How Eastern Medicine Became the Infertility Cure-All

People are adding traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and other ancient practices to their fertility treatments. But do they work?

infertility treatment feature
An Ayurveda practitioner checking a patient's pulse (BSIP/UIG, Getty Images)

Allana Akhtar


August 4, 2023


8 min

Before Kourtney Kardashian revealed to the world — and her husband Travis Barker — she was pregnant, the reality TV star broadcasted her struggle to conceive on her family’s Hulu series. Along with in-vitro fertilization, Kardashian chose an unorthodox fertility treatment. “Our last egg retrieval was not successful, so our new thing that we’re going to be trying is a Panchakarma cleanse, which is Ayurvedic,” Kardashian said on the show. The approach involved her giving up caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. “It’s like 3,000 years old, which will get all of the toxins that are deep within our tissue out of our bodies.”

Kardashian is among a growing number of people turning to Eastern medicine for help conceiving. From Ayurveda to massages of one’s pelvic area above one’s ovaries to herbal remedies, people facing fertility problems are trying it all. Many fertility supplements increasingly incorporate herbs in traditional Chinese medicine as well as in Ayurveda. For many South Asians who find Western medicine alone isn’t working, they have little left to lose and are turning to alternative care. Some even swear by the results of integrating Eastern and Western techniques, but doctors say to exercise caution around the understudied methods.

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