Conception. It takes two!
Chinese medicine is assisting many women around the world in their endeavour to fall pregnant. Critical factors in women are often weight management, stress levels and overall body strength. Whether a couple aims for natural conception or eventually opts for IVF, as much as it is essential for a woman to take good care of herself – before, during and of course after birth – the same importance is attributed to the lifestyle of the male partner. He has the means to positively influence his erectile function and sperm quality, be it through the right amount of exercise, an appropriate diet or a balanced mind.
So, let’s just take a moment to look at a few of the main factors:
1. Weight– Do you know your BMI? Take your weight in kg and divide it by your height (in metres), then take this number and divide it another time by your height. Have a look and see whether you are within the range of 20-25. Women who are either below or above, can make it their strategy to lose or gain weight, as this will possibly enhance their ability to conceive (Lyttleton, 2014). When it comes to men, obesity is one of the factors that are associated with a negative effect on both erectile function and sperm quality (Palmer, Bakos, Fullston & Lane, 2012; Rowland, McNabney & Mann, 2012). Regardless of which way on the scale you need to go, acupuncture treatments and a holistic diet can assist you in this process.
2. Diet– A healthy nutritious diet provides an optimal environment for the maturation of an egg, the implantation of the embryo in the uterus and the development of a healthy baby. However, there is a lot of confusion about what constitutes a healthy diet these days.
To enhance fertility, Chinese medicine generally recommends a good balance of fresh vegetables, healthy fats and good protein sources. Furthermore, Chinese medicine looks at the current health state of the individual to give customized dietary advice.
In some men and women, it might be helpful to cut out all heavy, greasy and processed foods, dairy, ice-cream and sweets.
In some other cases, it might be necessary to integrate calorie dense proteins, to help a woman or man build up strength and substance. Above all, you want to be sure your digestive system is working properly, so that you can absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat. If you feel bloated, have irregular stools, suffer from reflux and your appetite is too low or too high, Chinese medicine can assist in restoring proper function.
3. Exercise- is good for us, who would ever doubt that? It makes us happy, helps us sleep and assists with the weight management. From a Chinese medicine view, it helps us to keep the energy in our body in flow, strengthen the body and calm the mind – which is essential especially when we are trying to conceive. Yet, could we possibly do too much of the good thing? When it comes to fertility, a key focus is on properly nourishing the body and building strength, so anything done in excess might, on the contrary, deplete our bodies, thus counteracting our efforts. According to Lyttleton (2014), women who work out daily would increase their chances of falling pregnant, if they decided to only work out three times per week. No reason to become lethargic though! Women who do not work out at all, would benefit from increasing their level of activity and go for a daily 30 min brisk walk in the fresh air.
In men, exercise may improve their sperm parameters(Lalinde-Acevedo et al., 2017) and enhance erectile function in multiple ways, including psychological and biochemical (endocrine) features, which include the desire for relationship and sexual activity (Rowland et al., 2012).
All in all, there are so many good reasons to get up from the cosy couch and work out together!
4. Stress – is associated with reduced numbers of follicles which may negatively impact the success of IVF cycles in the early stage. Furthermore, as IVF represents as such a highly stressful period of time for the couple, acupuncture before and after embryo implantation may reduce stress in women, leading to a higher pregnancy rate (Balk et al., 2010). The same treatment may be beneficial for men, as stress is a big factor for men going through the IVF process, which involves functioning on demand (Tur-kaspa et al., 1999).
Are you trying to conceive?
Talk to us upon your next visit and we’d be happy to assist you with treatment and holistic advice about your journey to pregnancy.
Balk, J., Catov, J. Horn, B., Gecsi, K. & Wakim, A. (2010). The relationship between perceived stress, acupuncture, and pregnancy rates among IVF patients: A pilot study. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 16(3), 154-157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2009.11.004
Lalinde-Acevedo, P. C., Mayorga-Torres, B. J. M., Agarwal, A., du Plessis, S. S., Ahmad, G., Cadavid, Á. P., & Cardona Maya, W. D. (2017). Physically active men show better semen parameters than their sedentary counterparts. International Journal of Fertility & Sterility, 11(3), 156–165. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582143/
Lyttleton, J. (2014). Treatment of infertility with Chinese medicine (2nd ed.) Edinburgh, Scotland: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
Palmer, N. O., Bakos, H. W., Fullston, T. & Lane, M. (2012). Impact of obesity on male fertility, sperm function and molecular composition. Spermatogenesis 2(4), 253-263. http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/spmg.21362
Rowland, D. L., McNabney, S. M., & Mann, A. R. (2012). Sexual Function, Obesity, and Weight Loss in Men and Women. Sexual Medicine Review, 5(3), 323–338. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sxmr.2017.03.006
Tur-Kaspa, I., Shmuel, S., Moffa, F. Massobrio, M., & Meltzer, S. (1999). Human Reproduction, 14(7), 1783–1784. https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/14.7.1783
Written by Christin Zeller, September 2018