Reality: IVF is brutal. The bruises are real. The fear of failure can be overwhelming. The financial burden is heavy.
The antidote to this challenging reality is faith.
Faith in the Universe to unite a mother with the soul of her unborn child.
Faith in doctors to expertly prescribe the exact dose of Follistim or Gonal-F, Lupron, hCG, Prednisolone, Estradiol, and/or Progesterone needed to hijack a menstrual cycle and optimize the body's conditions for conception & pregnancy.
Faith in holistic medicine to support & protect the body, mind, and spirit from such an invasive process.
Faith in traditional Chinese herbs to harmonize the body, mind, and spirit and nourish the Uterus.
Faith in yourself to answer the sacred calling of a Mother.
Visit the Fertility page here.
Getting pregnant doesn't have to break your budget! If you have $10 per week, here's how you can use it to increase your odds of a healthy pregnancy within three months.
Here are 8 fertility tools that cost less than $10 a week over the course of three months:
1. Basal Body Temperature Thermometer: The first step to accurately tracking your fertility cycle is to record your waking body temperature under your tongue at the same time every morning before getting out of bed. This special type of thermometer records temperature to the 10th of a degree, which is extremely important when trying to conceive.
2. High-Quality Prenatal Vitamins: Prenatal vitamins are important because so much happens magic occurs inside an embryo before a positive pregnancy test (typically around 4-5 weeks pregnant). Within the first 3 weeks of pregnancy, the embryo is busy building a spinal cord, brain, eyes, heart, digestive tract, liver and face! Your little baby will draw upon mama's stores of vitamins and minerals, but needs more! When selecting a prenatal vitamin, talk to a health care professional (doctor or acupuncturist) to make sure you're buying the best available for your specific needs. My favorite professional-quality brands are Thorne and Innate Response. Contact Michelle to order online.
3. Fertility-Friendly Lubricant: If you use a lubricant, make sure it's fertility-friendly and sperm-safe. I usually recommend BabyDance because it's available at most major retailers including Amazon.
4. Fertile Living Library: Follow this link to access free fertility resources from fertility acupuncturist Heidi Brockmyre:
6. BBT Chart: A Google search will reveal lots of free printable BBT Chart templates or there are several fertility apps that can capture temps to produce a chart. Choose what works for you! Here's a printable PDF from BabyCenter to get you started.
7. Warm Socks: Simply put, Warm Feet = Warm Uterus. Wear socks in every season!
8. Reference Books: Learn all about fertility with these two tomes of knowledge:
At only $10 a week, these tools can help you achieve a healthy pregnancy! Sending you lots of baby dust!
Truth: Trying to Conceive (TTC) gets more expensive over time.
It's undeniably tempting to self-educate & research the latest ways to get pregnant. Unfortunately, it often leads to wasting money on supplements, herbs, fertility teas, and technology that don't deliver a big fat positive (BFP).
Wasting money & hope can make the whole process of TTC even more overwhelming and frustrating.
So, here is my advice if you have been trying to get pregnant and don't know what to try/buy next.
Ask for help from a professional fertility expert.
It is a small investment that will save you time, money, and tears.
Here is my 3 step plan to getting pregnant on a budget:
1. Commit to the journey: There is no quick fix to establishing a fertile environment and it's easy to forget there are two sides to fertility story:
2. Commit to a plan: If you thought committing to at least a 3 month journey sounded challenging, this step is even more daunting, but much better for your wallet. Committing to a plan requires saying a firm "no" to that herb/tea/supplement you just read about on a fertility forum. Stop throwing money away by buying every supplement you hear about. Those $20 teas and bottles of herbs purchased by impulse shopping can add up fast!
3. Commit to a budget: Before you start shopping, commit to a budget that works for you. You can always revamp it if your financial situation changes. The most important thing is to stick to your budget, because the added stress of finances can push you over the edge when you're TTC.
Here are some examples of how far your budget goes on a professionally designed fertility plan:
Please leave comments or reach out to Michelle if you need help designing a natural fertility plan that works for you & your wallet. Specific products used in this estimate are listed after the "Read More" jump.
Sending prosperity and baby dust your way!
Chinese Medicine has known the health benefits of cannabis seeds (Chinese herb huŏ má rén) for over 2,000 years. Now, modern medicine is catching up and learning about the health benefits of cannabidol (CBD). There is a tidal wave of CBD oil products hitting the market... here's a quick overview of what they are and how they work.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the human body that is regulated by the endocannaboid system in the nervous system (central & peripheral). CBD can also be harvested from the Cannabis plant.
How does the body produce CBD?
Omega-3 fatty acids* are converted to CBD in the central nervous system. There are two types of cannaboid receptors (for the science folks: CB1 and CB2) distributed throughout the body.
*Wait, what are Omega-3 fatty acids?
This could be a whole blog post, but here's a quick explanation of Omega-3 fatty acids. There are three types:
What does CBD do?
The CBD produced in the endocannaboid system helps maintains homeostasis (biological balance) throughout the body. If your body does not produce enough CBD, you may experience chronic aches and pain, headaches, migraines, insomnia, poor appetite, digestive problems (heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel), reduced immunity to bacteria and viruses, allergies, fertility issues, and/or memory problems. As you can see from this list, the endocannaboid system works hard to keep us feeling good!
What are plant based sources of CBD?
CBD is harvested from Cannabis (Cannabis sativa). CBD is the 2nd most abundant compound in the plant (the most abundant compound is tetrahydrocannabinol aka THC).
What can CBD oil products do?
Cannaboids derived from the plant Cannabis sativa have many therapeutic uses. Research studies show CBD reduces anxiety (including social anxiety disorder), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), epilepsy, and pain. There are links to research studies at the bottom of this post for reference.
Is CBD oil legal?
Yes, hemp-derived CBD oil is legal to purchase and use in the US.
Who should not use CBD?
If you look at the latest research on pubmed.gov about "cannabidiol and pregnancy" or "cannabidiol and breast" you'll see that CBD crosses the placenta and changes the morphology and physiology of cells in a developing fetus. Animal testing has demonstrated CBD is excreted in high concentrations in breast milk. The many benefits of CBD do not outweigh the risk it poses to fetal or infant development; therefore, we do not recommend it to pregnant or breastfeeding patients. There are much safer herbal alternatives available.
Book an appointment to find out if CBD is right for you!
Have you ever wondered about Chinese Herbs? What they are? What they can do?
Before we dive into it, are you a fan of Harry Potter?
Do you remember how Professor Sprout taught a magical herbology class at Hogwarts?
Harry and his friends studied herbs for 5 years, which is the same amount of time most Oriental Medicine practitioners (a.k.a. an Acupuncturist-Chinese Herbalist) study Chinese herbs in medical school.
There are over 350 herbs in the Chinese herbal medicine Materia Medica, which is our version of an herbal encyclopedia. Herbs can come from plants, minerals, and animals. When they come from plants, they can be the whole plant, or parts of plants like seeds, leaves, flowers or roots.
High-quality Chinese herbs are grown and harvested in accordance with the season and carefully prepared to protect their magical, oops, I mean medicinal properties. Every herb in the Materia Medica is carefully categorized according to its function. For example, some herbs like rou gui (cinnamon) can warm you up, while other herbs like bo he (peppermint) can cool you down. Some herbs are minerals, like mang xiao (Glauber salt, similar to Epsom salt). Have you ever had a drink made with Epsom salt? If you have, you know that it drains downward and serves as a natural laxative. The Chinese figured this out over 2000 years ago!
Trained Chinese herbalists know how to use herbs effectively and safely. Some herbs can't be used together and some are only appropriate for specific conditions. There are over 100 ancient Chinese herbal formulas, each containing anywhere from 2 to 20 individual herbs that work synergistically together. Taking the right herbs at the right time for the right condition can have downright magical results!
Chinese herbs can be taken in several different forms and it's an acupuncturist-herbalist's job to figure out which way is best for you. Herbs can be taken internally as:
Herbs can also be absorbed externally through the skin as a poultice or by soaking the hands or feet.
So, what conditions can be treated with herbs?
For women, herbs can help with:
So, that's a quick overview of Chinese herbs. When used properly, they can accelerate healing in a safe, natural way and keep you on track between acupuncture appointments.
If you want to find out how Chinese herbs can help you feel better, schedule a consultation with Michelle today!
As a Licensed Acupuncturist, one of my favorite skills is reading a patient’s pulse to find out what’s going on in their body-mind-spirit. In Oriental Medicine, this is called pulse diagnosis. Within seconds, I can find out whether a patient…
… is having nightmares
… is digesting a greasy hamburger
… is constipated
… has a headache
… has back pain
… is about to catch a cold
And, my favorite pulse revelations:
… is pregnant
… is pregnant with a boy or girl
… is pregnant with multiples
Patients often ask me, “How in the world can you know that from my pulse?”
The short answer is, the pulse reveals everything.
Pulse diagnosis has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. There are over 25 distinct pulses and each has its own unique characteristics. Licensed Acupuncturists spend at least 4 years in graduate school learning & practicing traditional pulse diagnosis. It’s a skill that develops with practice and study over time.
Now, let’s circle back to my favorite pulse revelations, pregnancy and fetal gender...
I can generally detect pregnancy in a pulse shortly after implantation between cycle weeks 3-4. The pulse reveals pregnancy about a week before any modern medical pregnancy test or bloodwork will register enough hCG to deliver a positive result. Discovering a pregnancy pulse is always the highlight of my work day!
The gender of the fetus appears in the pulse as early as cycle week 5. To minimize error, I monitor the pulse carefully between weeks 5-7 before I share the news. Sometimes, parents don’t want to know, so I record the gender and deliver it to them in a sealed envelope for later use. Anatomical ultrasounds typically occur around cycle week 20, so learning a baby’s gender by cycle week 7 gives parents plenty of extra prep time to shop for pink or blue!
Are you ready to get a pulse diagnosis?
Request an appointment here!
A special guest post from my friend and Fertility Acupuncturist, Heidi Brockmyre, L.Ac.
When preparing for your upcoming embryo transfer, the thickness and quality of your uterine lining often determines whether your doctor can move forward this cycle or cancel.
Hearing the words, “We may need to cancel this cycle” can be quite devastating.
So what do you do when the estrogen patches aren’t getting the job done and you need to thicken your lining FAST?
How to increase your lining in 48 hours or less:
1.) Eat lining-building foods
In Chinese medicine, a thin uterine lining is a sign of what we call “Blood Deficiency”. Blood deficiency is different than any conventional medical diagnosis. You may or may not be anemic, but anemia alone does not determine blood deficiency.
We consider blood deficiency to be a type of dryness where the body just is lacking enough blood to nourish and lubricate the organs and tissues.
Blood deficiency also refers to the quality of the blood. It may be your blood lacks the nutrients necessary for nourishing the tissue and organs.
In either case, I prescribe the following blood nourishing foods:
2.) Castor oil packs over the uterus
Castor oil packs not only help to increase blood flow to the uterus, but also help to improve the quality of the lining by encouraging the softening of blood stasis and detoxification. Castor oil is a softens the tissue and helps to draw toxins out of the tissue and flushed out of the system. Drink plenty of water afterwards.
3.) Rest and restore
DO NOT skimp on sleep. Sleep is essential to build new blood cells and nourish your uterine lining. Be in bed by 11pm at the latest. No less than 7 hours. Preferably 8.
Rest throughout the day when you feel tired.
DO NOT over exercise. Especially avoid excessively sweating. Gentle yoga and walking are best.
Practice stress management tools. Stress exhausts the body, and drains the digestive system making it more difficult to assimilate nutrients from the foods you eat. It also causes muscle tension, further preventing adequate blood flow to the uterus.
4.) Use Self-Acupressure and Acupuncture
If you have access to a fertility acupuncturist (like Michelle), then book a treatment or two.
If you don’t, or if you want to do everything you can in addition to the acupuncture treatments, you can do self-acupressure at home. 15 minutes a day makes a huge difference! You can begin with the free introductory self-acupressure video in my resource library. I've had women write me to tell me that doing this protocol alone made the difference!
Heidi Brockmyre, L.Ac is Fertility Expert and Experienced Acupuncturist. She practices out of her San Diego clinic using acupuncture, shamanic healing and other holistic medicines to improve the well-being of her clients, including those struggling with specific health complaints, and women who are trying to conceive, are pregnant, or are in postpartum recovery. Heidi has continued to develop more programs to help women all over the world take control of their fertility health through online courses and products. Heidi also runs a mentorship program to help other acupuncturists achieve the same global reach, so that together we can create a worldwide health paradigm shift.
Get Heidi’s Free Library of Resources here.
Miscarriage = A difficult word to say out loud. The word feels heavy, laden with the weight of grief, sadness, pain, and shame. Sadly, it’s not an uncommon occurrence… statistics tell us 1 in 4 women will have a miscarriage in their lifetime. I’ve had two & I know many women who’ve had more. Miscarriage is always a significant loss. There is no quick fix for recovery and every mother walks a unique path to acceptance and healing.
So, how can you get through it? Here are 3 steps towards healing after miscarriage:
The hardest thing after my miscarriages was breathing. That may sound weird, but it took a conscious effort to breathe through the grief. In Chinese Medicine, grief is the emotion of the Metal Element. The Metal Element corresponds to the Lungs. When grief attacks the Lungs, it can be physically hard to breathe as the chest tightens and constricts. To help you (and your Lungs) process the grief, consciously take a deep healing breath, in through your nose, expanding down to your diaphragm, and out through your mouth. Repeat a few times until you feel grief relax its cool grip. It can help to imagine breathing in white healing light and breathing out clouds of gray sadness.
Self-care Tip: There is a point on the Lung channel named "Broken Sequence"... it is a powerful point to release grief. Massage and press the point to help your body process feelings of grief and sadness.
2. Express your thoughts
Miscarriage is an incredibly lonely and isolating experience. It doesn’t matter how long you were a mother, nothing can replace the loss of the life inside you and very few people will understand what it feels like. Your partner may be sad too, but there is no denying that your sense of loss will be stronger and last longer. To process grief, all of the emotions (sadness, anxiety, fear, shame, worry, guilt) must be physically released. Here are some ideas on how to let those emotions go:
3. Allow time to heal
If you can, escape from work and daily obligations. Take 2-3 days to live in your pajamas, feel the pain & loss, cry uncontrollably, and heal. If you can’t take time away, schedule an hour into your day to process the grief by expressing your emotions. Crying in the shower is good too!
Recovering from miscarriage is often the loneliest journey, but it doesn’t need to be that way.
If you need help, let friends or family know what you’re going through and ask for their support. Reach out to a local acupuncturist to holistically heal your mind-body-spirit.
Once you open up about your loss, you'll be surprised how many women will share that they've had one too. Miscarriage is a common secret there is no reason to keep.
A guest blog this week from my friend and fertility expert, Heidi Brockmyre, L.Ac.
Just like nature cycles through 4 seasons during the course of the year, your body cycles through 4 phases during each menstrual cycle.
As you tune into the changing seasons of the year, you eat different foods and switch clothing to support your body as it adjusts to the environmental changes.
These adjustments are intuitive. You instinctively know to eat in-season produce, drink warm teas during the winter, and eat refreshing watermelon to stay hydrated during hot summer months.
In our modern Western society, however, you may not be as in tune with the needs of your body during each phase of your menstrual cycle. Supporting each phase helps you to maintain a regular healthy menstrual cycle, balance your hormones and sustain the health of your eggs and lining.
In the West, we aren’t taught much about our reproductive systems at all, let alone about the 4 phases of our menstrual cycle. Most of my patients don’t even know what fertile cervical mucus is until they start reading up on how to increase fertility and chart their cycles.
A healthier cycle is the prerequisite for improving fertility and a healthy pregnancy. It's like tilling the soils to prepare for an abundant harvest. By gaining insight into the rhythms of your cycle, you can influence the health of your cycle, which is why it's so important for me to teach you the wisdom Chinese medicine has to offer on the subject.
Primary Goal in Chinese Medicine: Move Blood
Each phase typically lasts about 7 days if you maintain a regular 28 day cycle. The first phase of your cycle begins with the first day of your period. Although you may only have flow for 1-3 days, this first week is considered the first phase.
The primary goal during this phase is to properly shed your uterine lining. Energy needs to be flowing in the right direction, which is down and out of your body. This is a delicate phase. A lot of movement is taking place and so your body should rest and be allowed to do it’s thing.
It takes energy for the body to release the lining. If it’s disrupted, you may not properly shed the lining and old stagnant blood can stick around, causing clots. It’s important to stay hydrated and you may need additional electrolytes. If you crave red meat, you likely need the iron. Otherwise avoid eating heavy and greasy foods.
During your period, avoid exercising. Gentle stretching and light walking are acceptable.
Phase 2-Follicular Phase
Primary Goal in Chinese Medicine: Build Yin and Blood
Phase two begins around 1 week after your period starts and lasts until ovulation.
The primary goal during the second phase is to rebuild blood and substance to nourish a healthy uterine lining and support the maturation of a healthy egg for ovulation. As soon as your flow stops, it’s a good idea to begin nourishing your body and building up blood and fluids again.
This is considered the yin phase (versus yang) of your mentrual cyle. Yin is the substance and fluid material of your body, while yang is energy that fuels movement and function.
Although it’s important during all 4 phases of your cycle to get a good night’s sleep, your body especially needs it during this time. In fact, it’s best to be in bed before 11:00 PM each night. According to the Chinese medicine circadian clock, it's at this time that your body starts replenishing it’s blood supply and healing the tissues of your body while you sleep. By missing out on quality sleep or getting to bed too late, you may not replenish your blood supply adequately, which can affect the health of your lining and eggs, especially if this is a chronic habit.
I also recommend eating plenty of nourishing foods, like soups and stews, iron-rich vegetables and lots of organic animal protein to give your body the support it needs to rebuild your blood supply and mature an egg for ovulation.
Avoid excessively sweating and overly rigorous exercise during this time. You may find that your joints are stiffer, you’re more prone to headaches and fatigue.
Self-acupressure is also a very effective tool for supporting your body during the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle.
Primary Goal in Chinese Medicine: Promote Yang (Warmth and Movement)
Phase 3 begins with ovulation and lasts for one week following ovulation. This phase begins when the “yin” (blood and fluids) have built to a climax and then the energy transforms into yang as the body signals that it's ready for ovulation.
The yang phase is about warmth and movement. This is why your basal body temperature should rise immediately after having ovulated. The hormones released during this phase of your cycle warm up the body to promote the release of the egg-containing follicle. The warmth encourages dilation and blood flow so that the egg can be released from the follicle and travel unobstructed down the open fallopian tubes.
During this phase, it’s important to keep your feet, low back and abdomen warm. Stretching the hips, low back, and pelvic area can help increase blood flow and movement in the reproductive organs while relieving congestion.
Avoid cold foods, raw vegetables, and phlegm producing foods, like sugar and dairy as these can cause congestion and fluid build up in your tubes and uterus. Congestion makes it difficult for the sperm to reach the eggs and for an embryo to make the journey down the tubes.
Phase 4-Implantation or Pre-Menstrual Phase
Primary Goal in Chinese Medicine-Regulate the Flow of Qi (Pre-Menstrual Phase) or Promote Yang (Implantation)
This phase begins about 1 week after ovulation and ends the day get your period or confirm pregnancy with the first day of your late period.
Your temperatures should continue to stay high during this phase and typically drop off right before you being your period. This phase continues to be about warmth and the movement of energy or “qi”. If implantation took place (usually between 7-10 days after ovulation), then warmth and blood flow will continue to be the main priority.
Self-acupressure to promote implantation using a study-proven series of specific points is an effective tool for encouraging your fertilized embryo to successfully implant.
If you are not pregnant, then your body is gathering energy to shed the uterine lining and adjusting hormones. Sometimes this energy gets bottlenecked or doesn’t flow smoothly, resulting in a variety of PMS symptoms like moodiness, bloating, and headaches.
It’s important during this phase to minimize stress, as stress disrupts the flow of qi and can make the symptoms worse. Caffeine and alcohol should also be avoided. Exercise and stretching helps regulate the flow of qi. Peppermint tea helps to relieve PMS symptoms and improve the flow of qi.
Your body performs infinite miracles every moment of every day in every cell. The better you understand your body, the better you can support it. The more in tune you are with your cycle, the more you can till the soils of your fertility.
Heidi Brockmyre, L.Ac is Fertility Expert and Experienced Acupuncturist. She practices out of her San Diego clinic using acupuncture, shamanic healing and other holistic medicines to improve the well-being of her clients, including those struggling with specific health complaints, and women who are trying to conceive, are pregnant, or are in postpartum recovery. Heidi has continued to develop more programs to help women all over the world take control of their fertility health through online courses and products. Heidi also run a mentorship program to help other acupuncturists achieve the same global reach, so that together we can create a worldwide health paradigm shift. Get Heidi’s Free Library of Resources Here.
When I started studying Chinese Medicine, I realized that not only is it important what I put into my body, it’s also important how I put it into my body.
Water is the ultimate example of this lesson, since it can consumed hot, warm, room temperature, cold, or frozen.
Here are 3 reasons why I don’t put ice in my water:
1. Cold is the Stomach’s enemy
The Stomach is warm and has an abundance of fluids. It receives and breaks down food, turning it into Gu Qi (aka Food Qi). We can’t survive without Gu Qi, so for optimal performance, it’s best to give the Stomach the right temperature of liquid and food (room temperature, warm or hot).
2. Cold impairs digestion
Cold or frozen water inhibits the Stomach’s production of Gu Qi, simply because it cools the Stomach down too much. If you add ice to very cold water, the water can actually cool enough to transform into more ice. Now, I’m not suggesting that ice-cold water crystallizes anything in your digestive track. But, think about it… if you continually drink ice-cold liquids, your Stomach has to work harder to stay warm. Working harder will create an imbalance elsewhere in your body, most likely the Large Intestine.
An imbalance of Stomach qi may manifest as difficulty digesting foods with symptoms such as stomach cramps, hiccups, abdominal pain before bowel movements, or loose stools. Or it could manifest as food retention (aka a food baby) as the burrito you ate for lunch hangs around much longer than you wish. You might notice your pants feeling too tight from abdominal bloating. Or you could feel tired and mentally fatigued. These are all symptoms of qi imbalance.
3. Cold reduces fertility
For women: In Chinese Medicine, the Yang partner of the Stomach is the Uterus (including the ovaries). The Uterus is the most fertile when it’s warm. Therefore, cooling down the Stomach leads to cooling of the Uterus, which reduces fertility. Symptoms of a cold Uterus include painful menstrual cramps or an irregular menstrual cycle (too short, too long, or varied).
For men: Too much cold in the abdomen can impair fertility by disrupting production of quality sperm in the testes. Too much heat is not good for the testicles either. In fact, the testes are just like Goldilocks… the most healthy when they are at just the right temperature, which happens to be a few degrees cooler than body temperature.
Now that you know the effects of ice water on the body, keep in mind that other cold foods such as ice cream, frozen yogurt, and iced-smoothies have the same effect.
To keep your Stomach warm and active, drinking warm liquids (hot water with lemon) 30 minutes before a meal is a great idea. Try it for a few days and see how you (and your Stomach) feel.
Life happens and sometimes it’s hard to resist that perfect ice cream or glass of ice water on a hot summer day. If you indulge in any ice-cold beverages or foods, do so sparingly and drink a warm liquid afterwards to keep your Stomach from feeling the freeze.
Dr. Michelle Wendt, L.Ac., DACM
Dr. Michelle Wendt, L.Ac., DACM practices Oriental & Chinese Medicine in Hawaii and Texas.