Infertility & Fertility • Berkeley Acupuncture

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Infertility

by Nancy Rakela, OMD, LAc

How Acupuncture Treats Infertility

Nancy Rakela is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and a licensed acupuncturist, in practice for over 25 years, specializing in TCM treatment for infertility.

TCM (acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, diet, and lifestyle changes) has helped couples achieve pregnancy for thousands of years. Early Chinese medical literature, dating back 3000 years indicates fertility treatment can regulate menstrual cycles in women and increase and strengthen sperm in men.

Chinese Medicine:

  • Strengthens one's overall health
  • Restores the body's natural balance
  • Balances the endocrine system
  • Brings more blood flow to the uterus
  • Reduces the side effects of fertility medications
  • Enhances the outcome of assisted reproductive procedures

For pregnancy to occur all the body organ systems must work together. For the ovaries and uterus to be in balance, the liver, spleen, kidney and other organs must also be in balance. When we speak of the liver, spleen, and kidney in TCM, we are not speaking of a problem with that specific organ. We are speaking of the energetic functioning of the organ and its related energy channel or meridian.

In TCM, three of the main patterns of imbalance that affect fertility are: Liver Chi Stagnation, Spleen Chi Deficiency, and Kidney Chi Deficiency. If there is an imbalance of energy, it will affect your hormones and overall health.

Liver Chi Stagnation

Our modern stressful lifestyle, a history of overwork, the use of medication and consumption of coffee and alcohol play a major role in blocking the energy of the liver. Reproductive treatments with drug therapies and invasive procedures also contribute to Liver Chi Stagnation.

This stagnation can disrupt ovulation and block the blood flow to the pelvic cavity. Impeded blood flow to the uterus can cause difficulties with implantation.

Physical and emotional symptoms

  • PMS
  • Irritability
  • Headaches, migraines
  • Irregular periods
  • Depression
  • Painful periods
  • Frustration
  • Clots
  • Unresolved anger
  • Breast distension

Spleen Chi Deficiency

The spleen transforms the food we eat into usable energy. When our spleen energy is strong we have a lot of physical energy; when it is weak we feel fatigued. Over working, excessive worrying and a diet of sugar and refined carbohydrates damage the spleen energy causing digestive problems.

In Chinese medicine, the spleen is also responsible for regulating our hormones. Deficiency of Spleen Chi can lead to premenstrual spotting, irregular periods, a shortened menstrual cycle and hypothyroidism making it difficult to conceive and to maintain a pregnancy.

Physical and emotional symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Spotting before menses
  • Scanty menstrual flow
  • Prone to worry
  • Crave sweets
  • Poor appetite
  • Digestive problems, Abdominal pain, loose stools
  • Poor circulation
  • Diagnosed with hypothyroid or anemia
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Autoimmune problems and allergies

Kidney Chi Deficiency

Another major cause of infertility in TCM is the deficiency of Kidney Chi. Strong kidney energy helps increase sperm count, prevents miscarriage and brings a healthy baby to full term.

Due to our modern lifestyle with our hectic and busy schedules, we are causing our adrenal system to go on overload eventually depleting our adrenal reserves and causing a deficiency of Kidney Chi and our vital essence.

Physical and emotional symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Low libido
  • Exhaustion due to overwork
  • Low sperm count
  • Soreness and weakness of back
  • Hormonal imbalance (women over 40)
  • Hair loss
  • Light periods
  • Fear
  • Depression

Herbal Treatment for Infertility

TCM herbal formulas are prescribed to address the underlying patterns of imbalance of the internal organs, not just to treat a particular symptom. These herbal formulations rejuvenate the body and correct imbalances of the hormonal system to enhance fertility.

Some formulas detoxify the liver and help remove stagnation of the liver chi and will increase the blood flow to the pelvic region. They help with headaches, cramps and breast pain if these symptoms are caused by Liver Chi Stagnation.

Other herbal formulas balance the Spleen Chi Deficiency and help regulate the hormones and menses.

There are also herbal formulations that will strengthen the Kidney Chi Deficiency. These formulas nourish the vital energy and prevent miscarriage. For women approaching 40, it is very important to use herbal formulas to help the body produce a healthy ovum.

TCM looks at the whole person, to determine subtle imbalances of the body. Dr. Rakela will tailor your TCM treatment and herbal formulas to meet your individual needs.

Fertility | 5 Step Fertility Plan | Infertility | IVF | Women's Health | Pregnancy