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 promote 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.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Yin Phase is the time in your cycle, after your period, during which your follicles are developing. It roughly corresponds to the follicular phase of your cycle, or about Days 5-12. Yin is considered the cooling and nourishing and more feminine aspect of your body, corresponding to estrogen in Western Medicine. During this phase, it is important to keep cool, emotionally and physically. Focus on nourishing and nurturing your body. If we're really stressed or agitated, we might see a spike on our basal body temperature charts, which can indicate sporadic follicular development. If we're perpetually stressed, we might even have a shortened follicular/ yin phase and premature follicular development. The uterine lining is also being rebuilt after being shed in phase 1, so again, we really need to nourish our body to promote that growth. If you're over 35, it is especially important to focus on balancing your body during this phase of the cycle. Our estrogen levels decrease with age, and this is the part of the cycle where we often see this depletion of estrogen affecting our fertility.
Nourish the blood and yin to allow for later growth of a thick and juicy uterine lining.
Increase blood flow to the uterus.
Improve quality of follicles (Lowering FSH levels - Yes, it is VERY possible)*
Increase number of follicles developed in an IVF cycle.
Replenish your body's blood and yin that is lost during Phase 1.
A formula I recommend often for my patients is Jade Moon Phase 2, either Under 35 or 35+.
Yin Phase 2 Tips:
1. Chill out.
Literally and figuratively. If you're taking your basal body temperature, it's ideal to see temperatures that are all at least .5 degrees cooler than temperatures in your luteal phase. Recognize that agitation, stress and anger can all cause a release of cortisol that can definitely impede fertility. Take long walks, practice deep breathing and meditation. If you're finding it really difficult to relax and let go, Catecholcalm is one of my favorite supplements to help your body balance your Cortisol levels and relax without the use of sedatives. I also developed Fertile Mama Tea, one of Ariele's Apothecary's line of Artisanal Small-Batch Blends. Fertile Mama Tea is highly effective blend that supports the female reproductive system, especially for those looking to increase fertility and become pregnant. Rich in calcium and magnesium, it strengthens the uterus, balances hormones, soothes and cleanses the liver, promotes circulations and tonifies the blood. Not intended for pregnant women.
2. Slow down.
While it's always great to encourage the flow of qi, this phase is really about building - both the uterine lining and healthy follicles. I wouldn't encourage running or any high intensity exercise during this phase. Exercises that promote and increase Qi and Yin, like Tai Qi, Qi Gong, and Yin Yoga are best for this phase. These exercises can also increase blood flow to the uterus.
Please sleep! This is probably the most important thing I can suggest for you. The night is considered the yin time, and in order to replenish and support our body's yin, we need to sleep. If we're awake and active and doing a more yang activity during the yin time, instead of replenishing yin, we're burning up more of our body's yin reserves. Sleep sleep sleep. Please sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours a night.
During the Yin Phase, it is important to try to replace some of the nutrients lost during the Blood Phase of our cycle. It's the perfect phase during which to eat some grass-fed red meat, but any dark meat is great - duck, dark meat, leg poultry meat. If you're vegetarian, eat an abundance of Go Ji Berries and Golden Berries, and consider taking a supplement that boosts Yin and blood, like Energizing Iron.
*If you're still skeptical that acupuncture and Chinese Herbs are powerful enough to regulate your hormone levels and improve fertility, here's a little validation. I treated a 39 year old patient whose Day 3 FSH level was 58 (Ideal level is below 12). She committed to weekly treatments and a pretty intense regimen of Chinese Herbs and Supplements (Reishi Mushroom and Cordyceps have been shown to help in reducing FSH levels - my favorite is Health Concerns Cordyseng) When she went back for re-testing 3 months later, her Day 3 FSH level was 10... right within the ideal range. Even I was sort of amazed!
Learn more about Increasing Fertility with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs.
Check out Phase 1: The Blood Phase, Phase 3: The Qi Phase and Phase 4: The Yang Phase