Women’s Reproductive Function

Fertility and Related Issues

Fertility is not an isolated event. In Chinese Medicine, the entire health history is discussed to determine where new issues in your system have developed and what the origin of those issues is.

It is also very important to understand that while women are primarily treated for issues with fertility and conception the cause of the problem lies equally between a woman and a man. Fertility, once diagnosed as an issue, is found to be about 50% female based and 50% male based. It is important to remember this fact and if possible have your partner obtain treatments and information to deal with any issues they may have that may be affecting conception.

More often than not, in women that are having problems with conception, one will find issues with their menstrual cycle, meaning it is long or short or they do not ovulate, or they do not know if they ovulate. Issues with menstruation such as heavy or excessively light periods, no periods, or painful periods and changes in breast tenderness and headaches with your cycle are good indicators of where issues may exist. They might have emotional issues related to their cycles, or cycles that vary depending on their stress level.

Women having issues with conception may have symptoms that for the most part seem unrelated to conception but in Chinese Medicine, they are clear indicators of what imbalance may be causing the inability to conceive such as always feeling cold, night sweats or hot flashes, fatigue, general body pain, cold hands and feet with poor digestion, digestive issues such as constipation or irritable bowels, migraines or other headaches, allergies and sinus issues. All of these things give a practitioner of Chinese Medicine clues to what the cause of the inability to conceive may be.

It is also important to remember the issue is not just getting pregnant, it is being healthy enough to get pregnant, carry to term, have effective and healthy labor and delivery, and to function and maintain your health postpartum. This is the reason Chinese Medicine is so effective at treating issues with conception because it is never about conception. In Chinese Medicine, the goal is to bring the woman back to balance and health which in turn makes conception, pregnancy, and postpartum all much easier.

The three major causes of issues with conception in terms of Chinese Medicine are

  1. Temperature: Cold or Heat in the Uterus/Womb- can be due to excess or deficiency
  2. Deficiency: Deficient Qi, Blood, Yin, Yang, Essence or Jing- long term or chronic issues
  3. Stagnation: Qi and Blood, Fluids (damp and phlegm)-generally due to Stress, Tension, or Trauma

Symptoms of common issues with fertility and their relationships in Chinese Medicine

  1. Cold in the Womb/Uterus
    1. Excess: clots, painful menstruation better with heat, tugging acute pain, feel cold, extremities cold
    2. Deficiency of Yang/Qi: late menstruation,painful menstruation better with warm and pressure, belly feels cold, low back pain, loose stools, deep chronic dull ache
  2. Heat in the Womb/Uterus
    1. Excess: Early menstruation, excess bleeding, thick dark blood, thirst, fever, palpitations, constipation
    2. Deficiency: early menstruation, tidal red flush of face, night sweats, hot flashes, excess dreams, dizziness, leaking constant, menopausal symptoms
  3. Qi deficiency
    1. early menstruation, pale blood, prolapse, body cold, belly cold, shortness of breath, vertigo, low appetite, emptiness, digestive issues, empty/dull pain, loose stools, pain better with pressure
  4. Blood deficiency
    1. Late menstruation, scanty, pale blood, abdominal pain after menstruation,lips and nails pail, blurred vision, numbness of hands and feet, difficult stools
  5. Yin deficiency
    1. Spotting, leaking, agitation, early menstruation, scanty flow, amenorrhea, hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, insomnia, flushed cheeks, tendons and ligaments tight
  6. Yang deficiency
    1. Diarrhea with menstruation, excess bleeding, edema, lower and upper back pain, tinnitus, long urination, low appetite, feel cold, shortness of breath, chest tightness, loose stools
  7. Jing or Essence
    1. Combination of Yin and Yang issues generally have a family history of chronic illness, mother may have had chronic menstrual issues, can be after a long debilitating illness
  8. Qi stagnation and blood stasis
    1. Painful menstruation, sharp acute pain, late, scanty or no periods, masses in the lower abdomen or uterus, endometriosis, large dark clots,constipation, irregular menses, general pain in other parts of the body, pressure makes pain worse, often has some history of trauma, either physical or emotional, at some point in life
  9. Dampness and Phlegm (can be with heat or cold)
    1. Amenorrhea or no periods, PCOS, fatty cysts in other areas, edema, discharge more chronic, anovulation or no ovulation, weight gain, fogginess in head,clots, gelatinous blood, sticky bowel movements-difficult to wipe clean
      1. cold:late menstruation, white thick discharge,lower abdominal cold and flabby (puffy), pale skin and face, cold limbs, soft edema
      2. heat:early menstruation, vaginal irritation itching, yellow or dark discharge, darker urine, chest congestion, general congestion, hard edema

Treatments in Chinese Medicine focus on the individual symptoms someone is having, there is no one particular treatment that will work for everyone. The reality is that whatever issue you are having at this time has had some symptoms for a while and when it comes to fertility most people will realize that the issue that is preventing conception is something they had become accustomed to in their lives and did not think was a problem until now. In chinese medicine the longer you have been out of balance the more the diagnoses tend to build on each other and blend together. It is common for women to have Spleen and Kidney Qi deficiency with Liver Blood and Yin deficiency as well as Liver Qi Stagnation. They also usually have some Qi and Blood Stasis that comes from traumas that could have occured 20 years ago and Liver Qi stagnation from the stress of never resolving the issue. Because of the Qi deficiency they often also have cold and damp stagnation especially in the uterus. As you can see womens’ medicine is a complex issue and in Chinese Medicine there are many ways to try to return balance and resolve these complex things, it is why Chinese Medicine is so powerful when it comes to gynecology and fertility.

Treatments in Chinese Medicine for gynecological issues and fertility consist of a number of modalities including but not limited to

  1. Acupuncture: can be used to move qi and blood stasis as well as to tonify Qi, Yin, Yang and Blood. It can also help to transform fluids to dissolve and transform dampness and phlegm pr to move Liver Qi stagnation. This is all done with the microsystem of the navel and navel acupuncture as well as the 12 Meridians and accessory meridians on the body.
  2. Moxibustion: used for tonifying Qi and Yang primarily which in turn tonify and transport Yin and Blood. Moxibustion or Moxa is used in the treatment of Cold as well as to help to transform and move phlegm and damp when they are associated with cold. Moxibustion is the process of burning a particular herb over the body in particular areas which penetrates down into the meridians in that area and tonifies qi and warms.
  3. Herbs: herbal formulas are designed for the individual and are specific to the symptoms and history of that person. They are often prescribed as a powder to be mixed with water and taken over a specified period of time. Herbs are a great way to enhance all the other treatments as it is something you do daily and again addresses your overall health.
  4. Diet and Nutrition: diet is extremely important in Chinese Medicine as it is the first medicine and food affects meridians of the body in different ways. The way nutrition is looked at in terms of Chinese Medicine is drastically different than how it is looked at in Allopathic (western) Medicine. We will also go over any labs and blood work you have done and figure what things need to change in your diet and nutrition to make sure biochemically and physiologically we are addressing every possible issue for your health.

Fertility is a complex issue and it requires complex solutions. There is no quick fix! The process of returning your body to balance will require time. The benefit is that you are healthier which means not only are you more likely to conceive but you are more likely to carry to term and have a healthy and productive labor and delivery as well as be much better off post partum.