by Michelle Kapler R.Ac – Fertility Acupuncturist
I remember being in student clinic, when I was training to be an acupuncturist. I had this amazing professor (who happened to specialize in fertility medicine) who always used to make every effort to give us examples of the importance of looking at both the physical body and the emotional body. He always made it clear that it was impossible to treat one without the other and expect the best results.
This used to be a tough concept for me. I remember one time, I was taking my turn as a “patient” in student clinic, so other students could learn from me. I ask for a treatment for two warts that had developed on my knee. My professor made sure to mention that warts were often a sign that the patient has a negative self image or lacked self confidence. Of course, I completely dismissed the idea that the warts were a physical manifestation of something emotionally pathological. I mean, who was he to tell me I didn’t value myself!
In hindsight, its pretty obvious – at the time, I was in a rather dysfunctional relationship and I had no idea how deeply that affected me or how poorly I felt about myself as a result of this.
Flash forward to a year later, the I had tried everything under the sun to cure these warts. I tried acupuncture, herbs, homeopathic remedies, bandaids, duct tape, drugstore “freeze kits” and still, they remained on my knee. That summer, I ended my unhealthy relationship. Within two weeks, the warts had spontaneously healed themselves. In addition to this, my digestion improved. My periods were no longer painful. My acne cleared up. I was sleeping better. It was nothing short of miraculous. All of these physiological things that I had been working SO HARD to heal suddenly became better, as soon as I was able to face the emotional things that were always just bubbling up under the surface.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) brings an interesting perspective to this concept. Which is that emotions can cause pathology in the body – but pathology in the body can also cause negative emotions. Take PMS for example. The anxiety or depression (or both) that many women experience before their periods each month, is an indication of a physical imbalance. If a woman works with a practitioner using acupuncture, herbs and food to heal this imbalance, her PMS disappears. In TCM, we suggest physical treatments and healing techniques to resolve emotional issues – and we suggest emotional techniques to heal physical issues. We know that you simply cannot have one without the other.
In fertility medicine, it is particularly important that we look at this carefully. When a woman is having trouble conceiving, it is valuable to look at her hormones, egg quality and volume of lining. We want to know when she is ovulating and how her periods are. But it is equally as important for us to address her emotional health as well. Many of the women I see in clinic are stressed to the max, hate their jobs, or feel equally unsettled with some other aspect of life. The problem is, we can’t always simply cut out the stressor. Not everyone can simply leave their stressful job, for example. So instead, we ask her to change the way she is relating her stress through various mindfulness techniques. This, combined with acupuncture, herbal therapy and healing foods can often improve her odds of conceiving significantly, even if she is also working with a Reproductive Endocrinologist.
So what can you do to help yourself balance your mind and body for optimal reproductive function?
- Get enough sleep – getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night can result in an insufficient production of the hormones needed for proper cognitive and reproductive function. Sleep is the time when our body does its healing, sorting and detoxing functions most efficiently. If we don’t get enough sleep, we lose out on the opportunity to clear out the sludge built up over the day – literally and figuratively!
- Cut out booze, coffee and processed sugar – these three things, which are commonly accepted as part of the standard North American diet add absolutely no value to the body. They also cause harm to our blood sugar balance, liver function and natural circadian rhythms (all of which are essential for health physical and mental well-being). These things can be enjoyed in moderation, but it is generally recommended that they are eliminated from the diet when couples are trying to improve their health for the sake of conception.
- Seek help from a qualified practitioner – An Acupuncturist, Therapist or Naturopathic Doctor can help you find solutions to solve your own unique pattern in mental and physical health. A professional can help you get to the root of the problem and find lasting solutions that will stay with you beyond conception, for the rest of your life.
Michelle Kapler R.Ac is a Registered Acupuncturist and Herbalist. Since graduating in 2010, from the Institute of Traditional Medicine in Toronto, she has focused her practice exclusively in fertility, pregnancy and maternal health. She is passionate about helping women to achieve hormonal balance, pleasant periods, successful conception and healthy pregnancies, with acupuncture, herbal medicine and food.
When she is not at work, you can find Michelle hanging out with her husband Peter and daughter Leah – making delicious meals from their backyard veggie garden – shucking and eating oysters – watching baseball – and attending epic family snuggle parties.
If any questions arise, she offers a complimentary 30 minute consultation for all new patients. Reach out anytime – www.mulifertility.com