Dr. Ruth Lee

In this blog post, Balance Health is pleased to interview Dr. Ruth Lee – Registered Chinese Medicine practitioner. She will share with us the root causes of infertility problems, as well as give us an overview of how those problems can be successfully tackled with the help of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

1, Dr. Ruth Lee, thanks for participating in this interview. Infertility is a growing medical problem in the modern world. Do you often treat patients with infertility-related problems?

Yes, I am a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and practitioner of Chinese medicine specializing in women health and fertility. I have helped many previously infertile patients to get pregnant and stay pregnant. Some of them have already adopted assisting reproductive technologies, such as IVF (In-Vitro fertilization), and wanted to use acupuncture and herbals to boost the success rate before the egg is implanted into the uterus. Some just came for natural ways to regulate their body’s balance to get themselves prepared for the future pregnancy.

2, With years of experience in TCM, do you think that modern-day changes in lifestyle such as stress and unhealthy foods contribute to infertility?

Sure, they do. People are eating processed and genetically modified food, seafood loaded with mercury; exposed to radiations, hectic work hours; all of them lead to problems such as abnormal fallopian tubes, hormonal problems, cervical infections and uterine troubles. They all will lower the reproductive potential.

3, In addition to those factors, what are the other causes of infertility among women?

I would say aging is another major factor for female infertility. Research tells us that women become less fertile after the age of 35. And nowadays, women focus on building their career during their younger ages so they miss the golden time for conception.

4, Is infertility an increasing phenomenon among men as well?

Yes, infertility can stem from the male factors, such as low sperm count, abnormal sperm shape, abnormal sperm motility, etc. Why is men’s body producing dysfunctional sperms? It is mainly due to hormonal irregularities and genetic disorders. Exposures to toxins like tobacco, alcohol or some drugs like steroid or antibiotics, radiations, heavy metal will all affect the normal sperm production or damage the DNA in sperm cells. And in TCM terms, these external pathogens will damage our Kidney, Liver, and Spleen Systems which will disrupt the internal balances of our qi (life energy) and blood flow.

5, Can you please share with us how TCM therapies can assist with pregnancy?

Various studies done in the West and China have shown that TCM therapies, such as acupuncture, herbals, cupping, womb warming tuina and ear-seeds treatments, can address the underlying imbalances so that the body can function healthily. By applying the right treatments, it can help increase the qi and blood flow to the uterus, regulate the hormones to help with the growth and release of a mature and healthy egg during ovulation, improve the thickness of the uterine lining, stabilize the nervous system to allow the body to handle stress better and detox heavy metals inside the body. For men in particular, TCM can also help to stimulate the teste to produce normal and active sperms. These can improve the chances of conception.

6, How does an IVF (In vitro fertilization) acupuncture treatment look like?

Before the treatment, I will first review the patient’s medical history and evaluate his/her body constitution, analyze the tongue and pulse characteristics. Then I will insert ultra-fine, sterile, disposable acupuncture needles into specific acu-points on the body along the selected meridians according to the diagnosis. The patient will lie still for around 30 minutes with the needles in place and infrared heat on top. Usually people find it very relaxing as it is a process of balancing the qi and blood flow.

7, How do Chinese herbals work for infertility?

Chinese herbals have been used for healing infertility in the past two thousand years. The ancient masters found that reproduction functions are tightly linked to the Kidney system. They documented formulas that can heal infertility by strengthening the Yin and Yang of the Kidney, which are proven by current studies, very effective to promote hormone balance and regulate the menstrual cycle. That’s why Chinese herbals are not only great for facilitating fertility, but also for alleviating premenstrual syndromes like acne, cramps, tender breasts, bloating, backache, depression and anxiety. In addition, I strongly believe that Chinese herbal tea can act as a very potent anti-oxidant which can slow down the aging process — good news for those who try to conceive over age 35.

Every time I see the patient, I will prescribe combinations of herbs that are uniquely tailored to his/her detailed health history. The personalized formula is carefully balanced to accentuate the patient’s strength and works for his/her particular form of infertility. It is made into powder form, which can be dissolved into water and taken just like instant coffee.

8, And if an infertile couple wants to come for IVF acupuncture and herbal, when should the treatment begin?

True healing takes time. Primordial eggs cells take 120 days to mature before one is released during ovulation, so I will usually recommend my patients to take three to four months before progressing to IVF for a proper pre-conception care to ensure healthy egg quality. This will increase the chance of conceiving and decrease the risks of miscarriage In general, a course of acupuncture once or twice a week combined with herbals will have the best therapeutic effect.

9, Is there any lifestyle advice that you would like to share for couple who wants a successful IVF treatment?

Preparation is key for optimizing fertility. And below will be my tips for anyone who want a healthy pregnancy:

1. Eliminate mercury containing fish, refined sugar, genetically modified food, caffeine and foods that you are sensitive to.
2. Do not smoke.
3. Limit your alcohol intake.
4. Watch out for workplace hazards. Use protective clothing, proper ventilation and face masks to reduce your risk of absorbing toxins.
5. No hair dye.
6. No extreme workouts.
7. Eat plenty organic food and fermented veggies.
8. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, mindfulness training and journal writing to reduce stress.

Disclaimer: The interview above is for informational purposes only. The practitioner and editor have attempted to verify information in this interview, but neither ones should assume any responsibility for errors, omissions, or your interpretation of the above contents. If you have any medical problems or healthcare needs, please consult your healthcare provider.

To book a TCM appointment at the Balance Health clinic, please email: appt@balancehealth.com.hk or call us: +852 2530 3315 

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