Fertility: what is within our control?

Fertility was a hot topic for ancient Chinese medical doctors. The earliest recorded Chinese medical text (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine) includes information about various diseases leading to infertility along with treatment strategies. The Chinese medical approach to bolstering fertility considers the human as an aspect of the macrocosm, and the question of what factors are leading to an imbalance between inner and outer environment guides treatment. Combining ancient knowledge of fertility with modern science’s understanding of the menstrual cycle gives us many avenues for addressing difficult conception.

In the most basic sense, the ingredients required for conception are a healthy egg and sperm, and optimal timing.


The menstrual cycle is broken down into the menstrual, follicular, ovulation, and luteal phases. For conception to occur, the body must first ovulate and release a healthy egg which will then meet with healthy sperm. The egg stays alive for only about 24 hours waiting to meet sperm. Sperm can live in the reproductive tract for up to 5 days, so knowing your cycle well and becoming familiar with what day you typically ovulate allows for optimal intercourse timing. It’s typically recommended to have intercourse every other day for the 5 days before you ovulate. Egg white textured cervical mucus is a telltale sign of impending ovulation- the day the mucus ends is generally the day ovulation (the release of the egg from the ovaries) actually occurs.


Many factors go into the health of your eggs. In Chinese medicine, the term Jing refers to the inherited essence from the parents. Your Jing determines the overall functioning of your reproductive system, including egg or sperm quality. Though Jing is inherited, it can be protected and maintained through lifestyle, supplements, and Chinese medical therapies.

Lifestyle factors and mindset play a big part in fertility. Getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and getting consistent low impact exercise helps to move Qi and nourish Yin. On a deeper level, when considering fertility, its important to remember your why. Why do you want to become pregnant then enter into parenthood? What about this process is compelling for you, and what is it about the prospect of becoming a parent that lights you up? Are you tightening around the when and how you will become pregnant? What might shift in your system if you find a posture of openness, of trusting that becoming pregnant will happen at the time most optimal for you and the world at large. Though its much easier said than done, staying with this energy of possibility and trust can have a huge impact on your fertility.

Getting a balanced diet with protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats is important. Good quality protein like organic meats and beans ensures your body’s regeneration and repair, carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits keep your body energized and blood sugar balanced, and healthy fats like coconut oil and avocado nourish your tissues and improve vitamin absorption. From a Chinese medicine perspective, warm cooked foods are ideal to improve fertility, as we want the womb to be a warm and inviting place. Even with the most balanced diet, there are often nutrients missing. Some of the key fertility supplements we recommend are CoQ10, fish oil, probiotics, and prenatal vitamins.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine

Acupuncture and herbal medicine improve fertility by bringing Qi and Blood to the reproductive organs, and offering balance to the system overall. These modalities can strengthen the organ systems most related to fertility and conception (namely the Liver, Spleen, and Kidney) and remove any physical or energetic blockages that could be either hindering the sperm and egg’s smooth movement through the Fallopian tubes or prohibiting successful implantation. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are individualized constitutional approaches to healthcare, and treatment plans are crafted based on what the practitioners diagnostic understanding of the patient.

Before trying to conceive, its ideal to regulate the menstrual cycle and ensure that any underlying conditions like fibroids, cysts, or infections are well cared for. Your body is a powerful container for the initiation, gestation, and birthing of a new life – we want to be sure the garden is free of weeds and pests so that flowers can grow! If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for over a year, it’s a good idea to get a fertility work up with your doctor to rule out any underlying health factors that may be influencing you.

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