The idea may sound funny, and for some people maybe even hard to believe. For how exactly could a nun assist couples in conceiving babies?
Well, Sr. Regina Liu (Chinese name: Shengrong Liu), aside from being a nun, also happens to be an expert in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). She is an acupuncturist who specializes in infertility. She is the Dean of the SMIC Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine which is housed inside the compound of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God in Panay Ave., Quezon City.
We found out about this nun’s amazing gift via a Facebook post. It was a personal testament on how, after years of trying to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization, what would ultimately bring forth a baby was the acupuncture treatments of Sr. Regina.
Over the years, Sr. Regina has helped many aspiring parents to have a baby of their own through TCM. Back in 2014, when she was doing her dissertation for her doctorate studies in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Sr. Regina had seen and helped about 1,700 patients with infertility problems. “I’ve lost count already!” the 50-year-old TCM specialist tells ANCX.
Joining the religious life
Before Sr. Regina became a nun, she had already completed her Chinese Medicine studies in China. In fact, she is the sixth generation of TCM practitioners in her family. But she felt that she could help more families if she will take care not only of their physical health but also their psychological and spiritual well-being.
Sr. Regina came to the Philippines in 1996 to join the SMIC congregation. She thought it would mean giving up her first love, which is TCM, but she says she decided to heed God’s call.
After Sr. Regina made her first vows, however, she was surprised to hear her Superior assign her to go to California to take advanced studies on TCM. “I didn’t need to request from my Superior,” she recalls. So after completing her Master’s Degree, she came back to the Philippines to start her TCM practice. She opened a clinic inside SMIC in 2005.
It was during her TCM practice that Sr. Regina discovered the mission God wanted her to fulfill. As a TCM specialist, she dealt with all sorts of health conditions—from insomnia to every kind of cancer. In 2006, the daughter-in-law of a paralytic patient asked if she could also have an acupuncture treatment. Said lady already had four failed IVFs. She and her husband had spent hundreds of thousands for the procedure and the trips abroad. She revealed to Sr. Regina that she was scheduled to have her fifth IVF in about three weeks.
“You need to balance your body first before you go for the next IVF,” Sr. Regina recalls telling the patient. She gave the lady acupuncture treatments and some herbs to drink. Several months later, the patient came back to Sr. Regina’s clinic carrying twins. The said mother bore three more children—not via IVF but through natural method and the help of TCM.
By word of mouth, Sr. Regina became known as the nun whose prick helps couples conceive.
Another success story that Sr. Regina fondly shares is that of a patient who had thyroid cancer. Due to immunity problems brought on by the cancer, the said patient, who was in her early 30s, could not conceive.
Through TCM, Sr. Regina helped normalize the patient’s menstrual cycle and fix her immunity problems. The patient was able to conceive, and deliver a healthy baby.
Said patient came back to Sr. Regina’s clinic two months after giving birth. “You came back for second child?” she asked the new mom, who told her—“Sister, I’m pregnant again.” The reason she came back to Sr. Regina’s clinic was to ensure that her whole pregnancy would be healthy and smooth.
Two months after giving birth to her second child, the now mother-of-two went to see Sr. Regina again. Difficult to believe but she was pregnant, she told the nun, with a third child. “Now she has three boys. One time I asked her, ‘Some more?’ She said, ‘No more, sister. It’s hard to manage already,” Sr. Regina recalls.
Sr. Regina recalls a patient in her 30s with premature ovarian failure. She had one child, and wanted to have another one. The patient was already scheduled to have an IVF in Hong Kong but decided to seek Sr. Regina’s help in regulating her menstrual cycle. “They were already at the hotel in Hong Kong waiting for the menstrual period to come, but it got delayed for a few days,” Sr. Regina recalls. “Then when she did a pregnancy test, she found out she was pregnant. She texted me from HK to inform me that!”
While the nun was happy for that patient, she also felt guilty for the other embryo waiting to be implanted on the mother’s womb.
How TCM helps treat fertility
For the body to be fertile, it first has to achieve balance, says Sr. Regina. If there is an imbalance, it means the body’s natural functions (e.g. ovulation, menstruation) are not in order. The common problem she encounters among her patients is that they are not getting enough sleep.
“If you don’t conserve energy for your reproductive system, how can you produce good eggs or sperm?” she says. Part of being a TCM specialist, she says, is teaching her patients the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
She also made special mention of the bad effects of cold temperature to the body, especially to women’s reproductive health. Cold temperature causes poor blood circulation, says Sr. Regina, which would affect the development of the uterine lining. “It won’t be thick enough, so the embryo cannot implant itself.” She therefore advises patients to avoid consuming cold drinks and food.
Acupuncture can also help men achieve their body’s balance and improve the quality and quantity of their sperm and the semen. So if you’re a guy accompanying your wife, don’t be shocked if Sr. Regina asks about your semen production and erectile function. “All these are factors we have to consider one by one,” she says, laughing.
One TCM course for infertility usually takes about three months. In some cases, it takes longer. Most of the time, patients come once a week—a total of 12 sessions within three months.
There are cases when the women take longer to get pregnant. It took about a year of faithful TCM treatments, for example, before the publishing magnate Lisa Gokongwei Cheng got pregnant with her first child, recalls Sr. Regina. Gokongwei Cheng shared her journey in this 2013 Smart Parenting article.
Sr. Regina explains that TCM is a holistic concept. “I don’t only treat infertility. I balance your whole body,” she says. She treats different health conditions—from insomnia to cancer and even Covid. Covid patients are treated via virtual calls, but those who would like to consult for infertility are checked by Sr. Regina in person.
Like most nuns, Sr. Regina lives in a convent, does her regular prayers and meditation, and hears the Holy Masses every day. She never ceases to pray for her patients, and she prays even harder when their conditions are tough to treat. God’s healing hands never fail, she says. “We pray for you, but you also have to pray together,” she tells couples. “We’re oftentimes surprised, because the baby just miraculously comes.”