By: Christine Keller L.Ac., Dipl.O.M.
Chinese medicine is a very effective medicine at treating women’s health. Fertility starts here. The combination of acupuncture and herbs are used to quickly, effectively, and naturally bring the body into a state of wellness. By doing so, the body is more capable of getting pregnant, staying pregnant, and supporting you and baby – both during and after pregnancy. When our bodies are at its peak performance, they can do almost anything.
Examples of disorders treated with Chinese medicine that should be addressed before trying to conceive or causing problems with successfully conceiving are:
- Annovulation – absence of ovulation
- Mittlesmirtz – pain with ovulation
- Amennorhea – absence of period
- Dysmenorrohea – painful periods
- Irregular cycles – long, short, or infrequent cycles
- Clotting with periods
- PMS symptoms = mood changes, digestive changes, fatigue, cramps, breast tenderness, headaches and migraines
- Spotting or abnormal bleeding
- Frequent or chronic yeast infections, discharge
- Frequent or chronic UTI’s
- Endometriosis or Adenomyosis
- PCOS – Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Uterine or anal prolapse
- Chronic miscarriage
What to expect:
The use of Chinese medicine in aiding with fertility is effective, but a much more involved treatment plan than a “typical” treatment course in Chinese medicine – such as treating something like carpal tunnel syndrome. Chinese medicine is a system that treats each person as an individual and is uniquely designed as such – so treatment plans may vary.
You will begin to see changes throughout the way that may or may not seem related to fertility. Chinese medicine however is whole body wellness. Everything is related to each other. Changes in mood, energy, digestion, and sleep are a few examples of what may be seen right away.
Acupuncture: Sterile, stainless steel needles will be placed in different parts of your body. These needles tell your body what to do in a supportive and encouraging way, while addressing current symptoms and bringing the body back to a balanced state. A typical treatment course is twelve treatments. Once a week treatments are given, but can be increased to as much as two-three times a week if needed. Some patients have needed additional treatments once the course has been completed, while others did not need all twelve.
Herbs: A big component of fertility treatments are the use of herbs. Herbs are mostly food and plant materials such as dandelion root, mint, peony root, etc., There are hundreds of different herbs. Each herb has a specific job and function. For example, red peony root nourishes blood. This is important for building the endometrium lining after menstruation for a healthy, thick lining for egg implantation in pregnancy. For more complex or involved situations such as PCOS or endometriosis, herbs may first be prescribed to address and correct these issues prior to administering herbs in each phase of the cycle.
Herbs are administered throughout the different phases in the cycle: period, post period or follicular phase, ovulation, and post ovulation or luteal phase. The purpose of administering herbs in different parts of the cycle are to strengthen and nourish the body so that the body will be strong enough, and balanced enough to support pregnancy on its own.
Side effects: There should be no side effects as each herbal formula is designed specifically for you. Unlike western medicine, herbs are safe and nudge your body gently to do what is designed to do. If you do experience side effects, they most likely will be digestive changes. If you have any abnormal symptoms, simply tell me. This is not normal and we will adjust the formulas accordingly.
Many people do not realize that medicine has often been derived from natural sources such as herbs. Herbs are considered anything that has a medicinal effect. The theory of Chinese herbs is not like western medicine where side effects are something you have to put up with. They are not harsh (although they may taste like it!), dangerous (if taken properly – including not taken while trying to conceive) or weird. They are natural sources that mostly comprise of food and plants. They do not mask symptoms while creating others, they correct and strengthen.
All herbs are greatly considered for each person as individuals and not the general public. When herbal formulas are prescribed, they will be cross referenced with any medications being taken to ensure no interactions. When administered properly, they are safe and effective.
IUI and IVF: If IUI or IVF is the next or congruent step in conceiving, acupuncture and herbs will not interfere. They will be adjusted to work together. It will simply support that route and these processes will in turn prove to be more successful. Your body will be more receptive to these next steps, increasing your odds of conception.
Dietary therapy: Food is medicine. I will give you dietary suggestions of food based on nutritional value specific to fertility, and dietary suggestions that act like herbs. Each food, like herbs, will have specific effects on the body. For example, beets and dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are great for nourishing blood which is essential to supporting things like a healthy endometrium and egg quality. (I know. Beets. Yuck right? Try them!! Most people do not want to eat them, but when they get the courage to do so, to their surprise, they don’t mind them).
As you can see, Chinese medicine is a well-rounded practice that helps bring the body quickly, effectively, and naturally into a state of wellness. You will feel better than before you started and your odds of conceiving and carrying to term are increased and greatly improved. While getting pregnant is an obvious goal, it is more important to help the body be in a state of wellness to become and stay pregnant to ensure a happy and healthy baby.