Reader Question: Can I take herbs when doing IVF? Excellent Question! This is a controversial issue, only because many doctors DO NOT like you taking anything whilst you’re on an active IVF cycle. They’re concerned about drug interactions which is fair enough. There are some scenarios where it may assist, so let’s talk about those.
There are a few scenarios where I would recommend taking Chinese Herbs during IVF.
1. Preparing for an IVF cycle
This may be your first IVF cycle or you’ve taken a break between cycles. Take herbs anytime before starting your fertility drugs (say 1-3 months prior) then just continue with your Fertility drugs alone. These could be formulas that focus on nourishing Qi & Blood.
Gui Shao Di Huang Tang is a great base formula to start with. It’s a good all-rounder to take throughout the natural period cycle. Dang Gui Root, White Peony are the Spleen Qi and Blood nourishing herbs added to the classic Yin Nourishing herbs of Rehmannia, Dioscorea, Poria and Asiatic Dogwood.
2. Not taking drugs right now? Take herbs!
If there is a break between Egg Collection (EC) and Embryo Transfer (ET) of about 5 days, I recommend taking your Chinese Herbs in high doses for those 5 days only. These formulas would be focused on Qi and Blood nourishment and Kidney Yang. If you have done herbal medicine preparation prior to conception, this would be a good time to continue it.
Shou Tai Wan (“Foetus Protecting Pill”)
Tai Yuan Yin (“Decoction for Foetus & Essence”)
and Zi Shen Yu Tai Pill are good examples because they contain gentle tonic herbs that help with Kidney deficiency, Qi & Blood Deficiency. They contain herbs that are not cautioned during Pregnancy.
***NB: Please be aware that the formula names are a direct translation of Cantonese and by no means is a GUARANTEE of preventing Miscarriage.
- In Australia the laws around misleading information for the public is very strict.
- The patient needs to be fully informed and gives consent to treatment by their Acupuncturist or Chinese Herbalist.
- This is why I would fully disclose adjunct therapies used, to your doctor.
- Please be careful when researching on the Internet and keep this in mind – China and the USA have different laws regarding how products are promoted.
- So be cautious of promises or guarantees of “”Preventing miscarriage” or “Protecting Pregnancy”
- Ref: https://acupuncturepregnancy.com.au/effect-of-zishan-yutai-ff-pill-on-embryo-implantation-rate-in-patients-undergoing-fertilization-embryo-transfer-in-vitro/
- Ref: https://acupuncturepregnancy.com.au/systematic-review-of-chinese-medicine-for-miscarriage-during-early-pregnancy/
3. If you’re a poor responder to Fertility Drugs
Disclose to your doctor about taking Chinese Herbs. Letting them know is best practice for you and them so everyone knows everything that’s going on.
They may not like it, but after many cycles of failed IVF what have you or they got to lose?
The Registered TCM Practitioner should be mindful of which particular herbs to prescribe as OHSS is still a potential outcome, and we don’t want that!
Sticking to a conservative Qi, Blood and Kidney support strategy is enough. If they’re keeping a close eye on you anyway for OHSS signs via blood tests, the monitoring will give them and you reassurance.
Herbs used would be: Kidney Yin , Kidney Yang and more Kidney herbs. Rehmannia, Cuscuta, Eucommia Bark, Dioscorea, Morinda Root. Qi & Blood Tonics such as Codonopsis, Astragalus, Atractylodes are good examples.
4. Take herbs regardless of what type of cycle you’re doing.
Doctor’s may sound horrified at the thought of this. But people do have a choice during IVF, though many don’t realise it. Evidence has suggested time and time again that Herbs and even TCM can assist in ways that IVF can’t. It’s mostly in the department of moderating stress, nourishment and relaxation, all of which helps the fertility process.
China Med has some great formulas such as “Calm The Spirit” and “Stress Relief” for moderating stress during an IVF cycle. The focus is more on calming the nervous system down and assisting sleep.
My recommendation is to see your fully qualified and registered Chinese Herbal Medicine Practitioner for guidance to fine tune herbs for YOUR situation. Everyone is different and you need that custom-designed formula for YOU. To reach me at my clinics on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, you can contact me here.
Don’t forget FOOD is Medicine
As mentioned time and time again already Qi & Blood Nourishment is a big treatment strategy for women trying to conceive. You can even help boost your Qi and Blood through your FOOD and NUTRITION with this Chicken Bone Broth Recipe. If you’re vegetarian check these posts out. And if you’re Vegan, get some inspiration here for Qi and Blood nourishment.