We hear a great deal about how Western reproductive medicine has helped women conceive, and some of the modern techniques used are truly amazing. Research shows that young women using IVF techniques have between a 20 and 30 percent chance of conceiving (at a cost of at least $15,000 per attempt). The chances fall to less than 10 percent for a woman at age thirty nine, and only 3 percent for women at age 44. On average, women go through seven cycles of Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) before they either conceive or quit, spending thousands of dollars in their attempts to have children.
Recent research has irrefutably proven that by combining Oriental Medicine techniques and knowledge, the percentages of conceiving and bringing a fetus to term rises dramatically!
In contrast to modern infertility science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has addressed infertility long before the Christian era began. The earliest records of gynecological writings are found in inscriptions on bones dating from the Shang dynasty (1500-1000 B.C.E.). The TCM approach to infertility is not based on ideas about how to treat infertility, it’s based on EXPERIENCE. Today, elements of TCM, such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and dietary prescriptions are being tested and proven effective in clinical trials throughout the world.
In 1996 a groundbreaking study conducted in Sweden and published in Fertility and Sterility reported that acupuncture reduced constriction in uterine arteries, thereby increasing the blood flow to the reproductive organs. This effect was found to improve dramatically the outcome of ART. Acupuncture is the only known technique to directly increase vascular response. The acupuncture treatments used in the Swedish study suppressed the sympathetic nervous system response at the spinal-cord level, reducing the “fight or flight” response in the pelvis. When the sympathetic response was reduced, blood flow improved to the uterus and ovaries. In all of the women on whom acupuncture was performed, the constriction of the uterine arteries was lessened by 21 percent after eight treatments, dramatically increasing their blood flow.
There is no such thing as Infertility. It is a myth. There’s only Imbalance. As long as the anatomical structures are present, a medical diagnosis of infertility is often a fallacy. Many factors can cause a woman to have difficulty conceiving, but once these factors are overcome and a woman’s body is restored to health, conception an occur naturally. Restoring optimal health permits the expression of a woman’s natural fertile state.
I recommend a 4-step approach to treating infertility naturally.
Step One: Discover your “pattern of imbalance” in the body. For our bodies to function properly, all our organs need balance. Women’s monthly cycle is a complex interplay of almost every system in the body. Many hormonal problems are the result of slight imbalances in the delicate endocrine system. Modern diagnostic techniques may not detect any clinical abnormality or functional problem, yet this undetectable irregularity may be the root cause of your inability to conceive. Most leading factors of infertility can be healed naturally, or at least improved upon, using three elements of TCM: diet and lifestyle, acupuncture, and herbs.
Step Two: Correct Diet and Lifestyle. Perhaps the most difficult change people are asked to make involves dietary changes. Unfortunately, the common lifestyle in Western society brings inherent fertility problems. Stress, coffee or other stimulants, alcohol, sweets, grains, chemicals, and other byproducts of our affluent lifestyle can all leave deep imprints on our reproductive capacity. Making changes in what, when, and how we eat and drink, as well as adding certain forms of exercise, massage, and meditation can contribute significantly to enhancing our fertility. Eat organic foods and hormone-free meats whenever possible. Because pesticides, chemicals, and hormones used to treat produce and animal products contain synthetic estrogen-like substances, which occupy estrogen receptor sites and have negative effects on our organ and endocrine systems. Also avoid “cold” foods. This includes ice drinks (sorry jamba juice lovers), ice cream, yogurt, salads (particularly iceberg lettuce) and too many raw vegetables. Cold foods compromise the digestive system, cool the reproductive organs, and inhibit blood flow throughout the body. Foods to avoid in general are cereal grains, fructose, soy, and industrial seed cooking oils (more on this in Preventative Healthcare section).
Step 3: Utilize acupuncture and self massage techniques. Research has shown that by influencing hormonal pathways, acupuncture assists our own internal energies to restore endocrine harmony. In 2000, a landmark study conducted by German researchers investigated the effects of acupuncture on women undergoing IVF. The women in the treated group received one acupuncture session before embryo transfer and one afterward. Ultrasound testing six weeks after embryo transfer revealed that almost twice as many women from the acupuncture group than from the untreated group became pregnant. The self massage technique that I teach is called ”spiraling” and is only done in those with a strong abdominal aortic pulse. This strong abdominal pulse indicates excess tension being held in the lower abdomen thereby inhibiting proper blood flow to the pelvic organs. I have found this to be a common pattern in infertile women and this technique not only helps with conception, but with overall digestive function.
Step 4: Herbal therapy has been used for centuries to enhance fertility. Unlike Western drugs, which try to provide chemically based substitutes for the body’s natural hormones, Chinese herbs are designed to help the body produce the proper levels of hormones on its own. Chinese herbs act on the endocrine system by stimulating hormone production, altering the rate of hormone metabolism, or changing the response of hormone receptors. Herbs contain natural energetic substances whose essence gently corrects underlying deficiencies or removes obstructions. The active ingredients are buffered by the whole plant and blended with other herbs, reducing their side effects, unlike western drugs.
If you wish to apply TCM to your own condition, you must give yourself at least three months for the treatments to have full effect. Treatment protocol usually requires one treatment per week for 3 months depending on the age and health of the patient. Remember, Traditional Chinese Medicine is not a quick fix. Restoring the body to health takes time. Infertility can be cured only when we combine treatment with patience, action with hope, results with a willingness to recognize true healing. With gentle nurturing, you can reclaim the blessing of your fertility.