Ideally a woman begins working on her reproductive health with East Asian Medicine 3 months prior to the time she wants to conceive. This gives time to normalize the cycle and increases the chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby. In Chinese medical terms, it’s a time to balance yin, yang, qi and blood. It’s a perfect time to move qi and blood to improve blood flow to the uterus and ovaries as well as reduce stress.
Women who feel more comfortable with a less invasive treatment and who are young, with good ovarian reserve and without known correctable causes of infertility, could try acupuncture before attempting hormone therapies or in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with treatments done by your doctor or fertility specialist.
Treatments are typically given 1 time per week. Factors such as the complexity of the complaint, toxins from medications, hereditary influences, recurrent low level infections, lifestyle habits, and other illnesses can influence the length of treatment. Certain conditions like the following are more difficult to treat and may require a longer treatment protocol:
- Cysts, fibroids, PCOS, PMS, anovulation, endometriosis, luteal phase defect
- Chinese herbs and dietary changes are often part of the treatment.
Preconception In the first phase of treatment will regulate the menstrual cycle by increasing circulation to the pelvic cavity and nourishing energy and vitality. During this phase periods should become more regular, the flow should be bright red and without clots, minimal or cramping and less breast tenderness. Other benefits include decreased stress, better sleep, improved energy and warmer hands and feet. Most women become open and fertile for conception.
Factors such as the complexity of the complaint, toxins from medications, hereditary influences, lifestyle habits, and other illnesses can influence the length of treatment.
Pregnancy Second phase treatment after conception increases the probability of a full term pregnancy and decreases the possibility of miscarriage. Treatment focuses on relieving morning sickness, helping with common complaints such as constipation, heartburn, fatigue, round ligament pain, back pain, colds and flu, swelling, sleep issues and emotional balance. Supportive treatments are given for Pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes as well. Fetal development is supported as well as conditions such as breech presentation (treatment for this should be done at 33-35 weeks). As the due date gets closer, acupuncture is done to soften the cervix and for labor induction.
Postpartum This final phase of treatment is often ignored in our culture. East Asian medicine views this time as one of the MOST important times in a women’s life that will help determine their health for years to come. Treatments now can help with retained placenta, improved milk supply, plugged milk ducts/ mastitis, postpartum depression, trauma from birth, and overall recovery. It took nine months to get this way, and it takes time to feel like yourself again. Diet and lifestyle recommendations are made for at home care.
Lindsey Lawson MS EAMP is an Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist and Clinic Director at Glow Natural Health and Seattle Fertility Acupuncturist. She is passionate about healthy , happy living and a regular blogger. For an appointment call Glow at 206 568 7545.