Healthy Ovaries And Fertility : Chinese Medicine Perspective
Healthy Ovaries And Fertility : Chinese Medicine Perspective
Ovaries and Ovarian Reserve
Ovaries play an important reproductive role – they produce eggs for fertilisation and secrete hormones which are important to regulating the menstrual cycle.
Every woman is born with a fixed number of eggs. This is known as her ovarian reserve. As a woman grows older, her ovarian reserve decreases until she finally reaches menopause. Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) are two female reproductive hormones which can be measured to indicate a woman’s ovarian reserve, and therefore her fertility. Low AMH levels and FSH levels rise re associated with reduced fertility. Recently AMH and FSH levels have also been used as an indicator for male infertility.
Any medical conditions that stop the ovaries functioning properly can decrease a woman’s fertility. Symptoms of medical problems include irregular, late or absent periods and ovary pain in either or both ovaries. The ovaries are located in the lower abdomen. That means ovarian pain is often felt in the lower abdomen below and pelvis.
Ovaries and age
A woman’s best reproductive years are in her 20s which is when the ovaries are functioning optimally. They gradually start to decline with age and fertility declines throughout a woman’s 30s, particularly after the age of 35. The ovaries naturally stop functioning at the time of menopause around the age of 50.
Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) treatment for ovarian function has been found effective in clinical studies. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are natural remedies that can boost fertility by improving ovary health, ovulation and the quality of eggs.
Healthy Ovaries And Chinese Medicine
A practitioner of TCM will understand the symptoms of poor ovary health – irregular menstrual cycles, pain and infertility – from a number of different perspectives. There may be stagnation of energy – or Qi – and poor circulation. Qi flows through the body along circuits of energy known as Meridians. When there is a blockage along some part of the Meridian, this can result in any number of symptoms, including reduced Blood and Qi flow to the ovaries and eggs and irregular or absent periods.
When the ovaries receive insufficient Qi they do not release balanced levels of hormones. Through the use of Chinese herbs and acupuncture it is possible to remove these blocks, to nourish and stimulate the ovaries. This leads to better regulation of the menstrual cycle, balanced hormone levels and improved fertility.
Irregular and painful ovulation
In Chinese medicine theory ovulation is the exact moment where Yin (the nourishing, egg development and oestrogen dominant stage) switches to Yang (the growth and progesterone dominant stage). Yang energy quite literally bursts out of the follicle and the egg commences its journey along the fallopian tube. When imbalances occur between Yin and Yang energy, pain and ovulation dysfunction occurs. A Yin and Yang imbalance can occur for a number of reasons: Qi or Blood Stagnation, a deficiency in energy or Cold in the uterus – your practitioner may use Moxa to help to warm and increase energy flow.
In TCM theory, Liver Blood is supplied to the Chong Mai and uterus, then the Chong Mai separately sends Blood to the uterus. Liver Blood Deficiency can cause scanty periods and Liver Qi Stagnation create painful periods.
Understanding poor quality eggs
Poor quality eggs can present with other symptoms such as poor circulation, water retention, cold hands and feet, low energy, and feeling cold. This can be explained by deficiencies within the Kidney energy. The Kidney is the root of the reproductive system working closely with the Heart to support ovulation and menstruation. Kidney Essence – or Jing – is the basis for the formation of life. According to TCM a woman’s eggs do not have an expiration date and can be nourished by supporting Kidney energy, Blood and Qi.
The ageing process on the ovaries
As we age our congenital essence (the constitutional energy we are born with) is gradually used up. We inherit a fixed amount of this congenital essence from our parents and obtain acquired essence from the food that we take in. This essence is stored in the Kidneys. By the age of 35 a woman’s essence will start to decline rapidly, and the ovaries will be less well nourished by Blood and Qi. The resulting poor blood circulation produces less hormones, less regular periods and poor quality eggs.
How the symptoms arise: A Chinese Medicine Perspective
There are a number of factors that can contribute to poor ovary function.
1. Stress and overwork
Stress has a negative impact on fertility. It can exhaust the Spleen energy, diminishing its ability to effectively nourish the ovaries. Similarly not taking enough time to rest and to recharge means that we place additional burdens on our Kidney Yang energy which results in poor quality eggs. By not releasing stress effectively our ability to process toxic waste products is diminished. Stress can produce hormones such as cortisol and prolactin that can interfere or halt ovulation, which also hinders egg production. Stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, exercise or a warm bath can help keep stress and frustration at bay.
2. Weight and lack of exercise
Having a sluggish digestive system and carrying excess weight around the abdomen area means that the smooth flow of Vital Qi is slowed down. It is helpful to take up light exercise that encourages the flow of blood and Qi to this area. In addition, studies have shown that being overweight has a negative impact on fertility.
What we eat plays a huge part in supporting optimum ovary health. It is important to eat a nutrient dense diet. Eat plenty of leafy greens, whole grains, lean meats, nuts, fresh vegetables, and fruits. Stay away from trans fats, refined carbs, processed foods or meats, and excessive salt and sugar.
The goal with Chinese Medicine treatments is to support Ovarian Health
There is a wealth of research that demonstrates TCM treatments are effective at boosting fertility.
Treatments are aimed at adjusting the menstrual cycle to improve regularity, stimulating ovulation, boosting not only circulation but increasing energy levels and adjusting the hormonal levels to put the body into a more balanced state. In doing so, the treatment will essentially have an anti ageing effect. Increasing blood flow to the pelvic region can help improve the blood supply to the reproductive organs, improve the quality of the uterine lining, and nourish the developing follicle. Acupuncture helps to relax the blood vessels in the pelvis leading to increased blood flow, which in turn leads to eggs that are better nourished and a thicker endometrial lining.
Another important aspect of TCM treatment is to reduce stress; this is often an important element within difficulties in conceiving as stress can impede fertility. TCM considers ovarian dysfunction to be caused by kidney deficiency and blood stasis. Kidney deficiency in these patients often expresses as dysfunction in the liver, heart, and spleen as well. The treatment is to invigorate the kidney, fill the vital essence, tonify the blood, and regulate menstruation.
With a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatment regular ovulation of high quality eggs and healthy ovaries can be achieved naturally.
Chinese Herbal Treatments for Ovaries
There are a number of Chinese herbal treatments that are effective at supporting healthy egg production, hormone levels and supporting healthy Blood and Qi flow.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our clinics website: GinSen where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.