Five key aspects from Chinese medicine perspective for preconception health
When you and your partner decides on when to start trying to have a baby, it is good to have an idea of your partner's and your health in check. Here are 5 important aspects from Chinese medicine perspective for preconception health:
Cycle, Ovulation & Fertile mucous - It is important that your cycle is regular and there are signs of ovulation. The appearance of substantial fertile mucous that is clear and stretchy resembling an egg white consistency preceding ovulation is an indication of your "peak day". Fertile mucous acts like an alarm, alerting you to your most fertile days and, it facilitate the sperm's journey up the cervix aimed at getting these sperm inside the female reproductive tract well before the egg is released. The egg is one of the shortest lived single cell in the body, its lifespan only last between 6 to 12 hours. A simple tool such as a fertility app can help you monitor your cycle and body temperature to determine when ovulation occurs. It also indicate your most fertile phase for intercourse and it keeps a log of your physical and mental health symptoms.
Emotions and mental health - Anxiety, depression or fear can affect your reproductive health. In Chinese medicine, there is a connection between the Heart (Mental/Emotions) and the Kidney (Uterus). It is said that when the Heart is happy, peaceful and tranquil, the function of the uterus would be harmonised. Meaning ovulation would occur at the right time and the cycle is regulated. Emotional well being and mental health is important to your partner as well. This will impact on his sexual function and his ability to enjoy the journey with you. Not only do you need to work on your physical health, emotional and mental health is equally as important in preconception health.
Nutrition and Nourishment - How you fuel your body can either enhance or deteriorate the function of your body. Food influence your well-being, weight, energy levels and how you feel from a day to day basis. By understanding that food is medicine that provides nutrition for your body, you can begin to nourish your body by changing the way you connect with food. From a Chinese medicine perspective, we are encouraged to consume warm cooked meals and to stay away from cold and raw foods such as smoothies, cold and raw salads, poke bowls, protein shakes, and ice-cream. Greasy, deep fried food, junk food, and overly spicy food are discouraged and the consumption of alcohol should be limited and cold beverages should be avoided. This general principle is applied for preconception health. It helps to keep the stomach and womb warm and well nourished, an important aspect in increasing the success rate of natural conception.
Lifestyle - Stress! Most common issue that I constantly hear about during preconception consultation in my clinic. In Chinese medicine, stress can cause Qi stagnation. When Qi does not flow harmoniously, it disrupt the balance of Yin and Yang in the body. Therefore, hindering the energetic Organs of the Liver, Spleen, Heart and Kidneys that aid in reproductive matters, to work on coping with stress rather than on conception affairs. Begin by addressing what is the source of your stress, than take steps to either minimise or find strategies to manage that stress for example, reducing work load responsibilities, practice meditation or yoga, etc. By tweaking and adjusting your lifestyle now will help you and your partner have a higher success rate in conceiving naturally.
Sexual function - Check in with each other. Is there poor libido, premature ejaculation problems, performance issues or pain on sexual intercourse? These are signs that suggest an imbalance in the body or a physical problem that can either be addressed with Chinese or western medicine. It is best to address these issues as soon as possible because treatment to restore good healthy sexual function does take time. Therefore, the sooner you get it checked out and treated, the quicker you can start trying for a baby.
The body is very resilient and copes with whatever we throw at it. We also believe that the body can heal itself quickly. As a practitioner, I would like to believe that this is the case for every body but we are all built and shaped differently. If you and your partner would like to have a baby six months to a year down the road, I urge you to put your health and lifestyle as a priority now. Changes on the physical, mental, emotional and cellular level takes time therefore, preconception health should be right at the top of your "To Do List".
Lyttleton, J. (2013). Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine.
Image from Unsplash by Taylor Hernandez