For hundreds of years, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners have developed therapies to help couples trying to conceive. But can Chinese medicine really help you get pregnant? Let’s break down the facts on TCM fertility treatments.
Understanding Chinese herbs for fertility
Unlike Western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine is based on the concept of regulating the balance between the opposite elements like yin and yang, cold and hot, and wet and dry.
If a part of your body has an imbalance of these elements, it can result in various diseases – including those that make it difficult for you to get pregnant. The herbal remedies in TCM are used to correct the imbalances.
Can I treat myself with Chinese herbs for fertility?
TCM practitioners know that everybody (and every body!) is unique, so there’s no single herb or formula that guarantees fertility success. TCM therapies are highly individualized to the patient’s needs, and the underlying cause of their fertility troubles.
For example, it’s one thing to say, “ginger is a warming yang food”. But depending on your health and constitution, it might not be the right one for your pregnancy goals. If you’ve got too much yang in your system, it can even end up making things worse.
Chinese herbal remedies might be natural, but they’re still medicine, and could interact with other drugs or supplements you take. Rather than trying to piece together the details on your own, see a licensed TCM expert to find out which Chinese herbs are right for you.
How does TCM therapy for fertility go?
Let’s imagine what a course of TCM therapy might look like if you’re having trouble conceiving.
Inspection and diagnosis
When you first see your TCM doctor, you’ll start off with a discussion about your health, lifestyle and medical history. Your doctor would then have a look at your face, body, tongue and pulse. Based on your condition, they might say you’ve got too much “cold” (yin) element built up in your womb, which leads to the difficulty of getting pregnant.
TCM works to treat the underlying cause or imbalance at the root of your fertility troubles. To fix the cold problem, your TCM specialist would prescribe herbal remedies designed to restore yang and warmth to the uterus.
You may also be given a list of “warming” foods like ginger, and “cooling” ones to avoid. In your follow-through consults, your doctor will check up on your progress and adjust your treatments accordingly.
Now that you know you’re prone to the cold, you can start making lifestyle changes to maintain the balance between yin and yang, and get your body ready for pregnancy. For example, your TCM specialist may recommend dressing in extra layers or using a belly warmer to keep your uterus snug in the cooler months.
Although the time it takes you to get pregnant varies on a number of individual factors, a successful course of treatment can be expected to take around 6 to 12 months.
Don’t knock Chinese herbs for fertility before you try them
A big difference between the TCM and Western medicine for fertility treatment is the emphasis on your overall health and wellbeing. When you visit a TCM specialist, he or she will begin by taking stock of your total health. You’ll then be guided on the steps you can take to get your body ready to support a new life. In addition to health-balancing herbs, you may also get acupuncture and massage.
Even if we can’t always explain whether Chinese medicine works, the personal touch you can find from a caring and experienced TCM practitioner works to reduce stress on your body and mind alike. They can also give you personalized advice for a healthy lifestyle.
Before you integrate any herbal medicine into your healthcare plan, check with your medical doctor – especially when you’re trying to conceive. But put it all together, and TCM could help your body get where it needs to be to support a pregnancy.