Infertility and digestion

This morning Monica and I were working on a new brochure to give out to obstetricians/gynaecologists. After looking at a few websites for inspiration and seeing the usual discussion on balancing menstrual cycles and focus on the reproductive system, it came to mind a case I had treated several years ago.

A woman of 39 years had come to me for treatment of ulcerative colitis (ulcerations in the colon). She was experiencing bloating, alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhoea and some minor bleeding from the anus. She did not feel well on the western medication and had decided to try another way. She was a practitioner’s dream patient. She kept extensive notes on what she ate and how her bowels reacted every day. After a few treatments of acupuncture and herbs she had improved significantly. We started to spread out her treatments to monthly visits and during this time she started IVF treatment as her husband had had a vasectomy during his first marriage and it was no longer reversible. Her first egg collection resulted in only 2 poor quality eggs from only one ovary that did not fertilize. Her gynaecologist told her that she had “old ovaries” and that she should consider donor eggs. Understandably the next time I saw her, she was quite upset and her colitis had flared again with the fertility drugs and the stress. I asked her if she would give me 3 months to work on getting her system right before trying any further IVF treatments. She was concerned because of her age, 39, but I assured her that 3 months in the scheme of things was not going to make a great deal of difference.  So we began again working on her digestion with acupuncture and herbs.

My focus remained mainly on her digestive function with only one herb and only added a couple of points that would assist the reproductive system. In Chinese medicine, the digestion (Earth element) with its ability process the pure and impure, and transformation and transportation of the energy derived from our food provides an integral support and nutritive mechanism for the reproductive system. In the journal of Chinese medicine (British), I read of a famous doctor who had a secret formula for making childbirth easier. His family of doctors had passed down this formula over the generations. He decided to have it patented so it would be available to all in China and not just to his patients. It went through vigorous scientific testing, in vitro and on animals but they could not find how the formula stimulated the uterus. The answer was that it didn’t stimulate the uterus but strengthened the digestion thereby provided the energy that the reproductive system needs to function.

After 3 months it was Christmas so she decided to wait with the IVF until the new year. We continued with the herbs and the acupuncture. In the New Year she started the IVF cycle. This time scans showed 12 follicles of varying sizes. Both ovaries had responded. Six eggs were harvested. Four fertilized. Two were implanted and she became pregnant. We continued with the acupuncture and herbs until the end of the first trimester, treating the nausea and helping to maintain the pregnancy. The baby was due around her 40th birthday. She came in again for assistance in getting the birth process happening. She had a natural birth, much to her doctor’s surprise, and delivered a healthy baby boy.

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