15 Aug Improving your ovarian reserve with Chinese Medicine; Part 1
As a Chinese medicine women’s health expert I see many patients undergoing IVF, so many times I have been asked “How do I improve my ovarian reserve in order to have a more successful IVF cycle?”
First in order to answer this question we need to look at two factors;
- Are you getting large number of follicles that are poor quality OR
- Are you getting low numbers of follicles
In Chinese Medicine differential diagnosis and individual treatment is key, let me explain a little more. So for a woman who is getting many follicles but many of these are poor quality in Chinese Medicine terms this is more of a nourishment issue, whereas low numbers are more a closely related to poor ovarian reserve and age related infertility.
So let’s talk about working with both issues;
Large number of poor quality follicles
So in Chinese medicine terms large numbers of poor quality follicles developing during an IVF cycle would indicate that there is poor nourishment during the growth phase, this can occur due to one main factor Poor blood supply to the ovaries. Why? Blood both in Western Allopathic and Chinese Medicine carries all the nutrients and oxygen to our cells including the ovaries. However again it is important to differentially diagnose and diagnose why the blood is not reaching the ovaries; Not enough such as generalised nutrient or Chinese Medicine blood deficiency or hindered by lesions and growths such as endometriosis.
So in cases of large number of poor quality follicles first we need to increase circulation, this can be achieved by;
- Regular Acupuncture : The more the better! Acupuncture increases circulation of blood
- Abdominal massage : So you are not so into the idea of needles, even painless Acupuncture needles then look into abdominal massage such as Mayan Abdominal massage
- Herbal Medicine : Chinese Herbal Medicine can be prescribed by a qualified herbalist based on your unique needs to increase circulation. Herbs such as E Zhu – Cucuma Rhizoma and Sang Leng – Burr Reed Rhizome break down impediments. Herbs such as Chuan Xiong – Szechuan Lovage root and Dang gui – Chinese Angelica Root promote blood circulation. Formulas such as Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang – Drive out the stasis in the lower abdomen decoction combines the above concepts as well as gently warming the uterus to keep circulation flowing, a very important concept in Chinese Medicine.
Secondly we need to increase nutrients, this can be achieved by;
- CoQ10 supplementation: See this great article for more information about how CoQ10 could improve follicle quality.
- Royal Jelly supplementation: Royal jelly is traditionally prescribed for low ovarian reserve. Evidence is scant, however I have heard many antidotal stories from other practitioners of Chinese Medicine. Unfortunately this is not the case for myself in clinic and I find response to herbal medicine much stronger. However I am yet to write it off totally!
- Herbal Medicine: Again Chinese Herbal Medicine can be prescribed with the focus on ovarian quality. Herbs such as Zi Shi Ying – Flouritum and Lu Jiao Shuang – Deer Horn Fragments are considered particularly good for improving follicle quality and often prescribed in combination with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan – Six Ingredient pill with Rehmannia, with Bai Shao – White Peony Root and Dang gui – Chinese Angelica Root.
In Part 2 we will discuss low number of follicles, so stay tuned. Further information can be found on our Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine for low ovarian reserve page
- Cannon, Emma (2010); The baby making bible: simple steps to enhance your fertility and improve your chances of getting pregnant; Rodale
About the author
Lauren Surridge is the Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist and owner of Balanced Life Health Care. Lauren has a bachelor of Chinese Medicine and specialises in Women’s health, gynaecology and infertility. She has a passion in educating women in the basic lifestyle changes that they can make at home to improve their health, hormonal balance and fertility. To find out more about Lauren click here and to make an appointment to see Lauren at her clinic in Ferntree Gully click here