By Jasmine Sufi HBSc, BHSc, D.Ac
Pregnancy is a time filled with many emotions. With the prospect of a
new addition to the family, comes hope and anticipation for the
incredible changes that are about to happen,
Anxiety at the changes
taking place within your own body, and of course concern for the health
of your new baby. When a pregnancy results in miscarriage however, the
family is often left completely devastated. According to the American
College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), miscarriage is the
most common type of pregnancy loss. Studies have shown that 10-25% of
all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. The most
common causes of miscarriage include chromosomal errors, the improper
implementation of the egg within the uterus, and/or structural
deformities in an embryo that prevent its further development.
No matter how it happens, the loss of a baby is never easy. But when you
and your partner decide to try again, it is important to ensure that
both of you are emotionally and physically ready to start trying again.
So how can Chinese medicine and acupuncture help?
The combination of Chinese herbs and acupuncture help promote
circulation to the uterus, support healthy egg maturation, and ensure
healthy uterine lining, thereby enhancing your chances to sustain a
healthy pregnancy. Following conception, acupuncture and herbs can
prevent miscarriage by promoting overall health and proper circulation
throughout the body, ensuring that essential nutrients are passed from
mother to baby. In addition, acupuncture assists the body in managing
stress better and reduces
Can acupuncture help to improve hormone levels?
If you are undergoing IVF or IUI, your doctor will keep a close check on
your blood work and will monitor FSH, LH, and HCG levels once you are
pregnant. These levels are important in determining if and when a woman
will ovulate, and whether the pregnancy will be sustained.
What do high FSH levels mean?
Levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) are commonly used in
determining fertility. FSH is produced by the pituitary gland and
stimulates the ovaries to produce follicles. While normal FSH levels
result in ovulation during a cycle, insufficient FSH levels due to a
defect of the pituitary gland results in anovulation (no ovulation).
High levels of FSH, which is much more common, results from the
pituitary gland stimulating follicles that are non-responsive. High
levels of FSH may indicate premature ovarian failure. This occurs when
there are very little or no eggs left and is commonly seen during
menopause. High levels of FSH in women in their thirties who have a
tendency to miscarry is commonly associated with extreme stress.
It is important to note that FSH levels vary from cycle to cycle and are
affected easily by the environment, stress and illness. Premature
ovarian failure should not be determined with one cycle and should be
monitored over 3-6 cycles before a diagnosis of ovarian failure is
Every clinic or lab will have their own standards to determine
fertility. FSH levels lower than 12mIU/ml is generally needed to be able
to conceive. For women under the age of 45 and those who have not yet
reached menopause, Chinese medicine and acupuncture can be particularly
helpful in reducing and stabilizing FSH levels.
Understanding LH levels.
Like FSH, luteinizing hormone (LH) is also produced by the pituitary
gland and helps regulate the menstrual cycle and egg production
(ovulation). The level of LH in a woman’s body varies with the phase of
the menstrual cycle. A LH surge refers to the rapid increase in LH that
occurs just prior to ovulation around Day 14.
A combination of herbs and acupuncture can help regulate your hormones,
promoting timely ovulation and maintaining a cycle of 28-29 days.
Are HCG levels important in determining early miscarriage?
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is produced during pregnancy by the
cells that form the placenta. HCG can first be detected by a normal
blood test 11 days after conception and after 12-14 days when given a
urine test. HCG levels should double every 72 hours and will reach their
peak in the 8th to 11th week of pregnancy. They will subsequently
decline and level off for the remainder of the pregnancy. In early
pregnancy HCG levels for pregnancy should consistently rise. If levels
decline or increase at a low rate the pregnancy will likely result in
miscarriage. HCG levels may continue to remain in the blood for 4-6
weeks after the loss.
Does the use of progesterone supplements help prevent miscarriage?
Progesterone helps to build the lining of the woman’s uterus for the
fertilized egg to implant. Once conception occurs, the placenta
continues to produce progesterone for the duration of the pregnancy.
Pregnant women have 10 times more progesterone in their blood during
pregnancy. Levels of progesterone continue to increase right up to
birth. Low or declining levels of progesterone during any part of
pregnancy indicate the potential for miscarriage.
Acupuncture is safe during pregnancy when performed by a qualified
practitioner. As with any health practitioner you seek during pregnancy,
ensure that your practitioner is comfortable with treating pregnancy
related conditions and avoids the use of acupuncture points that
aggressively move qi and blood in your system. Chinese herbs are
essential in moving energy upwards, promoting circulation towards the
uterus, and supporting progesterone. Common herbs to support
progesterone include common yam and black haw. Please take as directed
by your practitioner.
How long should I wait after a ‘D and C’ to get my period?
If a miscarriage has not occurred naturally, a small surgical procedure
is completed called a ‘D and C’ (Dilation and Curettage), in which the
cervix is dilated and the uterine lining is scraped away. It takes the
body 4-6 weeks to readjust to the change in hormones and produce your
first period. HCG takes 4-6 weeks to clear the blood stream and
ovulation will not occur if high levels of hCG are present. Starting
regular acupuncture treatment immediately after a ‘D and C’ will
encourage recovery, reduce
Anxiety, help you manage stress better
physically and mentally, and speed up the decline of hCG in your system,
setting your system back to normal.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be an excellent alternative as well as
an adjunct to other treatments to increase your chances of conceiving
and maintaining a pregnancy. By reducing stress,
Anxiety, and promoting
proper circulation to the uterus, acupuncture and Chinese medicine help
ensure a healthy and successful pregnancy. With little or no side
effects, you owe it to yourself to give it a try!
Jasmine Sufi HBSc, BHSc, D.Ac
Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Practitioner