The fundamental difference between Western and holistic medicine is in the way the body is viewed. A Western medicine practitioner may describe the body as being like a machine, where it can be separated into different components and the organs and systems can be further taken apart, examined, and understood. A holistic medicine practitioner, such as I, a doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, would say the body is part of a unified whole that includes body, mind, and spirit. The physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of ourselves are all interconnected and inter-dependent, and not one part can be understood without looking at the whole.
The ancient Chinese recognized humans as being a part of nature, a small universe within the larger universe, and therefore are governed by the same natural laws as the larger macrocosm. One of the texts I studied while in Chinese medical school, The Huang Di Nei Jing, states “Heaven has thunder and lightning, humans have sound and speech…. heaven has winter and summer, humans have hot and cold…heaven has morning and evening, humans go to sleep and awake.” It is believed that if we live in harmony with the laws of the universe, we too will feel harmonious. What is good for the whole universe is good for the individual and vice versa. Therefore, it is impossible to isolate one part of the body or one symptom without taking into consideration the whole organism. Consequently, we would not treat one condition without understanding the impact it is having on the rest of the body or what has caused the symptom. All disorders or diseases, including infertility, are considered a result of an imbalance in the body. And holistic medicine, aims to restore balance and harmony in the body.
The conventional approach to infertility usually looks like this: try to achieve pregnancy for six months to a year depending on the woman’s age and if that doesn’t work, start hormonal treatments such as progesterone pills, or ovulation induction with clomid and/or more invasive treatments such as IVF. And unfortunately for many couples, they are told IVF is their only option given the cause of their infertility, but the good news is that for most couples, there are many other options. This is where natural fertility care comes into play. Natural or holistic (used interchangeably) fertility care is an extension of the one of the principles of holistic medicine that says a person’s whole health is affected by their mind, body, spirit, lifestyle, and emotions and if one of these is out of balance it can affect that individual’s whole health, including fertility. Natural fertility care aims to identify the underlying reason an individual is having trouble conceiving and works to correct it in the least invasive way possible with the goal of restoring natural reproductive function so pregnancy can occur naturally. The primary methods used in natural fertility care include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, meditation, yoga, dietary therapy, weight loss (if needed) and stress reduction.
You may be wondering what the process of using holistic medicine for fertility and getting pregnant looks like. If you have never been to a practitioner such as me, you can expect your first appointment to be an in-depth health history that asks questions about all aspects of your life and experience up to that point. Many people wonder why Chinese medicine practitioners ask some questions that are unrelated to their fertility, this is because Chinese medicine is a whole person medicine, and everything that we have experienced, big or small, related or not, influences the rest of our being. There are many aspects that can affect someone’s ability to conceive. These include timing and education around ovulation, having a healthy menstrual cycle and ovulation, hormone imbalances, inflammation levels, the gut microbiome, and poor egg and sperm quality to name a few. Hormone, genetic and gut microbiome testing can help to identify This first appointment helps to establish the cause of fertility challenges in the individual and the pattern of disharmony they are currently experiencing. Then using acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, stress reduction techniques, Eastern nutrition, bodywork, and nutritional supplementation, we work to restore balance and harmony to the person’s body, balance their hormones, fix any menstrual cycle problems present, and simply ready the body to conceive and have a healthy baby.
Two important things to know about natural fertility care are that it requires your participation, and it takes time to work. Most medical regimens require that you comply with your doctor’s recommendations, holistic treatments on the other end require you to become involved in identifying and correcting any physical, mental, emotional, or environmental imbalances in your life. This is also true if you are using holistic treatments along with assisted reproductive technology, such as IVF. Holistic therapies, like acupuncture, have shown short term benefits in terms of IVF success rates for example, but research that used a longer period of treatment have shown more impressive results in terms of improving gut function, improvement in egg and sperm quality, reduction of inflammation and ovulation induction in PCOS. The longer- term improvements can take several months to achieve.
Some of the benefits to using natural fertility care to prepare for pregnancy are natural preconception care makes it easier to get pregnant, sets the stage for a healthier pregnancy, and increases the likelihood of having a healthy baby. Preconception health is especially important because it sets the foundation for your child’s future health and the health of the next two to three generations. In fact, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Centers for Disease Control both state that pre-pregnancy counseling is recommended for all women and couples one year prior to getting pregnant and is the # 1 way to move the needle on fertility challenges. Natural fertility care provides lifestyle advice, nutritional guidance, and healing therapies to plan and prepare for pregnancy in advance. I offer one on one support to help you improve your chances of a successful conception, healthy pregnancy, and baby. I provide virtual visits as well as in person acupuncture and Chinese medical treatments at my office in Salt Lake City, Utah.
So, if you feel ready to take control of your fertility and health with effective natural fertility care tools, call my office at 385-279-2410 to book an appointment.
Ni, Maoshing. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine. Boston, Shambhala Publications, Inc. 1995
Zhao, Xiaolan. Reflections of the Moon on Water. Toronto, Vintage Canada. 2007.