What is infertility?

According to the definition provided by the Department of Health, a couple is classified as suffering from 'infertility' when the wife fails to conceive after one year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse.

While the female and male partner each account for around 30% of the causes of infertility, the rest 40% of the causes are due to mutual or unknown problems(1). In fact, it is very common for women to become infertile due to ovulation defects, in which factors like undersized or unruptured luteinized follicles following ovulation, aplasia, etc., are all false ovulation that cause infertility. The following are the various diseases that can lead to infertility:

  • Ovarian cysts
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Tubal Occlusion
  • Mutual rejection of sperm and eggs
  • Vas deferens problems
  • Habitual abortion
  • Endometriosis
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Testicular problems
  • Sexual dysfunction
Case Sharing

A 34-year-old female patient with normal menstruation cycles presented with 4 years of primary infertility. There was no metritis and results of her pre-marital checkups were all normal. However, she would experience low back pain during menstruation. She liked cold drinks, was sensitive to hot weather, and would easily become irritable at work. She felt a general lethargy and was upset and frustrated most of the times. Her tongue appeared dark red with a thin coating. Her pulse was weak.

During the initial stage, the treatment principles were to sooth the liver and relieve congestion while complementing the yin and yang balance of the kidneys. Chinese herbal medicine twice daily was taken for 6 to 9 days to regulate endocrine and promote follicular maturation, which led to increase of leucorrhea. During the ovulation period, the principles of promoting blood circulation, relaxing the liver, and invigorating the kidney were adopted to promote ovulation. After taking the medicine, the menstrual cycle was normal, and the body temperature increased and lasted for 14 days following the ovulation period. The patient felt the energy and her blood circulation was good. After taking the medicine for 3 months, she successfully conceived and became pregnant.

A 42-year-old female patient presented with primary infertility after marrying for 5 years. She was undergoing artificial insemination during the time of consultation and had to administer ovulation injections by herself on a daily basis. Her tongue was pale and she had a thin and weak physique. She had a low voice, a deep but weak pulse. She suffered from backache, had scanty menstruation flow, and was sensitive to cold. Her sleep was sound and the appearance of her excrement was fair.

After extracting eggs for artificial insemination became unsuccessful, the patient came to consult for adjusting her body condition. Chinese medicine was prescribed to regulate the qi and blood while nourishing the kidney and essence. The qi and blood circulation in kidney were promoted, and the egg cells were invigorated. Meanwhile, the patient also underwent acupuncture to supplement the related meridians (such as the liver meridian, spleen meridian, Renmai meridian and Chongmai meridian) in order to invigorate the kidneys and promote good circulation of the qi and blood. While maintaining an unobstructed Renmai meridian, good circulation was also achieved at the Chongmai meridian. Likewise, the husband also had to take Chinese medicine as supplement. With a physique that was sensitive to heat, the patient's husband would easily develop sore throat, his tongue was crimson in colour and he had a rapid pulse. Chinese medicine treatment was prescribed to nourish the yin of his kidneys while soothing his liver and relieving the congestion. At the same time, the husband had to be aware of three points: - 1. maintain a peace of mind and reduce the frequency of sexual intercourse as far as possible; 2. nourish the yin in order for the essence to replenish; 3. engage in sexual intercourse when both the male and female are in their prime condition with full vitality, thereby providing the best environment for the egg to fertilize. The patient became pregnant three months later.


Reference Materials:

(1) Subfertility. The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong. Accessed on 9 Oct 2017. (http://www.famplan.org.hk/fpahk/en/template1.asp?style=template1.asp&content=sexual/subfert.asp)

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