Author: Lauren Frick

It has been found that the birthrate for women over 35 has been steadily increasing. According to the NCHS Databrief 21, roughly 20% of women in the US have their first child after the age of 35. As women increase in age, their chance of infertility also increases. Once women reach the age of 35, their chance of infertility increases to 18%. Due to the increase of infertility, many women seek out Western medical practices like assisted reproductive technology (ART) or in vitro-fertilization (IVF). Unfortunately, ART and IVF tend to be quite costly and are also not as effective in women over the age of 35. Thus, researchers from Korea constructed an experiment to evaluate the outcome of Korean herbal medicine (KHM) for infertile women over the age of 35.

A collection of 265 women were studied to evaluate the effects of KHM on infertility. 166 of them only received KHM, while ninety-nine received both KHM and Western methods of treating infertility. The women were also split into two subgroups, one with women ages 25-39 and one with women ages 40-46. The women’s infertility stemmed from issues related to ovulation, the fallopian tubes, the uterus and cervix, the ovaries, or it resulted from an unexplained cause. The researchers defined infertility as the inability to conceive for 6 months or longer.

The women received herbal decoctions of Korean herbs like Chokyungsoyo-san, Chokyungonshin-tang, and Guichulleekyung-tang three times a day for about 12 weeks. It was found that women aged 35-39 years had a 49% clinical pregnancy rate and 30% live birth rate and women aged 40-46 years had a 31.4% clinical pregnancy rate and 15.7% live birth rate after using KHM.

While KHM proves to yield results for women with infertility, the researchers also focused on the cost benefit of it. KHM did not result in any adverse effects on maternal and fetal health. It also is more cost effective. IVF costs about $19,000 just for the first treatment, while KHM only costs approximately $1,320 for the totality of the pregnancy. In the end, the researchers determined that KHM can be effective and economical in comparison to Western medical practices to treat infertility.

Resources:

Heo, S., Kim, K.-I., Lee, J., Jeong, E., & Lee, J. (2016). Effects of Korean herbal medicine on pregnancy outcomes of infertile women aged over 35: A retrospective study. European Journal of Integrative Medicine8(5), 670–675. doi: 10.1016/j.eujim.2016.07.002