Treating Infertility in TCM When the Yin Substances Become Blocked
Last week I talked about stagnation of our body’s Qi, Energy, and the effect it has on fertility. Qi involves the Yang component of the body while blood and body fluids comprises of the Yin. When blood does not move due to cold, injury or energy deficiency, the blood becomes stagnant. The same can be said of body fluids. Dampness occurs when body fluids become stagnant from Qi deficiency or stagnation. The mucous membranes thicken and fertility is disrupted. These pathologies develop over a long period and can be very complicated.
When the Blood Becomes Stagnant
Blood stagnation as with fluid stagnation is a reflection of long term issues and is a complex mix of various syndromes. Often the cause stems from Qi (Energy) stagnation. Symptoms will involve Qi stagnation signs, plus pain that is stabbing and/or with fixed masses. Treatment plans therefore will need to cover a variety of patterns.
From a gynecological TCM standpoint the menstrual flow will be most affected by blood stagnation. The ‘Sea of Blood’ will not fill nor empty smoothly. This ultimately means that the lining will not form properly, nor break down correctly. This syndrome manifests with the menstrual bleeding filled with clots and spotting after the main flow should have finished. As the blood is not moving smoothly there will be period pain. A certain amount of discomfort is expected with the period however pain is pathological. Blood stagnation may also bring masses or growths such as endometriosis, fibroids, polyps and cysts. On the BBT chart you may find that the temperature takes time to drop as a new cycle begins. As with the menstrual flow, the temperature continues to stay high for a period of time after the flow should have finished.
When the Fluids Are Blocked
When we talk about fluids becoming stagnant, then we start to talk about dampness in the body which can eventually lead to phlegm. As you can imagine dampness and phlegm are very sticky and difficult to dissolve. When fluids don’t move they become like a swamp and bacteria can breed. When an area does not move and fluids build up, then this can cause heat in the area. Heat will further dry out the fluids causing phlegm. Phlegm is obviously a more difficult syndrome to treat. As with Blood stagnation there are a variety of conditions that can lead to dampness and eventually phlegm. Treatment will involve herbal formulas, acupuncture and life style changes. All of which are necessary to transform this condition.
The mucous membranes are also thin fluids in the body and can become stagnant, causing dampness and blockages. In terms of fertility this can cause blockages in the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, as well as cause ovarian cysts. The walls of the fallopian tubes should be slippery so the embryo may slip down into the narrower section where the cells may divide. Pathologically, however, if there is dampness or phlegm, the tubes may be completely blocked, preventing any movement in or out. At ovulation, as the fluids are too thick, there tends to be a lack of stretchy fertile mucous. Depending on the origin of this pathology there will be a variety of other symptoms that will also be affecting fertility.
As with Blood stagnation, Dampness and Phlegm is secondary to other pathologies such as deficiency of Qi, however dampness can also arise from excess eating, or eating too rich, sweet, fatty, cold foods. This will eventually drain the energy of the stomach, causing food to stagnate and become sticky. Excess weight and obesity tend to be the result, including lethargy and lack of drive. Avoiding dampness can be tricky when living in a damp environment. Diet is essential and therefore damp foods should be avoided, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and ice-cream, as well as greasy foods and alcohol. Clothing should stay dry, so if you go swimming make sure you change into dry clothing on exiting the water. While humidity is impossible to avoid in some climates, personal measures can be taken to ensure the body stays dry.
Blood and Body Fluid Stagnation can be complicated causes of infertility. In order to transform the fluids and transport them smoothly throughout the body a regimental treatment plan must be created with acupuncture, herbs and life style changes.