The fastest growing and most satisfying segment of my acupuncture practice has been in the area of fertility and helping couples conceive and have a successful pregnancy. Some women have come to me for acupuncture to address problems such as irregular periods, PCOS, or endometriosis pain and conceived without any intervention from Western medicine after trying unsuccessfully on their own for several years. Many others have been in the process of assisted reproduction techniques such as IUI’s or IVF and have incorporated acupuncture treatments on the recommendation of their fertility specialist. Some women have sought my help, not because they have trouble conceiving, but because they have suffered multiple miscarriages.
In all cases, my patients are amazed when they see how Chinese medicine looks at the body and may see signs of a barrier to getting pregnant when all of the Western tests have come back normal. A big part of my job is educating my patients on how stress management, and diet and lifestyle changes along with acupuncture can make a big difference in a successful pregnancy.
I have several good books on Chinese medicine and how to improve your parenting potential. One of my favorites is a book that was published in August of 2009, “Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility”. I recommend this book to all of my fertility patients. The book was co-written by Dr. Sami David, a western doctor who was the first doctor to successfully perform IVF in New York in the 1980’s and Jill Blakeway, a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner.
Both authors believe that the best prognosis for a successful pregnancy is taking three months to get the body as healthy and balanced as possible. And herein lies the strength of Chinese medicine. Often, by the end of the three months, couples will conceive on their own. If not, then the high technology of Western medicine may be called upon. Even then, Chinese medicine can be an important factor in many ways. Research has shown that acupuncture can double the success rate of Western medicine intervention. Acupuncture can alleviate the side effects of the fertility medications that may be prescribed. And certainly, acupuncture can ease the stress and frustration that often results from what seems like a lengthy and costly road to conception.
There is a ton of practical advice in this book and sometimes even the simplest of changes can make the difference! For example, the use of sexual lubricants. A study done by the Cleveland Clinic, published in the journal “Fertility and Sterility”, found that the lubricant Pre-Seed was the only commercially available vaginal lubricant that did not decrease sperm motility or compromise sperm DNA. The chemical makeup of this lubricant is identical to fertile cervical mucous, whereas others (even water!) can kill sperm on contact.
A large part of the book is devoted to getting to know your body from a Chinese medicine point of view. There is a questionnaire for both men and women. Based on your answers, you will see how you may fall into a category of Stuck, Pale, Tired, Waterlogged or Dry. These descriptions are consistent with how Chinese medicine views the human body. Once you identify your type, there are many things you can do to help yourself. Suggestions are made for the proper form of exercise (some women will need more and some will need less), suggestions for diet changes and important supplements to enhance fertility, self massage techniques to encourage blood flow to the pelvic area, and lifestyle changes necessary for proper sleep and stress management.
Taking the basal body temperature (BBT) can also provide valuable information to your acupuncturist. This will show when you are ovulating and the length of the luteal and follicular phases. Herbal formulas and different acupuncture protocols can be used to correct each phase of the cycle based on your readings. It is best to use a special digital BBT thermometer, which will be more accurate at measuring smaller increments of temperature than a regular thermometer.
If you or your partner have been diagnosed with structural, anatomical or immune system issues such as blocked tubes, fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, sperm abnormalities, varicoceles or antisperm antibodies, this book offers suggestions on how Western medicine can help, how Chinese medicine can help and how you can help yourself.
If you are among the one in eight couples in the United States who is having trouble conceiving or staying pregnant, you owe it to yourself to learn more about Chinese medicine and how it can help you!