Traditional Chinese Medicine and our Childbearing Journey: Preconception 2
For women and men alike
Licensed acupuncturist and herbalist Emma Lee will be following this journey through preconception to postpartum and everything in between. The first 3 months will focus on preconception time, then 2 months for each of the three trimesters, followed by 3 months for postpartum. We will focus on common problems and how Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, and Western Herbal Medicine may help.
If you’re starting to get more serious about making this baby a reality, you may want to start charting your cycle. This will give you a clear idea of when you are ovulating and the length of your follicular phase and your luteal phase. Technically an egg that has been released will only be viable for about 24 hours. Sperm can live 3-7 days, sometimes longer if you have super sperm I guess. So if you put those 2 factors together, you begin to realize that it could be quite handy to know when that egg is being released.
In order to accurately know this a woman must take her basal body temperature every morning at about the same time before doing anything else and note it on a special chart. Only a basal body temperature thermometer will track this accurately. When ovulation is imminent and we get an LH surge, our basal body temperature will rise and will stay slightly elevated for about another 10-13 days, at which point it will fall back to baseline if conception has not occurred. Other factors to enter into the chart include cervical mucus quality, PMS symptoms such as breast tenderness or mood swings, and frequency of intercourse. Though charting can seem like a lot of work, the whole process is quite illuminating. Once you start to understand your cycles in this more complex way, you can stop charting but know it’s always a tool you can pick up again. Read the book “Taking Charge of your Fertility” by Tony Weschler for a much more in depth description.
Then there are “ovulation predictor kits”. These measure the amount of LH (also known as luteinizing hormone) in a women’s body to predict ovulation. They vary widely in price and in quality. In my experience I’ve seen that the more expensive digital kits often give the worst results. I don’t think these kits are as accurate as a women’s own observations about her body. Many women will notice that during ovulation they release more mucus of a very slippery, stretchy quality from their vagina. This mucus is actually being produced by glands in the cervix, and it facilitates the movement of sperm into the uterus to fertilize an egg. The exact quality you want is like an egg white. If you are trying to conceive and you notice a lack of this type of mucus around ovulation, there are a few things you can do to increase it. There are a couple of Chinese herbs I generally recommend here that seem to help, including Dang Gui, also called Chinese Angelica, and He Shu Wu, also called Polygonum Root. Consulting an experienced Chinese Herbalist is your best bet when thinking of adding herbs to your life, as much of Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on your own individual constitution.
The cervical mucus conversation is also connected to our sex drive. We are the most juicy when we are turned on, lest us not forget. It is not uncommon that sex becomes charged with a type of anxiety when there is a potential baby in the picture for both men and women. Ways to ease this anxiety that I’ve seen work include acupuncture, a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate, a nice herbal cordial with a brandy base and some vanilla beans, Damiana, and rose petals, and to remember our sense of humor when we start to take ourselves too seriously. Try most Amy Schumer skits, the movie Napolean Dynamite, or the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia if you have forgotten that life is ridiculous and humans are pretty funny. It could also be that there are more conversations and sharing to be had between you and your baby making partner that can help open new doorways to arousal that you never even knew were there before.
The last part of the preconception section will deal with what happens when you’ve been trying for more than a year and you’re wondering what’s up, or for those who are already using technologies such as IUI or IVF, and how Traditional Chinese Medicine may help.
If you are on a childbearing journey and would like personalized support, book online with Emma!