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Traditional Chinese Medicine and natural fertility

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Using Traditional Chinese Medicine to support female reproductive wellness and promote natural fertility

In Australia, the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is enjoying growing popularity as couples seek to enhance their fertility using natural methods.  News of positive experiences and successful outcomes are spreading as natural, holistic alternatives to conventional medical fertility enhancement (IVF) are sought.

The overwhelming evolutionary purpose of humanity is to reproduce, ensuring survival of the species.  As such TCM practitioners are working with a very potent force dwelling within nature.  In many cases of medically unexplained infertility it is relatively simple to enhance fertility using TCM treatment and achieve conception.

Fertility is not exclusively a female domain, however women are much more likely to present clinically for fertility enhancement.  For this reason this article will focus on female reproductive health.

The perils of age

In the West women are choosing to have babies much later in life and have often taken the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) to achieve this end.  This usually happens during their most fertile years, from adolescence to mid thirties.

Unlike men who produce fresh semen daily, women are born with all the eggs that they will need for their entire lifetime.  As women age so do their eggs.  From late 30’s women’s fertility is in natural decline.  For older women who have decided to have children later in life, the combination of reproductive aging and the undesirable side effects of the OCP can have a severe and profound impact on fertility.

If women are looking to give themselves the greatest opportunity of falling pregnant it is advisable that they start trying sooner rather than later and either avoid using the OCP or cease it as soon as possible.

There are two distinct types of TCM fertility treatment, namely pre-conception care and active fertility enhancement.

Pre-conception (up to 12 months prior to pregnancy)

The aim of pre-conception care is to promote optimal gynaecological health in preparation for pregnancy.  It is designed to get a woman’s body in the best possible position to fall pregnant, stay pregnant and nourish a baby for the entire pregnancy and beyond.

Falling pregnant is only one aspect of good reproductive health.  The next challenge is for women to be able to carry a baby to full term and then breast feed, care for, love, grow and nurture a child from infancy into adulthood.

Pre-conception care should be considered as part of preventative medicine, beginning up to 12 months prior to women consciously attempting to fall pregnant.

To understand the importance of pre-conception health one might consider the analogy of a garden.  Imagine that the uterine lining representing the fertile soil that provides the material foundation for the plant, ensuring survival from germination to maturation.

Prudent gardeners know the importance of preparing, tilling and fertilising the soil long before they plant their crop.  They understand that the nutrients contained within the soil provide the sustenance for the plants whole life cycle, not just germination.  So it is with growing babies.  TCM realises the importance of cultivating a rich, nutritious endometrial lining as preparation for providing the nourishing substrate from which new life springs forth.

While Chinese women have a cultural understanding of the merits of pre-conception care, my experience it is that it is a difficult concept to sell to Western women.  Typically women considering TCM fertility enhancement have been trying for some time without success and are impatient to fall pregnant quickly.  They tend to be reticent to commit to cultivating optimal reproductive health in advance.

Along with acupuncture and herbal medicine, pre-conception care usually involves a combination of diet, lifestyle and exercise modification.

Pre-conception care assumes that a woman is fertile.  Its intended outcome is to enhance wellbeing and most women will report an improved sense of wellness and connection with their body as a result of treatment, even though they may not have felt unwell or disconnected beforehand.

Women might also become aware of symptoms that before TCM treatment they believed to be part of their ‘normal’ female cycle and were either unconcerned or unaware that effective treatment was available.  Such symptoms might include period pain, PMS or menstrual migraine.  Many women are pleasantly surprised by how quickly these symptoms improve with the correct attention.

Fertility treatment

Helpful hints to enhance fertility

  • Cease OCP as soon as possible
  • Address menstrual irregularities sooner rather than later
  • Space your children, allowing adequate time for  post natal recovery and recuperation
  • Reduce stress, practice relaxation, yoga, meditation, have a holiday
  • Consider having children in your 20-30’s.
  • Nutrition: avoid cold, raw foods and fluids, processed food & junk food
  • Regular exercise that is appropriate to your fitness level
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid or restrict alcohol intake
  • Keep your reproductive organs warm, wear a singlet or a tummy warmer to protect your midriff

There are many schools of thought within TCM.  Some practitioners when evolving a fertility treatment plan will insist on treating both partners, some only when clinically necessary.  Some will prefer to use one general formula for the duration of the whole menstrual cycle and change it according to how symptoms shift over time.  Others will elect to divide the menstrual cycle, usually into four phases and use a different formula for each phase. 

The aim of fertility treatment is to increase the likelihood of pregnancy and the intended outcome is pregnancy.

a)    Unexplained infertility

Firstly, unexplained infertility is when after a year of unprotected intercourse at ovulation a couple has been unable to conceive and medical evaluation has been unable to determine any abnormalities to explain the reasons behind the infertility.

Even though medical test might hold no explanation, there will commonly be subclinical signs which can be detected by the system of TCM that explains the reason behind infertility.

These sub-clinical signs might include symptoms such as light periods, premenstrual breast distension and stress, clotting with the period, period pain, excessive vaginal discharge, irregular cycle or heavy menstrual bleeding.

It is my experience that given time unexplained infertility is relatively effectively and successfully treated with TCM.

b)    Difficulty conceiving a subsequent pregnancy

The next category includes those women who have a history of previous pregnancy. Clearly fertile this group either have children already or have experienced previous miscarriage(s) and are finding it difficult to conceive a subsequent pregnancy.

Following pregnancy and childbirth there are a number of circumstances that may impede a women’s natural capacity to conceive a future pregnancy.

Women may have a constitutional weakness that predisposes her to a greater risk of compromised reproductive health and fertility.  She may have experienced birth trauma or medical complications and intervention, multiple birth, previous miscarriage(s), pregnancies too close together, be an older mum or have inadequate post-natal support and recovery.

TCM can be used to help address and resolve these causative factors.

c)    Explained infertility

Explained infertility is when Western Medical tests have been able to establish a pathology such as endometriosis, hormonal irregularities, poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), fibroids, blocked fallopian tubes, failure to ovulate or poor egg/semen quality which might explain the reason behind infertility.

By the time most women arrive at a TCM clinic they usually have a Western Medical diagnosis and will be looking to explore conjunctive or alternative treatment options.

Having a Western Medical diagnosis can be helpful to TCM treatment in that it offers valuable supplementary information to support and direct a comprehensive treatment plan.

Other than diagnostic tests, the scope of Western Medicine practice is primarily limited to drug therapy, surgery and of course IVF treatment.  Once the cause of infertility is established then women will be able to use this information to make informed choice about their treatment options. 

Surgery will remove any pathological growths, uterine obstructions or scarring.  Surgery quickly and resolutely removes ‘old’, stale blood and energy allowing the opportunity for a new, voluptuous endometrial layer to develop.  This outcome would be one of the intended aims of TCM treatment also, although the end is achieved using techniques.

Falling pregnant is only one aspect of the ‘baby making’ equation. The value of TCM in this scenario is in its ability to support and cultivate the fertile ground of the endometrium to provide ongoing nourishment to a growing baby.

It is perfectly safe for women to use TCM in conjunction with Western Medicine and to continue both acupuncture and herbal treatment once pregnant.


There are a number of possible explanations as to why couples may experience difficulty conceiving.  TCM can be used as a stand-alone, natural, drug-free treatment option to enhance fertility and treat both medically explained and unexplained infertility.  It can also be safely used in conjunction with conventional Western Medical fertility treatment before and during pregnancy.

© October 2009 Karen Pohlner

Karen Pohlner is a Melbourne-based Practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine) with a background as a Registered Nurse. She has a special interest in women’s health, pregnancy and childbirth and a fierce desire to empower women to achieve optimal health and wellbeing using natural methods throughout their entire reproductive life. Karen's website is www.bamboospirit.com.au.


31 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Kelly Menefee
Jul 8, 2013 12:06am [ 1 ]

have an 18 year old daughter. Have been trying to concieve a second child for over a year now with no success....feeling defeated

Sep 13, 2013 1:56am [ 2 ]

I'm 40 years old, tyring so much to concive as my one and only daughter is 16years, please assist me.

Jan 14, 2014 11:38am [ 3 ]

How long should the pre-conception treatment stage be before trying to fall preganant? ie: how long must one be on TCM before trying to get pregnant?

Mar 3, 2014 4:31pm [ 4 ]

I have been married for 10years now..After my first miscarriage, i cant conceive again..

Mar 6, 2014 12:22am [ 5 ]

im 32 have been trying to conceive

Mar 29, 2014 5:08pm [ 6 ]

Been trying too get pregnant for the last 5 yrs I'm 31 this yr

Apr 4, 2014 11:18pm [ 7 ]

I was diagnosed with Premature Menopause at 32.. I had a light period every 15 months or so.. Until recently.. The last period I had was approx 24 months ago.. I am now 42.. Is there any hope for me?? I have no children though I have been pregnant x 2 at 19 and 31

Apr 27, 2014 8:45am [ 8 ]

I will be 40 this year, I have no children, I have never been on any contraception. By the time i reached my 30s i decided to see why I haven't fallen pregnant results came back i dont ovulated, I have regular periods every month with no problems.

May 13, 2014 7:26pm [ 9 ]

as iam 37 yrs i had 5 abortions my test reports are all fine doctors say please suggest

thank u

May 27, 2014 10:17am [ 10 ]

Am 29 am trying to get pregnent for the past 6 years had a miscarrige at age 16 and cant get pregnent ever since i have fribord am going thougth stretment this my last month taking zoladex youbthing i can get pregnent

Netsanet Bogale
Oct 26, 2014 2:29am [ 11 ]

Am 36 and I am trying to get pregnant for the past 4 year and I didn't see my period for the last 1/2 year and my FSH leave is about 83 and my LH is also high is their any possible remedy to reduce or normalize my FSH and LH? please help me I am so much worry about my infertility issue.


Nov 5, 2014 2:41pm [ 12 ]

I am 37 yo and my husband and I have been trying to conceive for over 10 years now. My husband was tested and is good to go, however I was diagnosed with PCOS in my early twenties. I have tried weight loss, 1 IUI and some acupuncture here and there and several other fertility meds with no avail. I have always had irregular cycles but recently was diagnosed with diabetes which interestingly enough allowed for more regular cycles but still no pregnancy. Any new or advanced ideas on what can help at this point? We are not willing to do IVF at this point.

sheena moore
Jan 24, 2015 2:08pm [ 13 ]

Ive been trying to conceive for 6months with no luck. I have just seen a phycic that says I may have fertility problems and problems concieving. I do not know what to do do chinese herbs work?

Feb 8, 2015 11:23am [ 14 ]

I am in my late 30's. I was diagnosed with early menopause. I was told this when we were trying for a second child. I was told by the fertility specialist that my FSH & AMH levels were indicative of menopause & our only options for a second child were adoption or egg donor. An ultrasound showed no abnormalities. Is there any hope of improving my FSH & AMH levels and therefore increasing the possibility of conceiving again?

Many thanks.

Brown sugar
Feb 12, 2015 12:11am [ 15 ]

Also desperately trying to conceive with just one ovary and tube

Lisa Nyari
May 17, 2015 5:39am [ 16 ]

Hi there, What medicine do you recommend, I'm 46 I haven't had a period for two months. I have four children.

Aug 1, 2015 7:34am [ 17 ]

I have been trying to conceive for so many years but no luck my periods go on for 7 days I bleed heavily for 5 days what can you recommend for desperately pls help

Aug 24, 2015 9:00pm [ 18 ]

I am trying for pregnancy from the past 1 year ...my problem is infertility...and i am not strong ...please help me

Florence Gutus
Aug 26, 2015 9:36am [ 19 ]

What can I take to aid fertility.Have been trying for over a year now.

Sep 6, 2015 11:17am [ 20 ]

I am 39 years old, recently i found out that i am premature menopause. this is four months i did not have a cycle.I have no children. what can i take to increase my fertility?

Sep 26, 2015 3:40am [ 21 ]

I am 45 and myself and my partner have been trying to get pregnant for about 2 years can you help us please.

Oct 20, 2015 2:02am [ 22 ]

I am a 28years old lady with a 5years old daughter.my husband and i have been planning for our 2nd child for the past 3yrs but to no avail.presently he takes a herbal supplement and i am taking a chinese herbal tea but there has been no result.we reside in ghana.what do you recommend we do?

Nov 19, 2015 1:25pm [ 23 ]

Im 30 and the doctor told me that my egg is not producing well.. the egg size is as if im 50 years old. Your kind advice on how can i make my egg grow well, same as my age.

Dec 18, 2015 9:51am [ 24 ]

Hi I'm 23 and have been trying to conceive for 3 years I have poly cystic ovarian syndrome and possible blocked tubes will Chinese medicine help me Thanks

Feb 14, 2016 2:23am [ 25 ]

Hi I just found out I'm pri menopausal I'm 43 and have never conceived my last period was in December which lasted 24 days in trying to get pregnant but I'm not sure if I'm ovulating as I don't have a regular cycle is there anything that I can take to help me as I really would love to conceive.

Mar 4, 2016 8:13am [ 26 ]

I am 4yrs married and trying to conceive, I have regular menstration,please help

Mar 25, 2016 3:58pm [ 27 ]

Am 41, keeps on trying to have a baby for 6years, i need help pleas

Sidra Hasnain
May 17, 2016 4:44am [ 28 ]

I m mature age last year i m pregnant but baby heart beat is no so dr advice me abortion i try ti concive again but no success plz help me my husband is low sprum

Stephanie MacKay
May 31, 2016 9:21am [ 29 ]

I am a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and I would like to encourage these women who have commented to keep the faith. It takes time and diligence. Treating a menstrual issues is more complex because it cycles, unlike a elbow injury that just hurts constantly.
As a student my periods were very long and I thought that was normal, because it was "my normal". When an amazing Practitioner started giving me treatments and I started taking herbs and making changes. Amazingl, my periods changed and when I decided to get pregnant it was easy. I honestly believe if those changes hadn't occurred then my story would be different. Find a Practitioner who specializes in Women's Issues and get ready for amazing transformations. Good luck!

Jun 15, 2016 5:10am [ 30 ]

I have something important to share, for over 4 years now of my marriage i have been trying to get pregnant, this almost made my husband to divorce me because my mother in-law was planning to get him another girl, i was always crying everyday because my marital life way going down. My mother in-law made my husband believe that i was the cause of us being able to give birth, i was always crying, my heart was broken into pieces. My husband and I have been seeing a fertility specialist. We have done one IUI with no luck. My husband has a sperm count which goes up and down, the doctor has recommended him taking the Preseed supplement which he is doing over 3 years with no change in the situation my husband who has low sperm count? It just seems to me that if the sperm are unable to fertilize the egg it will not matter how many are produced. I am was so confused until i contacted this powerful spiritual coven online who I saw a number of testimonies of how he has help so many of them so I sent fountain waters coven a mail and I told them all my sorrows and pain they replied me and ask me not to cry any more that they will help, the sent me some instructions and caution, fountain waters performed the ritual rights and send me a spiritual medicine, they told me to have sex with my husband within 2weeks of doing this I felt dizzy and I went to the doctor and it was confirm that I was pregnant thanks to fountain waters spiritual waters powers now am a mother of a bouncing baby boy and joy has been restored to my marital life and am very happy, no more stress from my mother in-law. If any one needs such help don’t wait all life time to get help in getting pregnant contact fountain waters now on his personal email : fountainwatercoven@yahoo.com Or whatsapp them on +2349054913842

Jul 18, 2016 8:17am [ 31 ]

i so much appreciate the work of chief oduduwa,he help me out of sorrow i was not able to have a child for more than 8years then my husband was angry with me,one day i was searching the internet with pain then i saw this testimony on how chief oduduwa has restored a baby into some homes,such a marvelous job then i work with him today am pregnant 24 weeks gone now,please if you know that you have a problem of a childlessness don’t hesitate to contact him on facebook (Oduduwa Ajakaye)

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