Open Access Research article

Use of complementary and alternative medicines by a sample of Turkish women for infertility enhancement: a descriptive study

Tamer Edirne1*, Secil Gunher Arica2, Sebahat Gucuk2, Recep Yildizhan3, Ali Kolusari3, Ertan Adali3 and Muhammet Can4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, University of Yuzuncu Yil, Van, Turkey

2 Mother-Child Health and Family Planning Center, Van, Turkey

3 Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University of Yuzuncu Yil, Van, Turkey

4 Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Yuzuncu Yil, Van, Turkey

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010, 10:11  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-11

Published: 22 March 2010



Infertility patients are a vulnerable group that often seeks a non-medical solution for their failure to conceive. World-wide, women use CAM for productive health, but only a limited number of studies report on CAM use to enhance fertility. Little is known about traditional and religious forms of therapies that are used in relation to conventional medicine in Turkey. We investigated the prevalence and types of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) used by infertile Turkish women for fertility enhancement.


A face-to-face questionnaire inquiring demographic information and types of CAM used for fertility enhancement were completed by hundred infertility patients admitted to a primary care family planning centre in Van, Turkey between January and July 2009.


The vast majority of infertile women had used CAM at least once for infertility. CAM use included religious interventions, herbal products and recommendations of traditional "hodja's" (faith healers). Of these women, 87.8% were abused in the last 12 months, 36.6% felt not being supported by her partner and 80.5% had never spoken with a physician about CAM.


Infertile Turkish women use complementary medicine frequently for fertility enhancement and are in need of information about CAM. Religious and traditional therapies are used as an adjunct to, rather than a substitute for, conventional medical therapy. Physicians need to approach fertility patients with sensitivity and should be able to council their patients about CAM accordingly.