The Fire Within Acupuncture & Wellness

           Sky above me, Earth below me, Fire within me

Blog

Healing the Conception Vessel - Unexplained Infertility: blog series part 3 of 8

Posted by Tanya on March 11, 2013 at 7:30 PM

"Let (her) who seeks, not cease seeking until (s)he finds." ~ The Gospel accoding to Saint Thomas

Unexplained infertility affects one of every four couples, who will both end up undergoing an extensive array of tests. "We don't know why you aren't getting pregnant," some of the most frustrating words a woman can hear from her doctor. According to RESOLVE, a national infertility network, up to 30 percent of all cases of infertility in women and 25 percent in men are the result of idiopathic (unknown) causes. 

"Unexplained infertility" means there is no medical reason within the realm of modern science to explain why conception is not occurring. All to common women with abnormal menstrual cycles are sent to the lab for a series of hormone blood tests that result within the "normal" range. Couples with this diagnosis are told to go home and keep trying. Often these couples are pointed towards ART procedures, the theory being that putting sperm directly into the uterus (IUI), or fertilizing her eggs outside the body and then providing a chemically enhanced environment for their implantation, might bypass their mysterious fertility problems. 

Western medicine is very good at measuring differences when they reach critical levels; but what of subclinical - i.e., too small to be measured - problems that may still be significant enough to keep a woman from getting pregnant?

Luckily, TCM is particularly effective in treating women (and men) with this frustrating diagnosis. In Eastern medicine, "unexplained infertility" translates simply to "impaired reproductive functioning," and reproductive functioning can be healed and supported by bringing the entire body back into balance. 

The first step is to address the manifestation of the problem and determine the underlying pattern. Imbalances such as cold or hot, lethargy or nervousness, menstrual cycle symptoms and so on, can idicate where the problem lies. In TCM all subjective and objective symptoms are taken into account: tongue and pulse examinations will unveil the true pattern, and when the imbalances are addressed the reproductive system can begin to function normally.

The Western approach is like trying to return a lake to purity once it's been contaminated by toxic waste. You could try to treat the lake by finding the contaminants, then use different chemicals to neutralize their effects - but all you'd end up with is water with even more chemicals in it. The Eastern way to purify the water isn't to add more chemicals but to put more clean water into the lake. You can do this by making sure the streams feeding the lake are clean, healthy, and flowing as freely as possible, and that the old, toxic water can flow out as new water flows in. Once the ecological balance is restored, the lake will return to health, and all life will thrive. That's what TCM does for a woman's body: it allows clean, pure, healthy energy to flow in while allowing old, toxic energy to be eliminated. With balanced energy, the body will restore to its natural condition. 

Menstrual flow is one of the first places we can look to diagnose a woman with unexplained infertility: If the Blood is unusual in amount, color, and consistency, this usually indicates a problem within the uterine lining.
1.  If the Blood flow is scanty you can eat red raspberries for they will help the body produce Blood. Once the Blood flow increases, the endometrial lining will thicken.
2.  If the mentrual Blood is scant, black or very dark, and accompanied by stabbing pain this would indicate a Blood stagnation. You should supplement your diet with seaweed, evening primrose oil, and safflower. Application of warm castor oil packs may also resolve the toxic residue. The allows the uterine lining to respond with fresh, healthy endometrial tissue.
3.  If the failure of the uterine lining to respond appropriately to the warming hormone (progesterone), this this known as cold Uterus, or cold Womb. Symptoms related to this diagnosis are lower back pain, cramps that respond to heating pads, and clotty menstrual blood. You should supplement with fish oil, and pycnogenol, as well as peach kernel (Tao Ren). Warming the lower abdomen with heat packs or a warm water bottle before ovulation will invigorate the Blood.

One of the most underdiagnosed contributing factors to unexplained infertility is stress. The body knows we should not be pregnant when we are under tremendous stress: after all, the body's first priority is keeping us out of danger, and taking care of a fetus when we are experiencing tense situations is an overwhelming strain. Indeed, our hormonal response to stress is actually antagonistic to our fertility. Adrenaline is released during conditions of stress. Although adrenaline helps us to escape from danger, it may also inhibit our ability to utilize progesterone, thus impeding our fertility.

If certain people are causing you stress you may want to avoid them for a while. If you're one of those women who do too much and are stressed about it, figure out ways to cut back on the number of demands being placed on you. Then turn your attention to yourself. The following are simple suggestions for reducing the amount of stress in your life:
  • Exercise.
  • Meditate.
  • Employ meditative breathing techniques whenever possible.
  • Sit down whenever you eat.
  • Eat frequent, small meals to keep the blood sugar levels more stable and to inhibit the release of adrenaline.
  • Chew your food sufficiently, mixing enough saliva with the food to make digestion easier.
  • Drink a lot of water, but not during a meal.
  • Do not drink alcohol or caffeine, or smoke cigarettes.
  • Use herbs that move Qi, like peppermint, rosemary, spearmint, turmeric, and thyme.
  • Supplement with herbs that resolve Liver Qi Stagnation (see your local acupuncturist).
  • If your prolactin levels are high, take malt barley sprout (Mai Ya).
Stress is not the only factor causing unexplained infertility. Many are subtle endocrine and hormonal factors also affecting our ability to conceive. But finding and treating the underlying pattern will resolve the hormonal imbalance, no matter how slight. Subclinical infertility often responds to small changes in the body's overall functioning. Of course, nothing is certain, but with a greater level of health it's likely you will stand a great chance of conceiving. The hope in TCM is to provide an elegant and simple solution, giving you healthy, happy children.

Please join me next week as we discuss part 4 of this series:

Immunologic Reaction and Recurrent Miscarriage: Bring your Body into Harmony with Itself

Categories: TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Fertility, Pregnancy

Post a Comment

Oops!

Oops, you forgot something.

Oops!

The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

You must be a member to comment on this page. Sign In or Register

18 Comments

Reply Tanya
10:08 PM on July 6, 2013 
[Kirsten Wreggitt]
Great article Tanya,
This series will be so helpful to couples struggling with this emotionally challenging obstacle. It is so wise to treat the body holistically. Thank you for giving people action steps they can take that can only lead to increased health.

Thank you Kirsten for taking the time to share your thoughts on here! I appreciate your gratitude and would also love to share a link to something wonderful I found on the web: http://mind-body-unity.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/unexplained
_infertility_and_the_mind.pdf
Reply Kirsten Wreggitt
10:19 AM on March 18, 2013 
Great article Tanya,
This series will be so helpful to couples struggling with this emotionally challenging obstacle. It is so wise to treat the body holistically. Thank you for giving people action steps they can take that can only lead to increased health.
Reply Tanya
10:42 PM on March 16, 2013 
[Laurie McGowan]
You've inspired me to share your posts with a good friend of mine. You make it sound so common sense; our bodies need to be truly healthy, not just skinny. Our health effects so much of our lives and the thought of being able to have a child when you think all is lost is such a powerful idea.

Thank you Laurie, for sharing this series with those women who are dear to you. :) Health above all is most important - I have struggled with weight my entire life but I truly know inside I am healthy because I live healthy - you're so right Laurie - Everything Is Possible...
Reply Tanya
10:36 PM on March 16, 2013 
[Sally]
We tend to overlook stress in western medicine..this highlights that error. Another great post

It can be a frustrating journey when you are seeking one Western medical doctor after another, only to be told the same outcome.. Its empowering to share knowledge like this for women who are seeking connection - there are other ways and there are similar success stories that can be resolved with simple tweaks.. Much gratitude for your post, Sally
Reply Tanya
10:32 PM on March 16, 2013 
[Nadine Nicholson]
Tanya, I really resonate with the stress part. When I think back to the time we conceived Keane, I was in probably one of the most unstressed times of my life. Being relaxed and light about things ... wow, this was our #1 focus. It's nice to be reminded of this and how it worked and created a miracle in our lives, a little boy who's now 5!

Realizing you should take it slow and easy, with a relaxed approach is already one step a head Nadine, the lightness of being can and will allow a woman's pituitary gland to secrete the right hormones at just the right time thus creating lovely miracles like your son - thank you for your comment.
Reply Tanya
12:30 AM on March 16, 2013 
[Laura Buckholz]
I am really enjoying your series Tanya! This is great information that could have come in handy for us many years ago. I like the Eastern approach really resonates with me.

Thank you Laura, Eastern medicine is a great passion, love and art of mine I am so incredibly happy you are connecting with this series :)
Reply Laurie McGowan
11:12 AM on March 15, 2013 
You've inspired me to share your posts with a good friend of mine. You make it sound so common sense; our bodies need to be truly healthy, not just skinny. Our health effects so much of our lives and the thought of being able to have a child when you think all is lost is such a powerful idea.
Reply Sally
1:47 PM on March 14, 2013 
We tend to overlook stress in western medicine..this highlights that error. Another great post
Reply Nadine Nicholson
12:42 PM on March 14, 2013 
Tanya, I really resonate with the stress part. When I think back to the time we conceived Keane, I was in probably one of the most unstressed times of my life. Being relaxed and light about things ... wow, this was our #1 focus. It's nice to be reminded of this and how it worked and created a miracle in our lives, a little boy who's now 5!
Reply Laura Buckholz
11:28 AM on March 14, 2013 
I am really enjoying your series Tanya! This is great information that could have come in handy for us many years ago. I like the Eastern approach really resonates with me.
Reply Tanya
10:38 PM on March 13, 2013 
[Josephene Juell]
Thanks for the great information Tanya. I'm always amazed at the effects that stress can have on our body and wonder if one day we'll have bodies that are smarter and evolve faster than the stressors we are exposed to!

Unfortunately the environment we are conceived/born into/currently thrive in is very high-paced. Within the last 3-5 years humanity is definitely moving to a quieter reach of existence.. We do seek meditation, Yoga/Qi Gong/Tai Chi, healthy eating - my hope is that future generations will Know what to do in order to live well. Thank you for your comment. :)
Reply Tanya
10:31 PM on March 13, 2013 
[Sylvia Daoust]
Thank you for this. Makes me realize how blessed my husband and I are! I hadn't realized the stats were so high...1 in 4?!

Unfortunately the odds are quite stacked against couples and their fertility - though a majority do conceive, 25 percent are told "we aren't certain why you are getting pregnant" - I too feel blessed to have my son, and to be able to help folks move out of a percentile and into parenthood. :)
Reply Tanya
10:29 PM on March 13, 2013 
[Dana Goldstein]
Again, some great information here. I love how you explain the Western vs Eastern methods and I LOVE the analogy of the contaminated lake.

Thanks Dana - I find Eastern medicine can prove to be quite challenging to explain - the easiest method proves to be in the form of metaphors - which I love doing, because you can feel (see) the analogy.
Reply Tanya
10:26 PM on March 13, 2013 
[Nikki Jackson]
Wow! This is just packed with interesting information. My husband and I have been going through this dance. But, to be honest, I think we've just decided that what's meant to be will be. After reading your article, though, I feel like there are simple things we should have done...like the whole section on reducing stress! I'll have to re-read this with him. Thanks!

Sometimes surrendering to life's process for us is the best outcome - on many levels Nikki - I appreciate you sharing your story :)
Reply Josephene Juell
10:34 PM on March 12, 2013 
Thanks for the great information Tanya. I'm always amazed at the effects that stress can have on our body and wonder if one day we'll have bodies that are smarter and evolve faster than the stressors we are exposed to!
Reply Sylvia Daoust
5:00 PM on March 12, 2013 
Thank you for this. Makes me realize how blessed my husband and I are! I hadn't realized the stats were so high...1 in 4?!
Reply Dana Goldstein
2:04 PM on March 12, 2013 
Again, some great information here. I love how you explain the Western vs Eastern methods and I LOVE the analogy of the contaminated lake.
Reply Nikki Jackson
11:37 AM on March 12, 2013 
Wow! This is just packed with interesting information. My husband and I have been going through this dance. But, to be honest, I think we've just decided that what's meant to be will be. After reading your article, though, I feel like there are simple things we should have done...like the whole section on reducing stress! I'll have to re-read this with him. Thanks!