; infertility could occur. Naturally, if such blockages were to be eliminated, then normal function to such organs could be restored, which could end the problems with conceiving a child. Spinal distortion, joint problems and nerve interference can be caused by a wide variety of accidents, injuries, postural problems or even stress. In many cases, women’s menstrual cycles have been found to be altered by spinal nerve interference. So it is obvious why the elimination of such a blockage would restore a woman’s ability to get pregnant.
It is not unusual for a woman who had previously been unable to conceive, to visit a chiropractor for neck or back problems—and be delighted with the blessing of a child on the way. Since 1895, chiropractors have had the joy of seeing many occasions of infertility resolved through their treatment. One can find success stories around the Internet in chat groups and forums.
Obviously one cannot expect that treating spinal problems is the answer to all cases of infertility. But if you have not been able to conceive, and everything else has been ruled out medically, it’s definitely something to consider. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “Chiropractic care is a safe and natural approach to enhancing the body’s ability to function properly. This is accomplished through enhancing the function of the Master Control System of the body, the nervous system…
Chiropractic care is a cost effective approach to higher levels of health and well being. With in Vitro Fertilization (IVF) costing anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 per attempt, chiropractic care can save you a tremendous amount of money by helping you avoid the need for IVF or reducing the number of IVF attempts needed to achieve conception.”
(Source: americanpregnancy.org – a national health organization committed to promoting reproductive and pregnancy wellness through education, research, advocacy, and community awareness)
I can’t stress it enough that I am not suggesting that I treat infertility in my practice. I provide several types of holistic (total body health) treatments, which in some cases may result in a woman’s ability to get pregnant (often through improved menstrual function). It has been a magnificent thing for me to experience. Focusing my attention on the upper neck (atlas vertebra) and the lower back has been a critical part of the approach. Many of my colleagues around the world, who share my upper neck specialty, have had success.
Keep in mind that any couple who consults with me with the notion that I will treat their infertility, will be immediately told that I do NOT treat infertility. However, if they have spinal problems and are hoping that treating them might be the answer to their prayers; that is a legitimate choice for them to make.
I cannot tell anybody that I’m going to treat their spinal problems and that they’ll get pregnant. That would be inappropriate. Treating the spine is within the scope of my practice. If one is fortunate that it results in restored reproductive function—that’s fantastic. It’s a shame that large-scale research funding has no been provided to investigate this phenomenon. It is shocking how much money continues to be spent on research for hideously expensive infertility treatments.
Journalist, Sheryl Lyon notes in Natural Fertility, “Whether you are ready to start trying tomorrow or you have been trying for a decade, you might want to improve your odds of conception with a method that is quick, painless, inexpensive, and non-invasive, believe it or not, a visit to the chiropractor may help you conceive.”
Energetic Connections: The Ear, Acupuncture and Fertility
Restoring energetic balance to the body has been one of the underlying principles of the ancient art of acupuncture for thousands of years. Acupuncture is an “alternative” therapy that has been shown effective for infertility in controlled scientific studies. Auricular Medicine is a fascinating and unique form of acupuncture-based health care, which began development in the 1950s by French neurologist, Paul Nogier, M.D. He discovered that the skin surface of the outer ear, the “auricle” provides a remarkable amount of information about the energetic status of the human body, and serves as an entire acupuncture "microsystem" for treatment. Auricular Therapy is the name of this specialized acupuncture approach done exclusively on the ear.
In my practice, I utilize auricular techniques as an integral part of my patients’ holistic health care. Like the chiropractic procedures I use, which have been featured on the popular television program, "The Doctors," Auricular therapy has been demonstrated to be helpful to women with trouble conceiving. But again I do not treat infertility with this method either—I treat the whole body.
According to Nader Soliman, M.D., past president of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, “Treating infertility through Auricular Therapy and Auricular Medicine is one of the most effective treatments of this dysfunctional problem.”
Beatte Strittmater, M.D., a German specialist in Auricular Medicine points out that often the key to solving a health problem is finding a focus or a blockage to healing. She treats people who are trying to conceive using this form of complementary and alternative medicine (Source: “How Do You Treat Infertility in Your Practice” – Medical Acupuncture, Volume 21, No. 2, 2009)
Here’s another example of why it’s so exciting to have Auricular Therapy along with specialized chiropractic procedures to give health-boosting hope to those seeking pregnancy:
A 1992 study published in the medical journal, Gynecological Endocrinology revealed rousing success in a study group of 45 infertile women. The specialized ear acupuncture helped 22 pregnancies to occur! The researchers concluded that “Various disorders of the autonomic nervous system normalized during [ear] acupuncture… Based on our data, auricular acupuncture seems to offer a valuable alternative therapy for female infertility due to hormone disorders.”
My conclusion from studying various research reports and articles, as well as my own clinical experience is that both auricular therapy and scientifically documented, specific chiropractic procedures combine as a credible approach to improve the overall health for people with fertility problems associated with structural and energetic blockages.
I caution all people considering these approaches that they are complementary to traditional medical evaluation and treatment. I refer ALL patients seeking my help with fertility problems to medical specialists in this field. I provide complementary and alternative holistic treatments only, as part of an integrative health care approach.
If you have indeed already had all of the medical evaluation and/or treatment for fertility without success, perhaps you have spinal nerve and/or energetic blockages, which should be handled through expertly delivered chiropractic methods and Auricular Therapy. If you suffer from any sort of chronic pain, headaches or have other health problems, the methods mentioned in this article just might be the missing ingredients.
-Dr. Donald Liebell
Donald K. Liebell, DC, BCAO
477 Viking Drive Suite 170
Virginia Beach VA 23452
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