Infertility Cure: The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babiesby Randine Lewis
Infertility affects one out of six couples today. Dr. Lewis presents a groundbreaking alternative approach to infertility, explaining how she used traditional Chinese medicine to treat her own infertility, successfully conceiving and giving birth to two children.
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The Infertility Cure
The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies
By Randine Lewis
Copyright © 2004
Dr. Randine Lewis
All right reserved.
THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS INFERTILITY
It can be frightening, this yearning for a child-i t 's hard to fathom the
-WENDY WASSERSTEIN, AWARD-WINNING PLAYWRIGHT AND FIRST-TIME MOTHER AT AGE
FORTY-SIX, FROM CREATING A LIFE BY SYLVIA HEWETT
While the question "When does life begin?" has been debated throughout the ages,
one issue that is virtually undebatable is the intense desire of most women to
bear children. Young girls jump rope singing, "First comes love, then comes
marriage, then comes Mary with a baby carriage!" Maternal conditioning prepares
us to become mothers. Even girls who show no interest in babies or dolls while
growing up still assume they possess the capacity, if not the desire, to have
However, when children become teenagers the focus shifts to not having babies
too soon. Most adolescents in the United States are well schooled in preventing
pregnancy through condoms, birth control pills, abstinence, and so on.
Certainly, this is an important message for teenagers, but what happens to women
who, whenthey are ready to have babies, find that it's not as easy to conceive
as they were led to believe it would be? This is neither a small nor an isolated
problem. Fertility issues affect at least one in six couples in the United
States. This statistic means that every month more than 7 million U.S. couples
experience the pain and disappointment of failing to conceive. (The American
Fertility Society states that a couple is considered infertile when pregnancy
has not occurred after one year of coitus without contraception.)
The causes of infertility are wide-ranging - unfortunately, partners usually
don't know there's a problem until they want to conceive and are then thrown
into an endless spiral of diagnosis, treatment, trying to get pregnant and
failing, more diagnosis, more treatment, and more failure. As a medical
practitioner involved in fertility issues, I know firsthand the desperate hunger
of couples who want to have children.
And as a woman, I know personally the pain of wanting to conceive and failing.
I, too, have suffered through miscarriage and unexplained infertility. I
traveled around the world to make my dream of having more children come true. I
know your journey and your pain, and your desire to create new life. If you will
walk with me, I will show you a path that may lead you to both healing and hope.
Motherhood at Any Cost
Oh, what a power is motherhood, possessing A potent spell. All women alike Fight
fiercely for a child.
EURIPIDES, I PHIGENIA IN AULIS, C. 405 B. C.
For a couple, the diagnosis of infertility can be difficult, but for a woman it
can be devastating. Being told you are infertile is like being told your body
has failed its very reason for existence. Throughout the ages, a woman who was
"barren" was considered extremely ill fated. The Old Testament includes several
stories of women who prayed ceaselessly for a child. Rachel, Jacob's wife, went
so far as to ask Jacob to impregnate her servant so she could then claim the
child as her own. Fairy tale after fairy tale (Rumpelstiltskin, Thumbelina,
Sleeping Beauty) describes the hunger for children experienced by queen and
peasant alike. Women have resorted to everything - from prayer to magic potions
to strange sexual positions to drugs to surrogacy - to enhance their fertility.
Today fertility is complicated by the fact that women are waiting longer to
become mothers. The average age at marriage for both women and men has been
rising steadily since the 1950s. We are not marrying until we're in our late
twenties or thirties, and we're postponing having our children until even later.
We believe that we can have children any time between menarche and menopause,
and ask ourselves, why not wait until everything is just right?
I wish it were that easy. Far too many of us are discovering that when we're
ready for children, our bodies are not. According to some statistics, a woman's
fertility peaks in her early twenties and starts to decline as early as age
twenty-seven. By the time a woman is thirty-five, her chances of conceiving are
decreased by 50 percent, and they shrink to 20 percent by the time she hits
forty. (While these statistics may be valid, there are ways a woman of almost
any age can increase her fertility.) Age, the effects of which are often
exacerbated by years of poor diet and stress, depletes the reproductive system
of both men and women.
Women's bodies become ill prepared to accept the burden of conceiving and
carrying a healthy child to term. Month after month their hopes rise, only to
fall again with the onset of menstruation.
But women are tenacious. We don't give up our dream of children that easily - especially
since Western reproductive medicine has provided some of the
best-publicized miracles of modern science. The "infertility epidemic" has
spawned a huge biomedical industry treating those who want children but can't
have them. And indeed, assisted reproductive technology (ART) has given hope to
many women who could never bear children otherwise. But the physical, emotional,
and financial costs of these treatments are high. Women spend every penny they
have and borrow more for in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles. They take drugs
that hyperstimulate their ovaries, turning them into egg-producing,
Women have sex, don't have sex, have sex on schedule, have sex all the time - whatever
they're told will work.
They allow their eggs to be harvested, fertilized outside their bodies, and
inserted back into the uterus, hoping that at least one egg will "take." They
resort to surrogate mothers, or use someone else's eggs. We women will literally
undergo almost any kind of procedure, no matter how dangerous or humiliating, in
our craving for motherhood. Yet all too often we end up broke and heartbroken,
our arms empty and our bodies exhausted. Unfortunately, while we hear a great
deal about how Western reproductive medicine has helped women conceive, we hear
a great deal less about the pain, expense, and statistically low success rates
of such procedures.
Research shows that even young women using IVF techniques have between a 20 and
30 percent chance of conceiving (at a cost of at least ten thousand dollars per
attempt). The chances fall to less than 10 percent for women at age thirty-nine,
and only 3 percent for women at age forty-four.
On average, women go through seven cycles of ART before they either conceive or
quit, spending tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in their attempts to
have children. Fortunately, the failures of Western reproductive medicine have
galvanized women to seek out healthier, more holistic methods of fertility
enhancement. For these women, my practice at the Eastern Harmony Clinic and at
Fertility Retreats - where I use traditional Chinese medical techniques to
enhance both women's and men's fertility and improve their health - offers an
alternative. Traditional Chinese medicine can be used in conjunction with
cutting-edge Western reproductive medicine to increase the chances for
conception. It also can help a woman move gently and naturally to a state of
health and well-being that will allow her body to conceive and carry to term a
This book outlines the basics of the fertility and wellness program used by
women at my clinic. Let us begin with the story of one such woman, who
represents the many hundreds who bring me their fertility issues, along with
their despair and hope.
The Third Way to Conception:
Susie had been diagnosed with "unexplained infertility." This meant that her
doctors could find no specific hormonal or physical reason for her inability to
conceive. Her reproductive endocrinologist had put her on courses of hormone
injections to stimulate her ovaries to produce more eggs, as well as
intrauterine inseminations to bypass any potential cervical or sperm factors.
But nothing had worked. A friend had told her about my program, and Susie
decided to try it. "What did I have to lose?" she told me later.
When Susie first made the appointment at our clinic, she downloaded a set of
forms, which we asked her to complete in advance and bring with her. These forms
asked about her general health, diet, emotions, and specific menstrual and
hormonal symptoms. Susie thought some questions were irrelevant to her fertility
problem, but she filled in her answers and brought the forms with her on the
When Susie walked in for her first appointment, she was frustrated, fearful, and
skeptical. She knew a lot about what Western medicine had to offer in her quest
for a child but was unfamiliar with more natural approaches to fertility
enhancement. When she passed through the doors of Eastern Harmony, however, she
knew she was in for a far different experience from her other doctor's sterile
clinic. When a patient comes into our clinic, she is surrounded by an atmosphere
of tranquillity created by music, water fountains, plants, scented candles, and
My consulting room is also warm and inviting, a place of comfort and hope. I
could see Susie start to relax as soon as she walked in the door. We chatted
about her general health and the problems she had had conceiving, and I looked
at her questionnaire to familiarize myself with her symptoms. Then I took
Susie's wrist and listened to her pulse - one of the primary methods of
diagnosis used in TCM. (Practitioners of TCM are taught to read nine different
positions of a patient's pulse.) I looked at her eyes and her tongue for outward
manifestations of internal energies. I wanted to see where the flow of Susie's
life force energy, or Qi (pronounced chee), was blocked or out of balance.
After I had assessed Susie's condition, I told her, "I believe you have an
energy imbalance in the meridians running to your reproductive organs. In
traditional Chinese medicine, for the ovaries and uterus to be in balance the
Kidneys, Liver, and Spleen must be also, as these energy systems are intricately
linked to reproduction. The imbalance of energy is affecting your hormones as
well as your overall health."
"But my reproductive endocrinologist didn't find anything wrong with my
hormones," Susie replied.
"Many hormonal problems occur because of slight imbalances in the endocrine
system, altering the way the body produces hormones," I told her. "Modern
Western diagnostic techniques may not detect any abnormality, but even a slight
aberration can throw the entire system off so it no longer functions smoothly.
We need to get your hormones and the other systems in your body back into
"I've had my hormones stimulated, and it didn't work," Susie objected. "I'm not
talking about stimulating your hormones but rather restoring your body's natural
balance," I reassured her. "Think of your body like a river. The health of the
river depends upon the natural flow of water.
When nature is doing its job, rain falls in the hills, runs downhill in rivulets
into streams, then into bigger streams, then into the river. But if the river
isn't getting enough water - if there's a drought, for example - the system
won't flow the way it's supposed to. The Western solution to a drought is to
open the floodgates of a dam upstream and release an enormous amount of water
all at once. That will cause water to flow into the river, but it also may cause
enormous problems because the river's ecosystem isn't equipped to handle that
much water all at once. Hormonal stimulation can have the same effect on a
woman's body: it floods the system with a huge amount of stimulation that the
body simply isn't equipped to handle.
"The Eastern method is different. Instead of flooding the river with water from
a dam, the natural approach is to seed the clouds and release just enough rain
to restore the proper level of water in the river.
Traditional Chinese medical treatments are designed to stimulate the body's own
natural production of hormones while restoring the health and harmony of the
entire system. Once the body is in balance and its hormones are restored,
conception can occur."
"You're sure it's effective?" Susie asked.
"The first records of fertility treatments using traditional Chinese medicine
date back to well before the Christian era," I answered.
"I advocate a simple four-step program that can help you balance your energies
and prepare your body to nurture a child. Each program is designed specifically
for the individual patient. The first step is to diagnose what's going on with
your system and how your reproductive energies need to be harmonized.
The second step is to change your diet. In the Chinese medical system, certain
foods have specific properties - generating heat or dampness, for example.
Depending on your Chinese medical diagnosis, you may need to choose foods that
will help purify your Blood, or increase energy flow to your Kidneys, or
eliminate stagnation in your Liver. And we'll explore adding certain vitamin and
mineral supplements to your diet, too.
"The next step is to clear your energy meridians. In your case, I believe a
series of acupuncture treatments would be helpful. I may also prescribe specific
exercises." "My friend swore that your acupuncture treatments helped her get
pregnant," Susie said. "But after all the injections I've been getting for the
last few months, I hate the idea of needles."
I shook my head. "Acupuncture is nothing like an injection. Most of my patients
say they can't even feel the needles, and many tell me that they are more
relaxed after a treatment. I suggest you try one treatment and see how you feel.
If it's not for you, we can pursue other options, like acupressure.
The goal is to balance your energy meridians and get the Qi flowing smoothly
again. "The final step is to increase your chances of conception through the use
of herbs, natural energetic substances that gently correct underlying
deficiencies or clear obstructions. Herbal preparations and tonics have been
used for thousands of years in China to help increase fertility.
We'll individualize each herbal formula based upon your diagnostic pattern.
There will be different herbs for various segments of your cycle. I'll also give
you an herbal mix designed to enhance your overall health and well-being.
"We'll keep assessing our progress and make changes as needed. Simply by
following these steps - diet, acupuncture, and herbs - and using relaxation and
stress-reduction techniques, many women in our clinic are able to conceive
within a period of months."
Susie looked at me expectantly. "Do you really think I can have a child?" I knew
what she was feeling because I've seen it in hundreds of patients and have felt
the same need for hope myself. "Susie, we're not talking about a quick fix here.
Excerpted from The Infertility Cure
by Randine Lewis
Copyright © 2004 by Dr. Randine Lewis.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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