Using Chinese medicine for fertility
Considering Chinese Medicine for fertility or during pregnancy?
Here’s what you need to know.
A woman’s reproductive system is one of the most complex systems on Earth—behaving not just as a collection of separate organs, tissues, and hormones, but like an ecosystem, where every element contributes to the body’s overall harmony and balance. In my years of clinical practice as an acupuncturist, I have found that Chinese medicine is particularly excellent for treating women because it is based on the congruous principle of restoring balance to the complex ecosystem that is the human body.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can revive or regulate menstruation for optimal fertile health, heal PCOS and endometriosis, bring hormones back into balance, encourage ovulation, improve egg quality, prevent miscarriage, thicken endometrial lining, increase libido, reduce or eliminate morning sickness, treat most unpleasant pregnancy symptoms drug-free, stimulate labor, and so much more.
So how does a healing modality that is thousands of years old achieve all this?
According to Chinese medicine, Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the life force or energy that circulates via 14 pathways, called meridians, throughout the body from appendages to torso, from vital organs to all cells of the body. Qi animates the body and protects it from illness, pain and disease. Over 300 acupoints exist along these meridians that access the body’s Qi in various ways.
When Yin and Yang energies within the body are not balanced due to prolonged Qi disruption, disharmony or disease occurs. Therefore, the main goal of Chinese medicine is to balance the Yin and Yang so the body may repair itself and achieve optimal health and wellness.
From a scientific point of view, it is thought that acupuncture improves blood flow to vital organs and tissues, allowing them to work more efficiently and effectively. In truth, the exact mechanism by which acupuncture helps heal the body is not yet fully understood by modern science. More and more studies are being conducted to gain clarity as to why and how it works.
In the mean time, there is good news for women trying to conceive with the help of western medicine. Recent studies have shown that acupuncture is a wonderful compliment to Assisted Reproductive Technologies like IUI or IVF because it won’t interfere with the procedure while at the same time improving the body’s receptivity and reducing stress and anxiety.
Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental medicine, licensed acupuncturist and clinical researcher, Dr. Lee Hullender Rubin, thinks there are more fertility benefits from acupuncture besides reducing stress and anxiety. Rubin is at the forefront of new research in Portland, Oregon that is showing high success rates from not only receiving acupuncture on the day of IVF transfer, but from getting long-term, consistent acupuncture treatment addressing a woman’s whole reproductive health. Read the full study here
Now that you may be considering getting acupuncture, you’re probably wondering if it hurts. Upon insertion, you may feel a brief prick, burning or aching sensation that will quickly dissipate, followed by a feeling of deep relaxation. An acupuncture needle is as thin as a cat’s whisker, and almost as flexible. They are not hollow and stiff like hypodermic needles used to administer vaccines and shots. The insertion of acupuncture needles releases a natural opioid-like substance in the body that provides an analgesic effect up to ten times more powerful than morphine. Many of my patients fall asleep during their session.
When looking for an acupuncturist to help you conceive or have a healthy pregnancy, make sure the practitioner is NCCAOM certified, currently licensed in their state, and specializing in women’s health- specifically fertility and pregnancy. Though it is not mandatory, another qualification to look for is ABORM (American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine) certified.
Ask for referrals from trusted friends, family or health care professionals, and then do your own research. Find out how long they have been in practice, ask about their experience and success rates, and read other patient testimonials. You can also use websites like acufinder.com or nccaom.org where you can search for a practitioner by zip code or specialty and see their qualifications. If you would like to take Chinese herbs, make sure the practitioner has passed their herb board exams, which are not required in some states to prescribe herbal formulas.