At 35 years old, Meghan came to my clinic trying to get pregnant. She and her husband had been actively trying for eight years, had been married for ten, and had never used birth control. She had stage three endometriosis, which had been removed twice, and a lime-sized fibroid removed the year prior. Her fertility lab work (a day 3 FSH of 14.8 and an AMH 0.3) was showing diminished ovarian reserve.
Meghan had been to two different fertility clinics. Both had told her she was not a good candidate for IVF and suggested that she use eggs from a donor instead of attempting IVF with her own. She admitted to having night sweats and insomnia, two possible symptoms of perimenopause. She had managed to get pregnant once, but that pregnancy had ended in miscarriage at seven weeks.
Meghan came to my clinic like many of my patients do—desperate to have a baby and feeling hopeless. We went through a thorough Chinese medicine diagnosis process and started her on acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. We added supplements, adjusted her nutrition, and suggested some lifestyle changes. She also began taking her basal body temperature every morning to give us more information. Within three months, she was pregnant. She went on to deliver a healthy baby girl.
I have to admit that I had forgotten Meghan’s story until recently, when she returned to see me. It was six years later, and she was pregnant naturally without actively trying. With twins!
Although hers is a bit of a dramatic story, Traditional Chinese Medicine can result in major changes in people’s fertility, and in many cases, the end result is a baby in their arms.
Maybe you are beginning to wonder if you need help getting pregnant, or maybe, like Meghan, you have been struggling through various fertility treatments for years without success. Maybe you are just beginning down the path to pregnancy, or perhaps you are trying for baby number two. No matter where you are on your family building journey, this book can help.
In contrast to Western medicine, which focuses on identifying and treating specific diagnoses, the ultimate goal of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is to optimize all aspects of body, mind, and spirit. Whether you are trying naturally or with Western fertility procedures, it is important that both parents strive for optimal health in order to increase the chances of conception, potentially increase the quality of both egg and sperm, help carry the pregnancy to term, and optimize the health of the future child.
Since many people choose to combine Eastern and Western fertility methods, Dr. Lora Shahine, board certified reproductive endocrinologist and expert on Western fertility care, has joined me in the writing of this book. Using the time-tested methods of TCM fertility enhancement, as well as modern advances in science, we’ve worked together to bring you the best that the East and West has to offer in a format that is easy to read and implement.
In this book, we will cover optimal nutrition, supplements, and lifestyle choices for increased fertility and enhanced sperm and egg quality, as well as overall health for both mother and father. We will discuss how to monitor your menstrual cycles for irregularities and time intercourse to improve natural conception. We will review how TCM helps enhance fertility and how it supports women throughout their pregnancy and after they give birth.
We will also walk you through what to expect at your first acupuncture appointment and help demystify the Western medical approach to fertility evaluation and treatment by reviewing which options are available in addition to or in conjunction with a TCM approach to fertility care.
Throughout the book, we offer tips and anecdotes from our personal practices, and in chapter nine, we’ve included insights into a Western medicine approach to prenatal care from Dr. Judy Kimelman, a practicing obstetrician and the current chair of the American College of OB/GYN Washington Section.
At the end of the book, we provide an extensive list of resources on the topics covered, including the most up-to-date research on egg and sperm quality and fertility enhancement. You’ll also find appendices with information that will help you find a fertility care provider, figure out your TCM diagnosis, choose safe supplements, and eat to optimize health and fertility.
Let’s get started!