Since reading the first two articles in this series, you should now know which supplements to take, and lifestyle changes worth considering to improve your chances of conception. But did you know acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be a useful part of your conception toolkit? Kim Gatenby, A Doctor of Chinese Medicine who is well respected for her success working with male and female patients struggling with infertility and author of the ebook Holistic Fertility explains how both could help you.
Acupuncture has a long history, possibly even as long as 5000 years, of balancing the energy systems of the body through the use of thin acupuncture needles to restore harmony. When it comes to fertility in women, acupuncture will often focus on restoring balance between Yin and Yang. During your menstrual cycle, the first half before ovulation (follicular phase) is dominated by Yin, while the second half just before your period (luteal phase) is dominated by Yang.
The concept of Yin and Yang can be likened to oestrogen and progesterone in Western medicine terminology. For the fellas, we tend to focus more on Yang because it relates to testosterone for them.
A great acupuncture point you can massage yourself (acupressure) is Kidney 3. This point is able to increase levels of both Yin and Yang, so it can be used at any time during your cycle, and for both men and women. With your foot flat on the ground, you will find Kidney 3 midway between your achilles tendon and the external ankle bone. Here’s a picture to help you find it (see image below). Massaging this point for 30 seconds on each ankle, on a daily basis, is a good starting point. Full treatments with a registered acupuncturist will involve more points, but this is a great one you can massage at home.
Chinese Herbal Medicine.
Chinese herbal medicine is another fantastic way to influence the Yin and Yang balance in your body. In a consultation with a Chinese medicine practitioner, they will give you a Chinese medicine diagnosis and create a herbal prescription especially for you. The herbs are taken orally to influence any imbalances in your body that may be resulting in infertility. There are also herbs that can be used to reduce stress, which is a common side effect for people struggling to conceive.
If you’re unable to see a practitioner in person, you can use food as medicine to balance your Yin and Yang. In the first half of your cycle, you can consume foods that build up Yin, such as fruit. In the second half of your cycle you may choose more warming, Yang building foods like cinnamon, ginger, and meats.
Other great Yin tonics include goji berries (and yes, you can even have the chocolate coated ones as a treat!), drinking plenty of water, and kidney shaped foods such as beans are great for the first half of your cycle as a protein source. Try and avoid having too many raw foods during the first half of your cycle, as this can make your digestion a bit sluggish.
Once you have ovulated, you might like to switch to eating more meat based stews with herbs and spices. They’re a great way to consume Yang tonic foods that are also going to be healthy and keep you away from the pasta and carb-heavy dinners that can be appealing when you’re in the second half of your menstrual cycle.
The above tips are a great start at getting used to how Chinese medicine can be used to balance your body and prepare it for pregnancy.