This article focusses on the causes of Infertility and discusses main concepts from the point of view of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) which is one of the diagnostic models in Shiatsu therapy. Infertility is typically the result of a number of factors worsening (usually unnoticed) over a prolonged period of time.
Infertility can be thought of as a chronic condition which can affect both of the sexes.
In Chinese medicine our base resources (Kidney Essence) are thought to be passed on to us by our parents at conception and at birth. This makes a lot of sense as bringing a foetus to birth takes considerable effort, strength and vitality from the mother which if not sufficient does affect the birth. The effects being at the level of nourishment, hormones, genetics and energetics.
In terms of the father the concern is focused on the quality of the sperm in the terms of it's strength and genetics which of course will affect the fetes. So as you can see our initial health is very much dependant on the health and vitality of our parents.
From the point of view of TCM this inherited vitality is called our essence and thought to be stored in our kidneys. It is like a catalyst in the body. This initial charge is supplemented by a second pool which is replenished on a regular basis from the energy (Qi) metabolised from the food we digest, and the air we breathe. If this daily replenishment is insufficient or our physical exertions exceed our reserves, our essence will over time run down. As an example we may be able to have a very late night or even three but much more is likely to result in us involuntarily falling asleep somewhere inconvenient. What would happen is we were to deprive our-selves of 30 minutes every day for years and years. We would lose our resilience and vitality. You can see it in their faces in as they look like "death warmed up". This seems logical enough but we frequently shortchanges our selves as stress and work creep into our leisure time without us realising it.
So far we have established that a part of our energy is inherited, a part is from diet and that how we live determines the level in our reserves. Then I highlighted the importance of regular deep rest. Long-term taxing emotions such as anxiety, fear, depression or ruminating and demanding careers can and do add further sizeable draws on our stores. If our reserves are allowed to run down to such a low level we will see effects start to exhibit in our daily life. We are talking about running on adrenaline. As an example you may have heard about women athletes and very stressed women without periods despite of excellent nutrition. It isn't a coincidence that sperm quality is at an all time low either.
The vital energies stored in our kidneys are used in many bodily processes and can easily lead to many pathologies developing, one being late or incomplete development, another infertility.
The sexual organs with insufficient resources can cease to produce good quality sperm / ovum or even hormonal messengers to start these processes. It isn't just kidneys that are involved, liver and spleen energetics have a part to play in providing quality blood and smooth abundant qi to be able to produce viable healthy sperm, line the uterus and hold the fertilised embryo. I have listed just a few organs that have key roles in these processes. This is however a very incomplete picture as other organs support and complement them.
The organ relationships and functions are affected by many factors. Adults are likely to have a combination of unsuitable nutrition, excessive work, stressful career, excessive sex activities (males), many births and or blood deficiency (females), emotional instability all over a prolonged period of time.
So far I have mentioned some of the impediments that can be characterised as chronic in addition to these pathogenic influences also come into play. Factors such as cold, heat, damp and others can quite easily compromise organs and element relationships in a way that can affect your fertility.
Shiatsu addresses these by first deeply calming the nervous system, taking it out of the fight or flight mode. Allowing our adrenals to rest and replenish their stores. Then I look at the organ relationships and pathogenic processes as we expel these and the organs get closer to balance, lifestyle factors and diet come to the forefront for attention. Spleen is seen as the source of blood and this is very important in the menses and in the female fertility and lungs supply the Qi wich is the motive energy for most functions.
It is important to mention that long term chronic deficiencies require intensive corrective therapy to ultimately result in successful outcomes not only in the return to fertility and good health but more importantly knowledge and habits that support you in the long term.