Pre-conception Care

The importance to regain reproductive health

When women come to the clinic, we carry out a detailed history of their reproductive function as well as their general health. Sometimes women come with clearly defined condition, such as Endometriosis or PolyCytic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS see below). But some women are diagnosed with unexplained infertility, suggesting that no clear cause can be identified for her subfertility. 

We use the diagnostic tools of Chinese medicine to complement our understanding of gynaecology and in most cases (although not all!) we can find a Chinese medicine diagnosis. 

For example a women may have only a two-day menstrual bleed. Whilst most Western gynaecologists pay no attention to this symptom, most women feel instinctively that this is not right. In Chinese medicine this is a significant factor in subfertility, indicating a thin or ‘lacking’ uterine lining that cannot support a pregnancy.

Another very common symptom of women coming to the clinic is of having severe menstrual pains with big clots and dark or brown coloured blood (this can be correlated to the diagnosis of endometriosis). In Chinese medicine it indicates a reduced blood flow in the pelvic area, and hormonal treatment or ovarian manipulation such as IVF in these cases will often result in poor clinical outcomes if the blood flow is not first addressed.  

In such cases we strongly advised patients to have treatment for several months before they commence treatments such as IVF. With preconceptive care, we come to a Chinese medicine diagnosis and a treatment plan, outlining what we need to improve to enhance either natural fertility or the IVF outcome.

Good nutrition and life-style is equally important to enhance implantation and embryo growth.  It can help prevent miscarriages, and, being neither over- nor underweight as a mother will prevent diseases in your child later in life. Part of the pre-conceptive care is to design a nutritional and life-style programme that will enhance your chances of a healthy pregnancy. 


Nutrition

Good nutrition of the mother is essential for the health of the baby and the adult the baby will become.  It also increases fertility by helping the implantation and early development of an embryo.  Chances of a miscarriage are reduced.  Good nutrition to the womb will increase the weight of the baby and thus decrease the risk of poor health later in life.

Our nutritional advice is given according to the principles of Chinese medicine and holistic health.  That means after doing a complete diagnosis of you according to both Chinese and Western medicine we can advise you to incorporate certain foods into your everyday diet so that your body has the chance to return to its optimum health and wellbeing in preparation for pregnancy.  


Weight

Fertility is highest and pregnancy most successful when the body mass index (BMI) is between 20-25.  Overweight women (BMI 27) are 300% less likely to conceive, and much more likely to miscarry if they do conceive.  But even loosing a little weight can increase the chances of a pregnancy significantly.  One in three women who are overweight and loose weight gets pregnant, and the risk miscarriage is reduced by 2/3. Underweight women (BMI 17) are 50% less likely to conceive. 

For you to achieve an improved weight and thus for you to enhance your chances of natural fertility we again advise you to follow a certain food programme.  You may also receive treatment that aims at increasing or decreasing your metabolic rate.


Stress, sleep

Life-style stress or depression is implicated in ovulatory irregularities and abnormal sperm development.  Lower levels of measurable physiological stress indicate a higher chance of conception.  Sleep plays a major role in maintaining good homeostasis and wellbeing.  Lack of sleep has been shown to lead to physiological disruptions.  It inhibits the release of growth hormones which are essential for tissue growth and the maintenance of the body’s metabolism.

In Chinese medicine the link of stress and lack of sleep to infertility is well recognised, and treatment will always aim to improve stress response and sleeping pattern.


Alcohol

Even modest consumption of alcohol by the woman can delay conception.  Alcohol is poorly metabolised by women and can lead to a disturbance of the oestrogen/ progesterone balance.  In both men and women alcohol should be avoided during IVF as it can lead to a reduced egg production for egg retrieval as well as an increased risk of miscarriage in women, and alcohol consumption before sperm collection reduces the success by more than 8 times in men.


Smoking

Women smokers have markedly lower levels of oestrogen which could lead to a delay in conception.  It is also implicated in tubal factor infertility, and can cause early menopause.  In the men, the toxic components in tobacco have damaging effects on sperm production.  After stopping smoking, the sperm count increases quickly. 


Coffee

Coffee consumption is closely linked to fertility rates: the risk of infertility is 55% higher in women who consume one cup of coffee per day, 100% higher in those who drink 1.5-3 cups, and 176% higher in women who consume more than 3 cups per day.  Coffee can also retard fetal growth and increases the risk of miscarriage.  That means if you consume 1-3 cups of coffee per day it may take you twice as long to get pregnant.  Your average natural conception time would increase from 7-9 months to about 1-2 years.


Medications

Painkillers or aspirin, commonly taken by women for menstrual pains, reduces fertility by interfering with ovulatory signals.  Thus looking for alternatives to painkillers is often necessary if you plan to get pregnant.  Both acupuncture and herbal medicine are highly effective to relieve pain.

 

 

 

 




Wimpole Street Clinic

Gatefield Clinic

Make an Appointment

By telephone:

Gatefield Clinic:01795 591 337

Wimpole Street Clinic:0207 935 2030

Mobile: 07985 918 237


Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine Professional Standards Authority BAcC Member British Holistic Medical Association