Premature Ovarian Failure May Lead to Infertility

TCM practitioner: Chinese medicine combined with suitable diet helps

Premature Ovarian Failure May Lead to Infertility
Premature ovarian failure is one of the common gynaecological diseases. For young women, it not only affects fertility, but also has a significant impact on their physical and mental health, and regular checkup at the physician is always recommended. (Shutterstock image)
Ellen Wan

Premature ovarian failure is one of the common gynecological diseases, and the number of cases reported per year is increasing. There is also the tendency of it being seen as occurring at an ever-younger age. For young women, it not only affects fertility but also has a significant impact on physical and mental health. He Xiaoxia, a former Shanghai TCM physician, introduced a way to take care of female ovaries and prevent premature aging from the perspective of TCM. She suggested that for patients suffering from premature ovarian failure, the best effect could come from TCM treatment together with an appropriate supplementary diet.

For most women, ovarian function is at its prime around the age of 25 and begins to decline from 30 onwards. After 35, this decline starts to accelerate, until around 48 to 50, when it enters a state of final decline and stops working. From then onwards women gradually enter old age.

Such a decline is a manifestation of the ovarian aging process, known in the medical profession as a “decrease in ovarian reserve.” Normal physiological ovarian aging is an irresistible law of nature. However, in recent years, studies have found that more and more women before the age of 40 starts to show symptoms of ovarian failure, considered premature ovarian failure in such cases. Even cases found in teenage girls and the twenties are not uncommon. Such a trend is worth noting and sometimes worrying, as it not only affects fertility but also seriously affects a woman's physical and mental health.

There are many symptoms of premature ovarian failure, including irregular menstrual cycles, which can be absent for several months, low menstrual flow, infertility, menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, abnormal heart rates, insomnia, anxiety, and other symptoms. Due to the associated hormonal changes, it is more likely to cause osteoporosis, hyperlipidemia, coronary heart disease, and the like.

Likely Causes of Premature Ovarian Failure

So, what are the factors that lead to premature ovarian failure? In an interview with The Epoch Times, Dr. He Xiaoxia, a former Shanghai TCM physician, pointed out that in general, the earlier the age of menarche (first occurrence of menstruation), the earlier the ovarian function would decline. It will be accelerated for those who have unhealthy habits such as heavy smoking and drinking. More at risk are those who try to maintain a slim body shape, who sometimes prefer to put on tight underwear. This will put extra pressure on the body and is likely to affect the normal development of the ovaries. In the worst case, it might also cause damage to them, resulting in premature aging.
Dr. He emphasized that, especially for adolescent girls, wearing tights is not only detrimental to the development of the body but can also lead to the occurrence of diseases such as breast hyperplasia or cysts. In addition, excessive psychological pressure in life and the workplace, such as often staying up late, and the like, will also affect the health of ovarian function, and render it more prone to premature ovarian failure.

TCM Starts Treatment from the Kidneys

Dr. He said that in TCM, treatment of premature ovarian failure mainly focuses on the kidneys. That includes, tonifying the kidneys and invigorating blood flow, nourishing the kidneys of any deficiency, and simultaneously soothing the liver and regulating menstruation so that the qi (vital energy) and blood are full. With all these in place, it can improve ovarian function and restore menstruation, to a certain extent. "In the treatment of premature ovarian failure, Chinese medicine does not just stop at creating a favourable internal environment for pregnancy, it also seeks to improve various symptoms of menopause and promotes recovery."

Dr. He said, according to the "Huang Di Nei Jing (the earliest edition of TCM theories dated before the 2nd century BC). At 14, the age of menarche, the Ren meridian is open, the Tai Chong meridian becomes fully developed, and the menstrual period starts thereafter." The changes in women's menstrual physiology and reproductive function are all governed by the kidneys, and its natural process of gradual maturity, followed by it becoming full-blown, gradual decline, and exhaustion presents a consistent law of nature with age. The normal operation of menstrual physiology depends on the reconciliation of the qi and the blood of the viscera.

The kidneys are in some way intricately linked with the heart, liver, spleen, and lungs. While the kidneys store the reserve of the essence that the body needs, the liver stores the blood, and the spleen generates it. The heart controls the blood flow, the lung controls the qi, and the qi transports the blood. These few organs are therefore physically interlinked and mutually dependent among themselves. Any deficiency in the kidneys' yin (the inherent black matter ingredient), deficiency in either the qi or the blood, or simply a weak qi in the kidneys could all be contributing factors to the onset of premature ovarian failure.

Dr. He added that stress is always a key factor too. It will affect the endocrine function, so we must also pay attention to the need of soothing the liver. To make the circulation smooth, removing the phlegm, regulating the qi, and activating the blood is almost indispensable. She introduced that the most commonly used medicinal substances for the treatment of premature ovarian failure include prepared Rehmannia root, Cuscuta chinensis, Angelica sinensis, Epimedium folium, Cornus officinalis, and the like. A local TCM practitioner could advise which to try.

Best Effect When Combined with Appropriate Dietary Supplement

The homology of medicine and food plays a certain positive role in the treatment of premature ovarian failure. Dr. He suggested that patients with premature ovarian failure can also be supplemented with diet therapy at the same time as traditional Chinese medicine treatment. In the diet, ensure there is the necessary protein, preferably the high-quality ones, fat, and carbohydrate intake. At the same time, appropriate supplementation of B-type vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, plus trace elements of zinc and calcium can well support the female reproductive system.

She suggested that patients should eat more nourishing, colloidal animal parts such as chicken feet, pig skin, sea cucumber, and jellyfish skin; plants such as kelp, seaweed, yam, fungus (black or white), Kappaphycus, ... Also pay attention on taking in less oily, but high fibre food, such as taking more natural fruits and vegetables, less cold and raw food, as this type of food will cause damage to the spleen and stomach's “yang qi.” This is particularly the case for people who are born with “yang qi” deficiency symptoms.

Dr. He stressed that no matter whether you are fat or thin, adhering to a moderate amount of physical activity can always enhance your physique. It is even better if the activities also involve some movement of the pelvis. In that case, there is an enhancement in the metabolism, and blood circulation through various organs in the body, which to a certain extent keeps the ovaries in better condition.

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