If you’re trying to get pregnant and you feel like it’s taking longer to conceive than expected, it’s important to not get disheartened and automatically assume you need IVF.


As many as 500,000 couples in the UK and Ireland actively seek help with fertility each year, so first of all you’re not alone. There are a wide range of fertility treatments out there, but one that has an impressive success rate is Chinese medicine. There’s a school of thought that says that by improving your diet, taking traditional Chinese herbs, having acupuncture and just generally leading a healthy lifestyle, you can considerably improve your chances of getting pregnant.

The Fertility Code
One person who believes this is Dermot O’Connor, author of The Fertility Code (a guide which uses the principles behind Chinese medicine to help you to conceive successfully and carry a baby for the full nine months of pregnancy). Dermot has been practising Chinese medicine since 1998 when he was diagnosed with MS. Observing the incredible effects Chinese medicine had on him and his condition, Dermot – who is now completely free from the disease – discovered that this type of treatment not only works on a number of common conditions, but also low fertility.

He explains that from an Eastern perspective the attitude to fertility is really quite simple: “If you’re a gardener and you want to grow healthy flowers, you really need to tend the soil – feed it and water it regularly,” he explains. “Nutrient rich soil is more likely to grow a beautiful blossom filled garden. The same principle applies to producing a baby.

“The Chinese have a saying: ‘The best time to treat a person is the year before they’re born,’ meaning it’s important to treat the parents and make sure they’re as fit and healthy as possible before a baby’s even conceived. This is because healthy parents are far more likely to conceive healthy babies.”

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Healthy diet
Chinese fertility treatments focus strongly on staying as healthy as possible by incorporating a balanced and healthy diet into your lifestyle. Of course, the whole world knows how important a healthy diet is, but where Chinese medicine differs from Western approaches is that instead of focusing on eliminating bad foods or junk foods from your diet, Eastern medicine focuses more on the good foods that you’re not eating and should be.

A balanced diet is important because it helps to regulate hormones and nourish your reproductive system. A good diet also helps you to maintain a healthy weight, which can greatly impact fertility – women who are underweight or overweight may have a harder time becoming pregnant because body fat levels impact the production of sex hormones.

It’s especially important for both you and your partner to include certain vitamins and minerals in your diet. Try to include:

Vitamin C and Antioxidants: these vitamins prevent sperm defects and boost sperm motility. They also reduce stress on your eggs and reproductive organs.

Zinc: zinc deficiencies have been linked with reduced testosterone and semen levels.

Calcium and Vitamin D: a daily dose of these nutrients have been shown to help increase male fertility.

Eastern medicine has promoted the use of herbs for health purposes for thousands of years and many of these herbs are believed to significantly increase your chances of getting pregnant. Try these:

Chasteberry: this herb works to increase fertility by stimulating the pituitary gland, which is responsible for producing sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

Dong Quai: this Chinese fertility herb has been long-used to solve menstrual difficulties. It also helps to balance estrogen levels in the body and improve chances of conception.

According to Chinese medical theory, we have channels of energy called meridians that run through our bodies, similar to the way that we have a blood circulation system. If these channels become blocked or sluggish, your fertility levels can suffer, so acupuncture is used to unblock these channels and encourage your energy flow to return to normal. Acupuncture can also help to regulate your menstrual cycle, which can often be all you need to help you conceive. As well as improving energy flow and menstrual cycles, acupuncture is a great way to reduce stress, which we know is one of the main factors that can stifle your chances of getting pregnant.

The Fertility Code is out May 2012.