Fertility Center


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In health, a woman is a 'fertility center'! This page shows you what Chinese medicine says about trying to conceive and your chance of getting pregnant.

Remember, Chinese medicine has been thinking about this for 3000 years, rather longer than modern Western medicine. Lacking scientific instruments as we know them, Chinese doctors used their powers of observation and sensitivity to the monthly cycle and a woman's periods, her menses, to diagnose and treat women trying to conceive.

They realised the importance of regular, healthy menses on a woman's chance of:

  • getting pregnant and
  • a healthy pregnancy

They worked out how to help and monitor them.

You might think that with the advent of modern Western medicine to China, doctors of traditional Chinese gynecology might give up and do something else! In fact, modern life imposes major problems on women's bodies which Chinese medicine is very good at helping.

The result? More than ever, Traditional Chinese medicine is being used to diagnose and advise women who are trying to conceive.

In fact many acupuncturists specialize in fertility centers, for example.

Trying to Conceive?

'So what are the basic ideas for promoting a healthy fertility center in a woman? For healthy menses what do you need?

For her womb, her uterus, to work properly there must be Blood and Qi, moving and functioning smoothly.

Blood comes from the food you eat and from your body's ability to transform it into blood. Blood, (capital B) can then nourish the womb and life inside it.

So your Stomach Energy needs to get you to choose, acquire and prepare, cook and chew the food, then send it on to the Intestines.

Here the Spleen energy transforms it into the red stuff but, at least in Chinese medicine, it doesn't become Blood (capital B) until it has received Qi from the Lungs and Life from the Heart. Click here for more about this process.

However, that's still not quite the end of it. For a healthy uterus, you need also 'Essence' (Jing is the word used in Chinese medicine, roughly equivalent to inherited 'knowhow' or genes, although that would suggest it's just information when, in addition, it is a hugely important source of energy), and Yang. Yang comes in the form also of what is called Minister Fire: 'spark', if you like.

Both Jing and Yang are dispensed by the Kidney energy.

So now we've got Blood, Jing and Yang. What else do we need?

Two important influences take the process forward. One is the Heart energy organ, which governs Blood (after all, if the Heart doesn't pump, we can all go home). This 'governing Blood' idea may seem a bit arcane but the Heart provides the Mental and Emotional balance for a woman's 'fertility center' to know what it's doing.

The Heart is so important here that there is even a special 'secret' stairway or channel between the Heart and the Uterus. (Which may help to explain why some women have palpitations when their uterus is removed - but that will be the subject of another page.)

Also, she needs a healthy Liver Energy organ to move the Blood when it needs to be moved. This balances the Spleen function which likes to hold things in place.

For healthy periods, you can see that the Spleen energy builds up Blood and holds it in place, the Liver makes sure it can flow out at the end of the cycle, ready for the next one.

If your Blood flows at the wrong time, it may be because the Spleen can't hold it in place. This could be because of tiredness or heat or a range of other things. If your period is very late, it might be because your Liver Qi is stagnating, or because you are so weary that your Spleen (and Stomach and the others) can't get the energy together to make enough Blood to be worth a period.

The Fertility Center Cookpot

So, if we take the analogy of the cooking pot:

  • the Cook (the Heart) needs to know she wants to get pregnant and she's happy about it, 
  • the Spleen and Stomach can produce the ingredients and start preparing them, 
  • the Kidney knows the recipe and supplies vital know-how and special ingredients ... 
  • ... one of which is Jing-Essence 
  • the Liver decides on quantities and timing.

Then, with all these ingredients to hand, an egg can be produced and the nest prepared (to switch analogies!).

All your fertility center needs then is another bit of Yang, to bring the egg (Yin) to life. It's called sperm!

What Can Go Wrong at your Fertility Center?

What could possibly go wrong when trying to conceive? After all, we've been evolving for a million years: you'd think our genes might have sorted it all out by now!

Well, obviously, if you're reading this, things may not be going just as you had hoped.

Here are just a few of the possibilities in Chinese medicine:

Stomach and Spleen

  • Irregular or inadequate nutrition
  • Inability to turn food into Blood
  • Insufficient Qi to hold the menses, or the baby, in place

Kidney

Heart

  • Big emotional upsets
  • Shock
  • Accident
  • Heart sends Energy down too much: tendency to lowered Spirits, lack of hope or direction in life
  • Confusion in the Heart energy

Liver

(Technical Stuff)

If you know a bit about acupuncture theory, you'll realize I haven't mentioned Chong Mo the Penetrating Channel, Ren Mo the Conception Vessel or Du Mo the Governor channel, to mention but three omissions.

In treating women with infertility, knowing about and diagnosing problems with these issues and knowing how to use these extra-ordinary channels can be essential for success. But in trying to explain this overall picture simply, I have omitted them.

Infertility at your Fertility Center

There are six main causes:

  1. Overwork - this is important in the West where many women work without adequate time to rest, and it goes on for years. This affects mainly Kidney (long-term deep-seated weariness, often Kidney Yin exhaustion) or Liver Yin deficiency, with tinnitus, headaches, irritability, painful periods etc. (It's unfair, but even if you enjoy your work, you may still be working too hard for your body to get pregnant.)
  2. Genetic weakness. This covers inherited conditions but it's more than that: it includes the health, or lack of health, of the woman at her time of conception, constitutional weakness of the woman's parents when she was conceived, especially of her mother, and of course, the inability of the sperm to fertilize the woman's egg. This can cover, too, the inability to ovulate, or poor egg quality, low hormone levels and thinness of the wall of the womb (its endometrium), although other factors like Blood deficiency and Qi deficiency are also involved.
  3. Nutrition: if for too long a woman doesn't eat enough, or doesn't eat enough of the right foods and for too long she eats the wrong foods (or drinks) then her Spleen and Stomach can't make the Blood and Qi she needs. Whether it is that she hasn't eaten enough for her needs, or she eats a particular diet that either doesn't suit her or doesn't supply what her body needs, if the Blood isn't thick enough, she can't make babies. In addition, eating foods that are too cold for her can snuff out the Yang energy needed by her fertility center, her womb, and if she habitually eats damp-forming foods, these can block the progress of her egg down the fallopian tubes. A condition called Damp-Heat is characterized by vaginal, fallopian tube or pelvic infection, for example, and this condition is often caused, or exaggerated by eating foods that are too heating.
  4. Overdoing it physically: it is great that a woman can enjoy sport and the physical freedom of exercise to build a body that conforms to her desires, but for her fertility center, her womb, to be stable and fertile and able to become pregnant, there must be a regular supply of Blood and periods. Overdoing it physically diverts the Blood supply to other uses. Worse, they may stop her periods altogether. Theoretically this is particularly a problem when young women are at or just after puberty, when their bodies are particularly sensitive to stress. This would also include not getting enough sleep or rest after vigorous exercise or sport.
  5. Cold. In a bird's nest, if the parent birds don't keep the eggs warm, the eggs die. Similarly, a woman's womb must be warm enough to nourish and support a growing baby. Fashion and the desire for freedom of self-expression incline many women to wear too little just at a time when their womb is developing during puberty (often causing them many years of painful or irregular periods) or later when trying to conceive. Cold acts in various ways, one of the most common being Blood Stasis or Blood stagnation, when even if there is enough Blood it fails to flow properly. This inhibits ovulation and/or causes uterine fibroids, for example.
  6. Sex! Too much too early may harm a woman's chances of getting pregnant. This seems so unfair! But it applies perhaps to women, or maturing women, who have been taken advantage of, been abused or allowed themselves to be abused, to the point that they get diseased, especially if they catch sexually transmitted diseases. Disease can stop fertilization in many ways, including blocking of the fallopian tubes and vaginal infections, both of which block the sperm's progress. Infection is usually diagnosed as Damp-Heat in Chinese medicine, and can be exacerbated by the wrong diet, see above.

No periods at all?

If a woman has been having no periods, then there's an additional reason for infertility - additional that is, to those mentioned above.

Stress, worry, depression. It is terrible to say this, especially if you are feeling stressed, worried and depressed, but these emotions (plus any other major emotion) can disrupt your Heart energy.

If your Heart energy isn't working smoothly (and this does NOT mean that you have a heart problem) then, as Governor of your Blood, it cannot smoothly supply blood where it's needed, when it's needed ie to your fertility center, your womb.

Fertility Center Treatment

As you may imagine, for 3000 years Chinese doctors haven't been merely diagnosing fertility center problems of infertility. They have evolved ways to treat it. Western medicine has huge advantages in many ways, but doesn't yet look at fertility center problems as being energetic in nature - and in its current form, Western medicine has only been around for perhaps 200 years.

Nowadays there are many fertility centers and fertility treatments using the theory of Chinese medicine.

Do You have a Question or Comment?

If you have a question on infertility and how perhaps Chinese medicine might diagnose it, fill out the form below and we'll try to answer you.

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Fertility 
Been married almost 14 years and never been pregnant. Just started acupuncture but she wants us to do IUI. Did already, not interested.

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