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  • Writer's pictureSinoSan

TCM supports a successful pregnancy

Schwangere Frau hält ihren Bauch und lächelt glücklich

In recent years, as material living conditions have improved and technology has become more convenient, people's diets have become increasingly rich and heavy, while exercise has decreased. Poor diet, irregular routines, and increased stress in life and work have led to a decline in fertility conditions for more and more couples. Additionally, the increasing age of childbearing has led to a rising infertility rate each year. Medically, infertility is defined as the inability to achieve clinical pregnancy after at least 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse.

I. What is the understanding of infertility in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?

The observation, understanding, and research of TCM in fertility have a long history. The terms "infertility" and "sterility" first appeared in the "Zhou Yi"; during the Warring States period, the "Huangdi Neijing" provided a relatively systematic discussion of reproductive physiology and introduced the kidney-centred reproductive theory; during the Qin and Han dynasties, the earliest gynaecological treatise "Tai Chan Shu" was produced in China. Subsequently, TCM reproductive theory developed during the Sui and Tang, Song and Yuan dynasties and reached a comprehensive theoretical system during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

TCM believes that "when the male essence is strong, and the female menstruation is regular, conception can occur." This means that normal male sexual function, good sperm quantity and vitality, regular female menstrual cycles, regular ovulation, average menstrual volume, colour, quality, and the absence of dysmenorrhea all contribute to more straightforward conception.

Modern TCM treatment for infertility mainly considers the course of infertility, pregnancy history, surgical history, and underlying medical history, combined with modern medical examination results to understand the causes and make a precise diagnosis. Through "observing, listening, questioning, and feeling the pulse", abnormalities in female menstruation and male sexual function and semen are identified to differentiate between organ functions, Qi and blood, deficiency and excess, cold and heat. Using methods such as herbal medicine and acupuncture, deficiencies are supplemented, excesses reduced, and the balance of Yin and Yang is harmonised to achieve "strong male essence and regular female menstruation." Having intercourse at the right time (i.e., during ovulation) can then naturally lead to pregnancy.

II. How to efficiently prepare for pregnancy?

  1. Emotional Balance

TCM believes that emotions such as anger, joy, thought, sorrow, and fear are related to the liver, heart, spleen, lungs, and kidneys. Emotional imbalance can lead to disharmony among the organs, possibly causing infertility. Therefore, maintaining a pleasant mood and a balanced mindset and avoiding negative emotions are essential.

  1. Balanced Diet

TCM advocates a balanced diet, avoiding picky eating or excessive consumption of raw, pickled, high-sugar, and fried foods. Smoking and alcohol should be avoided, and the intake of iron and folic acid-containing foods (such as oranges, lemons, bananas, watermelon and strawberries) should be moderately increased.

  1. Regular Lifestyle

TCM considers that staying up late harms the liver and kidneys. People who stay up late for long periods or have uncontrolled sexual activities often suffer from liver and kidney Yin deficiency, which, over time, can lead to Yin damage and affect Yang, resulting in premature ageing, menstrual disorders, and infertility. Therefore, avoiding late nights, moderating sexual activities, maintaining hygiene, exercising appropriately, strengthening one's energy and blood, and adjusting weight to a suitable level are necessary.

  1. TCM Regulation (Herbal Medicine + Acupuncture)

Combining herbal medicine and acupuncture can not only regulate the state before pregnancy but also support patients requiring assisted reproductive technology. It can improve sperm and egg quality, enhance endometrial receptivity, optimise the pelvic and uterine environment, and provide post-transfer care to increase the success rates of artificial insemination and IVF.

III. What misconceptions should be avoided?

  1. Some couples believe they are healthy and have no fertility issues, thus they don't need to be checked.

However, being able to eat, sleep, and be pain-free does not necessarily mean good fertility. Many people, although seemingly healthy, may have undetected issues without specific examinations, such as azoospermia, oligospermia, asthenospermia, teratospermia, high DNA fragmentation rate, liquefaction abnormalities, or vas deferens obstruction in men, and uterine abnormalities, fibroids, adenomyosis, poor egg quality, reduced ovarian reserve, fallopian tube obstruction, or pelvic endometriosis in women. These conditions can affect normal pregnancy and require professional targeted examinations to identify. Therefore, pre-conception checks based on medical history are very necessary.

Couples under 35 should see a doctor if they have not conceived after one year of trying, while women over 35 should seek help after six months. Those with known conditions that could lead to infertility should have their fertility evaluated early. Factors such as advanced age, underlying medical conditions, and long-term poor lifestyle and dietary habits can affect fertility, necessitating timely medical consultation to avoid delaying treatment.

2. Some believe that infertility is mainly a female issue and that the male partner only contributes "little tadpoles," making it irrelevant whether he quits smoking or drinking.

In fact, both partners equally influence infertility (50% each). Both need to work together. Numerous studies have shown that smoking (including secondhand smoke) and excessive alcohol consumption affect the quality of male sperm and female eggs. If the sperm's quantity, vitality, deformity rate, and fragmentation rate do not meet requirements, it can hinder fertilisation and pregnancy, and even affect the health of the fetus, leading to recurrent miscarriages. Therefore, during pregnancy preparation, both men and women are equally important. Both should undergo preconception examinations and be well-prepared, addressing any issues early.

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