5 Ways To Boost Your Fertility
#1) Manage Your Weight
Being either underweight or overweight can significantly reduce your chances of getting pregnant. One study involving the analysis of 2,112 female participants found that women with a body mass index (BMI) of 25-39 required twice the length of time to become pregnant as women with a healthy BMI of less than 19.
#2) Eat More Liver
Some people might turn their head at the thought of eating liver, but it's actually a delicious dish that can prove helpful in boosting your fertility. In fact, a report published by the Weston A. Price Foundation found liver to contain more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food. Whether it's beef or chicken, liver contains vitamin A, vitamin B, protein, folic acid, iron, purines (precursors for DNA) and more.
#3) Eat More Seafood
Seafood – fish, oysters, clams, mussels, lobster, crabs, etc. – are an excellent food for boosting your fertility. They contain large amounts of zinc, iron, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin D, omega fatty acids (the good type of fat), and other essential nutrients, many of which are directly linked to the body's reproductive system. When choosing seafood, however, it's recommended that you opt for smaller-sized fish to minimize your consumption of mercury. Because of its large size, tuna carries a heavy dose of the toxic chemical mercury, and therefore should be consumed sparingly.
You might be surprised to learn that acupuncture can improve your chances of conceiving. Back in 2002, a team of German researchers performed a study to determine the effects of acupuncture on fertility. Researchers split 160 women who were trying to conceive into two groups: one group received acupuncture, while the second group did not it. They concluded that 42% of the women who received acupuncture got pregnant, whereas only 26% of the control group got pregnant. Does this mean acupuncture will guarantee a pregnancy? Not necessarily, but this form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is proven to help couples conceive in less time.
#5) Cut Back on Processed Foods
Many women who struggle to conceive eat far too many processed foods. While a fast food burger and fries may seem appetizing, it forces heavy amounts of saturated fat, sodium and even sugar into your body while offering little-to-no real nutritional value. Fertility experts say women should focus on a more natural diet if they want to conceive.
Contact me today to learn how you can get on track to better health.
How Can Acupuncture Help Me?
As a Licensed Acupuncturist with a degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture treatment is a central focus of my practice. One of the most common questions a new patient asks beyond “does acupuncture hurt?” and “what can acupuncture treat?” is “how can acupuncture help me?”
This question is so common that today I’m going to do my best to answer it for some of the more common complaints I see in the treatment room.
Its important first to realize that 3,000+ years ago, acupuncture and Chinese medicine were the only medical options available in China, and therefore they were used (and still have protocols today) to treat everything from colds to acute infections, back pain, and more. With the advent of modern medicine, it is clear that some things - especially anything that would warrant a trip to the ER - are best suited to Western medical treatment while other things are treated very successfully and naturally by Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Here is a short list of some of the ailments best suited to acupuncture treatment:
There’s quite a bit more, but these are most common ailments I see in my clinic. The top two complaints I see are Pain - especially Neck, Back, Knee and Auto Accident Recovery - and Women’s Health Issues.
How Can Acupuncture Help My Pain?
The benefits of acupuncture for pain treatment have been widely researched and show that acupuncture can cause the body to release pain-relieving endorphins and cause the brain to change the way it perceives pain by changing opiate receptor sites. Neither of these completely explain all the benefits of acupuncture, but acupuncture has received endorsement from the National Institute of Health for pain treatment.
Acupuncture uses hair-thin needles strategically placed along meridians and around the site of pain or injury to balance the meridians. When we balance the energetic body, the physical body follows suit finding a physical state of balance to match the energetic one and in so doing returning the body to a pain free state.
Even when meridians, or energetic channels, are treated locally, the whole meridian from its branches connecting internal organs all the way to the skin layer are affected.
This means that the benefits of acupuncture are widespread - not only will acupuncture treat and resolve the pain, but it will also balance the body on a deeper level in order to maintain the pain free state. Many other things are improved as a by-product of acupuncture treatment such as enhanced immunity and stress reduction - two of the most common acupuncture side effects.
This is true for any type of pain, but is especially successful in treating auto accident recovery. After even a minor car accident, your body is in a state of distress - whiplash, rib subluxation, back spasm. You can also suffer from high stress associated with dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident such as managing multiple appointments and dealing with insurance claims.
Acupuncture will treat the physical pain - relaxing muscles, moving stagnation, decreasing inflammation - and also the stress and physical effects of the trauma such as insomnia and anxiety.
How Can Acupuncture Benefit Women's Health Issues?
The same is true in the treatment of Women’s Health Issues such as PMS, menopause and infertility. Not only can acupuncture balance hormones and reduce cramping, irritability, insomnia, hot flashes etc., but it can also help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with difficult or irregular menstrual cycles.
Indeed, I’ve seen patients with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome who haven’t had a regular cycle or unmedicated period in a decade return to normal cycles in as little as 3 months using acupuncture and herbal treatment alone.
How Can Acupuncture Help Me?
So the short answer to the original question, “How Can Acupuncture Help Me?” is that it can help you by balancing your meridians. This resolves both physical and energetic imbalances which can relieve pain and hormone irregularities. Common acupuncture byproducts include stress reduction and immune enhancement so acupuncture can benefit you on many levels, even ones you may not be actively seeking assistance with. Once balanced, acupuncture can help you maintain a healthy state for years to come.
If you have questions or want to know more please don’t hesitate to contact me or book a free consult anytime!
When I first saw this acronym and heard about MTHFR from my dear friend Cathleen my first thought was, "you have the Motherf***er disease?" I mean, if someone texted you the letters "MTHFR" you could think that was the word they were communicating, right? Hm...
I was admittedly embarrassed that my first gut-shot interpretation of this acronym was such a dirty word and did not share that with her for a while, but as her symptoms progressed and she shared more of her story with me it actually seemed like a reasonable correlation so I did tell her eventually. Luckily she found it pretty amusing so we are still friends and general health-focused mommy co-conspirators.
[Picture by chagniel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]
The more I learn the clearer it becomes that MTHFR is a missing piece of a huge portion of the population's health puzzle - its estimated that 30% of people carry the gene mutation though not everyone expresses it (high stress events such as pregnancy, childbirth, trauma etc. can epigenetically trigger the change) - and the more motivated I feel to learn more and explore how Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help.
My goal with this post today is simply to raise awareness, communicate my (limited) experience in treating MTHFR with Acupuncture in the Portland area, and ask for any and all local resources and connections for people with MTHFR or suspect MTHFR.
What is MTHFR? How does it affect me? The short answer.
If you don't know what MTHFR is, the short answer is that it is a gene mutation which results in a lack of the MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase) enzyme which deals with methylation in the body. Methylation plays a role in how the body deals with environmental stressors, how it detoxifies, adapts and rebuilds. MTHFR is therefore essential for processing a number of things in the body, primary among them B vitamins such a B12 and Folate. There are many resources online that give you the long answer so I won't belabor that here. If you want more details try one of these links below:
Loving Our Guts
Life With Spirit
A MTHFR genetic disorder can cause or contribute to a myriad of symptoms and disorders including:
If you want to know if this could be affecting you, the best way to find out if you have this genetic glitch is to get simple and inexpensive genetic testing done. It costs $99+ if you do it independently of your regular physician depending on the vendor you go with. Here are a couple resources for testing:
23 and Me $99
Lab Testing Direct $149
Holistic Health International $495 (much more comprehensive test)
If you have a combination of the disorders above, or especially if you are fatigued all the time, have tried taking B vitamins but find that they don't help or make you feel ill, you could very well have an MTHFR gene mutation and testing might help you get answers and guide you on a new path to wellness. Oh yeah, getting tested can make you feel less like a crazy person too because you aren't insane or just overly stressed - you may have a genetic disorder that you can do something about.
Knowledge really is power and even though it can be scary to think that you might have a genetic disorder, it is better to get tested and find out sooner rather than later. If it is MTHFR, lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Testing can also help you avoid a misdiagnosis of something else from your western physician such as Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue which might herald pharmaceutical interventions that may or may not be favorable to your constitution over time.
Current Treatment for MTHFR
Treatment for MTHFR is varied depending on the severity of any individual's symptoms, or so it seems from what I am learning slowly but surely. It is clear, however, that there are a number of lifestyle changes that can help you manage the cascade of symptoms, heal, recover and find a new healthier more manageable baseline.
There is an exhaustive list HERE on the MTHFR.net site. It starts with a list of 30 dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health with relation to MTHFR and is based on Dr. Lynch's experience treating patients with this disorder and I trust his recommendations.
Some of the items on this list are understandably specific to MTHFR, such as supplementing specific forms of B12 and Folate and limiting your protein intake to 0.7 grams per kilogram of weight per day, but many others are good recommendations for basic health and for decreasing general inflammation in the body such as:
1. Find a physician - MD, ND - who is experienced in treating this disorder
Your symptoms and journey, or that of someone you know or love, with MTHFR is going to be unique. You need a guide to recovery and care who is going to listen to you and recommend reasonable interventions based on your symptoms and your lifestyle.
MTHFR & Acupuncture Treatment
At this point there is no research or evidence supporting acupuncture treatment for MTHFR specifically. I have literally found one article which mentions an increase in MTHFR mutation found in patients who have migraine with aura, which mentions acupuncture as a known favorable treatment for migraines - but does not specifically link acupuncture with MTHFR.
I have one confirmed MTHFR patient right now, one who has been told by her ND that MTHFR is highly suspect but isn't recommending testing and a dozen more that I suspect based on their symptom pictures. I don't consider myself an expert, but I'm setting out to become one so I want to share what I see and how I think acupuncture can help. I hope to have the opportunity to treat more confirmed MTHFR cases in the coming years so I can compile further data and case studies.
As a 3,000+ year old traditional medicine, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine has a lot going for it. While no single mechanism of action has been identified by western science for its efficacy, there have now been over 10,000 scientific acupuncture studies. It is increasingly accepted that acupuncture is worthwhile in the treatment of pain, in down-regulating the sympathetic nervous system or "fight or flight" reaction, in treating migraine, PTSD, fertility, gut issues from inflammation to constipation, diarrhea and gut motility disorders and more.
Even this short list shows a correlation between these accepted issues for acupuncture treatment and the list of disorders that MTHFR can produce. This, combined with the hallmark of Chinese Medicine as a tradition which treats every individual uniquely based on energetic diagnosis, makes it a natural fit for the MTHFR road to recovery.
Thus far I feel that my clinic experience shows the same. My confirmed MTHFR patient often comes in with insomnia, back pain, anxiety and nervous energy, high stress, headache and fatigue. I generally see her walk out of treatment with a different gait and posture and she reports feeling better than when she walked in. There have been a couple instances of a detox-type reaction to treatment where she will feel worse for a day but when it happens it does pass and there has always been a net positive response over the course of the week in-between treatments. I see her sleeping better, feeling less anxious and experiencing fewer headaches in particular.
My highly probable yet unconfirmed MTHFR patient right now saw a marked difference after just one treatment. Her symptoms are highly stress related/stress activated - high stress type A personality and high pressure job, neck and shoulder pain, insomnia, anxiety, gut issues clearly increased with stress - and she walked out of treatment feeling relaxed which she found very surprising with a marked decrease in her pain.
Stress is one of my primary specialties, both from a lifestyle perspective and a nervous system perspective. I work hard with my patients to help them identify stressors in their life and make a plan to deal with them while using acupuncture and Chinese Medicine including herbs, dietary and lifestyle changes and general supplementation to create change physically, energetically and emotionally.
In the case of MTHFR, I feel like the MTHFR itself is such a huge stressor - having it, dealing with the lifestyle changes that accompany it and the healthcare journey associated with it - that one of the best things I can provide is a safe space to be heard, to be present, and to receive treatment that doesn't require you to actively *do* anything in the moment.
Part of acupuncture is just resting on the table and letting the needles do their work to rebalance the body energetically - i.e. stopping for a moment and just allowing yourself to *be*. When you are pursuing a health journey like MTHFR which has a steep learning curve, you can feel like you are spending all your time running from one test and doctor and obligation to next with your already limited reserves dwindling as you try to put the puzzle of your health and your needs together. The experience of acupuncture is one of relaxation and restoration - hard to come by in the heat of the healing journey, but so necessary.
As I continue to see and treat more MTHFR patients I will write more about the specific types of energetic diagnoses I see and treatments that are successful, but at this point I don't have enough cases to draw any correlations or conclusions. Suffice to say that at this stage, I feel that the theory and practice of Chinese Medicine can be a strong addition to managing MTHFR on many levels - from the mental emotional piece to the physical symptoms themselves - and I am clearly seeing results in my practice from the limited cases I can draw on.
Share Your Resources - Come In For Treatment!
Do you have MTHFR or know someone who does? Can you share specific resources or health care professionals you feel know their stuff in the comments section? I am looking to build a good referral network for MTHFR patients and cases and I would love to know who you feel is really listening to and working for you in the local area.
I am also interested in treating more MTHFR cases so I can compile data and information to share about Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in the management of this disorder. I feel very strongly that Chinese Medicine is a great fit, but I need more experience and data. I would also love to be a partner in your care or that of a loved one with this disorder. I bill lots of insurance!
I have not been tested myself and I know I handle B vitamins well so I believe I am low on the possible MTHFR mutation spectrum, but I do have IBS gut issues, gluten intolerance and a strong history of Heart Disease in my family. Its possible that I have poor methylation ability myself so I am going to pursue testing as well. We'll see what I find out.
If you have resources or a story to share please post it in the comments section or email me directly - I'd love to hear from you - and stay tuned! As I learn more I will continue to post on my blog about MTHFR.
Thank you for listening,
Chinese Medicine has a long history treating women's health and fertility, as you may be aware. I happened to stumble on this "oldie but goodie" from the Ricki Lake show - a brief spot with Dr. Mao. Dr. Mao is one of my favorite Chinese Medicine authors because his books are very simple and make Chinese Medicine lifestyle, philosophies and tips accessible to the wider population.
There's quite a bit of research on Chinese Medicine and fertility, especially Acupuncture in conjunction with IVF for improving success rates. Ultimately, whether you are coming in for fertility, pain, women's health, menstrual irregularity, fatigue or anything else a strong emphasis will be placed on health basics from a Chinese Medicine perspective - balancing your Qi to remove whatever imbalance is causing your symptoms and then stabilizing your Qi to strengthen your constitution long term. The result of this is decreased symptoms, decreased stress and inflammation and increased wellness overall towards a healthier happier you.
Sounds good, right? Right! Go Team Chinese Medicine!
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.