A good balance can often be the answer. Reproductive and sexual health is regulated by sexual hormones whose metabolism is dependent on essential nutrients including B vitamins, zinc andessential fatty acids.
Menstrual function, menopausal changes, erectile function and libido can often be balanced or improved using nutritional or other complementary therapies including naturopathy, herbal medicine, homeopathyand acupuncture.
To balance menstrual function ensure good intake of vitamins B, C and E, minerals magnesium, zinc, iron and chromium and essential fatty acids. The herbsDong Quai (Angelica sinensis) and Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) and various homeopathic remedies can help too.
To aid menopausal transition have a diet high in phytoestrogens including soya products (such as tofu), chick peas, lentils, alfalfa and seeds (sunflower, sesame and pumpkin). Ensure good intake of vitamins and minerals (especially vitamins B, C and E, magnesium and zinc) and essential fatty acids. Try the herbs Agnus castus (Vitex agnus castus) and Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) to ease and prevent symptoms such as flushes and night sweats. Homeopathic remedies such as Sepia and Sulphur can also help. Acupuncture, osteopathy, bodywork and movement therapies can be beneficial, as can relaxation, stress-management, meditation and visualisation.
To maintain or restore libido eat lots of foods rich in zinc and Vitamin E. Herbal remedies such as Ginseng (Panax quinqefolium) and Agnus castus (Vitex agnus castus), essential oils such as Ylang ylang and personalised homeopathic remedies can help. Consult a practitioner for advice. Massage, acupuncture, osteopathy, naturopathy and counselling may also be useful.
Erectile function may be helped by nutritional or herbal medicine, acupuncture, acupressure techniques, visualisation and relaxation techniques, counselling and psychotherapy.
The Ayurvedic herb, Ashwagandha (Withania omnifera – Winter Cherry) is used for rejuvenating both male and female reproductive systems.
Pre-conceptual care is crucial. Complementary approaches to fertility include nutritional medicine, traditional medicine (Chinese, Tibetan, Ayurvedic andJapanese), herbalism, homeopathy, aromatherapy, acupuncture, flower remedies, reflexology, osteopathy, hypnotherapy, visualisation, yoga and relaxation training.
This article was last medically reviewed by Dr Stephen Hopwood in April 2009.