Ever since Google announced their plan to contribute money towards their ‘fertile age’ female employees for egg harvesting (harsh but accurate) and freezing, there has been increased media focus on women of fertile age to check their fertility. I feel that women need to be more informed about what this means to reduce anxiety around fertility and the haste to start IVF.
When your GP assesses your fertility, they start with a blood test to check your AMH or Anti-Mullerian Hormone in your blood. This number is often referred to as your ovarian reserve with a number of 13 or above being a good indication of fertility. AMH is released by developing egg sacs, and as the number of eggs decline as you age, so too does your AMH. While this number gives information on the quantity of eggs remaining in the ovaries, it does not provide any information on the quality of those eggs.
In Chinese medicine, we are more interested in the quality of the egg because this is the best chance of conceiving the healthiest baby and one good quality egg is better than 10 poor quality eggs. The quality of eggs are dependent on four things – genetics (unfortunately we can’t help what we are given from our parents), nutrients delivered to the embryo for growth, blood flow and oxygen. We can’t help genetics but we can improve the other factors. As nutrients and oxygen delivery are dependent on blood flow, increasing blood flow to the ovaries is the best way to improve the quality of your eggs.
Acupuncture, Chinese herbs and moxibustion are all medication-free ways of increasing local blood flow to the ovaries, meaning there are no side effects or concerns about drug interactions when going through IVF. Acupuncture can even improve drug delivery to the ovaries due to it’s effect on increasing blood flow.
Also, eating poor quality food, experiencing excessive stress and cold (from eating cold foods or not covering feet, abdomen and low back) can all affect the flow of the blood and therefore affect egg quality. The body can only deliver the nutrients you put into your body so poor quality food and diet = poor quality eggs.
So while testing for fertility will give you an indication of egg reserve, it will not necessarily give you an indication of overall fertility. Start eating a whole food diet, maintain 30 min of exercise every day and visit an acupuncturist. After all, you only need one egg and one sperm so make them the healthiest!