Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments for IF include acupuncture and herbs. My practitioner recommended both for myself and Brew Man.
I started with acupuncture 3 times a week and dried herbs to take with warm water 2 times a day. Prior to this – my Natural Fertility Management program had me taking over 15 tablets a day. If I happened to miss a day of the tablets, I found myself getting tired very early in the day and was almost guaranteed to get sick. Even with the tablets – I frequently needed a nap during the middle of the day.
The nature of TCM is to gently and slowly naturally bring your body’s yin and yang in all of it’s organs back into balance. After a few months I noticed that I no longer needed daytime naps, and even if I forgot to take my herbs – I still felt vital and had good levels of energy. After 3 months of intensive acupuncture 3 times per week, I fell back to twice per week.
Over time I saw my fertility signs (especially fertile mucous) improve and my post-ovulation/luteal phase temperatures were at a higher, more consistent level.
According to TCM theory – symptoms many women associate as being pre-menstrual (mood swings, breast tenderness, etc) should only be present if you’re pregnant. I know my practitioner has treatmented patients by acupuncture specifically to reduce PMS!
Conception in TCM is also diagnosed in the pulse – a slippery pulse is a strong indicator of successful conception and production of the pregnancy hormone BhCG. Of course – a slippery pulse is also possible after a really full meal or if you have excess damp. In my instance – I had removed any damp early on. However, after 3 of these cycles where we were hopeful – we ended up with chemical pregnancies (where implantation fails to be sustained).
Frustration set in and I sought a second opinion. I love my practitioner – but I wanted to be sure we were doing everything possible. I canvassed a few names of TCM fertility specialists – Lilly Liu in Surry Hills, Kathryn Taylor in Leura and ChunLin Zhou in Beecroft. My practitioner and I ended up deciding on ChunLin – she was the most open to working with other practitioners on a patient.
So a visit to ChunLin indicated that I needed stronger herbs to help support progesterone production in my Luteal Phase – essential for successful implantation of an embryo. She moved me off dried herbs to fresh cooked herbs.
Anyone who has walked past a TCM clinic in their local Chinese area (e.g. in Sydney places like Chinatown, Hurstville or Chatswood) would have seen shops with drawers stacked to the ceilings and all sorts of strange things dried and displayed in the front windows. This is a chinese herb dispensary and you require a prescription from a TCM practitioner to obtain herbs.
What you’ll get depends on your condition – but my latest herbs look like this:
To prepare them – add herbs and 1.2L of water to a stainless steel or earthenware pot. Bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes. You’ll get about 800ml of liquid – drink 200ml warm morning and night. 1 packet of herbs lasts two days.
If you’re taking cooked herbs, try and cook them outside – the smell is quite pungent! This also means they don’t taste fantastic. Brew Man had cooked chinese herbs for pneumonia (when 2 courses of western antibiotics didn’t improve the situation) and he said that they taste so awful they force your body to get well so that you don’t have to drink them any more!