While there are many studies that prove that acupuncture and herbal medicine do indeed promote fertility, many women still questions how and why they work. I've created this four-part post to familiarize you with each phase of your menstrual cycle. You will learn how acupuncture and Chinese Herbs can help to increase fertility during each phase, as well as gain tips and pointers that you can implement yourself to help to increase your own fertility.
While I do recommend some common herbal formulas for each phase, please note that each woman has very specific needs. I highly recommend that you see a Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist to give you personalized recommendations based on your specific diagnosis.
This is the phase in our cycle after which ovulation has occurred and your ovary is producing progesterone, usually between days 16-30. It corresponds to the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle. Because progesterone is a more warming hormone than estrogen, your body temperature should naturally be elevated during this phase. You may have heard those somewhat terrible expressions "a cold womb" or "luteal phase defect" (LPD). Because we want to encourage the burrowing of the fertilized embryo into the uterus, the Yang phase is the time in which warming the uterus is especially important. A warm uterus is much more inviting than a cold one.
Even if ovulation occurs and the follicle is fertilized, it might not be implanting into the uterine wall. During the Yang phase, the uterus should develop a triple-layer or become "tri-laminar." While the yin of the body gives us the substance for the uterus to thicken, the yang energy is needed during this phase to develop and divide into layers, as well as to encourage the burrowing energy of the embryo.
On our basal body temperature chart, we are looking for maintenance of the elevated temperature that was hopefully achieved during the Qi Phase of your cycle. If you see a temperature that drops after ovulation or that doesn't rise to at least .5 degrees higher than the highest temperature in your follicular or Yin Phase, this is a good indication that you need support during this time in your cycle, and that acupuncture and herbal medicine can help you.
How Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Improve Fertility
- Increase the body's yang energy to promote warming of the uterus and production of progesterone.
- Increase the ability of the uterine lining to ripen into a triple-layer and for the cells of the lining to produce more secretions.
- The Yang Phase is an important time to come in for acupuncture. Your acupuncturist might perform moxibustion as well as insert needles to encourage tonification of Kidney Yang. A favorite formula at the Apothecary is Jade Moon Women's Phase 4.
- Fertile Mama Tea, one of Ariele's Apothecary's line of Artisanal Small-Batch Blends, is a highly effective blend that supports the female reproductive system. Rich in calcium and magnesium, it strengthens the uterus, balances hormones, soothes and cleanses the liver, promotes circulations and tonifies the blood. If you experience painful periods, heavy bleeding, cramps or PMS, switch to B*tch's Brew Herbal Tea at mid-cycle, or around Day 14. An Apothecary favorite, B*tch's Brew is a delicious yet therapeutic blend for PMS relief. Supports uterine health, strengthens the liver, balances hormones, encourages healthy blood flow to reduce cramping and relieves stress and anxiety. Neither formula is intended for pregnant women, so if you do become pregnant, switch to Blissful Mama Tea.
Phase 4 Tips:
1. Keep Warm
The Yang Phase is all about warming energy, which is supple and inviting yet also energizing. We want to encourage tonification of yang by bringing more heat into the body, or at least preventing cold from entering. Wear socks or slippers around the house (this is important all the time), as the Kidney channel begins on the bottom of the feet. Keep your low back warm with a heating pad or hot water bottle. Avoid swimming in cold pools and considering avoiding cold-weather sports like skiing. I don't want to suggest you stop doing the things you love, but if you're trying to become pregnant and this phase of the cycle is proving to be an issue, consider scheduling your ski trip for earlier in the month. Your acupuncturist may perform moxibustion in your acupuncture session during this time. As for an at-home moxa stick so that you can continue to warm your channels throughout this phase of your cycle.
2. Eliminate Cold Foods
Think about what happens to your neck and shoulders when you go out on a cold day. They tense up, right? Your uterus is very close to your digestive organs. If you're downing iced coffee and salad all day, not only will your digestive organs absorb the cold and become tense, but your reproductive organs may as well. This has become such a prevalent issue in so many women since the raw, vegan diet has become so popular. So many women are trying to do what they believe is best for their body are seriously damaging their yang energy. Cold is not only less inviting to a fertilized embryo, but is also more likely to spasm and cramp.
Choose warming and nourishing foods during this phase of your cycle, and if your yang energy is significantly depleted, you would probably be best served to avoid cold and raw foods cycle-round. Soups and stews are yang-tonifying, especially if you add ginger and warming spices like cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Bone-broth soup with loads of garlic and ginger is a perfect choice. Stick to warm teas instead of iced drinks, or at least room temperature.
3. Check your Progesterone
If your BBT chart indicates that your Yang/ Luteal phase temperatures are consistently low, it might be beneficial to go in for a Day 21 Progesterone Test. If your temperatures are low for the entire cycle (below 97.1 on days 1-3), I recommend getting your thyroid checked as well. It is beneficial to know if there is a hormonal imbalance so you can respond properly. There are many yang-tonifying herbs to support progesterone production and something as simple as a progesterone cream can encourage your body to support a healthy pregnancy. Especially if you suffer from recurrent early-stage miscarriage, deficiency in progesterone can often play a role.
4. Write, Feel, Breathe
Yang is considered the energy needed for action to take place. If Yin is about BEing, Yang is about DOing. What needs to take place before action to occur? Thinking: those split-second decisions to lift your arm or turn your head. I believe thinking represents yang energy at its finest. For this reason, I believe journaling to be especially beneficial to encourage yang energy during this luteal phase of your cycle. The purpose of allowing yourself to get deep in thought is simply to elicit feelings. It may feel uncomfortable or unnecessary, but when you feel, you can release. Please do not skip this step. This is often the answer to clearing some deep-seated patterns that could be blocking your energy flow and preventing pregnancy.
Place one hand on your womb and the other on your heart. Your energy follows your breath, so slow down your breathing. Lengthen your inhalation and exhalation. On every inhale, envision your breath traveling down your low back and to the area beneath your belly button. Your inhalation should move the hand that is resting on your womb.
Journal about the emotions your fertility may be triggering, about what motherhood means to you, about ways you feel your partner will be a good father and your fears about how he may not. Do you feel you will be a good mother? How do you feel about your own childhood, your own parents? How do you want to parent differently? Feel into your womb as you're writing. Feel into your heart. Try, if you can, to not use your head. Yes, of course thinking can come from your head. But often we give so much power to our minds and thoughts that we totally disconnect from our body. It is crucial to re-establish the connection between our heart and our womb. So write. Feel. Breathe. Aim to sit for at least ten minutes each day, or as many days during this Yang Phase as you can.
Lots of Love,
I always love to hear from you. Email me at info@ArielesApothecary.com
Learn more about Increasing Fertility with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs.
Check out Phase 1: The Blood Phase, Phase 2: The Yin Phase, and Phase 3: The Qi Phase
Ariele Myers is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Certified Herbalist and the owner of Ariele's Apothecary, Hoboken's only acupuncture wellness center. She can often be found in the Apothecary basement/ workshop, hand-blending oils and potions to add to her Artisanal Tea and Essential Oil Line. She is the mother of two boys, ages 4 and 6, and is learning the fine art of only giving health and wellness advice (outside of office hours) when directly asked. When not seeing patients, mixing oils or spotting someone on the monkey-bars, Ariele is probably baking a gluten-free treat and fantasizing about ways to maximize space in her 2 bed/ 1 bath Hoboken apartment, or looking for the best yoga or barre classes around town and trying to find time to go!