Chinese medicine to enhance fertility is a popular and one of the top options for natural and non-invasive therapies leading to pregnancy. Grace Yu, Chinese medicine practitioner, answered some of the more commonly asked questions about fertility treatment and TCM.
Tell us more about how your journey began to become a licensed Chinese medicine doctor and acupuncturist.
I am obtaining a PhD at the Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine with a focus on gynecology and acupuncture fertility. My advisor and mentor Professor Luo Songping is an internationally renowned Chinese medicine women’s health gynecologist from whom I could learn a lot on various health issues for women including infertility. I also learned Craniosacral Resonance therapy in Taiwan that I sometimes apply in my therapies.
For me a thorough understanding of the patients is very important. My goal is to help patients to boost their own healing power and body balance.
What questions should someone ask when first contacting an acupuncturist?
Make sure your practitioner is licensed and a registered Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor if practicing Chinese medicine. Experience counts a lot, so I would ask for how long the acupuncturist has been practicing. It is good to know if the practitioner treated someone successfully with a similar specific condition and to find out his or her feedback. You might also want to ask in what type of acupuncture (TCM, auricular, facial or scalp) the practitioner has experience since some acupuncture styles are known to be more effective to treat certain conditions.
What does a typical TCM consultation involve?
Chinese medicine offers a wide range of therapies for infertility treatment. Acupuncture, herbal therapy, cupping and moxibustion are the most common ones. Before any treatment a through diagnosis is essential. A diagnosis is based on:
- Looking. This includes an assessment of a person’s emotional state and wellbeing, and appearance and shape. One important factor here is a detailed look at the condition of your tongue, a reflector of your current health which is highly influencing your fertility chances.
- Listening. In particular, we listen for breathing sounds, coughing and the sound of the voice.
- Asking. We assess your past medical history and that of your partner. Your environment in terms of places, people, nutrition and diet is also part of our diagnosis.
- Pulse taking. We read the state of individual organs and the balance of qi, blood and yin and yang energy. Important here is also the function of kidneys as this is a major organ to determine fertility chances.
How many sessions would someone expect to have before noticing an improvement?
The treatment duration varies depending on your health issues. Patients with weaker body suffering from chronic conditions would need to restore their health for a longer period of time in contrast to patients that are healthy and just looking to improve well-being. Generally, for infertility treatment patients would usually see me over several months, with weekly appointments, as in that particular case we are aiming to restore overall body health and treat the root cause of an imbalanced body.
How is Chinese medicine for infertility different to Western medicine?
The ailments and disharmonies that are assessed in Chinese medicine are different to those in Western medicine. In Chinese medicine one would not treat a vitamin D deficiency but instead look at enhancing the yang qi (essential enery) and organs that are out of balance. The result might be a balanced vitamin supply but achieved through different methods. At the end of the day, each system uses different methods and different strategies all with the same goal: achieving a healthy and balanced body preparing you for a successful conception and pregnancy.
Should I choose IVF, ICSI or Chinese medicine?
Many of my patients see me while undergoing standard procedures with Western medicine such as IVF, IUI and ICSI. Chinese medicine can help at different stages and is a complimentary medicine that can support and enhance medical procedures. Chinese medicine promotes ovulation, egg development, sperm motility and count and prevents miscarriages. We suggest a treatment period of several months with acupuncture fertility prior to your conventional therapy such as IVF. Chinese medicine strengthens the kidneys, which are important for the reproductive system. It also strengthens the whole body enabling you to successfully conceive and carry the fetus. I also find it very useful to continue your Chinese therapy during pregnancy to increase chances of giving birth to a healthy baby naturally.
Why would someone continue using Chinese medicine acupuncture during and after pregnancy?
Acupuncture helps to ease common nausea, morning sickness and heartburn that can occur often during pregnancy. Thus it can help you to feel better and it can help to decrease stress by releasing the feel-good hormones into your body. Overall, it is a great natural painkiller that helps to ease discomforts without any side effects. It also lessens pre- and post-partum depression effectively. Another reason I find Chinese medicine useful during pregnancy is that it helps you to resolve a breech position (where the baby’s head is facing upwards) and makes the C-section delivery redundant. And finally, before giving birth it is one of the best natural tools to prepare the body for labor and make it easier for you to give birth.
Is there anything you can recommend to live more healthy?
You may assess our online body-type test to assess your current body condition without seeing a doctor. It will indicate any imbalances you might have. Prevention is key, and our tool helps you to understand your body condition and indicates those areas that you might need to pay more attention to. Other than that I am happy to see you at our clinic and give you a tailor-made and detailed plan on how to improve your health and well-being. Since everybody is different a different strategy will apply.
[staffbio staffname=”Dr Grace Yu”]Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner
Master in Acupuncture, Hong Kong Baptist University
Master in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing University
Bachelor in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing University[/staffbio]