Fertility Paradox

How Chinese medicine supports fertility

Jing, Qi & Blood, stress?

I often get folks asking me if Chinese medicine helps with fertility. And this is one of the areas where we have really good clinical results improving success rates on fertility treatment. But why the paradox? Its not what you think. Join us to find out why the one thing you’re not paying attention to may also be the most important thing Chinese medicine can help you with on your fertility journey.

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The Content

Paradox you say? Why is fertility a paradox in Chinese medicine? It’s kind of a trick question. Mostly though, it’s because the way we treat fertility is usually by treating almost everything other than your actual fertility. And we have really good clinical results on improving success rates of fertility treatments. So why is Chinese medicine so good at treating fertility? Who are you talking to here? Of course it’s because we take a holistic view of fertility.

Jing and Fertility

In Chinese medicine, Jing or Essence is what fertility is all about. People like to translate Qi as “life force energy”, but in TCM, this is actually a better description of your Jing. It is both your longevity and your reproductive force. More like the greek concept of “ichor” than energy but the principle remains the same. It is the most primal and precious of all substances, it can be transmuted into Qi and blood and you are only born with so much of it.

Many things can deplete your Jing. Primarily it is the ejaculation of semen or sperm and pregnancy that are said to decrease stores of Jing. Illness and improper nutrition during key times as well as a chronic deficiency of Qi, blood, yin or yang can also deplete the Jing. Heredity is another component. Your Jing is part of the DNA that was passed down to your from your parent and their parents. So if there is a weakness within the family line then it is just another factor to consider.

For all humans, Jing is linked to how we grow and change throughout our lives. It is released on a cycle of 7 or 8 years depending on your biological sex.  

Yin Yang, the non-binary binary

I just want to preface that all things Chinese medicine are binary as they are heavily linked to the Yin/Yang categories. However this construct always allows for the yin within yang and yang within yin. That is what provides the spectrum and non-binary diversity of life. So, while I may use terms like man, woman, male, female and even yang and yin, please understand that I will use these ends of the spectrum to define particular characteristics. It is just that, a spectrum. So depending on where an individual falls within that gloriously fluid circle of yin and yang they will almost certainly have aspects of both.

Distribution Cycle

If your Jing is more heavily related to the production and release of testosterone, the production of sperm or more yang forces; then your Jing cycles in sets of 8 years. If its to do with the production and release of primarily estrogen and progesterone and the maturation of eggs or yin substances; then its 7 year cycles.

In this way we can begin to see how the egg maker in a reproductive duo matures into reproduction at age 14 with the onset of menstruation and by age 21 increases until is reaches the fullness and peak of reproductive strength at 28. It remains there until about the age of 35 when those forces begin to wane and recede through 42. Then menopause generally begins around age 49. This does not mean that Jing and reproductive capacity is gone, just that it is being more conservatively dispensed. And an effort is made to preserve longevity.

The same is true for the yang component just in 7 year increments. Thus the ancient wisdom dictates that by the age of 40 we should all be on some kind of herbal tonic. This is to help us preserve those stores of Jing and increase our life span.


One of the things that I find most interesting about the concept of inherited and distributed Jing is that it can be preserved. Because it is most heavily distributed in our 20s and 30s, this is actually the time where it is most valuable to preserve it. So take a look back at the list of things that deplete your Jing and give yourself a little credit. Most folks have plenty of Jing. Also, most folks tend to burn a little too much Qi and blood with modern life.

So if you’re young and on a path that you know will likely lead you to children and family later in your life, perhaps past the prime of your Jing, engaging in health behaviors that will protect that are essential during this time. Taking care of your fertility is just as important in your 20s as it is in your 40s.

Here’s the good news. By taking care of you Qi and Blood and maybe borrowing a little from those deeper stores, we can improve the quality of Jing in a person who is maybe operating on a limited income of Jing if you will

Nutrition for fertility

Rich foods are the bringers of rich Jing. Many traditional societies reserve these foods for their childbearing members. Eggs, animal fats, organ meats and dairy are all prized foods in traditional societies. They are less abundant and therefore more precious. They are also reserved for those who are to create the next generation and those convalescing from serious illness. I always say there is no right diet for every person at all stages of life. This is a prime example. It’s also another reason why I like to have 3-6 months with a patient trying to conceive.

Because of the over abundance of substandard quality animals food products in our culture there is a predominance of damp related pathology. This needs to be cleared to pave the way for reproduction. It might take us 3 months to clear away the damp. But when you are asked to resume eating the rich foods of associated with childbearing, your body is able to actually process those nutrients and properly use them to increase your Jing.


People who have a natural menstruation cycle have this whole extra diagnostic set of information. Those of us practicing Chinese medicine revel in it. Every month we get new data on how the body is processing and metabolizing its Qi and blood. Many people are raised to believe that a cycle is painful or comes with additional symptoms that are just not part of what I would call a normal cycle. They suffer from PMS or PMDD, cramps, heavy bleeding, clots, light bleeding, no bleeding, short or long cycles. All of these are things that can be helped through Chinese medicine using a combination of acupuncture and herbs.

If you haven’t started tracking your cycle yet, you should. There are lots of apps out there. I have a couple that I personally like. My criteria includes good data privacy, commitment to empowering women and ease of use with my chosen health tracking devices. There’s also always the old school pen, paper and thermometer approach. It’s gonna take you 3 months to really get a handle on what your cycle looks like. It’s also probably gonna take me 3 months to help get your cycle back on track. 

But Beth…does that mean that it’s too late for acupuncture to help me? Absolutely not. It’s just that there is this ticking clock that begins to stress folks out when they begin the process of assessing their fertility. This is fear based and fear does nothing good for fertility. What I’d like everyone to do is take a step back and realize that it’s not the time it takes, but rather how you use it.

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

There is no better example of this than a couple who suffered from recurrent pregnancy loss. Anytime I see a patient who has suffered the loss of multiple pregnancies they are immediately put on the “not yet” plan for fertility. There are many reasons for recurrent pregnancy loss and as many of you know it is devastating both emotionally and physically for all involved parties. And in cases like this, oftentimes the best thing that you can do is give your body a break from trying.

Remember what I said before about the use of Jing in pregnancy and ejaculation? This is where that information become critical. These patients must be given the time to heal and restore and that takes time. Three to six months depending on how far along the pregnancy was.

These 3-6 months are critical for this patient. But really they are critical for every patient because its about laying down a good foundation for conception. Whether you’ve never been pregnant before or you’ve lost your last 3 pregnancies each fertility cycle is a new cycle. While we do cycle every month it would behoove us all to take 3 and ensure we’ve prepared our bodies for the road ahead.

Sex drive

If either you or your partner is suffering from low sex drive, much like stress, this could affect your fertility. A body that is abundant with reproductive hormones is more likely to desire reproductive activities. And again, Chinese medicine can help with this, whether its lack of drive, lack of function or pain during intercourse, there are herbs and points that can help restore your sexual vitality and improve your fertility.

Lowering stress

What is the one thing that Eastern and western physicians both agree is important to improving your fertility?

No animals what to procreate when their safety is in question and your biology doesn’t understand the difference between a real threat and a perceived threat so, if you could do one thing to protect and increase your fertility (this goes for the sperm makers of the world too) its to reduce your stress.

Stress comes in many forms both physical and psychological. These stressors, even if you’re managing them to your own comfort levels, may not be manages well enough for your gametes. So, take a look at your environment, both internal and external and see if you can identify the handful of things that may be adding stress rather than reducing it. Pick one that you can easily shift. We don’t want to get into that “chicken egg” conundrum where the attempts at removing stress actually add stress to your world.


  • Early action and fertility preservation is a thing
  • Nutrition and herbal supplementation are important
  • A regular menstrual cycle is the mark of healthy fertility
  • It takes at least 3 months to regulate a menstrual cycle
  • Reduce your stress

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