Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture treats Fertility for Women
Dr Juanita Jolly explains how Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture treats fertility for women…
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long history of treating women’s health problems, with texts from 200BC describing plants to treat fertility. Today Traditional Chinese Medicine specialists have adapted and incorporated these traditional applications into modern fertility treatment. This has resulted in clinical feed back and research suggesting that acupuncture is capable of significantly enhancing fertility.
It takes approximately 100 days for an egg to develop towards ovulation, so a proactive way to utilize this time is for women to receive acupuncture and Chinese medicine to improve their egg quality and increase the chances of the development of a healthy embryo. It is very beneficial for women to receive acupuncture treatment for at least three months prior to starting conception or an IVF acupuncture procedure. With the help of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, it may be possible to improve the quality of the follicles and regulate the menstrual cycle. This, in turn, may increase the chances of creating a healthy and viable embryo which may result in a more secure implantation.
The benefits of TCM to improve fertility
By combining acupuncture, Chinese herbs and lifestyle advice, Traditional Chinese Medicine aims to achieve the following:
1 Regulate a women’s hormonal cycle
A regular cycle with good quality fertile mucus, pain free ovulation and a pain free period with good quality red blood indicates a balanced hormonal cycle and a healthy body.
2 Improve the quality of a women’s fertile mucus
Fertile mucus appears a few days prior to ovulation and is important to help guide sperm to the egg.
3 Regulate ovulation
Regular ovulation occurring on day 13-16 of a cycle indicates that the egg is being released at its optional developmental time.
4 Promote a healthy menstrual bleed
In TCM the menstrual bleeding reflects the quality to the uterine lining and general state of health. The uterine lining is important for implantation and women with poor endometrial development have been associated IVF failure or recurrent miscarriage. Chinese medicine aims to increase the thickness and quality of the lining by promoting blood flow to the area.
5 Enhance Egg development
Acupuncture has been shown to influence the integrity of the eggs released after a treatment. Acupuncture and TCM treatment has been thought to increase blood supply to the developing follicles.
Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophies that address fertility
Kidney Essence – “Jing”
In TCM there are several disease mechanisms that can affect female fertility. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophies, the Kidney (which is not to be confused with kidney organ function in western medicine), is the most important organ involved in fertility. In TCM your Kidney Essence or “Jing” is responsible for the quality of follicles, the ability to hold and nourish the embryo and a regular effective ovulation. Therefore with most cases of infertility, the TCM practitioner focuses on improving Kidney Essence. In today’s busy lifestyle Kidney Essence can be depleted by overwork, poor diet, lack of sleep, lack of exercise and the over-consumption of stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and sugar.
Having regular monthly periods depends on normal functioning of the Chong and Ren meridians. The Chong meridian is sometimes referred to as the Penetrating Vessel and the Ren meridian as the Conception Vessel. The Chong meridian is known as the “Sea of Blood” and the Ren meridian is known as the “Sea of Yin”. Both meridians arise from the area between the kidneys and pass through the uterus to the perineum, exerting a strong influence on the abdomen and the reproductive organs.
The Heart in Chinese medicine encompasses the mind /emotions and the activity of the important glands in the brain that regulate the hormones and control the whole menstrual cycle. It is therefore important to note that emotional issues can really interfere with a woman’s menstrual cycle. Many woman have probably experienced this before when in a stressful event or situation their period came late or they even skipped a cycle. Stress and conception don’t go together!
The Liver in Chinese medicine is responsible for the smooth movement of Qi (energy) throughout the body and in the uterus. This smooth movement of Qi plays an important role in menstruation. If this Qi becomes obstructed it can lead to problems such as PMT, painful periods and irregular ovulation. The Liver also stores the blood and provides the blood to the uterus. If a woman has very light periods this may mean the Liver Blood is insufficient and there is not enough blood to nourish the uterine lining and therefore a developing embryo.
The Spleen in Chinese medicine plays an important part in making Blood to nourish the body and uterus. The Spleen extracts the important nourishment from the food we eat to make Blood. If a woman has good quality Blood and a healthy uterine lining, a regular healthy period will result. Our Spleen makes Blood from the food that we eat, so a well balanced, healthy diet with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit and protein will result in a plentiful supply of good quality Blood. Therefore what we eat can influence a woman’s menstrual cycle and fertility. The Spleen has another important function of holding Blood in the uterus and blood vessels. A woman who suffers with very heavy periods or spotting throughout the cycle may have a problem with her Spleen’s ability to hold Blood in the vessels and uterus.
We can now see that it is important that all the meridians and organs mentioned above are functioning at their optimal level to regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle and optimise her fertility. Important lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet, proper rest and relaxation, regular exercise and a calm state of mind cannot be emphasised enough.
In my next article I will be talking about the importance of a pre-conception care program, nutritional medicine and supplements for pre-conception care and fertility.