TCM and the Female Reproductive System

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) anatomy, the female reproductive system consists of the uterus, cervix, birth canal, vaginal orifice and the surrounding meridians. The uterus, also called the "child's palace," lies in the lower abdomen, in the center of pelvic cavity, behind the urinary bladder and in front of the rectum. Its lower opening connects with the birth canal. The primary function of the uterus is to produce menses and to cultivate the fetus.

Producing menses:

Menstruation is formed in the uterus. When a woman reaches puberty, her uterus matures and her kidney essence is enriched to a certain extent. The kidneys then will produce a type of substance for promoting sexual functions, which is called tian-gui.

Under the action of this substance, the Conception Vessel and Thoroughfare Vessel are exuberant and flushed with abundant qi and blood. The excessive qi and blood will empty into the uterus and produce regular menses. In old age, the kidney essence is exhausted and tian-gui declines.

The Conception Vessel and Thoroughfare Vessel gradually close and become obstructed. A woman then begins to have menstrual irregularities until menopause occurs.

Cultivating the fetus:

Once a woman's uterus is fully developed, and her menses are regular. She has the ability to become pregnant and give birth. When an egg from her ovary is fertilized with a sperm, pregnancy will result. From a TCM understanding, this process involves the combination of congenital essences from both sexes, which are transmitted into the embryo in the uterus. Thereafter, the uterus supplies the nutrients for the growth and development of the fetus until childbirth.

Additionally, physiological functions of the uterus are associated with the heart, liver, spleen and kidneys as well as the Conception and Thoroughfare Vessels. This is because producing menses and cultivating a fetus rely on the nourishment of blood and promotion of the kidney essence. These nourishing substances are regulated and supplied by the following TCM concepts:

  • The heart rules the blood.

  • The liver stores the blood.

  • The spleen governs the blood.

  • The kidneys store essence.

  • The Conception and Thoroughfare Vessels control qi and blood in the uterus.

Therefore, only when the organs and meridians function well can the uterus work normally. Pathologically, disorders in the above organs and meridians will affect the uterus resulting in menstrual disorders and possibly sterility. In the treatment of women disorders, TCM often focuses on nourishing these organs, and tends to particularly replenish blood.

Eca Brady is a fully licensed physician of Chinese Medicine BSc(Ac) MBAcC PGDip(CHM), practicing Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs from Harley Street, London. Make an appointment for an acupuncture or Herbs treatment and we can discuss how we can help you, to read more about Eca click here.

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