From a person’s perspective, ‘unexplained infertility’ is a frustrating assessment. After testing, time and examination by specialists it has been determined that there is no physiological reason pregnancy is not taking place. According to the government of Canada infertility can be traced to either the man or woman, or a combination of both, and approximately 20% of infertility is unexplained.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, ‘unexplained infertility’ is a favorable diagnosis to work with, as it basically says that the problem is not hormonal or physical. In clinic, ‘unexplained infertility’ can present in a variety of ways, although there are some common patterns worth mentioning. In both men and women, Spleen deficiency with Liver Qi stagnation is probably the most common presentation, and could generally be described as stress and poor sleep with digestive issues, body pain, a tendency towards heavy bleeding or spotting, and PMS; seeing combinations of these symptoms clearly points to an existing health situation that is overwhelming the reproductive system. In other words, Chinese medicine helps to identify and ‘explain’ imbalances present in the individual and work towards amending any disharmony that exists.
How can acupuncture and Chinese medicine help?
1. Give the patient tangible goals and changes to be made that will result in a positive transformation in health and improvement of reproductive potential. For example, getting in touch with fertility signs and when to have intercourse; if appropriate education in basal body temperature (BBT) charting; directing attention towards things that are within our control; working on mindfulness through meditation, prayer or yoga; sleep and diet; choosing who to spend time with; nourishing reproductive organs to provide a nurturing environment both for themselves and their child to be.
2. Address the root of imbalance and focus treatment on this. It’s as simple as that – through sharing of information we are able to determine where disharmony lies and fix it. The questions and detail we ask about a woman's menstrual cycle are often more than they ever thought about or were asked before.
3. Reduce stress, improve sleep and balance digestive function. This is ultimately a goal with all patients, as these issues pervade the general population. With the addition of acupuncture, addressing diet and lifestyle choices can quickly lead to positive health outcomes.
4. As Dr. Pentland says in Being Fertile – “if there are no other confounding conditions, women with unexplained infertility very often fall pregnant within six months of starting Chinese medicine”.
Acupressure Point for Daily Home Application:
Acupressure is a useful and accessible way to treat yourself at home or on the go. Apply firm pressure on the point with your middle finger or thumbs, at a 90 degree angle from the surface of the skin for 1-3 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day on both sides. If you find that your fingers are getting weak or sore, you can substitute a golf ball, pencil eraser or other appropriate object.
SP6 – Spleen 6 – Sanyinjiao – “Three Yin Crossing”
**Caution: Do not perform acupressure on this point if you might be pregnant.
Spleen 6 is a commonly used point to nourish and harmonize reproductive health. It is a crossing point of 3 major meridians – Spleen, Kidney, Liver – all of which play an important role in reproductive and overall health.
Take home tips:
1. Explore how stress may be affecting your health, and make tangible and sustainable changes to your lifestyle.
2. Work to address imbalances in your life, in terms of diet and exercise.
3. Make sure all those involved in the baby-making are also involved in getting healthy!
Dr. Harris Fisher, Being Fertile by: Dr. Spence Pentland