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Preventing Miscarriages with Chinese Medicine

Miscarriage is one of the most common infertility conditions that we see in our everyday clinical practice. Almost 25% of pregnancies are lost within the first 12 weeks of gestation. This is mainly due to chromosomal abnormalities which are explained later in this article. Miscarriages can also occur due to a systemic disorder, uterine irregularity or cervical inefficiency. 

When assessing these types of pregnancy problems, it’s a good idea to have a holistic look over all the elements at play. Firstly, improving both partners’ health before conception optimises the sperm, the egg and the uterine environment to create the most beneficial environment for a healthy pregnancy! [1]

Prerequisites for a Healthy Pregnancy 

A number of things then need to happen for a successful pregnancy to produce a healthy baby:

  • good quality sperm
  • fertilisation of the ovum
  • egg implantation
  • active prevention of miscarriage
  • a healthy first trimester
  • healthy second and third trimesters
  • and labour assistance.

In this article, we’ll focus on providing you information on how good quality sperm, fertilisation of the ovum, egg implantation and active prevention contributes to a healthy pregnancy.

Sperm quality

Sperm that is robust is an essential prerequisite for successful fertilisation. Robust sperm can reach the egg to develop a strong embryo. However, subnormal sperm morphology, count or motility is common in many males. 

Male sperm quality is influenced by both genetics and environmental factors. It can be enhanced by altering lifestyle habits. Acupuncture can also help to improve sperm motility, count and morphology to enhance fertilisation rates and embryo quality. [2,3,4,5]

Fertilisation of the ovum

Firstly, lifestyle and genetic factors affect the uterine environment and they can promote successful fertilisation. Improving your health, reducing your stress levels and correcting any hormonal imbalances helps to ensure a successful fertilisation journey. Accurate uterine pH levels and mucosal thickness are important for the survival and transport of sperm to the ovum. [6]

Successful egg implantation

After ovulation, the fallopian tube picks up the egg and transfers it to the uterus. It’s important to avoid or reduce stress because it can cause fallopian tube spasms. These spasms can arise from conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Any tissue damage can hinder egg transport and implantation.

Acupuncture may help promote successful implantation for women suffering from these conditions by relaxing tubal spasms, promoting the movement of the egg and encouraging healing. [7,8,9]

Active prevention of miscarriage

Both partners should maintain healthy lifestyle habits before, during and after conception to help ensure a successful pregnancy. Healthy lifestyle habits include: 

  • moderate exercise
  • high folic acid/iodine/iron intake, 
  • alcohol and tobacco avoidance,
  • and maintaining a positive mental state.

It’s important that both your mind and body is balanced, calm and healthy throughout your pregnancy. Adopting positive daily behaviours will help you to produce a healthy baby as well as reduce your risk of complications in future pregnancies.

Healthy lifestyle changes should begin at least 3-12 months before trying to conceive. Pre-conception care is especially important for those over 40 or with a history of miscarriage, PCOS, PID, endometriosis or a high-stress lifestyle. [10,11,12] 

A healthy first trimester

With an overabundance of information now at our fingertips online, the first trimester can be a mix of excitement and worry. It’s important to only source pregnancy information from highly credible sources.

As the embryo develops, nausea and vomiting, increased urination, fatigue, food and heat aversions, constipation and mood swings can occur. However, a few daily life adjustments can make all the difference during these first three months. For example:

  • excessive nausea, vomiting and anxiety can be prevented by having small, frequent, warm meals that contain less spicy foods, less red meat, less processed-sugar and less chocolate, accompanied by an increase in fruit and vegetables. You should also increase your intake of fluids (except coffee). 
  • mindful thinking, acupuncture, and herbs can also appease nausea, vomiting and anxiety symptoms. 
  • moderate daily exercise and sun exposure will also enhance your mental and physical wellbeing.

Be aware of changes in your body and communicate with a healthcare practitioner to help you through your first trimester. [13,14,15]

Read more about how Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture supports this specific stage of pregnancy. Link to Article Here

Healthy second and third trimesters

As your body expands with your baby’s growth, discomfort and swelling may occur. You may experience symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath and poor sleep. All of these symptoms can impose on your daily life. It’s important to visit your health care practitioner if the symptoms persist. Maintaining a positive home and work environment as well as ensuring that you get enough deep sleep will help to improve both your quality of life and your embryo’s health.

Labour assistance

High-quality labour assistance will help you to have a natural and smooth delivery of your baby. During the last month of pregnancy, the cervix softens in preparation for contractions and delivery. Acupuncture treatments in the third trimester can assist in childbirth preparation by supporting cervical changes and natural labour induction. The childbirth process releases the oxytocin hormone, which increases pain sensations. 

However, it is these sensations that help women find their own way of facilitating labour and birth. The response to these contractions increases their strength and efficiency. As labour progresses, more endorphins release, creating a feedback pathway to decrease the pain. Support from family, friends and healthcare practitioners creates a nurturing environment to help the process.

A healthy birth-weight baby will have long-lasting mental, intellectual, and physical effects on their development. It can positively affect their lifelong cardiovascular health, cholesterol levels and mental state. [16,17,18,19]

How Chinese Medicine Can Help with Miscarriage

fertilitisation-chinese-acpuncture-medicine

Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture may improve the success rate of the egg implantation process by stimulating the body to produce adequate levels of progesterone.

Low progesterone, short luteal phase (ovulation) and an unhealthy immune response (overactive natural killer cells) are considered “deficiencies” within Chinese medicine. Bad lifestyle choices, genetic predisposition, stress and poor health all contribute to these deficiencies. There are many ways to treat these deficiencies but when applying the principles of Chinese medicine, we focus on the health of the person as a whole instead of looking for disease.

Chinese medicine and acupuncture are able to reverse many non-genetic deficiencies.

Chinese medicine has been used to successfully treat infertility and prevent miscarriage for more than 2000 years. A skilled and experienced Chinese medicine practitioner can provide significant insights about your fertility. They can also help you to increase your rate of implantation, your likelihood of getting pregnant, and the likelihood of you carrying a pregnancy through to term.

Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine Should Work Together to Help Prevent Miscarriage

All Chinese medicine practitioners at Sustain Health are trained in modern biomedical science and have a thorough understanding of how fertility and pregnancy work in both modern Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. 

We take all of your blood tests, imaging and surgery report into consideration when preparing your customised Chinese medicine treatment plan. We can work collaboratively with your fertility specialist or gynaecologist to ensure we achieve the best possible outcomes for you.

Managing Miscarriage with Chinese Medicine at Sustain Health

A holistic approach to managing miscarriage is the reason why our treatments are can be effective. If you are experiencing recurring miscarriage issues or you would like additional support in creating a healthy pregnancy, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Sustain Health to discuss your needs with one of our highly experienced Chinese medicine practitioners. 

We will provide you with professional advice and create a customised Chinese medicine treatment that supports you throughout your pregnancy.

References

1 Teng, B., Peng, J., Ong, M., & Qu, X. (2017). Successful Pregnancy after Treatment with Chinese Herbal Medicine in a 43-Year-Old Woman with Diminished Ovarian Reserve and Multiple Uterus Fibrosis: A Case Report. Medicines (Basel, Switzerland), 4(1), 7. doi:10.3390/medicines4010007

2 P, K., & Malini, S. S. (2014). Positive association of sperm dysfunction in the pathogenesis of recurrent pregnancy loss. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR, 8(11), OC07–OC10. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/9109.5172

3 Ibrahim, Y., & Johnstone, E. (2018). The male contribution to recurrent pregnancy loss. Translational andrology and urology, 7(Suppl 3), S317–S327. doi:10.21037/tau.2018.05.14

4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26333228

5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12658811

6 https://crh.ucsf.edu/fertility/conception

7 Xiong, F., Gui, J., Yang, W. et al. Chin. J. Integr. Med. (2015) 21: 58. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11655-014-1755-0

8 Cases: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5908423/, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6756705/

9 Chen, W., Chen, J., Xu, M., Zhong, Z., Zhang, Q., Yang, W., & Huang, G. (2019). Electroacupuncture facilitates implantation by enhancing endometrial angiogenesis in a rat model of ovarian hyperstimulation. Biology of reproduction, 100(1), 268–280. doi:10.1093/biolre/ioy176

10 Koletzko, B., Cremer, M., Flothkötter, M., Graf, C., Hauner, H., Hellmers, C., … Wöckel, A. (2018). Diet and Lifestyle Before and During Pregnancy – Practical Recommendations of the Germany-wide Healthy Start – Young Family Network. Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde, 78(12), 1262–1282. doi:10.1055/a-0713-1058

11 Dorney, E., & Black, K. I. (2018). Preconception care. Australian Journal of General Practice, 47(7), 424-429. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.laureate.net.au/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.laureate.net.au/docview/2064899859?accountid=176901

12 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532992/

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14 Jakubauskiene, L., Jakubauskas, M., Mainelis, A., Buzinskiene, D., Drasutiene, G., Ramasauskaite, D., & Poskus, T. (2019). Factors Influencing Quality of Life during the First Trimester of Pregnancy: A Prospective Cohort Study. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 55(10), 666. doi:10.3390/medicina55100666

15 Lagadec, N., Steinecker, M., Kapassi, A., Magnier, A. M., Chastang, J., Robert, S., … Ibanez, G. (2018). Factors influencing the quality of life of pregnant women: a systematic review. BMC pregnancy and childbirth, 18(1), 455. doi:10.1186/s12884-018-2087-4

16 Lothian J. A. (2000). Why natural childbirth?. The Journal of perinatal education, 9(4), 44–46. doi:10.1624/105812400X87905

17 Smith, C. A., Armour, M., & Dahlen, H. G. (2017). Acupuncture or acupressure for induction of labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi: 10.1002/14651858.cd002962.pub4

18 Handayani, S., & Balgis (2019). Pre-Labor Acupuncture for Delivery Preparation in Multiparous Women Past Age 40. Medical acupuncture, 31(5), 310–314. doi:10.1089/acu.2019.1357

19 Bell, K., Corbacho, B., Ronaldson, S., Richardson, G., Torgerson, D., Robling, M., & Building Blocks trial group (2018). The impact of pre and perinatal lifestyle factors on child long term health and social outcomes: a systematic review. Health economics review, 8(1), 2. doi:10.1186/s13561-018-0186-6

20 Hardy, P. J., & Hardy, K. (2018). Chromosomal instability in first trimester miscarriage: a common cause of pregnancy loss?. Translational pediatrics, 7(3), 211–218. doi:10.21037/tp.2018.03.02

21 Nybo Andersen, A. M., Wohlfahrt, J., Christens, P., Olsen, J., & Melbye, M. (2000). Maternal age and fetal loss: population based register linkage study. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 320(7251), 1708–1712. doi:10.1136/bmj.320.7251.1708

22 Magnus, M. C., Wilcox, A. J., Morken, N. H., Weinberg, C. R., & Håberg, S. E. (2019). Role of maternal age and pregnancy history in risk of miscarriage: prospective register based study. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 364, l869. doi:10.1136/bmj.l869

23 Pal, A. K., Ambulkar, P. S., Waghmare, J. E., Wankhede, V., Shende, M. R., & Tarnekar, A. M. (2018). Chromosomal Aberrations in Couples with Pregnancy Loss: A Retrospective Study. Journal of human reproductive sciences, 11(3), 247–253. doi:10.4103/jhrs.JHRS_124_17

24 Theisen, A., & Shaffer, L. G. (2010). Disorders caused by chromosome abnormalities. The application of clinical genetics, 3, 159–174. doi:10.2147/TACG.S8884

25 Browne, V. A., Julian, C. G., Toledo-Jaldin, L., Cioffi-Ragan, D., Vargas, E., & Moore, L. G. (2015). Uterine artery blood flow, fetal hypoxia and fetal growth. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 370(1663), 20140068. doi:10.1098/rstb.2014.0068

26 Ridder, A., Giorgione, V., Khalil, A., & Thilaganathan, B. (2019). Preeclampsia: The Relationship between Uterine Artery Blood Flow and Trophoblast Function. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(13), 3263. doi:10.3390/ijms20133263

27 Ridder, A., Giorgione, V., Khalil, A., & Thilaganathan, B. (2019). Preeclampsia: The Relationship between Uterine Artery Blood Flow and Trophoblast Function. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(13), 3263. doi:10.3390/ijms20133263

28 Zhong, Y., Zeng, F., Liu, W., Ma, J., Guan, Y., & Song, Y. (2019). Acupuncture in improving endometrial receptivity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 19(1), 61. doi:10.1186/s12906-019-2472-1

29 Lin, M. J., Chen, H. W., Liu, P. H., Cheng, W. J., Kuo, S. L., & Kao, M. C. (2019). The prescription patterns of traditional Chinese medicine for women with polycystic ovary syndrome in Taiwan: A nationwide population-based study. Medicine, 98(24), e15890. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000015890

30 Qu, F., Wu, Y., Zhu, Y. H., Barry, J., Ding, T., Baio, G., … Hardiman, P. J. (2017). The association between psychological stress and miscarriage: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Scientific reports, 7(1), 1731. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-01792-3

31 Gernand, A. D., Schulze, K. J., Stewart, C. P., West, K. P., Jr, & Christian, P. (2016). Micronutrient deficiencies in pregnancy worldwide: health effects and prevention. Nature reviews. Endocrinology, 12(5), 274–289. doi:10.1038/nrendo.2016.37

32 Braunthal, S., & Brateanu, A. (2019). Hypertension in pregnancy: Pathophysiology and treatment. SAGE open medicine, 7, 2050312119843700. doi:10.1177/2050312119843700

33 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25511549

Written by

Dr Scott Ling
Dr. Scott Ling is the Chief Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Acupuncturist and the founder of Sustain Health. He holds a PHD Doctorate Degree in Chinese medicine from Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine. Dr Ling’s extensive qualifications also include a Master of Reproductive Medicine (western medicine). Due to his unique medical background, Dr Ling’s approach stresses on the integration of Chinese and Western medicine to ensure patients get the greatest benefits from the best of both medical systems.
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