Have you unsuccessfully been trying to conceive for a while, maybe years? Have you been through a multitude of tests, treatments, scans, prodding and poking by countless doctors and experts? Are you stuck with an unfulfilled baby dream and an unhelpful diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’? Then you might be despairing, feeling confused, frustrated, worried, anxious and sad? And you’d probably be interested to know how Chinese medicine can explain unexplained infertility by viewing things from a different angle.
Unexplained Infertility not Unusual
You are not alone with your despair and frustration. It is estimated one in six Australian couples experience infertility. In 10% of those the reasons for their infertility is unknown. In other words there is no explanation for the infertility, at least not by conventional medicine.
The Chinese Medicine Infertility Explanation
The so-called unexplained infertility can actually often be explained by viewing your health from a different perspective, applying different investigations, understandings and terminology, such as the ones used within the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) paradigms….
In TCM a holistic diagnosis is made based on thorough questioning, history taking, observation and palpation. With all this information the practitioner puts together the ‘puzzle’ of pieces of information into your individual health picture and a Pattern of Disharmony usually appears.
In spite of conventional pathology, scans and investigations not showing any insights to the infertility issue(s) the pattern of disharmony determined from a Chinese medicine perspective can often explain a reason or cause of infertility.
Within the TCM concepts the causes and patterns of infertility are commonly described by unconventional terms such as ‘cold in the uterus’, ‘qi and blood stagnation’, ‘blood deficiency’ or ‘damp accumulation’.
Trying to explain the details of the terminology used in TCM is not only complicated and beyond the scope of this blog, but at this stage also unnecessary. What is important to focus on instead is the prospect of viewing health, the functions of the human body, and in this context a seemingly hopeless situation, from a completely different angle. An angle that can possibly give some answers and a solution to your otherwise unexplained problem.
As an example, imagine a couple who has unsuccessfully been trying to get pregnant for years. They have both had all the available biomedicine tests and scans, all of which show nothing out of the ordinary. The conventional conclusion and diagnosis is: unexplained infertility. The woman however is experiencing one or more of the following (common) symptoms:
- Abdominal bloating
- Loose stools
- Period pain
- Clots in her menstrual blood
- Feeling cold easily
- Lower back ache
- Low energy
- Frequent urination
This same woman’s TCM diagnose could be ‘cold in the uterus’ or ‘kidney yang deficiency’ indicating the conditions and environment are simply too ‘cold’, or in other words not favourable for implantation and pregnancy.
Sowing the Seeds of Possibilities
Just like the quality of a farmer’s seeds and soil, and the weather conditions impact on the growing of crops, so does the internal environment and state of health of the reproductive organs impact on fertility. This is not only true for women but also for men!
Compare the example above to a farmer attempting to put seeds in the frozen ground and expect his crop to grow well into a good harvest. In this analogy the eggs and the sperm are the seeds and the endometrium of the uterus is the soil.
The TCM diagnosis, based on the pattern of disharmony, guides the TCM practitioner to an appropriate and individualised treatment strategy. Treatments usually consist of a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatments. Diet and lifestyle can have significant impact on health including fertility, egg and sperm quality. Advice on these aspects are therefore also a vital part of treatments.
Using the case example above acupuncture help promote blood flow to the ovaries and uterus and herbs are used to help warm and nourish the body. The aim being to balance the body and mind and optimise the health of the reproductive organs and processes for increased chances of successful conception.
With all the advances in science and technology, including the development of some incredible assisted reproduction treatments such as IVF, it is easy to forget how truly magical nature’s scheme of reproduction and conception is!!!! We tend to dismiss how many factors have to actually align for the miracle of conception to happen, naturally or assisted.
Unexplained infertility can often be explained by the Traditional Chinese Medicine paradigm. Unfortunately, an explanation doesn’t always warrant a solution or a successful treatment outcome. Having an explanation can however offer hope or even peace of mind. A new angle of approach and an explanation can also offer new possibilities that may be worth considering and exploring if your dream is to have a child.
By Christina Tolstrup (Sep 2017)
References and related reading/research:
ABC Health and Wellbeing (30 May 2007). “Infertility”. Online: http://www.abc.net.au/health/library/stories/2007/05/30/1919840.htm (sited 1 Sep 2017)
Cochrane S, Smith CA, Possamai-Inesedy A, Bensoussan A. “Acupuncture and Women’s Health: An overview of the role acupuncture and its clinical management in women’s reproductive health” . International Journal of Women’s Health, 17 March 2014 Volume 2014:6 Pages 313—325. Available online: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1513/460985c720d0c11134554a061afaca54900f.pdf
Deadman, Peter (2008). The Treatment of Male Sub-fertility With Acupuncture. Journal of Chinese Medicine, Number 88, October 2008, Pages 5-16.
Lyttleton J. The Acupuncture Pregnancy Clinic Website (sited 19 Sep 2017)
Ried K & Stuart K. (2011). Efficacy of Chinese Herbal Medicine in The Management of Female Infertility: A Systematic Review. Complimentary Therapies In Medicine, Vol 19, pgs 319-331.