Life is all about balance. But if you are in the midst of a fertility journey, then you know all too well that life doesn’t feel like it is flowing. Wanting a baby is a biological drive. Many of us thought it would be easy to conceive until it wasn’t. Heck, many women and men spend so much time trying not to conceive until the time is right that they aren’t prepared for the struggles, emotions, and ups & downs that fertility brings. We all want solutions to make this journey easier.
Chinese Medicine, a 3000 year old system, offers tools to help prepare your body, mind and emotions to deal with fertility.
I fondly remember being in Chinese Medicine school and hearing readings from Chuang Tzu, a defining figure in Taoism. He said, “Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free; stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.” How often do we cling to how we want the results to turn out? Or feel punished, not worthy, or in question of “why” we have to struggle so hard just to conceive?
How often do we question why we have to struggle so hard to conceive?
Yin or Yang
One of the beautiful concepts of Chinese Medicine is that of yin or yang, or in other words, striving to live life in balance. Yin is feminine in nature – cool, moist and nourishing; it contains the lunar qualities of stillness, rest, and receptivity. Yang energy, on the other hand, is masculine in nature – warm, trans-formative, generative; it contains the solar energies of activity, initiation and doing. These two energies are interdependent. We can’t have one without the other. Chinese Medicine calls on us to look at our life in terms of yin or yang and see how we can find the middle path, or in other words find more balance.
You may ask yourself, what parts of life need your attention? Are you spending too much time working, and not enough time finding pleasure? Are you moving too much and don’t have enough stillness? If you are going through fertility struggles, it might appear that you have to re-prioritize your life and spend time finding a new balance.
This is not an easy feat, but if we use the tools taken from the 5-elements as a guide, we can find the places within ourselves that need a tune up in order to live in more harmony and balance with nature.
Let’s explore a taste of using the five elements.
The Earth Element
First we start with the earth element or the center. A strong center means a healthy digestion — what we eat and how we process food. It’s important to follow the seasons and eat fresh foods that are locally grown. The flavor of the earth is sweet, and I don’t think the ancients were thinking cinnamon sticky buns. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. A good fertility diet consists of fresh organic fruits, vegetables, and meats, avoiding processed foods, caffeine, and refined sugar. Adding essential fatty acids and variety of foods chalked with nutrients like Gobi berries, walnuts, and fish can help with egg quality. Next, we have to make sure our digestion is strong.
In my practice of Chinese Medicine, I see this problem in many: constipation, bloating or loose stool. If you have any of these, you can consult with a Chinese medicine doctor to help make digestion better. Sometimes following the principles of eating cooked foods for a weak digestion is helpful, and this is especially important during the fall and winter months when it is cold outside. Also, there is a saying: overthinking and over-worrying damage the Spleen and Stomach energies which are the earth element. Meditation is an important tool as it helps us get back to loving awareness and out of busy monkey mind. In terms of intimacy and fertility, the earth element asks us, “do we always please others and never ask for what we want?” Having a strong earth center means we feel good in our bodies, we give and receive, and are present in the moment.
The Water Element
The water element is key in fertility as it encompasses your reproductive organs. This also includes your sex drive, egg, or sperm quality. You need to nourish yourself in a way that takes care to make sure the next generation is healthy. The water element’s emotion when not balanced is fear. Some say the water element is like our adrenal glands that respond with fight, flight, or freeze when we are under threat. If chronic stress is plaguing your life, the blood flow that should go to the reproductive organs gets shunted away to the adrenal glands. This does NOT help your fertility quest. If you are constantly anxious, with your heart pounding and adrenaline flowing as your body metaphorically prepares to run from a bear, you are probably not thinking of procreating. What will help nourish the eggs and sperm is more blood flow. That happens when you are relaxed and making love.
If you suffer from low sex drive, you also should attend to the water element. Chinese herbal tonics and acupuncture can help libido. Sex drive can be a complicated factor for women and for men, and aside from natural remedies, try spending more time connecting. Another solution is to take the pressure off the aging factor. Women coming to see me are usually so scared that they are running out of time, that it doesn’t help them live in the moment and enjoy love-making. The whole act of making a baby should be the connection of heart to reproductive organs. Ask yourself, what gets in the way of this?
Sometimes men and women have issues in the sex department when there is so much pressure to perform. There is often a lack of foreplay, leaving some women without time to lubricate. Meanwhile, some men can have difficulty getting an erection on cue. The whole process can become a job. Nourishing your water element means taking time to slow everything down and get back into the rest and digest and of course LOVE making mode.
The Wood Element
The wood element is about keeping energy flowing. When this element is imbalanced you could feel stuck, sigh a lot and/or be sexually frustrated. When the energy is flowing you have passion and like to explore. The wood element asks you to communicate to your partner about your likes and dislikes and also about your fantasies .
Another aspect of the wood element is the liver energy which is involved in detoxification. Eliminating alcohol is beneficial. In addition, I recommend a liver cleanse to patients who are doing western fertility hormone treatments like IVF after they finish a cycle. On the intimate front the liver energy opens to the eyes. Take the opportunity to look at your partner. Eye gazing is a great way to create intimacy.
The Metal Element
As the name implies, the metal element is about protection. You might find yourself emotionally and physically shutting down because of disappointment , hurt, or even trauma. Like metal sheets of armor, you can protect yourself, not wanting to feel pain – but this also can prevent you from feeling pleasure. What is the antidote? Find ways to let go of the past. The metal element encompasses the lungs and large intestine, two organs that are about letting go. If you have had a miscarriage or any loss, the metal element helps you grieve. One way to do this is to connect to the breath. Breathing in and out can help you relax and bring in new oxygen to your body. If trauma is preventing you from moving forward in your life, make sure to seek help. You can go to chapter of Conceiving with Love to get more information on ways to cope with trauma.
In Chinese Medicine the fire element is about the heart. The heart/mind is all about love. This essential ingredient poured into the water element makes babies. We can never love enough. Bathe your body in love even if there are struggles and difficulties, love them. This is what makes us human. When looking at the heart energies of the fire element we look at sleep. When we don’t get enough sleep, we don’t nourish our system. Try and go to bed before 11:00 pm. Keep electronics away out of the bedroom. There are also herbs and supplements that can help with insomnia.
The fire element also has to do with our spiritual connection. When life is out of control, when we can’t understand why things are happening, we can look to what Chinese Medicine calls, The Tao or the universal truth – that everything is part of a bigger picture. We might not be able to know how everything is going to turn out but we can bathe in LOVE.
Using the 5 – element system in Chinese Medicine can provide ways to make you more fertile! I go more in depth on these other elements in my book, Conceiving With Love.
We have to remember that being fertile means living a balanced life in the present moment. In order to do this we must tend to our inner gardens and get them ready to plant the healthiest seeds. I really like bio dynamic gardening. It’s goal is to restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. Not only does it yield organic crops, but focuses on soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care, and these are treated as ecologically interrelated. It is in that same vein that we should view our body, mind, and spirit as equally important in increasing our fertility. And remember to find patience in the process. As Lao Tzu says, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”