Traditional Chinese medicine has enhanced fertility for thousands of years. Because acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can strongly influence the reproductive and endocrine systems, it can help address a wide variety of women’s health concerns that may hinder fertility such as PMS, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and PCOS. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can improve these gynecological conditions as well as promote overall emotional and physical well-being in order to restore balance in a woman’s body and increase fertility.
Chinese medicine can have the following effects for those seeking to promote their fertility naturally or with the help of assisted reproductive therapies (ART) such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intra-uterine insemination (IUI).
The practitioner and patient work closely together. In addition to acupuncture and herbal medicine, the patient takes an active role in her own health and fertility using Basal Body Temperature charts, cervical fluid tracking, and nutritional and lifestyle therapies.
Traditional Chinese medicine offers a natural means of safeguarding healthy pregnancies that is safe for a mother and her baby. Pregnancy is a new and special time in a woman’s life. It is a time when a woman begins to understand that she is supporting not only herself, but also creating and nurturing another life. Chinese medicine can ease a woman through the many physical and emotional changes that occur during each trimester of her pregnancy and help to ensure a comfortable and healthy pregnancy. As she approaches her due date, weekly acupuncture treatments can help prepare a mother for a smooth labor by relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, helping the baby lower into position, and alleviating anxiety and stress. Acupuncture can also be an effective tool to enhance labor.
Acupuncture for Encouraging Labor
In Chinese medicine, acupuncture is used to help a woman prepare for labor or encourage labor when her birthing time is getting close or past due. Naturally, labor begins when the baby releases a small amount of the hormone, oxytocin, which signals the maternal hormones to initiate labor. By increasing blood circulation to the uterus, relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, lowering the baby and assisting in softening and ripening the cervix, acupuncture can help create a comfortable and conducive environment to encourage the baby to release oxytocin. Acupuncture can also aid in the calming of anxiety and relief of pain symptoms to ensure a more comfortable birth. While a post-term baby is the most common reason to seek acupuncture for encouraging labor, it is also sought in the case of a prematurely broken membrane or a mother or baby with health problems.
In one out of every six pregnancies, the baby turns into the breech, or upright, position. Acupuncture and moxibustion can successfully turn the baby back into cephalad (head-down) position. In some cases, as little as a single treatment can turn the baby. Moxa is a plant used as a heat source to stimulate acupuncture points, and in addition to its use in the office, you may be sent home with a moxa stick and instructions on how to continue treatment. A mother should always check with her midwife or doctor to insure that the baby should be turned.
During the last few months of pregnancy, as the baby grows more rapidly and the pelvic joints begin to relax to accommodate birth, expectant mothers may experience back pain and sciatica that can range from a minor discomfort to an exhausting, crippling condition. The pain is often worse at night and there is little western medicine can offer for relief aside from back exercises and advice about proper posture to deal with altered shape. Acupuncture is one of the few safe and effective treatments for pregnancy sciatica. By identifying the blocked meridian, or energy channel, acupuncture can help to increase energy (or qi) flow and resolve the condition.
Chinese medicine can also be an invaluable tool during post-partum recovery. According to the principles of Chinese medicine, a new mother loses much of her vital energy during childbirth. The post partum period is an important time for her to regain her energy and strength so that she can continue to care for herself and her new baby.