Fertility & Reproductive Health from a Holistic Perspective

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Stress as Nature’s Best Contraceptive
Fertility in the developed world is rife today. In fact it is on the increase. 10 years ago it was a problem for one in six couples, the male partner being responsible for half of the cases. Many young couples experience difficulty in conceiving using the natural approach. In 1994 a concern was publically raised that men who eat organically grown food might be nearly twice as fertile as those who don’t.


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Industrial pollution and destruction of our various eco-systems are causing many sea animals around the world to show indication of sex changes and damage to their reproductive organs. (Inge Dougans, Reflexology : the 5 elements and their 12 meridians -a unique approach,(2005), P103). One can Google these various statistics over time going forward into the future.

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Why is this happening? In summary it is hugely to do with the tremendously fast pace of life, the chemical toxicity of our air, water and food supplies, our over-exposure to electromagnetic interference  –to name a few.  Why should nature just go with the flow when there is so much stress, interference and imbalance?  Many have the opinion that stress is nature’s best contraceptive. Whatever one’s beliefs and opinions about world population, let’s open up the theme of what we can do to get our bodies into a better balanced state if one is wanting to conceive a child, whether naturally, or through medical intervention. Let’s stretch this out even further to not only increasing one’s chances of falling pregnant if one has been trying for a while, but to bring healthier children into this world.


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Health is all about LIFE FORCE...

Over the ages, oriental medicine has understood the concept of “life force”. Another way of conceptualising it is “life essence”, otherwise known as “Chi”. We can observe it “happening” in the healing process, in a growing child, and in the natural world. It is understood that life force can become blocked, thereby not allowing life forms to thrive. In natural medicine and in the natural therapies we understand that our work involves working “with” the life force in the person, helping the body to function at its optimal level by aiding the unblocking of life force congestions. This can be done through modalities such as nutritional therapy, reflexology, acupuncture, acupressure, tai chi, yoga, breathing techniques, meditation, etc. It is of vital importance to maximise one’s intake of proper foods which are “high in life force”, such as organically grown fruits, vegetable, nuts seeds, etc. Such foods, as well as proper breathing and exercise, spending enough time outside in natural surroundings (preferably without shoes –if the temperatures and landscape allow), etc are all part of increasing one’s life force supply. In fact it is often worth considering “preparing” one’s body for pregnancy, and that of your partner, instead of jumping straight into it. Just like one would prepare a garden to bear the best fruit possible.  


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Compare this to spending hours in front of a computer, after spending copious time in traffic, smoking, consuming refined processed foods, stimulants and medications, having insufficient rest and time out, etc. How is the body meant to feel in each case scenario? It can be a subtle or a big difference depending on the individual person. Which scenario will enable one to just survive, and which scenario will actually see one thrive? Ok, life happens, we are not in utopia, the world is as it is. Yes, but the point is this, maximise your (natural) resources, which is your life force as far as possible.  




Life Force and Infertility: Understanding the Body’s Energy System
Let’s take a closer look. The main principle of Chinese medicine and in many other ancient models, is based on this old saying: “prevention is better than cure”. In other words, looking after and preserving our health, (indeed our life force), is more favourable than having to treat disease.

Here is a quote that I would like to lead from:
“Medicine is broken. And I genuinely believe if patients and the public ever fully understand what has been done to them –what doctors, academics, and regulators have permitted –they will be angry. On this only you can judge.” (Dr Ben Goldacre, Bad Pharma (How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients),(2012), (Introduction, p.ix). 


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When it comes to fertility treatment, it is worth getting back to the basics before pumping women with synthetic drugs as the first or only means for falling pregnant. It should be the last step, if necessary. This is not to totally throw out conventional clinics, but in my experience I am yet to come across a patient knowing to clean up her system FIRST (and her spouse’s), and revitalise or enhance the function of her organs through nutrition and other means (as mentioned above) –which do no harm. Once all of these natural avenues have been sought with no success at conceiving, then maybe drugs could be a solution. But how about addressing the body’s needs to efficiently detoxify (what it can) once all these dangerous substances exist inside of a woman’s body, which may be highly likely to cause other imbalances later on? Unburdening the liver and other tissues, regulating the hormonal system naturally, and strengthening the body’s electromagnetic system should not be such an alternative measure. Let’s take a closer look.

 How Chi Flows: The Meridian System
Briefly, everyone is born with Chi and it remains with us until death. The preservation of health depends on this energy flowing uninhibited throughout the body. Chi is constantly depleted through daily modern life and needs to be replenished for healthy functioning of all cells, tissues, organs and systems. Two types of Chi are identified on the basis of its origin: ancestral Chi (pre-natal Chi), derived from our parents, their genetic strengths and weakness, how healthy they are; and then you get acquired Chi / post-natal Chi, derived from our nutrition and lifestyle, air and water, etc. (Inge Dougans, Reflexology :the 5 elements and their 12 meridians-a unique approach,(2005), P19).

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The meridians are a network of energy channels, or electromagnetic pathways, of which there are 12 main ones. Each meridian flowing on one side of the body has its mirror image on the other side of the body. A meridian flows through several tissues, such as various organs and muscles. At the more basic level, they penetrate the tissue cells, and if you break it all down even further, the electromagnetic pathways of the meridians flow within the context of the atoms. Remember an atom’s basic structure is a bunch of electrons orbiting around a single nucleus.

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Just as we need the circulatory system and communication in the nervous system to flow uninterrupted throughout the body, we also need Chi travelling along the 12 meridians to flow freely, and if it isn’t, health problems can result. Health conditions or imbalances can then be found along different points on the meridians. Think about the electrons orbiting around their nucleus in a sluggish manner when there are too many toxic molecules. When there are less toxins in the body, these electrons are free to flow faster along their orbits, and this higher frequency allows better cellular activity to occur, and thereby the tissues to be healthier, and the overall organ and organ system to function more optimally. We begin to feel better. This of course depends on good nutrition in order to create the correct cellular environment, meaning adequate electrolytes from a person’s diet containing sufficient levels of nutrients (minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, etc). Some natural therapies like acupuncture and reflexology, have a powerful effect on the above scenario, in freeing up these meridian pathways.

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In the context of Infertility, there are certain meridians that play a key role in the distribution of life force to the organs of reproduction and the hormonal centres involved.

The Kidney Meridian

In Western medicine, the function of the kidneys is to regulate the amount of water in the body. Fluids are essential to life as they bathe the entire cellular system. The flow of fluids allows waste material to be collected and flushed out the system. Enormous quantities of blood flows through the kidneys, to be filtered and purified of toxins.
In the East, there is a further understanding of the kidneys. They are understood to store “Jing” –vital life essence. The body and its organs require Jing in order to survive. Jing being the source of functions such as reproduction. (Inge Dougans, Reflexology :the 5 elements and their 12 meridians-a unique approach,(2005), (p.135).


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The Bladder Meridian

The kidney meridian is partnered with the bladder meridian. In the light of the above information about vital life essence and its role in reproduction, it is important to highlight that the bladder meridian flows into the adrenal glands situated on the top of each kidney. When a woman is predominantly stressed she is usually operating at very high levels of cortisol, which is our long-term stress hormone.
 If you have read the information contained in the resources section entitled, Hormonal Health, of this website, you will have learned about progesterone, and how it is important for healthy libido and maintaining a healthy pregnancy (gestation).
When there is a constant demand for stress hormones, the body will redirect progesterone to make cortisol, thereby reducing progesterone levels.

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This leads to health issues of estrogen dominance, marked by low libido, morning sickness, and often time miscarriage. Ensuring good life force flow along the bladder meridian into the kidneys and adrenals is important, in order to nourish the kidneys and to help preserve the life essence. By relaxing the body deeply through therapies like reflexology or acupuncture, it also serves to prevent progesterone being turned into cortisol on a constant basis. Better stress management in this way means greater potential for conception and a healthy gestation for the developing embryo.

The Gallbladder & Liver Meridian

The liver meridian gets its name because it travels through the liver, and the gallbladder meridian travels through the gallbladder. In the context of fertility, the gallbladder meridian goes through the ovaries, involved in estrogen and progesterone balance, which are our reproductive hormones. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), mood swings, migraines, poor memory, etc are all tell-tale signs of energy congestion along the gallbladder meridian. (See Resource entitled “Hormonal Health” of this website).

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On the other hand, the gallbladder meridian’s partner, the liver meridian, has its pathway through the genitals, as well as the hormonal and neural brain centres. These are the pituitary gland, known as the master hormonal gland, and the hypothalamus, controlling puberty, libido and reproduction. If we see the liver as the chemical brain of the body whose role is to detoxify the blood, synthesize and break down hormones, amongst other roles, we can appreciate how important it is to ensure good liver function and overall hepatic health (see resource articles on Sexual Health).

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The channels feeding the organs can become easily blocked with toxic molecules from medications (including the contraceptive Pill and fertility treatment drugs), and an inadequate diet full of preservatives, additives and other chemicals from pesticides which underline poor nutrition.  Therefore preparation for pregnancy needs to take into account a nutrient-rich diet which is as pure, clean, raw, and organic as possible, within the overall context of a balanced lifestyle.


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For example, is one getting adequate sleep? The liver meridian also passes through the pineal gland situated in the brain which is to do with our circadian rhythms. In the meridian system, there is a certain time of the day or night when the energy is prioritised in its supply to a specific pair of meridians. With regards to the gallbladder and liver meridians, this happens to be between 11pm and 1am, and 1am and 3am respectively. Insomnia and restless sleep is a tell-tale sign of inefficient life force in the liver, meaning that one has overburdened the liver through leading an unhealthy lifestyle. Adequate sleep hormone levels of melatonin is important for proper estrogen metabolism, and estrogen dominance is also a factor in fertility health. (see Article on Liver-Colon Health and Estrogen Detox in the Resource section entitled Sexual Health, and Hormonal Health).

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A symptom of congestion or stagnant flow of life force along the stomach meridian, liver meridian or gallbladder meridian, due to toxic molecules building up from over-processed, nutrient deficient dietary habits over a long term period, is acne on the face along the cheek bones and temples ( pathway of the stomach meridian and gallbladder meridian), or acne in the chin area (relating to the stomach and liver meridian). hs 69


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In other words, facial acne may serve as a tell-tale sign of possible functional problems in the corresponding organs and tissues relating to reproductive health, which share the pathways of these meridians, shown in the following diagram:

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PATHWAYS OF THE LIVER MERIDIAN (second dark blue line starting on the big toe), STOMACH MERIDIAN (red line ending on the 2nd & 3rd toes), & GALLBLADDER MERIDIAN (yellow line ending on the 4th toe)


Low sex drive, sexual dysfunction, depression, often indications of low Chi in the liver may manifest in conjunction with skin problems. This may often go hand in hand with issues like PMS (premenstrual  syndrome), estrogen and progesterone imbalances associated with the gallbladder meridian pathway travelling through the ovaries. Other symptoms are PCO's (polycystic ovarian syndrome) associated with the stomach meridian also travelling through the ovaries. The deeper answer to acne would not merely be skin treatments, but an overall cleansing of toxins through better nutrition and stimulation of the body to self-correct such imbalances along these important meridians.


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Another interesting point to note is the liver’s role in regulating blood sugar levels. Since the brain does not store glucose, a steady supply from the liver is crucial to life, and this is why the ancient Chinese saw the liver as vital to conscious and unconscious thought and to creating a relaxed internal environment.  Anger, depression and emotional frustrations are associated with the liver. Balance in the liver and gallbladder meridian will produce a sense of well-being and composure. (Inge Dougans, Reflexology: the 5 elements and their 12 meridians-a unique approach,(2005), (p.156). A calm environment is important during pregnancy. Insulin resistance is often a problem when it comes to fertility health in that it often goes hand in hand with the condition of estrogen dominance and overall hormonal imbalance. (See articles under Sexual Health).

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Candida (yeast infection) is also a sign of chemical stress to the liver through poor lifestyle. This is a fungal yeast infection caused by Candida Albicans, which occurs naturally in the mucosal membranes of the mouth and vagina. However, it can grow to dominate the areas producing inflammation in the form of a surface rash on the skin. This often disturbs the pH balance in the vagina, creating a hostile environment for sperm. Together with the acidity in the vagina, yeast infection rapidly renders sperm cells to be immobile. Antibiotic drugs only exacerbate the problem, placing increased stress on the liver and the pathway of the liver meridian as described above. (Inge Dougans, Reflexology: the 5 elements and their 12 meridians-a unique approach,(2005), (p.105). The right strain of probiotics, certain natural supplements, and corrective dietary measures, like cutting out sugar, should address the yeast infection more effectively.   


Signs of Infertility along the Spleen/Pancreas Meridian

Having spoken a bit about blood sugar management relating to the liver, we lead now to the spleen/pancreas meridian. One can strongly suggest that any woman with irregular, heavy or painful menstrual cycles should read their symptoms through having a basic understanding of the meridian system and turn to solutions like reflexology or acupuncture, hand in hand with corrective lifestyle, rather than going onto synthetic hormones as is the conventional route. The message is that one probably has depleted levels of Chi along this electromagnetic pathway penetrating the uterus and fallopian tubes, related to disturbed blood sugar management in the lifestyle. 

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Here is a list of symptoms of spleen/pancreas congestion: blood sugar conditions (diabetes, insulinaemia, hypoglycaemia, and others), certain foot problems such as having a big toe that curves inwards indicating the start of a bunion, full blown bunions, cracked heels, dry and cracked lips, excessive thirst, infertility related to endometriosis/uterine fibroids/ heavy periods (that may lead to a hysterectomy as an easy solution), fallopian tube dysfunction, a strong need for stimulants like cigarrettes, caffeine from tea or coffee and or sweet cravings for carbohydrates (especially to curb emotional upsets), breast problems, like breast tenderness towards the armpits (lumps / cysts / sensitivity prior to menstruation or ovulation), low energy levels, thyroid problems, weight problems (being overweight or underweight), spastic colon, etc. See the Blood Sugar & pH Balance Health section in this website.  And also understand how one can be "over FAT" even if you don't appear "overWEIGHT"...

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 In all of this, one needs to look beyond the symptom and instead relate to the meridian congestion at play and take major action in terms of diet and lifestyle changes that will help to replenish energy flow to the cells and tissues concerned, noting that the pathway of the spleen/pancreas meridian flows through the uterus, and the partner meridian, the stomach meridian, flows through the ovaries. Blood sugar and pH balance issues in the body related to poor dietary habits and lifestyle choices can lead to the above mentioned symptoms as well as infertility. They should be understood as tell-tale signs of deeper blockages, and need to be responded to in preparing the body for pregnancy. ( Inge Dougans, Reflexology: the 5 elements and their 12 meridians-a unique approach,(2005), (p.100-103).

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Female Infertility Symptoms related to the Stomach Meridian
In essence, we are looking here at acid/alkaline imbalances. In other words the body is being continuously stressed bio-chemically through incorrect diet and lifestyle factors. See the Blood Sugar & pH Balance Health section in this website. There are various health concerns to do with fertility around pH Balance. Let’s take a look at cysts in the ovaries. Remember that the stomach meridian penetrates the stomach and lungs, also involving the kidneys. These are the organs that are primarily involved in pH balance control in the body. The stomach meridian also passes through the ovaries, thus in understanding any dysfunction of the ovaries, one must also look at what is happening with the pH balance and and how a woman's diet and lifestyle could be having a causal impact.

One can ask oneself the following questions: "What am I eating that is making me too acidic?" "What are the dietary and lifestyle habits I take for granted that could be aggravating my body in its attempt in alkalising itself?" : lots of cups of coffee or tea throughout the day, and or too much fruit juice, smoking, taking lots of medication, frequently consuming meat, eating certain grains like wheat as part of one's staple diet, consuming too many refined carbohydrates and not enough organically grown vegetables, taking in too much sugar (in all its varioius forms). etc. These substances constantly "rob" or "tax" the body's mineral reserves in the tissues. Stopping or at least minimising these habits as much as possible, and following a way of eating that is 75%  based on a wide variey of different coloured vegetables (more than fruit, unless it is picked from the tree when its potassium levels are adequate, in other words not picked green as is done today) will ensure that the body can self-correct and heal.


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Ovarian Cysts
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is when the egg matures in the ovary but it is not released into the Fallopian tube for fertilisation.


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This causes the ovaries to produce high levels of male hormones, particularly testosterone and is usually related to insulin resistance and estrogen dominance, which are in themselves inter-related conditions. The rise in testosterone is one of the major reasons why women develop acne along the jaw line of the face (see above), especially after going on to the contraceptive Pill. The Pill simply masks the real underlying causal problems.This is the prime environment for ensuring proper digestion and absorption of minerals and other nutrients, thereby creating an overall alkaline fluid in the tissues and cells of the body. When there is a high glycemic diet, and not enough alkalising potassium-rich fods such as organically grown vegetables, intake as in lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, this delicate pH balance becomes disturbed in the system. This in turn causes havoc in the tissues, and the various organs do not function as they should –as in the case of the ovaries.


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Rather read the symptom correctly and address the deeper problem of acidity from poor nutrition. This is because in essence, poor nutrition leads to a compromised cellular fluid environment. The latter most often happens when the stomach pH is too alkaline. It should be at an adequate pH level of 1.8 to 2, which is highly acidic.


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Think of a blue swimming pool that has turned green due to a loss of control over the pH balance. The right chemical treatment will enable this to be corrected. In terms of the body, the tissue fluid is influenced by the diet, medications, fluid intake, oxygen levels, etc. Cells and tissues thrive in an alkaline environment. Symptoms such as ovarian cycsts point to problems with the pH balance, and if this is not seen to they will merely re-occur creating a long-term battle to fall pregnant due to ongoing hormonal imbalances and organ dysfunction.  (Inge Dougans, Reflexology: the 5 elements and their 12 meridians-a unique approach,(2005), (p.103-107)


Are you starting to understand the inter-connections? We can NOT just treat the hormones, or isolate an organ system. Treating infertility should be more about following a holistic approach. Before going directly first (or flat out) for the drug route in fertility treatment, here is something maybe worth considering as a general concern in conventional medicine (whether or not one is totally for or against the latter):

“We like to imagine that medicine is based on evidence, and the results of fair tests. In reality, those tests are often profoundly flawed. We like to imagine that doctors are familiar with the research literature, when in reality, those tests are hidden from them by the drug companies. We like to imagine that doctors are well-educated, when in reality much of their education is funded by industry. We like to imagine that regulators only let effective drugs into the market, when in reality they approve hopeless drugs, with data on side effects casually withheld from doctors and patients...in medicine, doctors and patients use abstract data to make decisions in the very real world of flesh and blood.” 

(Dr Ben Goldacre, Bad Pharma (How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients),(2012), (Introduction, p.ix)

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