The Characteristics of Women Who Use Complementary Medicine While Attempting to Conceive: Results from a Nationally Representative Sample of 13,224 Australian Women

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Women's Health Issues, 2017, 27 (1), pp. 67 - 74
Issue Date:
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© 2016 Jacobs Institute of Women's Health Background Preconception is acknowledged globally as an important part of ensuring health for the next generation and is underpinned by principles of health promotion and preventive medicine. There is a demand for more holistic, preventive health care within preconception health services. Many women are also using complementary medicine during their reproductive years. Materials and Methods This paper presents a longitudinal analysis of women's consultations with a complementary medicine practitioner while attempting to become pregnant, and the characteristics of women who choose to consult a complementary medicine practitioner during the preconception period. The cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses conducted in this study utilise data from the 1973 through 1978 cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (n = 13,224). Multivariate logistic regression models and generalized estimating equation models, with and without time lag, were used. Results Women who identified as attempting to conceive were more likely to consult with an acupuncturist (adjusted odds ratio, 1.46) or a naturopath/herbalist (adjusted odds ratio, 1.30). Women who consulted with an acupuncturist were likely to be consulting with a specialist doctor (odds ratio, 3.73) and/or have previous fertility issues (odds ratio, 2.30). Women who consulted with a naturopath were more likely to report experiencing premenstrual tension (odds ratio, 2.30) but less likely to have had a previous miscarriage (odds ratio, 0.18). Conclusions Policymakers and other health professionals need to be aware that health professionals who are largely unregulated and structurally isolated from conventional health care may be actively contributing to women's reproductive and physical health during the preconception period.
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