Friday, October 14, 2011

IVF & Fertility

Five of the seven rules froma Chinese Medical practitioners perspective:

STAY WARM – An old Chinese saying “You can not cook a bun in a cold oven”

Before and after the transfer, and throughout the pregnancy make sure that your feet are warm. According to Chinese medicine the essence that creates embryos comes from Kidney qi. The kidney meridian starts at the sole of the foot, so if we let the feet get cold then the cold travels up the channel and into the Kidneys, reducing their vitality. This also applies if your trying to conceive and through out your first trimester.

This means no bare feet on cold surfaces! Open toed shoes and wearing light shoes in colder months is also not appropriate. If your toes are cold, then you need to wear sox and appropriate shoes, even if that means wearing shoes rather than sandals in a Melbourne summer.

Before the transfer book in to see your Chinese doctor before the transfer, if this is not possible then take a warmed wheat bag or used a moxa stick on your lower abdomen and lower back before the transfer. Keep your lower abdomen and back warm, but not hot, especially throughout the first trimester. This means wearing clothes that cover your lower back and tummy, ie. tuck in your shirt, wear high waist pants or skirts or wear a home made kidney wrap, made from cloth or wool.


No caffeine, this includes black teas like earl grey, English breakfast, green teas, coke and Pepsi, and of course no coffee! Caffine also reduces the body's absorption of iron. Decaf is full of chemicals so stay away from this also. 

There is minimal caffeine in white tea, and no caffeine in herbal teas, so enjoy these teas instead. If you are a heavy coffee drinker wean yourself off coffee over a 2 week period.

Relax. This means mentally and physically. Let go of your worries for today, do not worry about timelines or dead lines, and try to stay away from situations that make your frustrated or anxious.

Practice a light form of yoga, gentle Iyengar or Hatha yoga, and let your instructor know that you are trying to conceive and want to drop your stress levels.

High impact exercise is good in moderation, but not just before a transfer, and not during pregnancy as it raises Cortisol our stress hormone too much.

Good levels of Progesterone is important to hold a fertilized egg within the womb. Progesterone gets converted to Cortisol, so if you are stressed or exercising too much or too hard, then you are more likely to miscarry.

Energy that you expend outwards is energy that could be feeding another life inside of you. Take time to do things that make you relaxed, watch a movie, walk in the park, get a massage, get a facial ect.


In China, acupuncture is often daily for 7 days and then a few days break and then repeated again. Discover Chinese Medicine recommends acupuncture once to twice a week leading into an IVF. Come in for at least 10 treatments before your transfer, and try to fit this in 6 weeks before transfer if possible.

Women having IVF treatment can boost their chances of falling pregnant by 65 per cent simply by having acupuncture.
A review combining the results of seven previous studies has found that acupuncture also increases the chances of having an ongoing pregnancy (beyond 12 weeks from gestation) by 87 per cent - and nearly doubles the chance of a successful live birth, increasing that by 91 per cent. Ref 1  

Acupuncture can reduce Cortisol levels, balance hormones, and increase blood flow to the uterus. For more information about how acupuncture can help with fertility and IVF this website has many article links; visit


Folate (folic acid) is very important during this time. So eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables like asparagus, spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, beans, peas, etc. Also, there should be plenty of folic acid in your prenatal vitamin.

Calcium & magnesium citrate should also be in the pre natal vitamin supplement. To obtain good levels of calcium eat fish where the bones are eaten like sardines and consume dairy if possible. Black Beans, Nuts, pumpkin seeds and cooked spinach all contain magnesium.

Taking a supplement of iron is recommend if you iron stores are on the low side.   Good sources of iron include: lean beef and lamb, poultry, fish , eggs, chick peas, lentils, kidney and lima beans, green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and spinach

Eating foods high in vitamin C will also help you to absorb iron if you consume them at the same time. Try drinking a glass of water with a quarter lemon when eating green vegetables or legumes.

A pro DHA can help with an “irritable uterus”, and also build good levels of essential fatty acids in your system, essential for baby’s brain and nervous system development.

Eat lots of fresh and organic foods when possible to increase the vitamin and mineral levels n your body.

To aid the Thyroid make sure iodine is part of you prenatal supplement.


Undiagnosed, untreated or insufficiently treated thyroid conditions can endanger your pregnancy, increasing the risk of miscarriage, intrauterine growth retardation, pre-term labor, stillbirth, and cognitive problems/mental retardation in your child. Ref 2

Successful Fertility clinics often include thyroid testing as part of a fertility testing.  Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid problems can not only impact on fertility but also worsen pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss, depression, and morning sickness.

Thyroid stimulating hormone - TSH is released from the pituitary gland, which is responsible via a feed back loop to control the levels of the active thyroid hormones released from the thyroid. If the active thyroid hormones are low then the pituitary asks the thyroid to work harder by releasing more TSH. If TSH is elevated, then this is an indication that you thyroid is underactive.

In America the healthy reference range for the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone- TSH is between 0.5 – 2. Australia’s reference range is between 0.5 – 4. This means that even when your TSH levels are at the higher end off ‘so called healthy’ in Australia, American physicians would be treating you. The Australian reference ranger has a larger leeway for underactive thyroids to be called ‘healthy’ thyroids. If you have seen a G.P about your thyroid in the past, and had a thyroid function test that came back within reference range, request to see your results again, if your TSH is above 2, and your not falling pregnant, you may need to boost thyroid function with vitamin, mineral and herbal supplementation before you start trying to conceive again.


1. A. Cresswell, ‘Fertility spike from acupuncture’ The Australian , Health editor, February 09, 2008.
2. .  M. Shomon ‘ Just When Can You Become Pregnant?’ Based on Information from the NIH, Health's Disease and Condition, 2009. Viewed on the 14/10/11


  1. Well if you understand your condition better, the better will it be for you to manage it. And it will give you a clearer view on what actions to take and thyroid medications to have.

    1. That's right Danica. What we see in our clinic is the women who are already having trouble - which is why we double check over all results including thyroid results which have been reported as "fine". What is safe and responsible for pregnancy is very different to what a person can just "get by" with in day to day life. A struggling thyroid over time will cause issues for a women but is often not severe enough to warrant a diagnosis or intervention of any type by mainstream medicine. On the other hand, if this woman was to fall pregnant - the risk of problems with pregnancy and the newborn are incredibly high. Problems range from an increased risk of premature birth and pre-eclampsia through to intellectual problems for the child.

      Nature usually takes care of this potential disaster by preventing the pregnancy from even starting, or by miscarriage early on in the piece. Experienced endocrinologists who are aware that a woman is contemplating pregnancy may look with more scrutiny at results and take action, but from our clinical experience it's very easy for a woman to fall through the cracks without the problem of an underactive thyroid being highlighted and addressed.

  2. Awesome post. I strongly agree that Acupuncture treatment will give the positive results from my experience. I was unpregnant for 6 years, and i heard about Natural fertility Acupuncture Treatment in Gold Coast region, and I undergo the treatment in Nuwa Natural health Clinic, within few months i got pregnant and my child is now 8 months old. So i truly believe in Acupuncture treatments. Thanks for doing great jobs.