Photo: Esther Denz M. Sc. TCM, and Celine Leonard Phd
Experience shows that using the Chinese herbs, either as an adjunct to IVF treatments, or as a stand-alone treatment with acupuncture, can be very helpful. When getting help for infertility, you should be looking for an acupuncturist that practices TCM herbal medicine in addition to acupuncture (not Western herbalism.)
Infertility and women’s medicine, such as menstrual problems and hormonal imbalances, present challenges that typically aren’t covered in the school programs. Switzerland now has a series of post-graduate courses, which I’ve participated in, that lead to certification as a TCM specialist in Reproductive Medicine.
On the weekend of November 14th, I attended one such course, to reinforce the knowledge I’ve gained these past years. The workshops are led by acupuncturist and herbalists Celine Leonard, from Ireland, and Esther Denz, from Zurich. Between them they have nearly half a century experience, but their classes also draw heavily on the work of their mentor, Dr. Wu. Dr. Wu is the head of the gynecology department at the Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as a professor of the Capital University of Integrative Science.
The course is highly technical in the acupuncture and herbal preparations it covers, but the goal of our treatments are simple to understand. Traditional Chinese Medicine seeks to regulate the menses.
What does that mean, exactly?
We want the timing of the cycle, the number of days it lasts, and the amount of bleeding to be regulated. Your Western doctor will not be very interested in the minutae of your menses. That’s understandable, as he or she has powerful medications that will tightly control the workings of your body, so that the IVF or IUI can be regulated. But even if you’re committed to trying Assisted Reproductive Technology (ATR), three months of Traditional Chinese Medicine as a preliminary can be a wonderful support.
By regulating the length of the menses, we ensure that the egg will be properly ripe If ovulation occurs too soon, as might happen in a short cycle, the egg will not be ready; too late, and it will not be the best quality. Regulating the amount of blood means that you will have enough resources to meet the demands of a growing baby. The uterine lining demonstrates a specific aspect of this theory. It needs to be plush and inviting for implantation to take place. If you’re bleeding too heavily, you will be depleted, and the uterine lining may not be as hospitable.
Sometimes women get pregnant with Traditional Chinese Medicine in the waiting period before their Western medical treatment. But if that doesn’t happen, you can go into the next phase of infertility treatments knowing that your body and psyche are in good shape for the demands of an IUI or IVF.