By: Randine Lewis, Ph.D., L.Ac. for Acufinder Magazine
"It can be frightening, this yearning for a child – it's hard to fathom the desperate urgency." –Wendy Wasserstein, award-winning playwright and first-time mother at age forty-six, from Creating a Life by Sylvia Hewett
Susie had been diagnosed with "unexplained infertility." This meant that her doctors could find no specific hormonal or physical reason for her inability to conceive. Her reproductive endocrinologist had put her on courses of hormone injections to stimulate her ovaries to produce more eggs, as well as intrauterine inseminations to bypass any potential cervical or sperm factors.
But nothing had worked. A friend had told her about my program, and Susie decided to try it. "What did I have to lose?" she told me later.
When Susie first made the appointment at our clinic, she downloaded a set of forms, which we asked her to complete in advance and bring with her. These forms asked about her general health, diet, emotions, and specific menstrual and hormonal symptoms. Susie thought some questions were irrelevant to her fertility problem, but she filled in her answers and brought the forms with her on the appointment day.
When Susie walked in for her first appointment, she was frustrated, fearful, and skeptical. She knew a lot about what Western medicine had to offer in her quest for a child but was unfamiliar with more natural approaches to fertility enhancement. When she passed through the doors of Eastern Harmony, however, she knew she was in for a far different experience from her other doctor's sterile clinic. When a patient comes into our clinic, she is surrounded by an atmosphere of tranquility created by music, water fountains, plants, scented candles, and incense.
My consulting room is also warm and inviting, a place of comfort and hope. I could see Susie start to relax as soon as she walked in the door. We chatted about her general health and the problems she had had conceiving, and I looked at her questionnaire to familiarize myself with her symptoms. Then I took Susie's wrist and listened to her pulse – one of the primary methods of diagnosis used in TCM. (Practitioners of TCM are taught to read nine different positions of a patient's pulse.) I looked at her eyes and her tongue for outward manifestations of internal energies. I wanted to see where the flow of Susie's life force energy, or Qi (pronounced chee), was blocked or out of balance.
After I had assessed Susie's condition, I told her, "I believe you have an energy imbalance in the meridians running to your reproductive organs. In traditional Chinese medicine, for the ovaries and uterus to be in balance the Kidneys, Liver, and Spleen must be also, as these energy systems are intricately linked to reproduction. The imbalance of energy is affecting your hormones as well as your overall health."
"But my reproductive endocrinologist didn't find anything wrong with my hormones," Susie replied.
"Many hormonal problems occur because of slight imbalances in the endocrine system, altering the way the body produces hormones," I told her. "Modern Western diagnostic techniques may not detect any abnormality, but even a slight aberration can throw the entire system off so it no longer functions smoothly. We need to get your hormones and the other systems in your body back into balance."
"I've had my hormones stimulated, and it didn't work," Susie objected.
"I'm not talking about stimulating your hormones but rather restoring your body's natural balance," I reassured her. "Think of your body like a river. The health of the river depends upon the natural flow of water."
"When nature is doing its job, rain falls in the hills, runs downhill in rivulets into streams, then into bigger streams, then into the river. But if the river isn't getting enough water – if there's a drought, for example – the system won't flow the way it's supposed to. The Western solution to a drought is to open the floodgates of a dam upstream and release an enormous amount of water all at once. That will cause water to flow into the river, but it also may cause enormous problems because the river's ecosystem isn't equipped to handle that much water all at once. Hormonal stimulation can have the same effect on a woman's body: it floods the system with a huge amount of stimulation that the body simply isn't equipped to handle."
"The Eastern method is different. Instead of flooding the river with water from a dam, the natural approach is to seed the clouds and release just enough rain to restore the proper level of water in the river."
"Traditional Chinese medical treatments are designed to stimulate the body's own natural production of hormones while restoring the health and harmony of the entire system. Once the body is in balance and its hormones are restored, conception can occur."
"You're sure it's effective?" Susie asked.
"The first records of fertility treatments using traditional Chinese medicine date back to well before the Christian era," I answered.
"I advocate a simple four-step program that can help you balance your energies and prepare your body to nurture a child. Each program is designed specifically for the individual patient. The first step is to diagnose what's going on with your system and how your reproductive energies need to be harmonized."
"The second step is to change your diet. In the Chinese medical system, certain foods have specific properties – generating heat or dampness, for example. Depending on your Chinese medical diagnosis, you may need to choose foods that will help purify your Blood, or increase energy flow to your Kidneys, or eliminate stagnation in your Liver. And we'll explore adding certain vitamin and mineral supplements to your diet, too."
"The next step is to clear your energy meridians. In your case, I believe a series of acupuncture treatments would be helpful. I may also prescribe specific exercises."
"My friend swore that your acupuncture treatments helped her get pregnant," Susie said. "But after all the injections I've been getting for the last few months, I hate the idea of needles."
I shook my head. "Acupuncture is nothing like an injection. Most of my patients say they can't even feel the needles, and many tell me that they are more relaxed after a treatment. I suggest you try one treatment and see how you feel. If it's not for you, we can pursue other options, like acupressure."
"The goal is to balance your energy meridians and get the Qi flowing smoothly again. "The final step is to increase your chances of conception through the use of herbs, natural energetic substances that gently correct underlying deficiencies or clear obstructions. Herbal preparations and tonics have been used for thousands of years in China to help increase fertility."
"We'll individualize each herbal formula based upon your diagnostic pattern. There will be different herbs for various segments of your cycle. I'll also give you an herbal mix designed to enhance your overall health and well-being."
"We'll keep assessing our progress and make changes as needed. Simply by following these steps – diet, acupuncture, and herbs – and using relaxation and stress-reduction techniques, many women in our clinic are able to conceive within a period of months."
Susie looked at me expectantly. "Do you really think I can have a child?"
I knew what she was feeling because I've seen it in hundreds of patients and have felt the same need for hope myself. "Susie, we're not talking about a quick fix here. Chinese medical treatments are designed to work with nature rather than against it, to allow conception to occur rather than force it. Most of my patients need to be on this program for at least three cycles before they can expect noticeable hormonal changes. But many of them report almost instantaneous improvement in their level of health and well-being, as well as greater energy, more emotional calm, and a sense that they are working with their bodies to prepare themselves to become pregnant. My patients will attest that these techniques work. Yes, I truly believe they can help you have a child."
Susie left my office that day with a renewed sense of hope and possibility. She came in weekly for acupuncture sessions (which, she told me, didn't hurt at all), changed her diet, and began taking the herbal mixtures I prescribed.
Within a month her energy and overall health were much better. Four months after her first visit to my office, Susie became pregnant naturally.
She had a beautiful daughter and is currently expecting her second "acupuncture baby."
The Myth of Infertility
Susie's story is similar to that of many women who find their way to my clinic. They arrive discouraged, disheartened, hoping against hope there might be an alternative that will allow them to have a child. It is my blessing and responsibility to offer these women a source of hope that they, too, can feel a child quickening within them and hold that child in their arms.
My work with fertility issues began as a result of my personal struggles. Now I only treat women who are trying to get pregnant.
Though I suffer through their heartache, I also get to experience their joy when, as a result of my treatment, they become pregnant after being told they were infertile. If you too have been told you are infertile, I have one message for you: There is no such thing as infertility; it is a myth!
Rarely have I met a woman of childbearing age with all her reproductive organs intact who isn't capable of bearing children. As long as the anatomical structures are present, a medical diagnosis of "infertility" is often a fallacy. Many factors can cause a woman to have difficulty conceiving, but once these factors are overcome and a woman's body is restored to health, conception can occur naturally.
The focus of my program is to remove obstructions to conception. The stories of the patients I have treated are not unusual.
Women around the world are finding more natural means to overcome their fertility barriers. Restoring optimal health permits the expression of our natural fertile state. Our job is simply to be ready for the occasion when the universe says, "It's time." I advise you to devour all the knowledge you can about fertility. Take control of your own health, and trust yourself. No one is in tune with your body like you are. You have to learn to trust your instincts until your individual solution emerges. Above all, know that you are not broken; you are not deficient. No matter what the outcome of your own personal journey, you are whole.
You can conceive. It may take more motivation and perseverance than you ever thought possible. But Nature is on your side. With her gentle help and support, your child will come.
About the Author:
Randine Lewis, MSOM, L.Ac., Ph.D., author of The Infertility Cure and The Way of the Fertile Soul, has pioneered a new technique for naturally maximizing fertility. She is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist who has studied both Eastern and Western medicine. After suffering from "infertility" herself, she earned her graduate and post-graduate degrees in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, always focusing on natural fertility enhancement. In addition to resolving her own fertility issues, she has helped thousands of women throughout the world with natural, health-enhancing methods. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Organic Style, Pregnancy Magazine, The Journal of Alternative & Complimentary Therapies, Alternative Medicine Magazine, Conceive Magazine, Natural Health Magazine, and the Dr. Christiane Northrup Newsletter. Dr. Lewis conducts fertility-enhancing retreats around the world through her work with The Fertile Soul, LLC. www.thefertilesoul.com.