Increasing numbers of Western doctors are suggesting that their fertility patients try acupuncture in tandem with IVF and other Western treatments. However, acupuncture is just one component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). If your acupuncturist also offers you Chinese herbal medications, you may be slightly confused. Here is what you should know.
Understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine
TCM is an ancient system of health and wellness. It treats each patient holistically, assessing the entire state of being rather than one specific cluster of symptoms. According to TCM, health conditions, including infertility, signal that the body is out of balance. TCM helps to restore the natural balance. For women struggling with infertility, TCM prepares the body for pregnancy.
There are several components to TCM, and your treatment plan will be personalized to your unique needs. Your practitioner will perform a detailed evaluation and work in tandem with your Western doctor to develop a customized approach to restoring your fertility.
Understanding Fertility Acupuncture
In the Eastern view, TCM focuses on Qi, the vital energy that circulates throughout the body. Free-flowing Qi allows the body to restore itself to optimal wellness. When Qi is blocked by the stressors of daily life, though, illness can occur. Acupuncture clears the blockages through the use of thin, painless needles. Fertility acupuncture intentionally directs Qi to soothe the mind, enrich the reproductive system, and foster a mind and body environment that is conducive to a healthy pregnancy.
Though Western medicine does not recognize the existence of Qi, it does increasingly acknowledge the powerful effects of acupuncture. The Western view holds that acupuncture stimulates the brain regions that control relaxation and healing, while the needles create microtraumas that stimulate the immune response. Regardless, well-controlled scientific research has led to an increasing number of insurance companies now paying for acupuncture treatments.
The Role of Chinese Herbs
Traditionally, Chinese herbs played the same role as modern medications. Today, though, they are usually prescribed as an adjunct to Western medications. The specific herbs are carefully selected to address a particular part of the body. In the case of fertility treatments, the herbs are designed to nourish the reproductive organs and foster the optimal environment for pregnancy.
The Role of Dietary Supplements and Nutritional Guidelines
According to TCM, your diet is a vital component of your overall health. Poor nutrition leads to clogged and sluggish bodily systems, while a proper diet promotes health and vitality. Your practitioner will note any signs of nutritional deficiencies, ask you about your current dietary habits, and make recommendations to boost your overall health and help your body prepare for the challenge of pregnancy.
The Role of Lifestyle Changes
TCM holds that maximum wellness is only possible when you strike the proper balance between physical activity, mental activity, and rest. Substances such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are believed to deplete the body’s resources, as are elevated levels of chronic stress and anxiety. Your practitioner will work with you to create an individualized plan to change your habits and improve both your physical and mental health.
Total Chinese Medicine incorporates both acupuncture and Chinese herbology, along with diet and lifestyle considerations, to create optimal health and wellness. Practitioners are generally willing to work with Western doctors to develop a holistic treatment plan that can vastly improve your chances for a successful pregnancy. Make sure that your doctor knows about any herbs or supplements that are prescribed, and that your acupuncturist knows about any Western medicines that are prescribed. Keeping both practitioners in the loop is one of the main keys to success.