Infertility an issue for both sexes
Women might be the ones to carry babies to term, but issues relating to infertility cannot be chalked up solely to them.
Professor Sun Zhuo Jun, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) gynaecologist from China, who will be speaking on how TCM can play a role in infertility treatment at the Bao Zhong Tang TCM Master Physicians Forum, said men and women areequally responsible for issues leading to infertility.
Prof Sun, who has more than 30 years of clinical practice in gynaecology, told TNP via e-mail: "Men and women are each responsible for about 40 per cent of infertility cases, the remaining 20 per cent are unknown causes or immunological factors."
Although infertility is often talked about like a disease, it is more a symptom of conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis or menstrual disorders.
In men, the causes are usually the low quality of sperm due to deficiencies or abnormalities, erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
Prof Sun said in TCM, there are four elements necessary for successful pregnancies: Sufficient "qi" (or energy flow) in the kidneys; smooth regulation of the "chong" and "ren" meridians, or pathways; successful fertilisation of the sperm and egg; and optimal womb environment, which allows for successful implantation of the embryo.
To ensure these factors can be met, women should avoid vigorous exercise during menstruation, have a balanced and stable diet and keep stress levels down.
Men need to avoid smoking and drinking to better their sperm quality and eat food high in good protein such as lean meat, fish, prawn, egg and dairy.
Both should avoid spending long hours on computers or mobile devices too.
Infertility is usually separated into absolute and relative infertility.
Absolute infertility is caused by congenital deficiencies and are much more difficult or, in some cases, impossible to treat.
Those with relative infertility, however, can receive treatment to good effect.
Prof Sun said: "TCM is about administering a holistic approach to treatment as the body is an integrated whole.
"When we treat patients, we tailor our approach to each individual's constitution."
This differs from Western medication, which Prof Sun said focuses more on data from tests.
She urges couples who want to conceive, especially older couples, to seek customised care under TCM.
She said: "With age, qi in the kidney will start to wane and it will be harder to get pregnant.
"Couples can approach TCM physicians to check out their body's constitution and nourish their bodies accordingly."