A very interesting piece of knowledge to be aware is that your child’s health is impacted by several factors that occur before he or she is even conceived. Your body’s internal biological environment at conception has an immense and powerful influence on the health and wellbeing of your future child. Experiments done on mice showed that the nutritional status of the mother during the first 4 days after conception (even before the embryo had implanted in the uterus) had enormous influences on the mice’s health later in life.
To prepare for conception there are a number of steps taken that should be discussed:
First, we need to evaluate and reduce the toxic load in your body. Many toxins acquired largely from our environment, are circulating through our bodies and can ultimately pass the placental barrier and can negatively influence fetal development. Second, we also need to optimize your lifestyle, nutritional & dietary status. There is a lot of research on how lifestyle, nutrition & diet affects fetal development. It is very important to identify and correct nutritional insufficiencies and digestive disturbances as a healthy and efficient digestive system equals a healthy and nutritionally sound individual.
Finally, we need to address underlying constitutional weaknesses and any other pre-existing conditions. For example, if you have any thyroid conditions that are not addressed it could lead to a high-risk and or compromised pregnancy. Even things that are borderline normal prior to conception, for example blood sugar that is on the high end of normal, can become gestational diabetes. Or issues such as stress or too low of blood glucose or triglycerides can also negatively effect a pregnancy.
The famous adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Addressing these issues prior to conception can not only help enhance the chance of conception and pregnancy, but can also help to optimize your baby’s health during pregnancy and post delivery.
Patients are encouraged to undergo a necessary “medical evaluation” done either by their Primary Care Physician and or their Reproductive Endocrinologist in order to assess any immediately correctable medical disorders, or exclude any underlined malignant diseases before they embark upon Traditional Chinese and functional Medical treatments.
It is also advisable, as well as, being very helpful if the patients bring their medical exam data/results (including a basal body temperature charting, ALL labwork – Blood chemistry panels, hormone panels, etc.) when visiting our clinic. If proper blood work and laboratory analysis has not been performed prior to your first visit with us, our doctors will make sure to assess what necessary lab work you are needing and order the appropriate lab work for you, as well as, review all results with you. A defined Western medical diagnosis, if available, will also be valuable for us in evaluating and treating the case even within the paradigm of the Traditional Chinese Medical system.
Recommended Course of Treatment:
For many women, the treatment course which will consist of acupuncture treatments, and/or herbal therapy, dietary therapy and lifestyle changes, normally ranges from 6 to 12+/- menstrual cycles depending on the individual case, to improve fertility markers and increase the chances of conceiving. Some difficult cases may need a longer period of treatment in order to prepare the body to conceive and ultimately achieve pregnancy.
- Please be patient with yourself and with the treatment process. It takes at least 3-6 cycles to normalize a woman’s cycle; longer (6-12 months +) if she has taken fertility drugs or has undergone past treatment with ART, has a history of sexually transmitted disease, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome or very irregular menstrual cycles. Again, In general, we inform our fertility patients that the fertility and or preconception treatment process could range between 6-12 months +/-. Acupuncture treatment frequency will vary among different patients who present with different pathologies – ie: For some women, it will be important to come in during their menses, some it will be important to come in postmenstrually, however, it will be optimal for everyone to be seen for acupuncture during their ovulation time (ie: somewhere between the woman’s days 10-16). So, if a patient must choose one time during a month to come in for acupuncture, we recommend that they come in during their ovulation time frame. However, if there is a history of painful menses, or endometriosis we highly recommend coming in to receive acupuncture during your menstrual window (days 1-4) in addition to ovulation time. Post menstrual time (days 5-9) is also an optimal time to receive acupuncture during the fertility and preconception care process. On average, most patients are seen for acupuncture 1-3 times per month while they take/drink Chinse Herbal Tea Formulations daily. Internal Chinese Herbal therapy will most likely be included into this treatment regimen with the woman drinking Chinese Herbal Decoction teas that are addressing each of the different phases of the woman’s menstrual cycle (ie: Menstrual phase, post-menstrual or follicular phase, Ovulation phase, Post-ovulation or Luteal Phase). Dietary, nutrition and lifestyle modifications will also be integrated into the treatment process.
This length of this process is due to a woman’s reproductive biology which in Chinese Medicine, must work “with” vs. circumnavigating biology (ie: IVF). The egg a woman is ovulating in any given month, began developing literally 120 days prior. 120 days prior to any given ovulation, a cohort or group of follicles began to develop, grow and mature into mature follicles, eventually yielding one dominant follicle which develops and ovulates an egg on that given month. This 120 day cycle is called the “Tonic Growth Phase” and it is during this time that the body’s environment subjects its influences on the developing follicles which contain the developing eggs. If the body is in a state of health and balance this will positively influence the environment in which the developing follicles and thus eggs are maturing in, yielding eggs which are of “High Quality”. High quality eggs yield optimal fertility potential and therefore increased pregnancy and birth rates.
One of our main goals in the Fertility & Pre-conception treatment process at our clinic is to focus on positively influencing the Tonic Growth Phase via Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Nutrition-Dietary-Lifestyle modifications & recommendations. We effect the quality of the eggs by improving the egg’s energy capacity, aka, the egg’s mitochondrial capacity. The Mitochondria of any given cell, in which the egg is the largest in the human body, is the area of the cell that produces energy or ATP for that given cell and its functions. In order to effectively and positively influence and change a women’s cycle and therefore also the Tonic Growth phase, which is the deeper, longer cycle underlying and superimposing the 28 day menstrual cycle, we recommend patients commit to at least 4-6 months of treatment. Again, if there is a complicated menstrual and or fertility history, or history of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology), the process may very well require a longer course (ie: 6-12+ Months). Likewise, it takes roughly 90 days to generate new sperm in a man. If he has a history of drug and alcohol abuse or urological complications, it may take longer to regenerate his reproductive capacity.
During patient visits, the overall health of the patient and their reproductive system is assessed through understanding the patient’s general health symptoms and charting the various bodily changes throughout the menstrual cycle, specifically using basal body temperature charting. We will also review any recent or follow-up lab work (blood, stool, saliva) when applicable. Treatment will consist of acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy combined, in addition to dietary, nutritional and lifestyle recommendations.
Acupuncture and herbal therapies are gentle, yet effective. Conventional Western medicine offers a bigger bang, but we liken this to putting a thumbtack in the wall with a sledgehammer. For some, modern reproductive technology is the appropriate course to take, however there are many women who do not need fertility drugs and medically assisted reproductive techniques, yet they go through months of physical and emotional agony, not to mention the financial burden. TCM will put the tack in the wall with a thumb. It is safe, natural, cost effective, and has no side effects. In fact, TCM can only make you stronger, while helping create a healthier environment for a harmonious pregnancy. (TCM will also increase the likelihood of conception if you do opt for utilizing fertility medications or medically assisted fertilization techniques.
- Liang, L. Contempory Gynecology – An integrated Chinese-Western Approach, 2010
- Lyttleton, J, Treatment of Infertilty with Chinese Medicne, 2004
- Maciocia, G, Obstetrics & Gynecology in Chinese Medicine, Second Edition, 2011
- Magarelli, P – Western Reproductive Endocrinology Course – Prod Seminars
- Notes from – The Fertile Soul: Reproductive Training Seminar, presented by Randine Lewis, PhD., M.D., M.S.O.M., L.Ac., Pro D Seminars
For more information, please contact Healing Traditions Integrated Wellness in Lakewood CO at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-997-9414.