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By Lorne Brown, Dr.TCM, B.Sc, FABORM, CHt
But, there are alternatives—Chinese Medicine offers hope to women over 40, making it possible to extend that reproductive window of opportunity and slow down the biological clock.
Of course age matters and if you are in your thirties, and wondering if now’s the time to start or expand your family, then I would say don’t wait.
But what if you are one of the millions of women over forty who found love late or only now decided to start or add to their family?
If you are trying to conceive and hearing words from physicians and the media like “advanced maternal age”, “low ovarian reserve,” “high FSH,” and “poor IVF responder”, its sure to strike fear into your heart.
But what seems to be missing from the current dialogue is what you can do to slow down, or even reverse, the aging process in order to reach your full fertility potential. The fact is there are external factors that can impact egg quality over which you have control.
Chinese medicine has always been concerned with how to slow down the aging process and contends that the key to overall health and fertility resides with our ‘Jing’.
You are born with two kinds of Jing: your pre-natal Jing, or essential DNA, that you inherit from your parents and are determined by their health (a good reason to be in the best health possible when you conceive): and you’re post-natal Jing (energy or life-force) that you can maintain through the kind of lifestyle you choose. Chinese medicine stresses the importance of living in a way that nourishes and preserves our post-natal Jing.
The harsh reality is that western society is plagued with all sorts of stressors that consume our Jing and cause us to age prematurely thereby causing our fertility to decline at an accelerated rate.
Factors like processed food, long work hours, toxins, stimulants, lack of sleep and lack of meaningful relationships, all undermine your health and fertility. However, there are numerous ways to nourish and protect your Jing in order to slow down the aging process and improve your fertility potential:
Eat a healthy diet.
A whole food, low glycemic, anti-inflammatory, mostly plant-based, slow carbohydrate diet (http://www NULL.acubalance NULL.ca/fertility-diet/acubalance-fertility-diet) is best for mom, dad and baby. (http://www.acubalance.ca/files/handouts/Acubalance-Fertility-Diet-4Jan2012.pdf)
Reduce your response to stress through meditation, active relaxation, adequate sleep (http://www NULL.mayoclinic NULL.com/health/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/AN01487) and moderate exercise. (www.mayoclinic.com/health/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/AN01487)
Choose to Be happy.
Nurture your emotional well-being through healthy supportive relationships. Take time to laugh. According to numerous studies, laughter (http://women NULL.webmd NULL.com/guide/give-your-body-boost-with-laughter) is the best medicine for health and longevity. (http://women.webmd.com/guide/give-your-body-boost-with-laughter)
Try Acupuncture (http://ivfacupuncture NULL.ca/research).
Increases blood flow to the reproductive organs.
Reduces implantation failure in mice.
Increase IVF pregnancy rates and take home babies.
Reduces the negative effects of stress.
A report prepared by the British Medical Association found that women who smoke are twice as likely to be infertile and non-smokers (www.bma.org.uk).
Alcohol consumption in the week prior to conception was associated with an increased rate of miscarriage (American Journal of Epidemiology Vol 160 No 7 2004 661-667).
The risk of not conceiving for 12 months was 55% higher for women drinking 1 cup of coffee per day (Yale University School of Medicine, Epidemiologic Reviews Vol 14, Page 83).
A final few words on the marvels of medical technology: We are fortunate to live in an age where reproductive technology exists. Even with proper diet, exercise and rest some couples will require the use of donor sperm, donor eggs and IVF.
What Chinese medicine can do to help remains the same. Living in a healthy way will optimize sperm and egg quality for your age, as well as improve the uterine environment for implantation and gestation of a healthy baby.
If you find yourself over 40 and wanting a child you can make changes to your lifestyle that slow down the aging process and help you restore your fertility potential. You can take control of your fertility. Start today.
Notes for this blog:
Dr. Lorne Brown, B.Sc, CA, Dr. TCM, FABORM, who is the founder and clinical director of Acubalance Wellness Centre, a Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic dedicated to reproductive health and fertility. www.acubalance.ca
Dr. Brown is a Fellow of the American Board of Reproductive Medicine (ABORM) and a Member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
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