At Shady Grove Fertility’s Wellness Center, I have had the pleasure of helping women throughout their fertility journey and transition to motherhood. Every day, our Wellness Center patients ask me what they can do to increase their chances of having a successful intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, or what they can do to improve their chances of conception. In almost every case, this turns in to a conversation about Nourishing the Yin.
What Does Acupuncture for Fertility Affect My Likelihood of Getting Pregnant?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a primary goal of acupuncture is to help the patient balance the four substances: qi, blood, yin, and yang. Qi and blood are what I often refer to as the first ‘x and y axis,’ where qi is the energetic component of the body, the driving force that moves through the meridian system. Blood represents all the blood and material makeup of the body. Yin and yang are another ‘x and y axis’ that sounds like an easy concept but we can get more specific about that when we are working on fertility. If you are already taking advantage of acupuncture at Shady grove Fertility’s Wellness Center, you most likely have heard a quick mini-lecture on building fluids and nourishing the yin. At the Wellness Center, this is one of the most important things that we will work on with you—using nutrition, yoga, massage, and acupuncture to nourish your yin and help support you in your journey to conception.
The Role of the Yin
Let’s talk about the yin and what it means. Yin is conceptually restfulness, slowness, quietness, and intrinsically feminine. Yin represents ‘going within,’ winter, darkness, and nighttime. Yin also represents the fluids of the body. From a biomedical point of view, you can think of these fluids as blood, lymph, cerebral spinal fluid, synovial fluid, breast milk, and more.
As an acupuncturist it is a challenge to nourish the yin because we need the patient’s full participation, and we cannot simply rely on the needles to do their work. Nourishing the yin must be a daily effort of replenishing fluids, getting enough rest, engaging in more restful activities, and practicing good nutrition as well. Nourishing the yin includes protecting one’s boundaries against over-stimulation, stress, and toxins found in the environment and foods.
We can be proactive and nourish the yin as a mother-to-be, and especially during the ‘2 week wait.’ Having acupuncture within the first week after an IVF transfer or IUI is excellent. Taking the time to do an ‘Unwind the Mind’ Massage with one of our talented massage therapists is another excellent way to nourish the yin. We can also nourish the body fluids by making sure we are taking in enough water or trying our Pulling Down the Moon HOPE tea several times per day. Warming the body internally with healthy soup or bone broth is another good idea for nourishing the yin.
We can nourish the yin in actions—or rather ‘non-actions,’ too. Taking naps, limiting screen time, and taking breaks to do nothing at all will help. Being in nature and fresh air, meditating, or practicing gratitude is a wonderful experience. Limiting driving in bad weather or during heavy traffic hours, avoiding crowds, and avoiding rushing is also advised, as is going to bed early in the winter.
Foods for Nourishing the Yin
According to Chinese medicine, some of the foods that are great for nourishing yin and enhancing fertility include foods from this list that are unprocessed and gently cooked:
- alfalfa sprouts, artichokes, asparagus, mung bean sprouts, peas, sweet potato, water chestnut, yams, cold climate root veggies like squash, dark leafy greens, avocado, zucchini, organic bone broth, beef (avoid beef and meats treated with hormones), chicken, pork, wild salmon, and sustainably harvested deep ocean fish like sardines, grains and legumes: millet, barley, quinoa, amaranth, seaweeds, micro-algae such as spirulina, black and kidney beans, fruits: persimmons, grapes, blackberry, raspberry, mulberry, bananas, watermelon, vegetables: beets, string beans
Written by: Erica Lessey, L.Ac., of Shady Grove Fertility’s Wellness Center
Our Wellness Center services do not replace advanced reproductive technology but rather support patients during their fertility journey. Our holistic practitioners are specially trained by infertility experts so that their approach to treatment addresses each patient’s individual needs.
Schedule an appointment at Shady Grove Fertility’s Wellness Center and learn more about nourishing the yin and the other holistic/complementary therapies that we offer. To schedule, call 301-798-9640.
To schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please contact our New Patient Center at 1-877-971-7755 or complete our brief online form.