Modern medicine is a beautiful tool that we can use to assist our health journey, but it’s only part of the story. I personally love to encourage my patients to seek diagnostic measures (and IVF where necessary), and combine that with the wisdom and healing power of Chinese medicine.
Fragmented embryos are one area where the two forms of medicine can come together to make a huge difference to couples trying to conceive.
Fragmented embryos are a situation where the embryo starts to grow and divide, but then everything starts to fragment and fall apart, and we are left with no viable embryos by the 5 day mark, when ideally transfer would happen in IVF.
You may have been told that there’s nothing that can be done about fragmented embryos, but in my experience that isn’t true. It does take dedication and consistency with taking herbal medicine though.
While we are born with all the eggs we will ever have, that doesn’t mean our general health won’t impact how strong and healthy they are at time of collection during IVF. Think about all the people who have chronic health conditions who turn things around and lose heaps of weight to reverse their diseases. They have the same bodies they did before, but better. We can do that for our eggs as well.
Chinese herbal medicine to strengthen the “Jing” (think of it as your most important bodily essence) should be taken for a minimum of 3 months before the next IVF cycle. If trying to conceive naturally, the herbs should still be taken, and the formula changed to a Yang supportive formula when pregnancy is discovered.
The idea is that the herbs will improve the quality of the woman’s eggs to the point that they are strong and no longer fragment as easily. I’ve seen clinical evidence of the effectiveness of these formulas in helping to produce healthy embryos that result in live births.
I won’t describe the herbs that are commonly used, because it’s important to seek the treatment of a registered Chinese herbalist rather than self treating. Your TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) practitioner that has extensively studied fertility treatments will be able to compose a formula specifically for you. If you live in a rural area, I would advise making a trip to see a TCM fertility specialist at least once to get the best care and diagnosis, and then have your herbs posted to you.
In addition to Chinese herbal medicine, it’s important that your lifestyle and other supplements are supporting healthy eggs as well. You can do this by switching to organic food and making sure your diet is predominantly plant based so you’re getting as much nutrition as possible. The general perception is that organic food is too expensive, but I would encourage you to visit your local farmer’s market on the weekend to see how cheap it can be. Farmer’s markets also have much fresher food because the food goes from the farm to you. I find that produce lasts up to 4 or 5 times as long as the conventional produce I buy at the supermarket.
It’s also worth buying some Peak Fresh bags to help prolong your vegetables even more. I use them and they’re fantastic. No more limp, soggy carrots!
In terms of supplements that are ideal for egg health, I generally recommend my patients take a good quality Coenzyme Q10 supplement (my favourite contains both ubidecarenone and ubiquinol) and wheat grass powder taken in water. Vitamin D supplementation and a quality fish oil are also important.
I would strongly suggest seeing a natural medicine practitioner in order to be prescribed quality brands for the above products. The quality of the product is crucial to giving you the best results. Poor quality fish oils on the market only contain 180mg EPA and 120mg DHA per 1000mg capsule. A quality product that I prescribe to my patients contains 500mg EPA and 200mg DHA per 1000mg capsule. My once-daily 4.2ml liquid fish oil contains 2000mg EPA and 800mg DHA. You can see how buying a quality brand makes a difference, and often works out cheaper when you consider how many capsules you need to take compared to the poor quality brands.
Once you have been prescribed the right herbs and supplements, you will be well on your way to improving your egg quality and overall fertility. Remember, your fertility is an expression of your general health, so it’s important to address all aspects of your health in order to support your eggs.