To help you (and your partner where applicable) increase your chances of conceiving and delivering a healthy child through optimising your fertility.
How we can help
Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal supplements, diet and lifestyle advice and nutritional supplementation can help to balance your hormones and menstrual cycle, improve sperm and egg quality, increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, help reduce stress levels, increase immunity, improve energy levels and sleep quality and enhance your over-all health and well-being. We can help with specifically timed treatments for couples and singles trying to naturally conceive or for those who are utilising ART/IVF/AI techniques.
An individualised approach
Helping people improve their fertility does not incorporate a one size fits all approach. Each person faces their own unique challenges and conditions that require treatments and advice that is tailored towards them. Some couples have been told they have “unexplained infertility” which can be very frustrating when the reason/s are unknown, however this is an area where subtle imbalances can be identified and treated using traditional Chinese diagnostic methods and remedial therapies. That said, there are also some general recommendations we also offer all couples no matter what their circumstances are.
What is involved
For pre-conception care we generally recommend regular treatments for a minimum of 3 months or menstrual cycles for all fertility clients as it takes about 4 months for an ovarian follicle to develop into an egg ready for release. Ongoing treatments are then recommended at specific times in your cycle. You may wish to continue trying to conceive during your pre-conception care period, which of course is your choice. This is especially for couples over the age of 35. If you have more than one factor affecting your fertility, for example PCOS and sperm abnormalities then 5-6 months/cycles will most likely be recommended as a minimum followed by ongoing timed treatments. For couples undergoing ART/IVF treatment, sessions will be timed at specific stages of the process.
If you are considering IVF I highly recommend bulk-billed cycle tracking first through IVF Australia (they offer one cycle bulk-billed) or Genea (they offer 3 cycles bulk-billed). If you are encouraged to do IVF/ICSI and cost is a concern for you then Adora Fertility – they are a bulk-billing IVF clinic.
Things and tests to consider
It is very important that you and your practitioner are aware of any factors that may be affecting your fertility so that these can be addressed throughout your care plan.
For example, I always suggest a GP referral for a day 3 hormone profile including FSH, LH, estrogen and prolactin. Some GPs recommend testing your egg reserve/AMH (this test is only really useful if you are considering IVF but does not give you any info about the quality of your eggs so I don’t always recommend this test).
A day 21 (to be done 7 days post ovulation) progesterone test is very important to confirm and see how well you are ovulating.
A thyroid function (thyroid antibodies are also worth testing), iron and vitamin D level testing along with a high vaginal swab is also recommended to rule out any infections that includes a general culture and also specifically excludes ureaplasma and mycoplasma.
A pelvic ultrasound, antral follicle count and tubal patency test through your GP or fertility specialist is also ideal to ensure there are no visible abnormalities or cysts present. It is important to see the fallopian tubes clear clear of any blockages. Some women may wish to consider laparoscopic investigations if endometriosis is a possibility. Please note endometriosis can be present even without period pain.
For women with a history of repeated miscarriage, testing for the MTFHR gene mutation is worth exploring. A fertility specialist can also recommend further testing to rule out high NK cells, genetic or clotting disorders such as APS.
For Men: A comprehensive sperm analysis performed at a fertility/IVF lab is also highly recommended. Male hormone testing may also be recommended. These tests are especially important for those who have been trying for more than 12 months with no conception and no prior pregnancies. Ensure your lab tests for sperm antibodies, white blood cell concentration and DNA fragmentation too!
For optimal results, it is highly recommended that both partners receive acupuncture and herbal/nutritional support. It take two healthy people to create a healthy baby.
I highly recommend both partners to consult a naturopath who specialises in fertility such as Eliza Blackwood who is available at our Brookvale clinic location on Saturdays. She can also be contacted through her website.
Other tests to explore include:
For women: cortisol levels, insulin and blood glucose testing.
Who will be helping you
Your experienced acupuncturist/s will be performing acupuncture treatments, offering Chinese dietary therapy advice and prescribing herbal and supporting supplements. Your naturopath/nutritionist can support you in optimising your nutritional status through diet and potentially a specialised detox or supplemental support on a case-by-case basis. We also have yoga and Pilates classes available at our Mona Vale clinic should you wish to incorporate these activities into your weekly schedule. Other therapies available to you within our network of professionals may include chiropractic, reflexology, hypnosis, counselling/life coaching, massage, reiki and kinesiology.
Fertility according to Chinese medicine
According to traditional Chinese belief the kidney (adrenal) organ system plays a major role in reproductive health. Symptoms such as low back pain, night sweats, low libido and cold feet can give us signs that the kidney energy is weak.
The spleen (digestive system), liver (hormones/stress response) and heart (mind) also can affect your fertility according to Chinese medicine and your signs and symptoms will give our acupuncturists clues to guide herbal prescriptions and acupuncture treatments.
Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries in women to help with nutrient supply to the follicles and also help to build a rich, thick endometrium, which is vital to embryo implantation.
Acupuncture also increases blood flow to the testes and may help with sperm parameters.
Acupuncture has a calming effect on the central nervous system and can lower stress hormones, which have a negative impact on fertility.
Chinese herbal medicine
Chinese herbs can help to regulate hormones, calm the mind, relieve symptoms of the menstrual cycle including pain, pre-menstrual tension, blood-clotting, flooding or light periods. Specific formulas are also used to address underlying weaknesses and imbalances in the organ systems, which may be contributing to your sub-fertility.
General diet and lifestyle information
As mentioned above the healthier a woman’s body is, the more it is destined to produce the best quality eggs for that person. Hence an active lifestyle, healthy body weight and a balanced diet can help optimise your fertility. What you are comfortable with and what you are willing to change is of course ultimately up to you but we highly recommend that you incorporate an exercise program and healthy eating into your life.
This includes abstaining from or minimising alcohol and coffee consumption, avoiding nicotine and recreational drugs, avoiding or minimising dairy and gluten products, sugar, processed foods and artificial additives. Start your day with probiotics and a glass of warm water and the juice of a lemon. Drink herbal tea such as dandelion, green, fenugreek, or ginger instead of black tea or coffee. Choosing organic fruits and vegetables wherever possible (check out “The Dirty Dozen” fruit and vegetables you should be wary of) and including good proteins with each meal is highly recommended.
Ask yourself “How have I been treating my body?” “What can I do to make it healthier?” Perfect health is rarely attainable in today’s world but better health is.
TCM diet therapy
According to Chinese medicine foods can be used in a therapeutic manner to help address weaknesses or imbalances in the body with specific flavours and natures of foods believed to be of a healing nature. For instance “cool” or “yin” natured foods have the effect of soothing heat and inflammation in the body, whereas “yang” or “warm/hot” foods can help increase metabolism, improve digestive function and create internal warmth for a constitutionally “cold” or “yang- deficient” person. Your practitioner can give you more information on foods that are relevant to your signs and symptoms.
Hormones: Factors that can affect hormonal balance:
- Stress – can reduce production of sex steroid precursors.
- Inflammation and gut dysbiosis can reverse oestrogen detoxification.
- Insulin resistance – can contribute to excess androgens in the ovary in PCOS.
- Hormone detoxification – alcohol interferes with oestrogen detoxification.
- Nutrient deficiencies, e.g. a magnesium deficiency can lead to oestrogen excess.
- The oral contraceptive pill; also depletes magnesium levels over time.
- Calcium, zinc, B6, iodine and tyrosine are also crucial for hormone metabolism and synthesis.
- Thyroid disorders – can affect hormone balance and the ability to hold a pregnancy.
- Alcohol can place a burden on your liver and affect how your liver helps to produce hormones. Alcohol can also contribute to irregular ovulation and can affect sperm health.
I look forward to working with you and your partner and supporting you on your journey to optimal fertility, parenthood and beyond.