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10 Steps
to Optimize Your Fertility
Goal setting
Self-care & monitoring
Chinese herbal medicine
Other treatments
"If you have been told you are infertile, I have one message for you: There is no such thing as
infertility; it is a myth. Rarely have I met a woman of childbearing age with all her reproductive
organs intact who isn't capable of bearing children. As long as the anatomical structures are
present, a medical diagnosis of 'infertility' is often a fallacy. Many factors can cause a woman
to have difficulty conceiving, but once these factors are overcome and a woman's body is
restored to health, conception can occur naturally...Take control of your own health, and trust
yourself. No one is in tune with your body like you are. You have to learn to trust your instincts
until your individual solution emerges. Above all, know that you are not broken...You can
conceive. It may take more motivation and perseverance than you ever thought possible, but
nature is on your side. With her gentle help and support, your child will come."
- Dr. Randine Lewis, author 'The Infertility Cure'
"When we're willing to listen to our bodies and begin trusting ourselves as much as we trust
outer authorities, all the rules change. And so does our biology. Statistics no longer apply to
us. We enter the realm of miracles and undreamed-of possibilities."
- Dr. Christiane Northrup, author 'Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom'
Goal Setting
Example of a woman with PCOS;
Ideally, our main goal is to see three healthy regular menstrual cycles before trying to conceive. When
the recommended plan and lifestyle changes are deeply committed to, three healthy regular
menstrual cycles and pregnancy are often achieved within a 6-12 month treatment period. Additional
& more specific treatment goals are to get more quality sleep, reduce stress, improve diet and lose
weight, regulate blood sugar/insulin levels, reduce levels of circulating androgens estrogens luteinizing
hormone, lower homocysteine levels, mediate inflammation, manage acne, eliminate excess hair
growth, stop hair loss, promote regular ovulation & cycles, optimize overall reproductive health, reduce
chances of miscarriage and aid in carrying pregnancy to term. Continued evaluation of treatment
efficacy is achieved via observation and improvement of signs & symptoms initially reported.
Without a target, one cannot hit it. With clear goals and vision, each choice you make
throughout each day can be evaluated as such; is this choice bringing me closer to my
Make a list of choices you make that are playing a role in keeping you from manifesting
your goals.
Self-Care & Monitoring
Get enough quality sleep, this may be the most important single thing you can do to increase your
fertility potential.
Manage stress. Stress may suppress ovulation. Women are 2.6x more likely to get pregnant while
going through IVF if properly manage stress.
Castor oil packs &/or femoral massage is recommended daily from cycle day 3 until ovulation (click here
for full instructions)
Incorporating hot foot baths before bed (click here for full instructions).
BBT charting, Ovulation strips, observation of cervical mucous may be recommended (temperature
charts and ovulation strip use instructions available here).
Recommended reading: The Infertility Cure by Randine Lewis (available for borrowing at Yinstill).
The Castor packs, Femoral massage, and the foot baths increase blood circulation to the ovaries and uterus.
Blood delivers nutrition and oxygen to eggs and lining, therefore, optimal circulation to the reproductive organs
is essential.
Recommended monitoring is different from cases to case. This is an aspect of fertility treatment that should
be carefully considered. Understanding your body is important. Knowing when you ovulate, finding issues
with certain phases of the cycle, and the mind-body connection are all pearls that come with self-monitoring.
Mediclear Plus cleanse (Thorne) - an anti-inflammatory dietary cleanse to help understand sensitivities
and optimize liver function and hormonal balance.
CoQ10 Q-Best 100mg/day (Thorne) - preliminary studies show CoQ10 improving egg quality, as well
as being a powerful antioxidant (full monograph).
Fish oil Pro EPA 2/day (Nordic Naturals) - regulates inflammation, promotes circulation, and delivers
required fats for the proper production of sex hormones (full monograph).
Basic Prenatal multivitamin (Thorne) - essential nutrients and folic acid to prepare for and maintain a
healthy pregnancy.
Homocysteine B6, folate, B12 - 1/day (Innate) - women with PCOS have high homocysteine levels.
B6, folate, & B12 convert homocysteine into a non-toxic substance and may help reduce the chances of
Calcium D-glucarate 3-6/day (Thorne) - aid the liver in the elimination of excess estrogens
manufactured from excess adipose tissue (full monograph).
Inositol 4gm/day (AOR) - 2000-4000mg/day of myoinositol has been shown to restore regular
ovulation, lower insulin, and decrease androgens (full monograph)
Chromium Picolinate 500 mcg/day (Thorne) - evidence shows chromium can lower blood glucose and
insulin levels (full monograph)
N-Acetyl Cysteine CystePlus 2gm/day (Thorne) - lower insulin, glucose, and androgen levels (full
Vitamin D Drops 2-4/day (Thorne) - for general overall health and immune function, especially in our
dark and rainy winters (full monograph)
This is an extremely important area to focus on.
A primarily whole food high fiber, paleolithic style, low glycemic, diet ( focusing on
reducing portions if necessary is of utmost importance when optimizing fertility and restoring hormone balance.
Ask your practitioner whether how much raw food is right for your body type.
Include cruciferous vegetables of the Brassica genus. Some of these vegetables include broccoli, Brussels
sprouts, cabbage, collards, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, rapeseed, and root vegetables such as
turnips and rutabagas. These foods help the liver detoxify and restore hormonal balance.
Eliminate foods that may be causing inflammation and candida. Start by eliminating gluten, dairy and sugar
(especially white refined, glucose-fructose, or high fructose corn syrup). Consider doing an anti-inflammatory
dietary cleanse such as Mediclear Plus by Thorne Research. This is an ‘elimination-reintroduction’ style of
cleanse which can help determine foods you may be sensitive or allergic to, i.e. the foods that are causing
Emphasize: dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards), complex carbohydrates high in fiber such as non-starchy
veggies, small servings of whole grains (with cold pressed extra virgin olive oil sprinkled on top), lean
meats/poultry or seafood (crab, mussels, clams), and organ meats, fresh fruits, bananas, and foods fortified with
Reduce or eliminate coffee and alcohol intake. These have both been associated with increased risk of
miscarriage and elevated homocysteine levels.
Eat good fats - Good fats are in foods such as fish (salmon, sardines), avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Bad
fats are in foods such as dairy products, meat, cookies, pastries, processed foods, some margarines. Good fats
contain omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, these are essential and must be obtained from the diet. It is easy to
get omega 6 fats, but less easy to get omega 3 as they are mostly in fish. Omega 3 fats have anti-inflammatory
effects. You can also get some omega 3 from flaxseed oil or from a mixture of nuts and seeds.
Local organic foods should always be a focus.
Drink Spearmint tea to help lower androgen levels.
Learn to use buckwheat, it is gluten free and high in D-Chiro inositol
Add apple cider to your daily intake as it helps rid the blood of excess sugars.
Use extra virgin cold pressed olive oil on your grains or starches to lower the glycemic index.
Lots of Chard. High in magnesium which is depleted if the body is storing extra estrogens.
High fiber intake aids the body in eliminating excess hormones and helps manage blood sugar
ELIMINATE high fructose corn syrup and all its derivatives (also called glucose-fructose in
Canada). This man-made sweetener acts differently than regular sugar; 1. it by-passes the
body’s normal function of knowing when it has enough food in the gut, 2. it is stored in the liver
as triglyerides and fat, 3. it is chemically similar to alcohol so it can damage liver function.
Ensure the following ‘Dirty Bakers Dozen’ foods are always organic; celery, nectarines, apples,
grapes, strawberries, peaches, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, pears, lettuce, potatoes, and ALL
animal products.
Chew food sufficiently.
Relax when eating.
Drink enough water.
Avoid processed foods (shop on the perimeter of your grocery store).
Add Cinnamon to anything you desire to aid in regulation of blood sugar levels.
Diet - TCM
In China, the line between herbs and food is not quite so clear. Herbs are commonly added to soups
and dishes for their medicinal qualities, not taste. Food cure; the use of foods according to TCM herbal
principles intended to elicit a curative effect on the presenting condition. Simple principles are always
used as an adjunct to medical therapy.
Yin deficiency - Avoid too much spicy food. Eat more mussel, lentil, lamb kidney, chicken,
microalgae (chlorella, spirulina, wild blue-green), fish, liver, kidney, brain, bone marrow, human
placenta, and cereal grasses, milk, ghee, nettles, royal jelly, beef, millet, wheat, black sesame seed,
black soybeans, chestnuts, mulberries, raspberries, strawberries, and walnuts.
Yang deficiency - parsnip, parsley, mustard greens, winter squash, cabbage, kale, onion, leek, chive,
garlic, scallion, cooked beans with ginger (e.g. black beans, lentils, aduki beans), oats, spelt, quinoa,
sunflower seed, sesame seed, walnut, pine nut, chestnut, fennel, dill, anise, caraway, carob pod,
cumin, Sweet brown rice (and its products, i.e. moshi), cherry, citrus peal, date, anchovy, mussel,
trout, chicken, beef, lamb
Qi deficiency - Avoid eating large portions. Eat more chia seed, congee, oats, quinoa, rice, beef,
chicken, herring, lamb, mussel, shrimp, milk, sunflower seeds, sweet potato, watercress, winter
Blood deficiency - Be sure to stay well hydrated. Eat more microalgae, sprouts, leafy greens,
chlorophyll-rich foods, seaweed, spirulina, mochi with mugwort, royal jelly, gelatin, carp soup,
muscles, oysters, the liver of beef, lamb, or chicken, chicken gizzard.
Diet - TCM
Damp - Avoid sweets and greasy foods. Reduce the amount of food eaten at one sitting. Limit raw
food. . Eat more lettuce, celery, turnip, rye, amaranth, aduki beans, wild blue-green micro-algae,
asparagus, white pepper, alfalfa, pumpkin, vinegar, papaya.
Blood Stasis - Tumeric, scallions, nutmeg, spearmint, chives, garlic, vinegar, basil, peach seed,
weak, ginger, chestnuts, rosemary, cayenne, eggplant, white pepper, aduki beans, sweet rice, butter.
Qi Stagnation - Eat more spearmint, rosemary, scallions, garlic and all onion family members,
cinnamon bark and branch, clothes, fresh and dried ginger root, black pepper, all hot peppers,
cayenne, fennel, anise, dill, mustard greens, horseradish, basil, nutmeg, peppermint, marjoram, elder
flowers, white pepper, radish and its leaves, taro, turnip.
Heat - Avoid spicy and greasy foods. Stay well hydrated. Eat more apple, banana, pear, persimmon,
cantaloupe, watermelon, tomato, all citrus, lettuce, radish, cucumber, celery, button mushrooms,
asparagus, Swiss chard, eggplant, spinach, summer squash, Chinese cabbage, bock choy, broccoli,
cauliflower, sweet corn, zucchini, soy milk, soy sprouts, tofu, tempeh, mung beans and their sprouts,
alfalfa sprouts, millet, barley, wheat and its products, amaranth, kelp and all seaweed, spirulina, wild
blue-green, oyster-shell calcium, wheat and barley grass, kudzu, yogurt, crab, clam.
4x ½ hour brisk walks per week. A great place to start for anyone and any
stage of health. Can be a relaxing component to a life that is hectic, or a
wonderful workout for someone needing to move more.
Yoga 2x/wk. People with Heat, Yin deficiency, or Qi stagnation should avoid
hot yoga. Otherwise, this is likely the most balanced form of exercise anyone
can incorporate into their life.
Moderate weight lifting 2x/week. Building strength is vitally important. If you
feel you are weak, speak to a fitness trainer and start a program that suits you
More time in nature. Hike, walk, run, doesn't matter. Get outside and move,
breathe, enjoy, express gratitude for all that is beautiful around you, and ground
the frenetic energy of the city life with the deeply rooted trees.
Deep relaxation & breathing exercises (i.e. Qigong, meditation). Qigong is a
foundational practice of Chinese medicine and martial arts. It combines
meditation, breathing, visualization and slow movement to help restore balance
and optimize health and well-being.
Commit to setting aside some time to include things that nourish your spiritual side, the
importance of this cannot be overstated.
Nature. Schedule more time in nature, her healing effects are unmatched.
Fun. Is it time to put this on your task list? What makes you smile and giggle uncontrollably.
Volunteer. Give back to your community, to those in need. The fulfillment you will receive will
keep your heart warm and healthy.
Journal. Get your thoughts out on paper. Doesn't have to ever be seen by anyone, just get the
pen to paper and write.
Friends. Deathbed research points to overwhelmingly important factors; time with friends and
family, and contribution.
Religion. Is it time to visit temple or church again? If this is deep in your blood it may be
something to consider.
Children. Stress relieving chemicals are released in women when they are tending children.
They may age us, but they also keep us young.
Travel. Have you been putting this off because it does not fit into the 'plan' right now?
Meditation. A great practice to cultivate. Learning to sit quietly is a skill that will help manifest
everything you want in life. It is a time that connection to greater wisdom and creativity
flourishes. Start your practice of sitting quietly today.
Toxins in your environment that are known to disrupt hormonal balance which are major contributors
to conditions such as infertility, PCOS, Endometriosis, POF, Unexplained infertility, recurrent
pregnancy loss (PDF handout guide click here). Basically; avoid or completely eliminate the use of;
Non-organic animal products (meats, eggs, dairy)
Water that has been stored in a plastic container
Cleaning agents that contain scent (laundry, body, hair, dish, household)
Dryer sheets and fabric softeners
Excess soy or flaxseed consumption, especially non-organic
Cosmetic lines that are not completely transparent about their ingredients
Microwaving food, especially in plastic containers
Air fresheners
BPA bisphenol A plastics
Sunscreen containing 4-MBC
domestic and agricultural pesticides.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
The 2 main treatment tools used by a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are acupuncture and
herbs. Maintaining and restoring balance is at the heart of diagnosis and treatment of TCM. TCM, unlike
Western medicine, does not treat a kidney, lung, ovary or uterus; instead it addresses the energetic health
underlying those organs, then gently facilitates the body's own natural function by removing blockages both
physically and emotionally so that the body's wisdom (and fertility) is allowed to reveal itself.
It is important to note that the growing popularity of acupuncture in the Western world, even amongst medical
doctors, is because it is in fact not a drug (and therefore is not overriding biology), is minimally invasive, is
effective for many conditions, AND it is very safe when practiced by a competent licenced individual.
TCM relies upon the signs and symptoms the client reports combined with the doctor's observation of the
client during the initial and subsequent visits. When a woman comes to see a doctor at Yinstill, we begin by
reviewing the extensive questionnaire intake she fills out online and submits in the days prior to her
appointment. This gives us the foundation a diagnosis (patterns), but this theoretical diagnosis must be
confirmed by the four pillars of TCM diagnosis, used for thousands of years; 1. looking, 2. listening/smelling, 3.
questioning, 4. palpation.
After an accurate diagnosis an pattern identification is made, specific acupuncture points, custom herbal
formulations, and individual lifestyle recommendations can be made.
1/wk until 12th week (20th if RPL) of pregnancy. If there is a history of miscarriage, and
because chances of miscarriage are higher in women with PCOS, it is also
recommended that your husband receive acupuncture to help optimize his sperm and
reduce its role in the possibility of pregnancy loss (male infertility acupuncture research)
Medical research has shown the effectiveness of acupuncture for;
Reducing stress to increase overall well-being
Improving pregnancy rates in conjunction with IVF & Clomid
Improves blood flow to the reproductive organs
Balancing hormones
Regulates immune function required for implantation
Regulating the menstrual cycle & ovulation
Improving sperm parameters
Reducing painful conditions & inflammation
Increasing sexual function
Effects of acupuncture on pregnancy rates in women
undergoing in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and metaanalysis
Cui Hong Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., Guang Ying Huang, M.D., Ph.D., Ming Min Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., Wei Wang, M.D., Ph.D. Fertility and Sterility;
Volume 97, Issue 3 , Pages 599-611, March 2012
Objective: To evaluate the effect of acupuncture on in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcomes.
Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Patient(s): Women undergoing IVF in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) who were evaluated for the effects of acupuncture on IVF
Intervention(s): The intervention groups used manual, electrical, and laser acupuncture
techniques. The control groups consisted of no, sham, and placebo acupuncture.
Main Outcome Measure(s): The major outcomes were clinical pregnancy rate (CPR)
and live birth rate (LBR). Heterogeneity of the therapeutic effect was evaluated with a
forest plot analysis. Publication bias was assessed by a funnel plot analysis.
Result(s): Twenty-four trials (a total of 5,807 participants) were included in this review.
There were no significant publication biases for most of the comparisons among these
studies. The pooled CPR (23 studies) from all of the acupuncture groups was significantly
greater than that from all of the control groups, whereas the LBR (6 studies) was not
significantly different between the two groups. The results were different when the type of
control was examined in a sensitivity analysis. The CPR and LBR differences between
the acupuncture and control groups were more obvious when the studies using the
Streitberger control were ignored. Similarly, if the underlying effects of the Streitberger
control were excluded, the LBR results tended to be significant when the acupuncture
was performed around the time of oocyte aspiration or controlled ovarian
Conclusion(s): Acupuncture improves CPR and LBR among women undergoing
IVF. More positive effects from using acupuncture in IVF can be expected if an
appropriate control and more reasonable acupuncture programs are used.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese herbal medicine is used to holistically restore balance in all systems of the body. When
all systems are in a state of balance (i.e. hormones) fertility potential is realized.
Herbal administration is usually prescribed in conjunction with acupuncture until the 12th week of
May also begin in conjunction or post mediclear dietary cleanse
Information about our herbal supplier click here
Raw herbals may also be used. These need to be boiled and strained at home.
Both are taken as a 'tea', 2 times per day
The strong taste is often one that needs to be acquired, especially by a western palate.
If acupuncture could be described as a treatment that promotes circulation and removes
blockages so that the body and emotions can operate smoothly without friction, then Chinese
herbal medicine could be described as medicinal formulas that gently encourage the body's
systems to move toward balance and optimal functioning.
Acupuncture opens. Chinese herbal medicine heals.
Other Treatments
Reproductive health clinical counselling (Holly Yager). Extensive
experience working in the field of reproductive health, infertility, recurrent
pregnancy loss, and IVF support.
Integrative life coaching to be sure self-sabotage is not playing a role in the
fulfillment of your dreams (Thomas Kevin Dolan). Helping you realize your
strengths and shining light on the shadows that may be subconsciously
twisting your arm into making choices that are not in alignment with your
goals and dreams.
Massage, visceral manipulation, and cranio-sacral therapy to ensure
unimpeded blood circulation to reproductive organs (Lisa Schneider or
Kashka Zerafa). There is no argument about the stress relieving qualities
of massage. Book one today.
Chiropractor to evaluate physical structure (Dr. Stephanie Bonn). If pelvic
alignment is off, posture is poor, or back issues are apparent, necessary
smooth muscle movement of the uterus may be restricted.
Male Factor - The Facts
Male infertility affects 10% to 15% of reproductive aged couples worldwide. Since male
infertility is such a common problem, it is important to understand the true role it plays in
male health and relationships. Men diagnosed with infertility suffer intense negative
sexual, personal, and social strains that might be considered typical for other medical
illnesses such as cancer or heart disease.
Generally, male infertility is not the fault of the man. It is a disease that happens like any
other and can have a serious effects on the overall well-being of the individual, and the
couple. The correct response from a man that has been handed the diagnosis of infertility
is to be accountable, take great care of himself.
Recent research in California showed a correlation between poor semen parameters and
both testicular and prostate cancer incidence. If having a healthy happy child is not
reason enough for a man to take control of his health, then maybe this is. Sperm will, in
our lifetime, be used increasingly as a biomarker for men's health and potential risks in
the future
Male Factor - Take Control
Take the time to educate yourself as this helps gain control of the situation and aids with
decision-making. Then, make an appointment with a urologist that specializes in male
infertility. They can streamline care, make it more efficient, and often employ cutting edge
treatment techniques unfamiliar to other physicians. Next, find a traditional Chinese
medicine reproductive health specialist. These practitioners can help correct imbalances
that may be contributing factors to infertility, and will work on overall health, stress, and
well-being. Then, whether this wants to be heard or not, the conversations we want to
have the least are the ones we most need to have, so talk openly with your partner
regarding your feelings, be honest about when you need a break from the topic, and
decide who really needs to know about it and who doesn't. Finally, get the support you
need, talk with buddies that you trust, and even consider talking with a coach, therapist,
or counsellor. Don’t do this alone.
Male Factor - Tips
Boosting testosterone (necessary for optimal sperm production)
Get enough sleep
Reduce or alleviate stress
Spend time with men
Exercise with heavy weights
Include some lean meat in your diet
Get help to deal with emotional issues
Cut down on alcohol intake
Tobacco & marijuana use should stop
Lose weight if necessary
Avoid endocrine disrupting toxins
Male Factor - Supplements
Recommended supplements for men increase overall health and fertility.
These are administered through a full cycle of spermatogenesis (3 months).
Zinc 30mg/day - antioxidant for overall sperm health
Multivitamin - Multi-Encap (Thorne Research)
CoQ10 200mg/day (Q-best Thorne Research) - sperm motility
Fish Oils 1000mg/day (Pro EPA Nordic Naturals) - balance hormones
required for normal sperm production
Carnityl 500mg 1st wk, 1000mg 2nd wk, 1500mg wk 3 and beyond (Thorne
Research) - sperm motility
3523 Main St
Vancouver BC Canada
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