Fertility support in Chinese medicine
What is infertility? WHO (2020) defines infertility as a disease of the male or female reproductive system by the failure to conceive after 12 months or more regular unprotected sexual intercourse.
Globally, infertility affects millions of people. Infertility can be caused by abnormalities of ovaries, uterus or fallopian tubes etc. for females, while by issues of semen ejection, low sperm count or abnormal movement and shape of the sperm for males (WHO, 2020).
Fertility support is crucial to prevent and assist the treatment of infertility. Yesterday I attended an amazing virtual international conference about the latest developments in Chinese medicine for infertility. Top Chinese medicine experts shared their clinical experiences with us. In today’s blog, I would like to talk about the importance of taking basal body temperature (BBT) based on Dr. DongYun Wang’s presentation.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
BBT is your temperature when you’re at complete rest. Your basal body temperature alters according to different factors, such as hormonal changes. (Su et al., 2017).
A few things need to be noted when taking BBT:
- You need to take it at the same time every morning, preferred to be taken at 6 or 7 am, first thing at the moment you wake up.
- It is more convenient if you can leave the thermometer within reach the night before, as you can’t sit up, walk around, or go to the bathroom before taking the temperature.
- If you are tossing and turning at night a lot without having at least three or four straight hours of sleep, the results could be affected.
- You should use the same thermometer throughout the cycle.
A BBT chart can tell your practitioner if you are ovulating, or if your temperature is too low or too high at different menstrual cycle phases, which guides your practitioner to choose appropriate treatments. Measuring BBT for at least 2 cycles is required.
A normal BBT looks like this (ovulation represents by a spike in body temperature) ( Xia, 2009)
BBT is too low before ovulation ( Xia, 2009)
BBT is too high before ovulation ( Xia, 2009)
BBT is up and down before ovulation (stress-related) ( Xia, 2009)
BBT helps to identify ovulation. However, the chances of getting pregnant are the highest 1-2 days before ovulation (Liang, 2017).
|Days before or after ovulation||Chance of conception (%)|
|1 day before||26|
|2 days before||20|
|3 days before||15|
|4 days before||11|
|5 days before||0|
|2 days after||9|
|3 days after||5|
|4 days after||0|
Tracking cervical mucus changes is a good way to find out the days close to the actual ovulation. When you see egg-white like vaginal discharge , it indicates you are about to ovulate. This is the best time to conduct sexual intercourse.
In the next blog, we will talk about how Chinese medicine support fertility at different phases of the menstrual cycle.
At Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic, our practitioners provide acupuncture or/and Chinese herbal medicine treatments to prepare your body, aiming to increase the chances of pregnancy. If you would like fertility support, feel free to consult with our practitioners.
Xia,GC. 2009. 夏桂成实用中医妇科学 (Xia Gui Cheng practical Chinese medicine Gynecology). 中国中医药出版社 (Chinese TCM publisher).
Liang, D. 2017. How to Utilize Basal Body Temperature (BBT) when Treating Fertility According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture, 26(1)
Su HW, Yi YC, Wei TY, Chang TC, Cheng CM. Detection of ovulation, a review of currently available methods. Bioeng Transl Med. 2017;2(3):238-246. doi:10.1002/btm2.10058
World Health Organization (WHO). Infertility. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/infertility