Top critical review
Ten-year-old book with some questionable advice and no real exclusive insights. Skip it.
Reviewed in the United States on July 27, 2019
I didn’t realize until I was a few chapters in that this book was published in 2009, but went ahead and finished it anyway. There are pros and cons, but overall, I’d recommend It Starts With The Egg (Fett) over this, as it has the benefit of 10 extra years of science behind it, along with a total lack of pseudoscience.
Basically, this book has a huge amount of (old) info on how conception works and what problems can arise, and then there’s a section where they classify you into one of five “types” and recommend a specific diet and supplements for your type. Along the way, they plug finding both a good medical doctor and a good TCM practitioner, and getting healthy. But none of it is groundbreaking information in 2019 compared to what you can find elsewhere.
Pro: If you are concerned by the idea of TCM because you prefer science over woo, don’t worry - they recommend very little TCM without oversight by professionals, and they are big on safety. Mostly, they say over and over again, “if you want to try TCM for this problem, see an herbalist or acupuncturist,” and they give advice on picking a good one. They frequently stress that it needs to be done only with the full knowledge of your medical doctor, and never without supervision of someone trained in TCM. They aren’t recommending you buy herbs and self-medicate with them, and there isn’t too much woo.
Con: Of course, that begs the question - why even include TCM info in this book, if they are just plugging finding a qualified TCM practitioner? I must have read paragraphs that say something like, “the traditional Chinese worldview believes that X problem is caused by X woo concept, so an herbalist/acupuncturist will prescribe something for you” a million times. I’m glad they aren’t recommending self-medicating with herbs or keeping secrets from your doctor, but it also made the book a LOT longer without adding any new information.
Pro: They explain a lot of scientific and medical concepts in a way that is accessible for a layperson, yet never condescending or cutesy (the way these books often are). They give an excellent explanation of the menstrual cycle, conception, implantation, and lots of reproductive technologies.
Con: The book is 10 years old, so I can’t be sure those explanations are up-to-date. They also talk a lot about concerns with the current state of the fertility industry, but it’s hard to fully buy in knowing that the book hasn’t been updated in 10 years.
Con: They recommend some things that are definitely known to be unsafe and/or unhelpful to conceiving and carrying to term (royal jelly, spirulina, evening primrose oil, l-arginine). Maybe that info wasn’t as clear in 2009 as it is today, but it means that the reader must do outside research to confirm both the safety and efficacy of any recommendation in this book - which makes it not much better than reading blogs for medical info, IMO.
Con: a lot of the dietary/supplement stuff is either just obvious advice for good health that you don’t need to read a book for (like, avoid processed food, sugar, and alcohol; eat vegetables; exercise) or it is very easily found in other, newer books or by speaking to your own doctor (like, take CoQ10, don’t use lubricants, chart your BBT). So it’s not an exclusive approach only found in this book.
Con: Of the few new recommendations I found in this book, all but 3 turned out, upon further research, to be bad ideas. Basically, the good ideas can all be found elsewhere, and the ideas exclusive to this book are mostly bad ones.
Overall, I don’t recommend it for today’s readers unless they release an updated edition. I’m sure it helped many people a decade ago when some of this stuff wasn’t widely known, but by now, the information that isn’t pseudoscience is either easy to access in other media, or wildly out-of-date.