Western medicine works with an eye on the numbers. The main goal is to increase the quantity of eggs or sperm, thereby increasing your chances of a viable pregnancy. In contrast, Traditional Chinese Medicine is holistic and cumulative. It will likely include suggestions about diet and lifestyle as well as acupuncture. TCM is very personalized. Your practitioner will needle specific points depending on your body and your situation. When your body is healthy and balanced, you increase your chances of getting pregnant and producing a healthy child. The goal of acupuncture is to return your body to a state of health. The effects take time; the results get better over time.
Awareness of your body always gives you power. Whether you are using Western medicine and manipulating your cycle with drugs or not using artificial means, it is essential to know what a healthy menstrual cycle looks like. An ideal cycle is regular; it lasts 28 days (25-35 days is a good range); it contains little PMS; most blood is bright red; and has no blood clots. But, there are also others things to look for.
The time period before ovulation is your follicular phase. This is the phase in which follicles grow and one follicle becomes dominant. At ovulation time, the dominant follicle releases an egg. The follicular phase is considered the yin part of the cycle in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
All women have cervical discharge throughout the month. The discharge is healthiest when it is clear to white, not any other color. The discharge that indicates fertility is called S-type and is that which begins approximately 6 days before ovulation with the rise of estrogen. This discharge will be clear, stretchy and have the consistency of raw egg white. A substantive discharge means increased fertility because it facilitates pathways for sperm to enter the uterus. This discharge is considered yin in nature. If you are lacking this type of cervical discharge, you might be yin deficient. (Later, in the Diet and Lifestyle Tips, note the tips that enhance yin). Drugs that dry up or interfere with cervical fluid are antihistamines, atropine, N-SAIDS, and antidepressants.
Ovulation is the release of the egg. The egg lives for 6-12 hours after it is released. The sperm lives for up to 5 days. The prime time to start engaging in intercourse would be 4-5 days prior to ovulation, 48 hours being the optimal time.
The phase after ovulation is the luteal phase. This phase is more yang in nature. (Check yang dietary suggestions and lifestyle tips).
Once you begin to bleed, Traditional Chinese Medicine says that you are most deficient and are more vulnerable. To avoid depletion while you are bleeding, keep your feet warm, don’t walk around the house barefoot, and don’t swim in cold water.