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TREATING INFERTILITY
Infertility is usually defined as the failure to conceive after a year or more of regular sexual activity during the time of ovulation.  It may also refer to the inability to carry a pregnancy to full term.

In explaining infertility to a couple we may use the analogy of the woman as being represented by The Earth element and as such is the garden that has to be prepared and balanced before it can receive and support quality seeds for procreation which come from the man which is represented by The Wood element , the following principles apply according to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and in many cases Western Medicine too:

The Woman – The Earth
For women the most common causes of infertility include ovulatory failure or defect, blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, cervical mucous that attacks and kills the sperm, uterine fibroids, some venereal diseases also cause infertility. The woman doesn’t manufacture enough progesterone to carry a baby to term. Psychological issues such as stress or fear of parenthood can also contribute to infertility.14

The Earth element in TCM has the characteristics of being productive, fertile, holding the potential for growth.  In the body the earth element is the center from which all other five elements receive their energy, it is where chi  energy originates. The earth element is represented by the organs the stomach, spleen and pancreas; it is here that food is digested and nutrients are absorbed in order to nourish all parts of the body; it is also here that the body’s acid/alkaline and blood sugar balance are created.  It said that the spleen keeps the blood in vessels, thus if spleen chi is healthy the blood will circulate normally but if not blood may pass through vessels causing haemorrhages, menstrual problems and bleeding diseases such as uterine bleeding.15

In a lot of instances when the woman prepares herself preconceptually she has a greater chance of producing healthy eggs, having a good, rhythmic cycle, ovulating properly, creating an alkaline environment which is friendlier to the sperm and thus conceiving naturally.

Things to do to for pre/post conception which balance the earth element are and create chi:

  • Commence with a two day cleansing/fasting regime to help the body to eliminate toxins and create a fresh start.  A diet of fresh vegetables drunk as fresh juices and eaten as soups, salads, steamed, or dry stir fried for two days does the trick

  • Eat a diet that is as close as possible to its natural form (organic) and fresh rather than preserved as fresh foods impart a vital energy to the body and to avoid further build-up of toxins from pesticides, food additives, and hormones which can interfere with the body’s progesterone/oestrogen balance especially meat, chicken and eggs as well as avoiding plastic food wrappings which leech out artificial oestrogen

  • Eat a diet that is high - 70%  alkaline and low in acidic foods as a lot of the mentioned infertility problems are created or are caused by high acidity and the sperm is unable to endure in an acidic environment on travelling to the uterus

  • Acidic Forming Foods Are: Meat, Fish, Chicken, Most Cereals, grains and Legumes, Coffee, normal Tea, Dairy, Alcohol, Medicines & drugs,  Smoking,
  • Alkaine Forming Foods Are: Most fresh fruit and vegetables including citrus and potatoes, herbal teas, tofu, millet, quinoa, almonds, yoghurt, cottage cheese, organic eggs
  • Avoid douching as this changes the delicate acid/alkaline balance of the vaginal area

  • Do stress management techniques as mentioned in “Coping with Stress” as stress creates an acid environment in the body and being relaxed makes its easier for sexual relations and fertilization

  • Keep a record of your menstrual cycle, Day 1 is the day your period starts, ovulation usually occurs 14 days before the next period begins regardless of whether your cycle is the usual 28 days or is 32 days, thus find out how long your cycle usually is, you may also take your temperature every morning with an ovulation thermometer, prior to getting out of bed or even moving! The day that the temperature drops slightly is the day preceding the day of ovulation on which day the temperature will rise sharply and remain high until your period begins.13

The Man – Wood
For men, infertility is most often the result of a low sperm count or an anatomical abnormality.  Low sperm count can be attributed to a variety of factors such as alcohol consumption, endocrine disorders, exposure to toxins, excessive heat, recent illness, and an inability to complete sexual intercourse.14

The wood element in TCM has the characteristic of growth, development, unfolding, creativity, being flexible, rooted and strong.  The wood element is represented by the liver and gallbladder organs and the most important function of the liver and gallbladder is filtering, detoxifying, nourishing, replenishing and storing blood.  Blood is what carries our nutrients, oxygen, hormones, to all our tissues.  Wood chi is derived from the nurturance we receive from food, liquids, sun energy, the air we breathe and our thoughts.  It is therefore necessary for the man to have good wood chi in order to be able to perform the sexual act and propel  copious quantities of healthy, swimming sperm that can withstand the female environment, and fertilize the egg.

The same things that a woman does pre-conception as listed previously in regard to cleansing the body, providing quality nutrition in the form of fresh, organic food applies to the man as well.

Other considerations:

  • Avoid alcohol as it reduces sperm count in men (and can prevent implantation of the fertilized egg in women)

  • Ulcer medication can decrease sperm count and cause infertility

  • A gluten free diet has enabled some previously sterile men to become fathers

  • Heavy use of echinacea, ginko biloba and St John’s Wort should be avoided

  • Saliva has a detrimental effect on spermatozoa.

  • Do not consume animal fats, fried foods, sugar, junk foods. Do eat pumpkin seeds.

  • Conception is more likely if the man is on top during intercourse 14

Thus if  woman is likened to the earth which has been well prepared through the removal of weeds, turning over and oxygenating the ground, adding natural fertilizers as nutrients and well watered – the earth would then be ready for the nurturing of life in the form of seeds as would the woman be should the same be done to her body.  If the man on the other hand is the wood element providing the seed which has come from a healthy, well nurtured plant then that seed should be able to take root in the prepared soil to form another strong and healthy plant.

References:
13.   Pregnancy Birth and Parenthood, Sheila Kritzinger, ISBN 0-19-570900-4
14.   Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Third Edition, Balch & Balch, ISBN 1-58333-077-1
15.   Chinese Medicine, Tom Williams ISBN 1-8433-407-0

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