Infertility is defined as failure to become pregnant after one or more years of regular sexual activity conducted during the time of ovulation. Infertility afflicts over 6 million American couples, of which approximately 40% is attributed to male and 60% to female partners.
Many reasons contribute to female infertility, including but not limited to ovulatory failure, faulty or blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, polyps, pelvic adhesions, pelvic inflammatory diseases, chlamydia, hormonal imbalance, age, and psychological issues. Sometimes infertility is simply unexplained. There is often more than one cause that contributes to female infertility.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, treatment of female infertility must focus on regulation of the menses. Essential keys in becoming pregnant include a healthy menstrual cycle along with strong Kidney qi, an abundance of blood in the chong (thoroughfare) channel, and an unblocked ren (conception) channel.
The four principles of treatment for infertility are:
* Phase 1 - Menstrual Phase (the week of menstruation): In this phase, it is important to ensure proper shedding of the uterine lining to prepare an optimal surrounding for implantation. Qi and blood moving herbs are utilized to achieve this effect to clear and prevent any stagnation in the lower jiao.
* Phase 2 - Follicular Phase (the week following the last day of menstruation): During this phase, the key strategy is to tonify the Kidney yin, jing (essence), and blood, which are lost during the period. This stage is essential in fortifying the body to ensure healthy conception.
* Phase 3 - Ovulatory Phase (week of ovulation): The primary treatment plan during the ovulatory phase is to help the eggs mature and to promote ovulation. Kidney yang tonic herbs have the effect to enhance the surge of luteinizing hormone (LH), which then stimulates ovulation. Herbs should be taken during the week of ovulation.
* Phase 4 - Luteal Phase (the week before the onset of the menstruation): The focus during this phase is to regulate Liver qi and treat any possible premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and ensure proper flow of qi and blood in the Liver, chong (thoroughfare) and ren (conception) channels. When patients are more relaxed and at ease throughout the month, conception will more likely happen.
Blossom Phases 1-4 are designed to match the four phases of the average 28-day menstrual cycle. The goal of Blossom (Phase 1) is to clear up any blood stagnation in the uterus during menstruation and prepare an optimal environment for implantation to occur later. After menstruation, the uterine lining must rebuild itself to prepare for implantation. During this time it is important to tonify the Kidney yin and yang with Blossom (Phase 2) and Blossom (Phase 3), respectively. Then Blossom (Phase 4) may be used to regulate the smooth flow of qi and blood and prepare the uterus for the next cycle. However, not every woman’s cycle is exactly 28 days, and therefore the Blossom series should be utilized according to the relative phases of the patient.
Scenario 1: Regular menstrual cycles (28 days)
Broken into four phases of seven days each, patients should take Blossom Phases 1-4 accordingly if the menstrual cycle follows the 28-day cycle and ovulation is predictable.
* Day 1 to 7: Blossom (Phase 1)
* Day 8 to 14: Blossom (Phase 2)
* Day 15 to 21: Blossom (Phase 3)
* Day 22 to 28: Blossom (Phase 4)
Scenario 2: Regular menstrual cycles of variable length (25 to 35 days)
Some patients have cycles that come on a regular basis but do not follow the 28-day pattern. This type of patient should take the Blossom series as follows:
* Begin taking Blossom (Phase 1) on the first day of menstrual bleeding and stop when the period ends.
* Since the exact number of days of each phase is difficult to predict, simply divide the number of days from the last day of the menstrual period to the first day of the next menstrual period into three equal parts, and take Blossom Phases 2, 3, and 4 successively during those three phases. If the calculation of the next menstrual cycle is off by a few days, it is fine to continue onto the next cycle and begin taking Blossom (Phase 1) again. Since Chinese herbs are all natural and cause few to no side effects, it is not necessary to take the dosages of herbs as rigidly as artificial hormone pills, where timing is much more important.
Scenario 3: Irregular and unpredictable cycles
If the patient’s cycles are completely irregular and unpredictable, the underlying cause should be treated first before starting the Blossom series.
How To Use The Blossom Series
Note: Specific information regarding each of the four Blossom formulas is listed in the following sections.
When Blossom formulas are used to promote fertility, one course of treatment is three months. Efficacy can be seen ranging from one to three courses (three to nine months) of treatment. The couple should not try to conceive in the first three months of herbal treatment. Since there is only one brief window of opportunity to conceive each month, patients are advised to wait and give the herbs enough time to regulate the hormones, nourish the jing (essence), and bring the body into balance. Patients should be advised to not feel anxious, nervous, depressed, or worried as these are contributors to qi stagnation and may lessen the chances of becoming pregnant. Advise patients that proper pre-conception care by taking herbs will enable the body to be at optimal health, and is extremely important to ensure a healthy conception and course of pregnancy. Usually when the body is ready, a vacation should be suggested so that the patient is not in her normal environment and can relax and be more likely to become pregnant. When the time is right and the couple is trying to conceive, advise the patient to continue taking Blossom (Phase 1), and also to spread out the days of Blossom (Phase 2) and Blossom (Phase 3) until she finds out if she is pregnant or has her next period. Do not take Blossom (Phase 4) when the woman is trying to conceive.
Use of these four fertility formulas will strengthen the underlying condition, regulate menstruation, balance hormones, and significantly improve the probability of a successful pregnancy. These four formulas can be used for patients who suffer from habitual miscarriage, patients who simply experience infertility for unknown reasons, or support patients who opt for IVF treatment.
Note: Additional information, such as Supplementary Formulas, Nutrition, Lifestyle Instructions, and Clinical Notes, are listed after the text of Blossom Phase 1-4 provided in the Blossom Summary section.