How to Optimize Fertility by Traditional Chinese Medicine
by. Dr. Lin Zhou, OMD, l.Ac., FABORM
Every day in my practice, there are many patients asking how to help improve quality of eggs, how to fix irregular menstruation, how to get rid of anxiety and stress and what else can I do to make me healthier and prepare for pregnancy. In today’s article I will discuss the four stages of menstruation and how acupuncture and chinese medicine can help conceive along with recommendations for you to achieve a healthy pregnancy
Menstruation phase: we achieve the optimal menstrual flow with a bright fresh color and no clots. It should flow smoothly without menstrual cramps. It is critically important to clear any stagnation which might interfere with the development of the uterine lining. Any patient who has been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, polyps or endometriosis often have difficult menstrual symptoms, which should benefit from the treatment. I recommend not doing intense exercise during the first three days of menstruation. At the same time you must get more rest because the menstrual blood will make you temporarily tired. Also, you should not drink cold beverages or eat cold foods since cold can contracte blood vessels and slow down blood flow. So, staying warm and resting well are the most important things at this stage.
Follicular phase: The follicular phase is a nourishing and supplementing phase. Acupuncture encourages the development of the follicles in the ovaries and the good growth of the endometrium. Patients with ovarian function decline or poor egg quality may be recommended to add Chinese herbal medicine as well. We would like to maximize nutrition and blood supply to the ovaries and ensure the egg receives all the nutrients it needs. At this stage you can have a protein rich diet for better egg quality. Like I mentioned above, the most important thing in this stage is nourishment. So do your best to avoid non organic foods, genetically modified foods, and try to add fresh, full of life and nutrient dense foods. These will give you an abundance of nutrition that leads to vibrant eggs and optimal fertility.
Ovulatory phase: Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine address the many different ways to approach ovulation success. Patients over the age of 35 often lack good quality cervical mucus. Treatment enhances cervical secretions for preparation and transport of sperm through the cervix. It also calms the mind so that ovulation can proceed smoothly. This is extremely important for patients with high stress and anxiety. In order to transport the egg in the fallopian tube for fertilization, acupuncture can regulate Qi and blood to help tubes functional properly. Try to go to bed no later than 10:30 pm and have 8 hours of quality sleep. If you have difficulty sleeping, you can do meditation before going to bed. We can recommend several CDs for you to choose. Also try not to arrange too tight of a schedule for yourself, and avoid too many social activities because this time is just for you and your spouse. Stress free intimacy can maximize your chances to conceive.
Luteal phase: During this phase we need to ensure that uterine conditions are favorable for a successful implantation and the ongoing development of the embryo. First we are keeping the womb warm, this is especially important for patients who often have cold extremities and are cold in nature. A warm uterus is also means of promoting the corpus luteum function better to produce a good amount of progesterone. Of course, at this stage it is very important to help blood circulation to ensure the uterine lining is ready to nourish an embryo. At this stage, you must pay attention to the symptoms of PMS including emotional fluctuations, headaches, breast tenderness, lower back sore and loose stools etc. which all indicate hormonal disorders. Try to incorporate more cooked food and vegetables over raw food. Too much cold and raw food can cause poor blood circulation, which leads to cold uterus. Lightly steamed or sautéed vegetables is a better choice.
It is my hope that the above information will give you valuable knowledge and encourage you to have faith in acupuncture and Chinese medicine as well as in your body and your fertility. Together, we have the power to improve your menstrual cycle and your fertility.