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Infertility

The TCM Take

Upset GirlInfertility is becoming an increasingly common issue all over the world. The problem of infertility is very complicated, which has in turn led to the complexity of its treatment process.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines infertility as “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.” There are two types of infertility, primary infertility and secondary infertility.

  • Primary infertility is infertility in a couple who have never had a child.
  • Secondary infertility is failure to conceive following a previous pregnancy.

According to statistical reports, the overall incidence rate of infertility stands at up to 10% – 15% of the world’s population. Of this, about 25% – 40% of the problem lies with the males, 40% – 55% with the females, 20% of which are two-sided, and the last 10% is of unknown cause.

What are the causes of infertility in TCM?

In TCM, the knowledge of infertility dates 2000 years back, leaving physicians with a vast array of experiences in the diagnosis and treatment process. Throughout the years, the clinical efficacy of infertility treatment has been promising, with relatively low occurrences of side effects during treatment procedures. This has led to the acceptance of TCM methods of treatment in many. To date, TCM uses herbal medicinal treatment procedures, as well as acupuncture for the treatment of infertility.

TCM classifies the causes of infertility as follows:

  1. Kidney deficiencies
  2. Stagnation of the liver qi
  3. A weakened spleen
  4. Stagnation of blood flow

Kidney

TCM regards deficiencies of the kidney as the most common cause of infertility. In TCM, the kidney is believed to be the centre of the body’s yin and yang, or the origin of life and reproduction; hence the kidney is viewed as the primary organ responsible for one’s fertility. Genetic disposition, ageing, an overactive sexual life, a weak constitution or chronic illnesses can cause kidney deficiencies. Symptoms include oligomenorrhea (infrequent periods), lower back pains, fatigue and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Liver

Females are more prone to getting stagnation of the liver qi (energy), which is another common cause of infertility. In TCM, the liver governs the storage of blood and is also the primary organ responsible for a woman’s menstrual cycle. Stress and emotional imbalances can result in the stagnation of the liver qi, which can ultimately lead to infertility. Symptoms include irregular periods, cramps, irritability and tightness in the chest.

Spleen

A weakened spleen can be caused by irregular eating habits, over-eating or excessive intake of fatty food. In TCM, the spleen is the primary organ for the health and vitality of the body as it plays a huge role in transforming digested food in the stomach into nutrients and qi. A weakened spleen often causes dampness and phlegm in the body, which can interfere with one’s fertility. Symptoms include obesity, irregular periods, increased white vaginal discharge and lack of appetite.

Blood Flow

There are many reasons that can result in the stagnation of blood flow in the body. In TCM, a stagnation of the blood flow in the uterus can be a cause of infertility. Symptoms include menstrual cramps, increased blood clots during menstruation and painful sexual intercourse.

The reasons for infertility can involve one or both partners. What has been discussed above concerns mainly women. If the cause arises from the men, they should seek treatments to increase the chances of pregnancy. TCM looks at a holistic diagnostic approach and seeks to target the root of the problem.

What can I do to increase my chances of pregnancy?

Aside from medicinal treatments, one should also try to have a healthy lifestyle.

  • For women, menstrual hygiene is of utmost importance.
  • A healthy sexual life can also help to increase chances of pregnancy.
  • Another important aspect is mental well-being. Once infertility has been diagnosed, one should stay positive and be patient. A bad state of mind can cause bodily functions to deteriorate, which can increase the severity of the condition.
  • A balanced diet and moderate exercise can also help improve the problem of infertility.

What to do if you are diagnosed with…

  • iStock_000035313330_Largekidney deficiencies – Avoid an overactive sexual life. Foods that can help to increase kidney functions include wolfberry, mulberry, walnuts, Chinese yam and black sesame.
  • stagnation of the liver qi – Learn to relax and reduce incidences of stress in your life. You can drink some rose tea (three to five buds) with wolfberries to help ease the stagnation of the liver qi.
  • a weakened spleen – Cut down on red meat, sugary food, deep fried food and a sedentary lifestyle. Drinking some orange peel, grapefruit peel or lemon peel with coix seed and ginger can help to build up the spleen and remove dampness in the body.
  • stagnation of blood flow in the body – Always aim to keep warm as it will aid in the circulation of blood flow and prevent stagnation. Exercising moderately or taking some hawthorn, motherwort leaves (in small quantities) or black fungus also helps improve the body’s blood circulation.

Learn More About TCM

Join us at our upcoming health seminar on the basic concepts of TCM and health care.

Date: 7 March, 2015 (Saturday)

Time: 10am – 11.30am

Venue: The Buddhist Library, Level 2 (Lorong 24A Geylang, Singapore 398526)

Seminar will be conducted in Mandarin.

Call 8222 7436 to register. Registration is on a first come first served basis, so book your spot early!

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author
Dr Ace Wong Wan Yuan is a Doctor of Medicine (Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine). She has a Bachelor Degree in TCM (Singapore College of TCM) and Bachelor Degree in TCM (Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine). She is a registered TCM Physician of Singapore.
Posted by ezyhealth on Feb 3 2015. Filed under Alternative Medicine. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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