Infertility according to Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine, infertility can be associated with seven so-called "patterns of disharmony". Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted. It is not equivalent to the Western concept of "disease", as a matter of fact here infertility can be caused by seven different patterns.

To understand whether someone's infertility might be caused by a given pattern, one needs to look for signs and symptoms associated with the pattern beyond what one might typically experience from infertility alone. For instance when infertility is caused by the pattern Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat, patients also experience symptoms such as irritability, spontaneous sweating, red eyes and dry mouth.

We've listed below a description of the seven patterns associated with infertility so that you can start to get an understanding of the various possibilities according to Chinese Medicine.

Once identified, patterns are often treated using herbal formulas. Drinking herbal infusions is the most common remedy in Chinese Medicine, together with acupuncture. Here we detail below six formulas that can help treat the various patterns associated with infertility, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The seven "patterns of disharmony" associated with infertility

The Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat

Infertility might be due to Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as irritability, spontaneous sweating, red eyes and dry mouth.

Read more about Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat here

Blood Stagnation in the Directing and Penetrating Vessels

Infertility might be due to Blood Stagnation in the Directing and Penetrating Vessels if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as irregular menstruation, brown vaginal discharge, dark clots in menstrual blood and painful period. Similarly, patients with Blood Stagnation in the Directing and Penetrating Vessels typically exhibit choppy (Se) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a bluish-purple tongue.

Read more about Blood Stagnation in the Directing and Penetrating Vessels here

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Kidney Yang Deficiency

Infertility might be due to Kidney Yang Deficiency if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as exhaustion from long-term illness, aversion to cold, cold extremities and impotence. Similarly, patients with Kidney Yang Deficiency typically exhibit deep (Chen), slow (Chi) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Read more about Kidney Yang Deficiency here

Full Cold in the Directing and Penetraing Vessels

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi), Tight (Jin)

Tongue color: Bluish-Purple, Pale

Recommended herbal formula: Wen Jing Tang

Symptoms: Infertility Late period Painful period Cold in the lower abdomen Dark clots in menstrual blood Abdominal pain after childbirth

Infertility might be due to Full Cold in the Directing and Penetraing Vessels if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as painful period, cold in the lower abdomen, infertility and late period. Similarly, patients with Full Cold in the Directing and Penetraing Vessels typically exhibit deep (Chen), slow (Chi) or tight (Jin) pulses as well as a bluish-purple, pale tongue.

Read more about Full Cold in the Directing and Penetraing Vessels here

Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus

Infertility might be due to Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as late period, painful period, dark clots in menstrual blood and brown vaginal discharge. Similarly, patients with Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus typically exhibit choppy (Se), deep (Chen), slow (Chi) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a bluish-purple tongue.

Read more about Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus here

Blood and Qi Deficiency with Blood Stagnation

Infertility might be due to Blood and Qi Deficiency with Blood Stagnation if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as poor appetite, weak extremities, soreness and weakness in the lower back and abdominal distension. Similarly, patients with Blood and Qi Deficiency with Blood Stagnation typically exhibit weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Read more about Blood and Qi Deficiency with Blood Stagnation here

The six herbal formulas that might help with infertility

Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes Blood and lymphatic circulation, thus eleminates Blood Stagnation. Softens and resolves hard lumps such as cysts and fibroids.

Why might Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan help with infertility?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help with the patterns Blood Stagnation and Phlegm in the Uterus and Blood Stagnation in the Directing and Penetrating Vessels which are sometimes associated with infertility. If any of these patterns look like something you might suffer from, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan here

Wen Jing Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Uterus and vessels. Nourishes Blood. Dispels Cold. Dispels Blood Stagnation.

Why might Wen Jing Tang help with infertility?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help with the patterns Full Cold in the Directing and Penetraing Vessels and Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus which are sometimes associated with infertility. If any of these patterns look like something you might suffer from, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Wen Jing Tang here

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Why might Jia Wei Xiao Yao San help with infertility?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat, a pattern sometimes associated with infertility. If it looks like you might suffer from Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

You Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.

Why might You Gui Wan help with infertility?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Kidney Yang Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with infertility. If it looks like you might suffer from Kidney Yang Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about You Gui Wan here

Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Invigorates the Blood.

Why might Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang help with infertility?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Blood and Qi Deficiency with Blood Stagnation, a pattern sometimes associated with infertility. If it looks like you might suffer from Blood and Qi Deficiency with Blood Stagnation, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang here

Zuo Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Strengthens the Kidneys. Fills the Essence. Augments the marrow.

Why might Zuo Gui Wan help with infertility?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat , a pattern sometimes associated with infertility. If it looks like you might suffer from , this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Zuo Gui Wan here