Causes of Infertility and Chinese Medicine Treatments

January 22, 2014 Updated: January 20, 2014

Conceiving a child has become a monumental task for many couples today. 

Over the last 25–30 years women have changed their focus from starting a family to completing their education, having careers, and pursuing their hobbies. For many women, it is not until they are in their mid to late 30s that conceiving children becomes a priority. 

At this time a woman’s fertility is starting to wind down hormonally and factors such as daily stress, overuse of antibiotics, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), or antihistamines, and environmental pollutants can also create an imbalance in hormone levels.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs help a woman to improve egg quality, increase the flow of blood in the ovaries, thicken the lining of the uterus, and increases the chance of the egg being fertilized and implanted in the womb. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can also help regulate menses and prevent recurrent miscarriages. 

The first step in knowing what is occurring in a woman’s cycle is to take her temperature daily and chart it along with changes in vaginal mucus. Weekly acupuncture treatments given along with various herbal formulas to coincide with her menstrual cycle can gently nourish and encourage the body toward conception. 


Male Fertility

Many men are also delaying having a family. Male factor infertility can include one or more of the following: low sperm count, low motility (movement of sperm), low morphology (shape of sperm), and DNA fragmentation. 

Environmental factors such as pollution, and chemicals and hormones in foods have effects on male sperm count as well. The average male sperm count dropped 45 percent from 113 million per milliliter in 1940 to 66 million per milliliter in 1990, according to Jane Lyttleton, in her book “Treatment of Infertility With Chinese Medicine.” 

Other factors that affect fertility are alcohol and/or drug abuse, smoking, renal disease, and thyroid disorders. 
Acupuncture and herbal therapy can increase sperm count and motility and improve morphology, while decreasing DNA fragmentation. Men can be treated weekly with acupuncture and supplemented with an herbal formula. 

Nourishing the Essence

In Chinese medicine jing, or essence, is the substance needed to support the whole body and is also directly tied to the kidneys and reproduction. 

Jing is created from our mother’s and father’s genes and is affected by how we treat our bodies throughout our lifetimes. 

We are born with a finite amount of prenatal jing. Our postnatal or acquired jing can be refined through internal martial art disciplines such as tai chi, qi gong, and meditation. Jing can be replenished and nourished through diet, nutrition, and essence-building herbs. 

TCM naturally supports fertility by nourishing jing with herbs and acupuncture treatments and is a highly effective tool for increasing a couple’s chances of conceiving. 

In order to facilitate the most optimal conditions for conception, couples should expect at least 3–6 months of treatment. In some situations, couples may need as much as a year of treatment. 

Sharon McDermott is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Board Certified Chinese Herbologist who specializes in stress and pain relief, and infertility treatments. 

Portrait of a happy African American couple via Shutterstock