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inflammation and fertility

Inflammation and Fertility : 

The Impact of Inflammation on Fertility

Inflammation is a a common biological response to injury or infection and plays a crucial role in maintaining health. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can negatively impact health especially fertility if you are trying to conceive, by impairing overall health.

The health and fertility community is increasingly acknowledging, the correlation between inflammation and infertility as a critical factor.

Taking action against inflammation is thus crucial for improving reproductive outcomes. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers several approaches to this issue, including acupuncture, herbal treatments, and nutritional interventions​.

How Inflammation Affects Pregnancy

A study by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has highlighted that oxidative stress (which can lead to chronic inflammation), affects around 15% of couples experiencing unexplained infertility.  Additionally, other studies have shown that inflammation could affect uterus, cervix, as well as  placenta, in turn affecting fertility.

Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine, inflammation is viewed as an imbalance in the body, identified by the presence of excess Heat, Damp-Heat, or Dampness within the body particularly in the reproductive organs when addressing fertility issues. This can lead to an obstruction in the flow of Qi and Blood causing stagnation and blockages that can impair ovarian function, disrupt menstrual cycles, and hinder implantation all of which are essential for fertility. Inflammation and infertility can be noted in a number of ways:

1

Recurrent Miscarriage

Chronic inflammation is also linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. Based on research conducted by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, women with elevated inflammatory markers have a higher risk of miscarriage. This is true even with a healthy embryo

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this is often explained through the concepts of Excessive Heat or Damp-Heat, in other words inflammatory processes. This inflammation has the ability to disturb the uterine environment. Additionally, Excessive Heat dries up the fluids that are essential for a healthy uterine environment, while Damp-Heat creates a thick, sticky environment, complicating implantation and development.

Related: Recurrent Miscarriage Treatment

2

Hormonal imbalance & Ovulation

Ongoing chronic inflammation can also negatively impact the hormonal balance essential for conception. This imbalance can affect ovulation, which is essential for fertility and prevent a fertilised egg from properly implanting in the uterus. Increased risk of ovulation disorders were noted when inflammation and oxidative stress were present.

Inflammation can obstruct the normal flow of Qi and blood in the reproductive organs. This stagnation of Qi and blood can affect the maturation and release of the ovum during the ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle. Additionally, inflammation may deplete the kidney yin essence, which is believed to be crucial for nourishing and supporting the ovaries’ function.

A study published in Human Reproduction Update on Oxford Academic concluded that chronic inflammation affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis, leading to hormonal imbalances that negatively affect ovulation and menstrual cycles.

Recommended Supplement: Ovulation Maintenance

3

Cold Uterus

In traditional Chinese medicine, inflammation can cause a condition known as “cold uterus” or “cold womb.” A Cold Uterus hinders the development of a healthy foetus, further complicating fertility efforts. Practitioners often use the term Cold Uterus to describe this condition, believing that the uterine environment is unsuitable for nurturing an embryo.

This condition is believed to occur when an excess dampness and cold accumulates in the uterus, causing poor blood circulation and stagnation of free flowing Qi. The root cause of this type of inflammation is often witnessed by irregular menstrual cycles, childbirth complications, excessive consumption of cold or raw foods, and emotional stress.

Related: How To Keep Uterus Warm For Implantation With Chinese Medicine

Recommended supplement: Nuan Gong Yun Zi Tang

4

Poor Egg and Sperm Quality

Studies have shown that inflammatory reactions can have a negative impact on sperm quality. Inflammatory conditions lead to oxidative stress and DNA fragmentation in sperm, reducing their motility and viability. This poor sperm quality can impair fertilisation and overall reproductive outcomes, illustrating the significant link between inflammation and fertility. Similarly, more and more evidence is emerging that inflammation can negatively impact egg quality in women.

Inflammation can lead to an accumulation of heat, dampness, or stagnation in the reproductive organs. This imbalance can affect the nourishment and development of eggs and sperm, especially their quality and viability. Additionally, deficiencies in Kidney Yin and Yang are linked to poor egg and sperm quality. Factors like emotional stress, poor diet, and environmental toxins are thought to contribute to this inflammatory state.

Recommended supplement: Ferti Support His & Her 

Related : Low Ovarian Reserve? Improve AMH & FSH With Chinese Medicine

5

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress play a big part in the cause of PCOS according to a study. Other Studies have also shown that Women with PCOS have higher levels of inflammatory markers like CRP, which can contributes to ovarian cysts and imbalances in sex hormones affecting fertility.

In TCM, inflammation is considered a key contributing factor in the development of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This inflammatory state causes hormonal imbalances, irregular menstrual cycles, and the formation of cysts in the ovaries, resulting in hormonal imbalances which can further affect ovulation, egg quality, and the overall fertility potential.

6

Endometriosis

Inflammation is an important cause of infertility in endometriosis. Studies have shown that it can reduces the progesterone level, and disrupts the function of the endometrium. The hormonal imbalance plays a role as inflammation increases causing excess estrogen and affecting fertility.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), endometriosis is linked to Qi stagnation and blood stasis, which are believed to block the flow of energy and blood, causing pain and reproductive issues.

In the end, all the above issues lead to the fact that inflammation plays a major role in infertility.

inflammation and fertility

When Should you see a doctor ?

Inflammation is a common biological response to injury or infection and plays a crucial role in maintaining health.

However, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can negatively impact overall health, including fertility.  If you have any of the condition or symptoms mentioned above or have noticed any abnormal changes to your body, consult with GinSen’s Specialist for best advice.

How to Reduce Inflammation When Trying to Conceive

Acupuncture
  • Acupuncture for inflammation and fertility

It has been shown that acupuncture, a key component of TCM, reduces inflammation and improves fertility.

A study by Paulus et al. demonstrated that acupuncture increased pregnancy rates by enhancing blood flow to the uterus and reducing inflammatory cytokines. The study states that “Clinical pregnancies were documented in 42.5% in the acupuncture group, whereas pregnancy rate was only 26.3%.

It also showed that acupuncture can normalise reproductive hormone levels, decrease stress hormone levels, and improve the thickness of the endometrial lining, all of which contribute to increased chances of natural conception. By improving blood circulation and balancing the body’s energy, acupuncture helps create a more favourable environment for conception.

It is important to visit an acupuncturist who is experienced, certified and guide you through the process. Here at GinSen all our experts have 30 years of experience and certified by the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC).

Book Your First Session Today

Diet

Could an Anti-inflammatory Diet Improve Fertility?

Diet plays a crucial role in managing inflammation and improving fertility. Studies have shown that anti inflammatory diets can increase pregnancy rate, success rates of IVF as well as quality of sperm.

An anti-inflammatory diet, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fibre, can help reduce inflammation levels. In TCM, the focus is on balancing Yin and Yang through dietary choices. Incorporating warm foods, avoiding cold and raw foods, and incorporating anti-inflammatory herbs as prescribed by a TCM practitioner can promote a healthy reproductive system.

Studies such as the one conducted by the National Institutes of Health highlight the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet. Avoiding inflammatory foods such as refined sugars, trans fats, and processed meats is essential for maintaining hormonal balance and promoting reproductive health.

inflammation and fertility

Conclusion

It’s obvious that inflammation and fertility are intricately linked, with chronic low-grade inflammation posing significant challenges to conception and pregnancy outcomes.

By understanding the impact of inflammation on reproductive health, individuals can take proactive steps to manage inflammation through lifestyle changes, acupuncture, and dietary adjustments.

As research continues to unveil the connections between inflammation and infertility, integrating a Traditional Chinese Medicine approach offers a comprehensive strategy to enhance fertility and support healthy pregnancies.

What happens next after you decide to explore Chinese medicine ?

You might get to speak with our specialists for more information on conditions and medical history. The treatment include acupuncture, herbal remedies, and dietary changes are specific to your needs.

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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our clinics website: GinSen where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.

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