Chinese Medicine has a lot to offer those who are looking to conceive. Acupuncture increases blood flow to the reproductive system, regulates hormones, and calms the nervous system. Of course I recommend seeing an acupuncturist to assess your specific condition, but for the purposes of this article, I wanted to empower everyone with tools to implement in your everyday life.
Listen to your body
When it comes to fertility, there are so many conflicting viewpoints. Specialists and friends alike will flood you with opinions: “Eat more dairy, don’t eat dairy, drink a few glasses of wine, no alcohol,” etc. The most important thing is for you to find what works for YOUR BODY.
For some folks, it makes sense to add in more dairy while for others it may prove to be a bad idea for their health. This is why it’s important to learn to LISTEN to your body. I can’t tell you the amount of patients I’ve had come into my office and say “I know my body doesn’t tolerate X, but I still continue to eat it.” So there are often times that your body is clearly giving you a hint (gas, sinus congestion, headaches) but you are finding it difficult to listen to that internal signal. I recommend implementing diet and lifestyle changes slowly, so that you can assess your response and create a shift that’s long lasting and realistic.
But what do you do if your body isn’t giving you “hints”? You truly have no idea of where to start, what to eat, and what exercise regimen to follow. With all medical concerns, I recommend working with an expert. Acupuncturists and Naturopathic Doctors are the alternative medicine practitioners who’ve had additional training and can help you to get to the root of your imbalance. An initial intake with either of these experts will be very helpful and empowering in learning how to heal your body’s specific imbalances.
Focus on your now and not your future
Fertility is such a carrot dangling in front of us. In our society, we are told “work hard and you get what you want”. Unfortunately, this is NOT true when it comes to our health. We are often not truly in control of our bodies and our cycles. In my view, this is not a bad thing but rather a spot in our lives where we can learn to let go of control and open up to flow.
Hormones, blood, and neurons literally flow through our bodies. How can we embrace more of that flow and be less rigid? (Hint: Think bellydancing, acupuncture, femoral artery massage, and yoga). The work here is ultimately to make sure we don’t WAIT until you have what you want to experience: fulfillment and peace. Rather, cultivate peace and happiness from within, so that we’re not at the whim of circumstance.
Connect with both your partner and yourself
This process can feel very stressful, which, no matter if it’s contributing to your fertility concerns or not, is never helpful. Rather than only incorporating de-stressing tools, I recommend creating “connection tools.” These are times you set aside to consider the deeper meaning behind the goal of building a family. If you can focus on the love you have for yourself, your family, your partner, and your life, you’re more likely to come from a full bucket, rather than an empty one. This means that even while you’re riding the monthly rollercoaster, you can find peace in being grateful for what you have rather than focusing on the unmet goal. So, instead of spending your time meticulously tracking your cycle or doing internet research, sit down with your partner and look him/her in the eye. Let your heart be moved by love and go from there.
Consider your lifestyle to be your medicine
Our culture is so quick to want answers from our blood work and ultrasounds, but consistently, there are few answers. We so desire a quick fix, such as medication or treatment. But, what if we treated our everyday life as though IT was the treatment?
Our food is literally our fuel that allows us to function optimally. Water is essential to every cell in our body. Our breath has the capacity to pull us out of the fight or flight mode and shift us into rest and repair. The truth of the body is that it is pure magic with its capacity to fight disease and keep us alive, no matter how poorly we may treat it at times.
So, start every morning with a good breakfast to keep your blood sugar stable. Be sure your water is from a high quality source and is not from a flimsy plastic water bottle (which leaches plastic into the water). If you crave junk food, buy the healthy kind so it’s a little less toxic; dark chocolate and La Croix are examples. Be sure to chew your food thoroughly– almost 30% of digestion is meant to take place in the mouth– with the enzymes in saliva and the teeth properly breaking down the food. Even breathing in the scent of your food will give your body a heads up on how to digest it. All of these small changes can add up and make a big difference in how your body functions.
It’s easy to focus on all of the things that seem “wrong” with our body when we’re not achieving our goal. But truthfully, every day you breathe, see, digest food, and sleep without having to think about it at all! Acknowledging the body as the gift that it is is yet another tool to stay in the flow of optimal functioning.
At first, allowing yourself to listen to your body and what it needs may feel difficult and annoying. But the more you know how to keep yourself in alignment, the better you feel. And don’t be afraid to reach out to someone for support. You deserve it.
Monica Mae Leibson (Dipl. Ac. R.Ac.) earned her Masters degree at the Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine (SBCOM) and is a NCCAOM Board Certified Acupuncturist. Monica has been trained in the treatment of physical and musculoskeletal injuries, working with alcohol and drug detoxification, as well as working with hospice patients. She has received extensive training in Chinese herbs, physical medicine, and anatomy and physiology.
Monica has also obtained specialized training in Chinese Medicine and Infertility, studying under both Dr. Randine Lewis (author of The Infertility Cure) and Jane Lyttleton (author of Treating Infertility with Traditional Chinese Medicine). Monica and her infertility practice focuses on integrating Traditional Chinese Medicine with Reproductive Medicine.