4 ways Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can support you when trying to conceive naturally
We live in a fast-paced world where busy lifestyles increasingly present fertility challenges to couples trying to conceive. While conventional Western therapies show a lot of promise for increasing the odds of conception, there’s also a growing interest in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for fertility and pregnancy planning.
Infertility, as viewed through TCM, occurs when there’s a disruption of the body’s energy flow and blood circulation. This disturbance can interfere with or even block sexual and reproductive functions.
By applying TCM to reproductive health, the goal is to use natural treatments and lifestyle changes to achieve internal balance and signal to the body that you’re ready to nurture and conceive a healthy baby.
Here are 4 ways that TCM can help when you're trying to get pregnant:
1. Provides a natural and alternative route to help you conceive
TCM offers a more natural and non-invasive approach to tackling infertility. Instead of relying on pharmaceutical drugs and medical procedures to stimulate conception, couples may find success with traditional Chinese medicine for fertility treatment.
It's thought that TCM healing methods including acupuncture and Chinese herbs help regulate the menstrual cycle, correct hormonal imbalances, reduce stress, and even improve sperm count and motility.
2. It takes a holistic approach to enhance fertility health
Compared to Western medicine, TCM takes a more comprehensive view in terms of fertility and pregnancy planning. TCM aims to help you achieve balance in body, spirit, emotion, and mind so that you’re in peak condition to have a healthy baby.
According to TCM, when the flow of the body’s vital energy (“qi”) is out of balance, whether it’s blocked, weakened, or at excessive levels, the body will encounter health problems until that energy flow is restored to a harmonious state. TCM works to restore this balance to promote stable hormone levels and increased blood flow to reproductive organs.
Part of this holistic plan for fixing fertility issues extends to treating fertility-related problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), irregular menstruation, amenorrhea, hormonal imbalance, and even sperm disorders.
TCM also addresses the importance of reducing and managing stress so that it doesn’t create disharmony between the individual and nature. Eliminating external and internal stressors from the workplace, personal disagreements, emotional triggers, and spiritual conflicts can restore balance and signal to the body that it’s ready to support the conception of a new healthy baby.
3. It focuses on quality over quantity
A goal of Western medicine-based fertility care is to safely increase the quantity of eggs from ovulation to maximize the chances of pregnancy. Couples who opt for in vitro fertilization (IVF) have a good chance of achieving a successful pregnancy but risk multiple births or a slightly increased risk of birth defects.
On the other hand, TCM calls attention to the importance of a healthy body and cultivating a hospitable environment for healthy eggs. From a TCM perspective, one healthy egg is more desirable than multiple ‘bad’ eggs.
4. It works alongside Western medicine to boost success rates of conceiving
If you’re open to enlisting the help of both Western and traditional Chinese medicine for fertility treatment, research says you’re well-positioned for increased pregnancy success.
There is research to support that TCM, when used with Western medical interventions such as IVF, is more successful in helping women conceive than either TCM or IVF alone.
In an analysis of several research studies involving 1,366 women undergoing IVF treatment, researchers found that women who combined acupuncture treatment with IVF increased their chances of becoming pregnant by 65% as compared to those without acupuncture treatment.
Another study demonstrated the power of integrating acupuncture treatment with Western fertility drugs, showing that acupuncture treatment when paired with the popular infertility drug clomiphene leads to increased ovulation and conception rates as compared to when only clomiphene was given.
How to get started with traditional Chinese medicine for fertility
- Aim for balance: We know from a TCM perspective that fertility issues can be linked to qi that’s out of balance. Restoring balance across physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual states can improve your chances of conceiving successfully.
- Improve lifestyle: Steps that you can take right now to promote healthy qi flow and improve your chances of conceiving a baby are to manage stress and eat a healthy diet with lots of fiber, fatty fish, plant-based protein, and lean protein. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can try Chinese red dates which are popular for nourishing the blood and regulating qi flow.
- Remain open to trying new things: Restoring energy balance can involve a variety of treatments aside from acupuncture and herbal medicine. For example, cupping is a healing practice that involves plastic or glass cups placed on the body to apply suction to energy channels and improve the flow of qi. Other TCM treatment modalities take the form of medical massages like tui na, which uses strategic movements of the arm, hand, and fingers to manipulate qi flow.
- Be safe: Choose a qualified TCM practitioner with proper credentials and experience in helping couples conceive. Make sure your TCM practitioner has a working knowledge of Western medicine if you’re also receiving Western fertility treatments in order to avoid any potentially adverse interactions, e.g., drug-herb interactions.
Certain TCM treatments for fertility are performed at specific phases of your menstrual cycle so knowing exactly where you are in the cycle can be very helpful for practitioners. You can help your TCM practitioner better design a natural fertility treatment plan for you by diligently tracking your basal body temperature, noting changes in cervical mucus, and monitoring LH hormone surges that indicate your ovulation status.
Let the Eveline OPK help you track these changes so you can provide the best fertility and ovulation data to your TCM provider. By complementing Eveline with TCM, you can get the most out of your fertility treatment plan and determine the best timing for successfully conceiving a baby.
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This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to offer medical advice.