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Chinese medicine: How the Kidneys influence your Fertility

Chinese medicine: How the Kidneys influence your Fertility

Fertility in Chinese Medicine and your kidneys

The kidneys belong to the water element in Traditional Chinese Medicine. They create our sense of being rooted in our life and feeling inner security. Most importantly, they are the foundation for all of the body’s yin and yang energies. Some of their functions are: govern growth, development, water metabolism, reproduction and aging. Furthermore, they store the kidney essence. Also called jing which is considered to be the root of life of all aspects of human life. In Chinese medicine we see a kidney deficiency as one of the most common causes for fertility issues.

Some mental-emotional signs that your kidneys are out of whack are:

  • Not wanting to be by oneself.
  • Fear of social gatherings.
  • Difficulties to love oneself.
  • Feeling of unworthiness.
  • Searching for the purpose in life.
  • Not feeling secure and rooted in life.
  • Not using one’s full potential.
  • Feeling critical with oneself and others.
  • Fear of financial insecurity and the future.
  • Defining oneself by its roles and status in life.

Do you identify yourself with many of these aspects? Then it’s very probable that your kidneys are out of balance.

Your kidneys strongly influence your fertility and menstruation. Consequently, a kidney deficiency is at the root of many women´s problems like: infertility, amenorrhea, scanty or heavy periods, irregular periods, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and miscarriage. Let´s look today at their role in fertility.

Understanding kidney-yin and kidney-yang

The kidneys in Chinese medicine have a yin part (left kidney) and yang part (right kidney).

Kidney-yin corresponds to the parasympathetic nervous system and is responsible for restoration and regeneration. When deficient it can show symptoms of:

  • exhaustion
  • feeling of heat
  • frequent and sudden urination
  • restlessness and anxiety
  • insomnia and sleeping disorders
  • dry skin, eyes and mucous membranes
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth and throat
  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • spontaneous sweating
  • often constipation esp. before period
  • vaginal dryness
  • dark scanty urine
  • a pale face with flushed red cheeks
  • a red peeled tongue

Kidney-yang is the foundation of the yang qi in the whole body. Its mission is to warm the whole body to promote the proper functioning of all organs and tissues. Therefore, when deficient we can experience symptoms of:

  • exhaustion
  • difficulty concentrating
  • loss of joie de vivre and vitality up to depression
  • feeling cold and aversion to cold
  • declining or loss of libido
  • difficulty in urination and incontinence
  • excessive passage of urine at night
  • water retention and edema
  • lower backache esp. with menses
  • low BBT readings
  • often diarrhea esp. before or at the beginning of the period
  • cold feet
  • pale tongue

In practice we nearly always see a simultaneous deficiency of both as the two are inseparably linked. This can also lead to contradictory symptoms in women e.g.: feeling of heat of the face while having cold feet.

For getting a better understanding how they work together you could imagine that kidney-yin and kidney-yang are like an old-fashioned oil-lamp. Where kidney-yin is representing the oil and kidney-yang the flame. In other words, if there is not enough oil, the flame can die down and vice versa.

How the kidneys influence the fertilitzation process

In the reproductive system the kidney-yin is responsible for the quality of the ova (substance). While, the kidney-yang matures the follicles and provides the heat that ovulation can happen. Additionally, it is in charge of that the lining of the uterus thickens to prepare for the fertilized egg. As a result, we can see if ovulation happened in the BBT monitoring (basal body temperature) by a temperature rise after ovulation.

Consequently, we can conclude that if there are not many ova and / or the quality of the ova is poor the kidney-yin is weak. Whereas, a deficient kidney-yang can show the following symptoms: the ova is not ripening, ovulation is not happening and the uterus lining not thickening.

Furthermore, the ovaries produce the two sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Both are crucial for conceiving and a healthy pregnancy. As a conclusion we can say that if there are low oestrogen levels, a woman can show symptoms of kidney-yin deficiency. Whereas, in case of low progesterone levels, symptoms of kidney-yang deficiency can be detected.

A kidney deficiency can be one of the reasons for recurrent miscarriages.

The main reasons for a kidney deficiency are: poor diet, chronic stress, long persisting emotional problems, certain medications, an inherited poor constitution, smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

Optimizing female fertility with natural therapies

Hormonal balance is then given when the warming (yang) and cooling (yin) functions of the body are well-balanced. For women showing any signs of kidney deficiency and menstruation problems the following treatments can be applied in my practice: dietary recommendations, acupuncture, herbal and yoga therapy and Bach flower essences.

References

Obstetrics and Gynecology in Chinese Medicine. 2nd Edition. by Giovanni Maciocia

Also see my other articles

What are low AMH levels or Anti-Mullerian hormone and how does it affect fertility?

How to Improve your Fertility Naturally

Female Sexuality & Chinese Medicine: Solving Sexual Problems Naturally

Hormone Yoga Therapy: Balance your Hormones for Optimal Health

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you!

Vitamin D and your Health

Vitamin D and your Health

Let’s talk about the “sunshine” vitamin D, which is crucial for so many processes in the body. Besides improving energy levels, mood, bone mineral density and wound healing efficiency, it’s also an important element in strengthening our immune system.

What are the causes and symptoms of a deficiency? What can you do to boost it?

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is actually a hormone rather than a vitamin and holds a special position amongst all vitamins. Unlike other vitamins, it can be produced by pre-stages that are present in the body. The body produces it in response to the sun’s radiation on the skin (UVB light exposure). Compared to the vitamin D provided via food, it plays a significant role in supplying us with a sufficient supply. The kidneys and liver convert vitamin D (produced in the skin and taken up in the diet), into the active hormone called calcitriol.

It regulates the calcium and phosphate metabolism as well as the bone metabolism. Furthermore,  it is involved in other metabolic processes in the body and has an impact on muscular strength. It also can help in regulating insulin flow and balancing blood sugar levels, resulting in balanced natural hormone cycles. In addition to that it is said to help decrease the risk for autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s disease.

What can cause a deficiency?

  • inadequate exposure to sunlight
  • not eating vitamin D rich foods
  • impaired gut health
  • liver diseases
  • renal diseases
  • inefficient production in the skin
  • using sunscreen when going out
  • having dark skin
  • being overweight

What are the symptoms of a deficiency?

  • decreased testosterol level
  • lower oestrogen level
  • abnormal pituitary cell growth
  • increased parathyroid production
  • bone, back and muscle pain
  • hair loss
  • getting sick or infected often
  • fatigue and tiredness
  • depression
  • impaired wound healing
  • bone loss

This doesn’t mean that you need to rush to your nearest pharmacy for a high-dose vitamin D supplement. It’s only necessary to take if you are already deficient. If you are not, overloading your body with it could actually do more harm than good.

How to find out your vitamin D level?

A common way to measure your levels is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. A level of 25 to 80 ng/mL is considered normal for healthy people. But these numbers slightly vary depending on in which country you live.

How can you increase your level?

  • spend time in sun light
  • take a supplement
  • try a UV lamp that emits ultraviolet radiation
  • through diet
  • healthy gut

Which foods are rich in vitamin D?

  • salmon
  • herring
  • sardine
  • mackerel
  • tuna
  • cod liver oil
  • beef liver
  • calf’s liver
  • egg yolk
  • wild mushroom
  • fortified foods

Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, which plays a pivotal role in maintaining bone strength and preventing osteoporosis. Spending enough time in the sun is the best way to get your daily dose of vitamin D. However, getting a sufficient supply just from your diet may be very difficult. People who follow a vegan diet need to make sure that they are exposed enough to sunlight.

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.

Chinese medicine: Understanding menopause and 9 TCM tips for natural relief

Chinese medicine: Understanding menopause and 9 TCM tips for natural relief

Menopause: the second spring

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, menopause is referred to as the “second spring”. That sounds great, doesn’t it? It also tells us how much strength and renewal awaits us in the second half of life.

Peri- and menopause are experienced very differently from woman to woman. Peri-menopause is the period of time in which the body makes the natural transition to menopause. During this time we can have stronger, milder or irregular periods. When we haven’t menstruated for 12 consecutive months we have officially reached menopause.

In the transition period and as well in menopause, some suffer from sweats, sleeping disorders and dizziness. Others complain about migraines, eczema, palpitations and depression. While others can go through this life phase without marked symptoms.

In many countries and cultures, older women are considered wise and very respected, and experience more recognition than in our Western culture. The absence of menstruation is seen as a natural part of life, it’s welcomed and celebrated. Menopause is not a disease, but a completely natural process. It’s another special phase in the life of a woman to be consciously experienced, and lived through.

In Western society, where menopause is seen as a weakness and a decrease in life energy, women often experience very severe symptoms.

What happens energetically during menopause?

In order to maintain health for as long as possible, it is important to ensure a balance of the energies yin and yang. Yin is water and therefore cooling and absorbing. It reflects in blood, juices and substance. Yin nourishes and moisturises the tissues and organs, calms our nerves thus ensuring a restful sleep. Yang is fire, it is dynamic and gives us drive. It has a warming effect, gives us energy, joie de vivre and promotes and warms the functions of the tissues and organs. Both are equal parts of a whole and interdependent.

A woman’s menstrual cycle reflects her state of hormonal balance. When her yin and yang are balanced she has a regular cycle with moderate blood flow. The monthly bleeding cools and detoxifies the body, cleaning her uterus, cervix and vagina. It’s therefore unhealthy to suppress menstruation.

Many women suffering from: sleep problems, hot flashes, mood swings and acne, experience an improvement when the period arrives and the days after. The reason is that the body gets rid of excess heat and toxins. If you suffer from hot flashes and night sweats during the menopause, you will notice exactly this phenomenon: too much heat remains in the body due to less frequent or no bleeding.

As we get older, we automatically produce less and less blood and qi, less yin and yang. In order to protect the precious yin energies, so they are still available to us in the second half of life, the monthly bleeding stops gradually. The “heavenly water” becomes less and less and eventually stops flowing. Due to the lack of blood loss, the body regains energy. Some women experience this as a real high.

This period of change takes place mostly between the ages of 40 and 50 and lasts for different lengths of time. Depending on the constitution and lifestyle of a woman it can manifest itself in different symptoms.

Typical complaints in menopause can be

  • vaginal dryness
  • hot flashes, chills
  • night sweats
  • palpations
  • sleep problems and insomnia
  • mood changes, irritability, restlessness
  • anxiety, panic, nervousness
  • inability to concentrate
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • eczema
  • tinnitus
  • dry eyes
  • dry skin and mucous membranes
  • hair loss
  • itchy skin
  • exhaustion, lack of drive
  • lack of libido
  • bladder weakness, urine leakage
  • weight gain, slowed metabolism
  • headaches
  • breast soreness
  • osteoporosis
  • joint pain
  • digestive problems

Stay connected and drop by on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM.

menopause and traditional chinese medicine

Menopause and our kidneys

In TCM, the kidneys are responsible for the process of ageing. They are the root of our body’s yin and yang. As we get older, the kidneys’ yin and yang decrease. The kidney is the big central store of all our powers and vital life substance (essence). In the course of our lives, essence and yin and yang decrease more and more. It’s desirable, and very helpful, when this happens at a steady pace so the body slowly gets used to the changes.

However, our current way of life often leads to a faster decrease in yin energy. Women also consume yin through their menstrual period and pregnancies. Too much stress, pressure to perform and excessive physical exertion. Computers and cell phones, lack of sleep, poor diets and fast food affect us in the course of our lives.

Kidney-yin corresponds to the parasympathetic nervous system and is responsible for restoration and regeneration. When deficient it can show symptoms of

  • night sweats and hot flashes
  • afternoon heat
  • restlessness and anxiety
  • ringing in the ears and hearing problems
  • palpitation
  • insomnia and sleeping disorders
  • dry skin, eyes and mucous membranes
  • vaginal dryness
  • a pale face with flushed red cheeks
  • a red peeled tongue
  • dark scanty urine

Kidney-yang is the foundation of the yang qi in the whole body. Its mission is to warm the whole body to promote the proper functioning of all organs and tissues. When deficient we can experience symptoms of

  • exhaustion
  • difficulty concentrating
  • loss of joie de vivre and vitality up to depression
  • feeling cold and aversion to cold
  • declining or loss of libido
  • difficulty in urination and incontinence
  • water retention and edema

There is often a mixture of the two: heat alternates with cold.

How we experience menopause therefore depends on how well we have taken care of our kidneys and taken care of our female health in the course of living. Our eating and living habits, but also our emotional life have a big impact on the health and energy of the kidneys.

A kidney yin or yang deficiency often shows up with a liver-qi stagnation. Women who have experienced long-term stress in their relationships, have a general frustration in life and overworked for many years often have a stagnant liver-qi. They have the impression that their life isn’t flowing and have feelings of frustration, resistance and feel pressure in their chest.

Common symptoms of liver-qi stagnation are

  • alternating digestive complaints that get worse especially when stressed (esp. change of diarrhoea and constipation)
  • irregular menstruation and PMS complaints
  • mood swings
  • prone to frustration and irritability
  • headaches and migraines
  • weather sensitivity
  • lump in throat
  • frequent sighing

Regular and moderate exercise helps to move our liver-qi, especially when done in nature. A deep and conscious breathing stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system and helps to relax and to stay calm.

Causes of menopausal problems

As stated above there are many women who transit through menopause without any marked symptoms. In Chinese medicine we already see in the years before menopause if a woman will pass this period smoothly or not.

Some factors that certainly negatively influence the state of the menopausal years are:

Overwork

Working long hours with insufficient periods of rest which often result in lack of movement. It also promotes eating under stress which weakens kidney-yin.

Emotional stress

Emotional stress is one of the most common causes for menopausal problems. When experienced over many years, kidney-yin is weakened by fear, anxiety and guilt. Whereas liver-qi becomes stagnant by recurrent feelings of anger, frustration and suppressed emotions.

Smoking

Smoking tobacco injures lung-yin and dries blood and fluids in the body. Over time it weakens kidney-yin. It also can aggravate feelings of grief, sadness and worry.

Eating irregular meals and dairy

Irregular meals, consuming poor diet and dairy foods and / or overeating weakens spleen-qi. It can also cause the formation of phlegm. As a result, slower metabolism, tiredness, oedemas and other symptoms can occur.

Coffee and alcohol

They are both yang in nature and consumed on a regular basis can worsen menopausal problems.
See also my article “Coffee – Is it good or bad for your health?

 

best foods to eat to help relieve menopause

TCM nutrition for menopause

“Let food be your medicine”

In TCM, foods are classified according to their thermal properties and their effect on the individual.

In general, you could say that foods that grow in summer, and in the South tend to have a cooling effect. Whereas foods that grow in winter, and in the North tend to have a warming effect.

The yin and fluids of the body can be supported via the diet, so that the body does not run so hot. Remember that yin has cooling properties and during menopause many women experience an excess of yang. That’s why we want to make sure to especially nourish our yin during these years.

Foods from the neutral to slightly cooling category and juice-building foods should be on the menu more often. As a result, foods with warming and heating properties should be avoided.

9 diet tips for progressing smoothly through menopause

1. Consume mineral-rich foods and water

They are especially good to nourish your kidney-yin. Dark leafy veggies, lentils, seaweed, wild-caught fish, fermented foods, bone or vegetable broth, black sesame, millet, amaranth and quinoa.

I highly recommend Quinton plasma seawater for boosting the kidney-yin.

2. Eat foods with slightly cooling and refreshing properties

Preference is for cooking methods like soups, stews and compotes as they help to fight symptoms of dryness and heat. All vegetables and esp. soybean, dandelion, radicchio, chicory, tomato, aubergine, avocado, asparagus, beetroot, carrot, pumpkin, red berries, goji berry, pear and apple are preferable.

3. Reduce coffee and alcohol

It’s even better if you avoid both of them when suffering from any symptoms of heat and dryness. Both have heating and drying properties, weaken the kidney-yang and if consumed regularly promote liver-qi stagnation.

4. Eat regular and at similar times

Eating regularly, and ideally at similar times, is important to calm the nervous system and to keep blood sugar levels balanced. During menopause the body is going through a lot of changes and eating at regular times helps the body in finding balance again.

5.Drink mainly hot water and herbal teas

Hot water strengthens the digestion and helps to rinse away any toxins.

Herbal teas which are especially recommended during menopause are: Monk’s pepper, sage, blackcurreat leaf tea, black cohosh, shepherd’s purse, passionflower herb and dandelion.

6. Avoid spicy herbs

They have a heating and drying effect and esp. chilli, pepper, pimento, dried ginger, curry, horseradish and garlic should be avoided. Fresh ginger, cinnamon, anise and nutmeg can be eaten in moderation but should be avoided when hot flashes or night sweats are present.

7. Avoid drying and / or heating drinks

Keep your hands off these drinks when suffering symptoms of heat or dryness: green and black tea, chai tea, ginger tea, red wine, high percentage alcohol and cacao milk.

8. Avoid grilled, fried and deep-fried foods

These preparation methods have a heating effect and should therefore be avoided. They can heat up the body even more and worsen symptoms like insomnia, irritability, hot flashes and night sweats. It is better to boil, steam and bake food.

9. Avoid foods that have a hot and drying effect 

Besides the above-mentioned spices and drinks, the following foods should be avoided as well: Lamb, game, loaf, mould cheese, sugar and candy.

Stay connected and drop by on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM

Also see my other articles concerning menopause 

Wheat Berry Tea for Better Sleep and Fewer Sweats

Menopause Hot Flashes & Sweating: 6 Natural Ways to Control it

Sleep Problems & Heart Palpitations – How a Change in Diet and Chinese Medicine Can Help

 

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.
Endometriosis and Diet – Foods to avoid and what you should eat more of to help relieve symptoms

Endometriosis and Diet – Foods to avoid and what you should eat more of to help relieve symptoms

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a disease that occurs when the uterine lining appears outside the uterine cavity. This can be within the uterine musculature, but also outside the uterus. As a result, it’s possible to find uterine tissue throughout the whole body, reaching from the ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines, lungs, diaphragm and even as far as the brain. 

This stray tissue reacts to hormonal cycles like the normal endometrium, meaning it bleeds during menstruation. Therefore, the type of symptoms that affect each individual largely depends on the location and the amount of tissue.

High levels of oestrogen and low progesterone levels are often detected in women with endometriosis. Normally the troubles lessen or even vanish after menopause as the body produces less hormones in particular, oestrogen.  

What are the symptoms?

Women between 25 – 45 years are mostly affected but it can already develop in the teenage years. In approx. 50% of cases, there are no complaints and women are often diagnosed with endometriosis during a check-up after suffering infertility.

In circa 50% of the other cases, women with endometriosis often report symptoms like:

  • back pain especially in the lower back
  • lower abdominal pain or bloating
  • mild to extremely painful periods
  • infertility
  • pain during intercourse
  • cyclic or chronic pelvic pain
  • inter-menstrual bleeding
  • excessive bleeding
  • blood in the urine or stool
  • pain during bowel movement and urination

The symptoms experienced can be cyclical in their pattern. Endometriosis is divided into stages I-IV of severity and, in the worst case, can lead to intestinal obstruction, adhesions, bloody cysts, inflammations and ectopic pregnancies. It can widely affect a woman’s quality of life and relationships as well as her sexual life.

What causes endometriosis? 

There are various theories for the causes of endometriosis and it is still not fully understood by Western medicine. Besides retrograde menstruation, a weakness of the immune system and trigger factors, such as hormonal and vegetative components are considered.

Several toxicological factors can promote the disease like plasticisers, pesticides, insecticides, heavy metals and other parameters.

A genetic predisposition can be seen as well and often several women in the same family lineage are affected.

Another important factor is diet. Endometriosis relates in particular to oxidative stress caused by smoking, malnutrition, and chemical dyes and additives in foods. Women with endometriosis absorb significantly fewer antioxidants like vitamin C + E, vitamin Bs, copper, zinc and selenium. Often low vitamin D levels are detected.

Diet and endometriosis 

The diet for endometriosis calms the immune system: to reduce inflammation, ease pain, promote healthy gut flora, lower oestrogen levels and to achieve normal hormonal levels.

Foods you should avoid

Meat rich in arachidonic acid like duck, beef, pork, lamb, mutton, veal, venison, goat and turkey. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid is associated with oxidative stress and is said to increase inflammation. Avoid as well meat from factory farming as they use antibiotics and growth hormones to accelerate weight gain and your system can be affected by both.

Alcohol reduces levels of vitamin B which is needed for a proper liver detoxification.

Dairy foods like cheese, milk, yoghurt, butter, ice cream, condensed milk and any other product that contains milk powder. Dairy is known to be one of the most inflammatory food sources and should be cut off for a certain period of time. 

Hydrogenated fats (also called trans-fatty acids) like stick margarine, bakery products, processed foods, crackers, fast foods and fried foods. These unhealthy fats can increase inflammation and have an impact on the liver’s health and are really hard to digest.

Oestrogen and phytoestrogen-rich foods like soy milk, soybeans, tofu, tempeh any other soy product. Garlic, multigrain bread, flax seeds and flax seeds bread, sesame seeds, walnuts, chestnut, almonds, pistachios, red wine, dried fruits, red meat, animal fats and especially hormonally treated meat. Many women with endometriosis have an oestrogen dominance and should lower their intake of foods rich in these.

Best foods to consume

Eat plenty of foods rich in omega 3 fats like hemp seeds, seaweed, chia seeds, salmon, mackerel, oyster, anchovies, sardine, shellfish, cod liver oil (also rich in vitamin D) and caviar. Omega 3 fats are said to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Consume foods rich in vitamin Bs like sunflower seeds, green vegetables, fresh green herbs, whole grains, nutritional yeast, trout, tuna, salmon, egg (prefer free-range and eat in moderation). A diet rich in vitamin B and omega 3 fats has shown to lower pain in endometriosis and to regulate cell growth.

Choose organic foods over conventional foods to lower your intake of pesticides and chemical herbicides which can affect hormonal balance. Organic foods often contain higher levels of minerals and vitamins.

Consume more foods that balance oestrogen levels like carrots, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage, wholemeal cereals. Eaten regularly they support a healthy oestrogen level in the body.

Add more foods that support healthy liver function like leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, mustard greens, etc), artichoke, dandelion, milk thistle, chicory, peppermint, olive, and green fresh herbs. Keep in mind that the liver’s health is crucial for having balanced oestrogen levels. 

Consume enough magnesium which you find in whole grains, almonds, legumes, pumpkin and chia seeds, quinoa, mackerel, salmon and leafy green vegetables. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant and can help to ease pain. Furthermore, it helps in energy production and is important for our endocrine system.

Have a diet which is rich in antioxidants Therefore, increase your intake of red and blueberries, goji berries, beans, prune, spinach, pecan, walnut, apple, green tea, mackerel, salmon, sardine and herring. Foods rich in antioxidants will increase the levels in your blood and binds free radicals and consequently prevents cell damage. 

Fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, miso and kombucha. They support a healthy gut bacteria and as a result strengthen the immune system to fight again inflammation. 

Turmeric also called curcuma has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and also supports a healthy liver.

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.

Some literature links and references

Diet and endometriosis risk
https://www.rbmojournal.com/article/S1472-6483(13)00007-2/fulltext 

Evaluation of the Relationship between Endometriosis and Omega-3 and Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614254/ 

Endometriosis and Fertility
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5351695/ 

Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19594223

Lewis, Randine. The Infertility Cure. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2004

 

What are low AMH levels or Anti-Mullerian hormone and how does it affect fertility?

What are low AMH levels or Anti-Mullerian hormone and how does it affect fertility?

Low AMH levels detection

Many women come to see me for a fertility consultation after being diagnosed with low AMH levels by their gynaecologist.

This can be devastating news as they then believe that they have little or no chance at all of falling pregnant naturally, and also have a reduced success rate of artificial insemination (AI) or in vivo fertilisation (IVF). Furthermore, they often believe that their only option to conceive may be through the use of a donor egg.

What is the AMH hormone and how can it be measured?

The Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) is secreted by cells in developing egg sacs within the follicles of the ovaries. Each woman is born with an ovarian reserve which is the total number of eggs that she will ever produce in her life. With age, the ovarian reserve of a woman naturally decreases until she reaches menopause and consequently, the AMH levels diminish as well. Therefore, the AMH level reflects the number of eggs carried through the maturation process and will always be looked at on an age-based scale.

The AMH level test can be done on any day of the menstrual cycle. The higher the AMH level, the more eggs a woman has, and consequently her chances of falling pregnant are increased.

Some patients have decreased or very low AMH levels and therefore fewer eggs, this condition is called diminished ovarian reserve (DOR).

Can women with low AMH level or diminished ovarian reserve still conceive?

To better understand this, we need to look closely at the process of follicle maturation. Before follicles develop, they are microscopic in size and are named primordial follicles. Even though they do not produce detectable amounts of AMH, they are still in the tissue of the ovaries.

After a maturation process of approximately 10 months in the ovaries they develop large enough to appear in the ultrasound imaging and are called antral follicles. At this antral follicle size, they begin to produce quantifiable amounts of AMH.

If AMH levels are very low or undetectable, it does not necessarily mean there are no eggs left in the ovaries. However, it will tell us if there are fewer than normal, depending on the age of the woman concerned.

Therefore, women with very low or undetectable AMH levels still have a chance to conceive without an egg donor. The younger the woman, the better the chance of conception. 

pregnancy low ahm level chinese medicine

Which factors can contribute to reduced AMH levels?

  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Ovarian or cyst surgery
  • Endometriosis
  • Environmental toxins
  • Smoking and drinking alcohol regular
  • Overweight (BMI >25)
  • Accelerated aging due to lifestyle
  • Low blood circulation to the ovaries
  • Poor nutrition
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Chemotherapy medications
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Genetic factors

How can Acupuncture and Chinese medicine help with low AMH level

In my practice, we will embark on an investigation to work out any underlying causes for your low AMH level. As a result some nutrition and lifestyle changes may be necessary. And, although the egg quantity can’t be changed we can certainly improve egg health significantly and also create better health conditions.

Regular acupuncture sessions and herbal treatment are said to:

  • promote and increase blood flow to the ovaries
  • result in healthier eggs with higher fertilisation rates
  • create an optimal environment for the egg to mature properly
  • support you physically and emotionally in your process
  • improve correct hormone functions
  • maintain a healthy pregnancy and prevent miscarriage
  • helps optimal uterine lining
  • increase stress response
  • lower high levels of cortisol

Diet in Chinese medicine is another very important factor. The nutrition advice differs from person to person due to their given Chinese medicine diagnosis. However, some general advice exists for improving the chances to conceive.

Women with low AMH level should:

  • eat mostly whole foods and eliminate processed foods
  • eliminate sugar which can cause inflammation and other health issues
  • consume protein from vegetables, white meat and fish
  • reduce or avoid completely red meat
  • reduce coffee and black tea

Yoga – Can it improve fertility in women with low AMH levels?

Women affected with low AMH levels can increase their fertility with yoga. Through my diagnosis based on Chinese medicine, I know which meridians (energy pathways connected with the inner organs) are concerned and I can offer specific yoga poses which strengthen these meridians.

Hormon yoga for fertility will also help to:

  • reduce anxiety, worries and stress
  • improve the blood circulation to the ovaries and uterus
  • improve flexibility in the hip and pelvic area
  • can help to improve or heal underlying responsible conditions

A customised set of yoga postures is a real booster for conceiving more easily and can afterwards result in a healthy pregnancy and good delivery.

These articles could be interesting for you as well:

How to improve your fertility naturally

A Cold Uterus: How it influences menstruation, fertility and pregnancy

Chinese medicine: How the Kidneys influence your Fertility

Female Sexuality & Chinese Medicine: Solving Sexual Problems Naturally

Coffee – Is it Good or Bad for your Health?

 

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms? Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.