Causes of Infertility in Chinese Medicine for Women and Men
There are several common patterns that can cause infertility that can be caused by one, or several, TCM energetic organ systems:
Kidney Deficiency and Infertility
Deficiency is often a key culprit in infertility, especially for women trying to conceive in her 30’s and 40’s, and is not something that is not recognized in Western medicine. Kidney Deficiency and Essence Deficiency are some of the most common patterns seen for women struggling with infertility. In Chinese medicine, the Kidney Energy; is responsible for successful reproduction. Sufficient Kidney Energy is also necessary in the prevention of miscarriages. It is restored using Kidney Tonic Formulas that are nutritive and restorative for the Kidney energetic organ system according to Chinese medicine. Look to Ageless Herbs Woman’s Precious formula to begin preparing the body for a successful pregnancy.
Chinese medicine is successful because it takes in to account the specific imbalances of an individual rather than prescribing one general 'fertility formula' for everyone. Ageless Herbs Woman’s Precious formula is one Kidney Deficient strategy. Those with complicating factors will want to first consider these Kidney formulas first:
Kidney Yin Deficiency and Infertility
With afternoon sweats, night sweats, hot flashes, or extreme thirst, men and women should first look to Yin Valley formula. It is important to resolve Yin Deficiency before addressing Yang Deficiency aggressively, although it is common for both to be present. Yin and Yang Explained.
Kidney Yang Deficiency and Infertility
Women with coldness (no night sweats or hot flashes) and a history of miscarriage or the inability to ovulate, look to a combination of Ancestor Treasure formula and Yin Valley formula.
After the complicating factors of Yin or Yang Deficiency are resolved, women can look to Ageless Herbs Woman’s Precious formula to further ready the body for pregnancy and reinforce the Kidney energetics, but first use the Kidney Yin-Yang formulas if these patterns present themselves.
Liver Qi Stagnation and Infertility
The Liver Energy is responsible for menstrual blood, and is one of the main underlying causes of infertility, and more specifically, stagnation of Qi and Blood of the uterus. While Liver Qi Stagnation does not always manifest as a mechanical block that can be diagnosed it is often a factor in fallopian tube blocks, endometriosis, or fibroids. It is important that the Liver energy is soothed, as hormonal balancing is generally attributed Liver/Kidney organ systems in TCM. Look to Free and Easy Wanderer formula.
For men, Liver energetic organ system blocks are quite common in cases of ED or sperm issues as the Liver channel traverses the testicles. A free flow of Qi and Blood are vital in producing viable sperm. Look to Free and Easy Wanderer formula. For improved sperm count, viability, and motility, consider a combination of Free and Easy Wanderer formula, Sustained Essence formula, and Stasis in the Lower Palace formula used together.
Stagnant Qi and Blood of the Lower Jiao and Infertility
In Chinese medicine, there is a functional organ system called the Triple Burner, or more specifically, the Triple Jiao; it has no comparable organ in western medicine. The uterus is located in the Lower Jiao, and the energy can be disrupted by a stagnation of Qi and Blood. Moving Qi and Blood and breaking up stagnation is vital in promoting conception, but would be contraindicated in a pregnancy. The Lower Jiao would include the uterus and fallopian tubes. Look to Stasis in the Lower Palace formula and Free and Easy Wanderer formula.
Dampness Creating Stagnation of the Lower Jiao and Infertility
Infertility can also be attributed to Internal Dampness, another underlying cause of stagnation of the Lower Jiao. Internal Dampness is not recognized or addressed with western medicine, but can be addressed utilizing Chinese medicinal herbs. This condition is often seen with fibroids, PCOS, and endometriosis in women. Men are also afflicted with Dampness in the Lower Jiao. Here are some details about Spleen Qi Deficiency and Internal Dampness. Herbs that move Blood and Qi in the uterus are combined with Spleen Qi tonics; Internal Dampness is tenacious and can lengthen the period of herb use. Look to Stasis in the Lower Palace formula, Free and Easy Wanderer formula and Restore the Middle Way formula used together.
Chinese Herbs for Improved Chances of Conception
Chinese medicine is successful in increasing a woman’s chance to conceive in several ways. First, Ovulatory issues can also be addressed with Chinese medicinal herb formulas as they can balance hormones when ovarian failure is due to hormonal issues. Chinese herb formulas are especially helpful for older women who have mysterious unknown causes of infertility. Chinese herbs can also address structural issues leading to infertility such as scar tissue blockage in the fallopian tube, fibroids in the uterus, or endometriosis in women. For men, Chinese herbs are used to increase sperm counts and improve the motility of sperm for improved rates of conception.
There are a couple ofl advantages to using traditional Chinese herb medicine as an approach to improving fertility:
Why are herbs only taken in the 1st half of the cycle for women?
They actually can be used during the whole cycle if reliable birth control methods are being used.
Herbs that move Blood and resolve Qi (chi) stagnation involved with infertility are taken during the first half of the menstrual cycle (follicular phase begins the 1st day of menstruation and ends after 14 days). Restricting herb use to the first half of the menstrual cycle is important for women trying to conceive, or who are not actively utilizing birth control. Because ovulation typically occurs in the middle of the cycle, there is a possibility that conception has taken place after the 14th day generally. Herbs that move Blood and Qi would be undesirable upon conception, but vital in preparing the uterus for conception. This is why herbs are not taken in the second half of the cycle for those actively trying to conceive. It must be noted that it would be better to use a barrier type birth control for 4-8 months full time to prepare the body not only to conceive, but to successfully carry to pregnancy full term. Taking the herbs half of the time will be less than half as effective.
Important: We recommend that women discontinue the use of herbs once they have become pregnant. It is best to take 4-8 months to prepare for pregnancy utilizing the herbs full time if at all possible while preventing conception; this can take some convincing for many, as many women feel that the clock is ticking, or they have grown impatient. However, most women who have trouble conceiving have some level of Kidney Deficiency, and are more susceptible to miscarriage. A miscarriage sets back progress tremendously and can have an emotional impact also. The disadvantage in attempting to reinforce the body while trying to become pregnant is that you lose the whole second half of the month for many treatment options and the progress is so much slower (likely up to a year). Being able to take herbs throughout the cycle for 6 or more months gives the mother to be the strength and organ balance to help hold a pregnancy.
One of the most compelling arguments for taking the time to bring your body in to balance is that you will need a whole lot of energy to care for a baby and then run after a toddler. Often, the main focus with infertility is pregnancy; there is so much to consider beyond conception, and being healthy and vital so that you are able to properly care for your children should come first.
Evidence that acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used to aid in couples trying to conceive can be found in early ancient Chinese medical literature dating back to before the time of Christ. The condition was first recorded by Zhang Zhong-jing, a famous physician from the Han Dynasty, in his discussion of gynecological diseases in the Essentials of the Golden Cabinet.
According to the principles of Oriental medicine, a person's health is determined by having a balanced flow of 'Qi', the vital life energy circulating through the body. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are means of influencing this vital life energy to induce a particular effect in the body, thus creating balance. Many modern researchers have confirmed Chinese medicine’s benefits in promoting fertility in the following areas:
Herbal medicine works more quickly for people who have a functional, rather than structural reason for infertility. Infertility due to hormonal problems, immune disorders, amenorrhoea, irregular menstruation, stress and age related factors all fall into the category of functional infertility. Stress can dramatically decrease fertility in both men and women. Herbal therapy increases fertility by reducing stress and increasing the flow of Qi and Blood to the reproductive organs for both men and women.