2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Infertility and Traditional Chinese Medicine

I don’t care much for the infertility industry, though I know some of you are deeply grateful to it for helping you create your precious child. I love kids too. I simply don’t care for the business that infertility has become. In this two-part Health Tip, we’ll explore Western medicine’s approach to infertility treatment and, next week, the path taken by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). 

My first issue with infertility clinics is their utter lack of interest when it comes to approaches less drastic than all the tests, hormones, and surgical procedures. Part of the problem is the gynecologists themselves. Largely because of malpractice fears (their premiums are breathtaking), gynecologists follow a straight-and-narrow menu of high-tech fertility enhancers. It’s worth mentioning that infertility centers are businesses that wouldn’t make as much money offering nutritional counseling as they do by performing in vitro fertilization (IVF).

I’ve never been pleased with the one-size-fits-all mentality at these clinics. Every woman gets the same blood tests (and there are plenty of them), x-rays, ultrasounds, and so forth. There’s far less individual treatment than we strive for at WholeHealth Chicago. Plus, with each test stress levels soar. Some of the procedures can be quite uncomfortable, and for many women every appointment spikes anxiety as they await their results.

Looking at waiting room photos of couples holding their babies, many women agonize “Why not me?”

Stress a key factor
Fertility clinics don’t seem to acknowledge the role of stress in infertility. From the moment you decide to use a fertility specialist, stress levels escalate beyond the stress you had when you were simply worried because you weren’t getting pregnant. The costs alone are enough to ramp up mental and emotional strain, especially if you don’t have the right kind of health insurance.

On the home front, the full range of your infertility work-up can come to dominate your life. Dinner conversation centers on pregnancy and your desk is covered with temperature charts and medical bills while your body is swimming in high doses of the same hormones farmers use to increase livestock production. A calendar replaces both love and lust as the cue for having sex. You might even find yourself saying things to your partner like “I told you Jockey shorts can lower your sperm count!” and “I don’t care how horny you are. We wait ‘til Thursday when I’m ovulating.”

What most fertility centers neglect to mention is that all mammals, humans included, are programmed to limit the number of offspring they produce during periods of stress. If a herd of deer senses there won’t be enough food in the coming months, hormone levels change and the females simply have fewer babies.

Significantly, stress reduces the function of your ovaries, thyroid, and adrenal glands. Understand that you need all three functioning in relative harmony to coordinate a pregnancy.

If you’re already working with an fertility clinic, try these steps to reduce the stress of treatment:
–Attend yoga or tai chi classes.
–Use this excellent fertility guided meditation CD/MP3 by the always reassuring Belleruth Naparstek.
–Consider a session or two of Healing Touch, especially after procedures such as IVF.
–Work with a practitioner of TCM, such as Whole Health Chicago’s Mari Stecker or Cindy Kudelka. More on this on this in next week’s Health Tip.

I’ve also never been thrilled with the explanations infertility centers offer when, after months of trying, nothing seems to work. Rather than saying honestly that they don’t know why you can’t get pregnant, they too often take a blame-the-patient approach, using unhelpful phrases like “your uterus just won’t accept the fertilized egg” or “you have premature ovarian failure.”

Lower-cost fertility options
Before you refinance your condo to pay for IVF, consider these free or very affordable ways to boost your odds of getting pregnant:

Increase fertility by…
–Replacing animal sources of protein with vegetable sources.
–Substituting high-fat dairy for low-fat products.
–Taking these useful supplements: a daily multiple vitamin with iron, a good antioxidant blend, fish oil, and zinc.
–Trying herbal fertility enhancers, such as chasteberry, raspberry leaf, false unicorn, red clover, and Damiana. A skilled herbalist like Seanna Tully at WholeHealth Chicago can prepare a blend for you.
–Having a TCM evaluation.

Avoid these pregnancy inhibitors
–Coffee, tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drugs.
–Eating too many soy products.
–Excessive exercise or dieting with rapid weight loss.
–Low levels of folate, vitamin B-12, vitamin D (get tested for all three), and iodine (just use iodized salt).
–Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) should be under 2.5, not the old normal of under 5.0. Try this self test and then ask your doctor to test you. If your TSH is over 2.5, start taking thyroid replacement.

Next week, how TCM practitioners approach infertility and some happy success stories.

Be well,
David Edelberg, MD
Mari Stecker, BA, LAc
Cindy Kudelka, LAc, MSTOM

Leave a Comment


  1. Great post shared above…..

    Traditional Chinese Medicine provides a natural approach to gently nourish and encourage the body towards conception. Chinese Medicine views the egg and sperm as our most vital essence that is transmitted by our parents.

    If a couple has been having timed intercourse for a year without a pregnancy, then they are candidates for fertility treatments.

    Chinese medicines and Acupuncture is a proven therapy to relieve stress and calm the nervous system.

    I read some reviews at https://aimwellnessclinic.com/ about traditional chinese medicines and there I got to know that the main benefits of acupuncture and herbs are as follows: regulate the menstrual cycle, increase blood flow to the uterus, increase the uterine lining thickness, balance hormones, decrease cysts and fibroids.

    If you have some more details to share, please do.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Upcoming Workshops


**Winter Solstice Celebration: An evening of Acupuncture and Shamanic Healing
Tuesday, December 17, 5:45–7:30pm
Hosted by Katie Oberlin, HTCP and Mari Stecker, LAc

Course Fee: $75.00

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to enter the stillpoint of the Winter Solstice, reflect on the lessons of 2019, and set intentions for the new year. This will be an evening of individual and group healing, ceremony, and celebration. More →

Recent Health Tips

  • Ten Drugs Doctors Should Consider De-Prescribing

    Physicians use the word polypharmacy when a patient is taking five or more prescription drugs daily. A recent survey showed that half of women Medicare recipients were taking five or more drugs daily, and 12% of them were taking ten (!) or more. New patients frequently arrive at WholeHealth Chicago carrying bags stuffed like piñatas with prescription drugs and nutritional supplements, the latter recommended by Read More

  • Toxic Metals, Heart Disease, and Chelation Therapy

    In last week’s Health Tip I reviewed the well-researched health dangers of environmental toxic metals (also called heavy metals). They’ve always been a serious health risk, but with the Trump Administration’s recent rollbacks of clean air and water regulations we can expect even more trouble ahead. Statisticians predict an astonishing 160,000 unnecessary deaths over the next decade from the reversals of clean air and water Read More

  • Heavy Metal Toxicity and Your Health

    For those who were otherwise preoccupied that day long ago in high school chemistry, the heavy metals refer to a group of especially dense metals or metal-like substances (called metalloids) found in the environment. These metals–specifically lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and aluminum–can all be absorbed by your body and stored there. Our environment is already quite toxic (Trump’s EPA deregulations aren’t helping) and it’s getting Read More

This month, save 20% off all Metagenics Medical Foods

UltraMeal
UltraInflamX
UltraClear