How to Keep Your Feet Warm for Optimum Fertility
It may seem like an old wives tale or something your grandmother would say “don’t forget to wear socks” or “keep your feet warm!”
And it seems even less believable that cold feet can affect your fertility. But here’s why.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), ‘Cold’ is one of the many causes of illnesses or diseases and a ‘Cold Womb’ or ‘Cold Uterus’ is one of the main reasons for infertility.
What happens to your fertility when you’re cold?
Cold in nature can constrict, coagulate and stop essential blood from circulating properly in the body. You will usually feel colder than most people, especially with your extremities (hands or feet).
Being ‘Cold’ can be contracted through external factors such as weather, elements, swimming in cold water, air-conditioning or through ingestion (eating raw, cold foods such as ice cream, smoothies, ice-cold drinks or a cold salad).
How does Traditional Chinese Medicine focus on improving fertility?
There are six meridians (channels) that conduct qi and blood throughout the body that either begin or end at your feet.
Two of the most essential meridians in fertility are the Kidney and Liver channels, as well as the Spleen.
The Kidney meridian and fertility
The Kidneys in TCM are considered the major organ for fertility. It is the source of our Essence (Jing), basically our genetic predisposition or what makes us who we are. It is also the source of Tian Gui (what makes a woman menstruate and a man produce sperm).
The Kidneys influence the quality and quantity of eggs and sperm we produce. The Kidney channel originates at the bottom of our feet (KI1) which is one of the reasons why Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists will usually advise you to wear socks or closed shoes even at home and during summer, especially if you have timber or tiled floors when trying to conceive (or as general health advice).
Another big one is swimming while on your menses (when you have your period). This is another way for Cold to penetrate into your uterus. This is because another influential meridian (the Conception Vessel) is open during the time of your menstruation so the Cold can easily enter and lodge itself in your uterus.
Eating cold foods can impair digestion. They slow digestion down and can lead to fewer nutrients being absorbed from our food, making less energy for us. So we feel tired and cold. This depletes our reserve of qi and Yang energies. Make sure you warm up your food where possible!
What is Yang energy?
Yang energy can be thought of as the fire that stokes movement and activity. Without the warming and dynamic nature of Yang:
- we lack the energy or force to expel the egg from the ovaries
- sperm motility may be impaired
- the fallopian tube may fail to grasp the egg for fertilisation
- there can be a failure at implantation; or
- failure for fertilisation to occur.
The Spleen and Liver meridians
The Spleen (which is responsible for transporting and transforming food to qi) channel begins at the big toe.
The Liver is the organ that stores blood and promotes the smooth flow of qi and begins at the big toe as well. The Liver meridian wraps around the genitals, while the Spleen meridian goes through the lower abdomen.
How body temperature can affect fertility
In fertility, being Cold can result in low body temperature during ovulation equating to low progesterone which is known as our ‘warming’ hormone.
Progesterone maintains the uterine lining during the second half of the menstrual cycle and its thickening is what prepares the body for pregnancy.
Being Cold can also result in other defects in the luteal phase such as a short luteal phase. A short luteal phase lasts less than 10 days after ovulation (usually this is between 11-17 days). A short luteal phase means that the uterine lining does not grow or thicken enough. This can cause fertility problems such as implantation.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, fertility is at its optimum with a ‘Warm Uterus’ which means a good supply of blood and a thickened endometrium. An embryo requires a warm, lush environment to thrive. It will not thrive in a cold, stagnant environment with an insufficient flow of blood and nourishment.
Signs of a ‘Cold Uterus’
To summarise, some signs of a ‘Cold Uterus’ include:
- low progesterone levels
- low Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
- short luteal phase
- irregular periods, especially if accompanied by very painful cramps and/or blood clots.
Other signs of being ‘Cold’ or having a Kidney Yang Deficiency in Traditional Chinese Medicine are:
- low energy
- feeling lethargic
- low libido
- low back ache (sometimes accompanied by knee aches which worsen in cold weather)
- low thyroid function
- frequent urination, especially at night.
Your pulse may also be tight and the tongue may appear pale and swollen upon inspection.
So if you are trying to get pregnant, make sure to keep your toes and feet warm and toasty in socks, closed-in shoes and warm foot soaks. Even in bed and during summer!
Are you struggling to get pregnant?
Book in here with a Shift naturopath.
Are you struggling to get pregnant and want to see a Shift naturopath to increase your fertility? We offer a range of comprehensive natural fertility services – for both women and men – that includes acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
To book an initial Fertility Discovery & Diagnosis Session with our team head here. During this 120-minute session, we will give you insights about where your fertility is at right now and what needs to change for you to achieve your dream of having a baby. We will give you dietary recommendations based on your specific needs, a prescription with natural medicine recommendations to support your fertility and general health and a plan with options to move forward.
To book your initial Fertility Appointment, head here.
GO DEEPER: Want to listen to our podcast episode of The Shift on ‘Infertility and the survival of our species’ with Katherine Maslen and world-renowned women’s health experts? Head here to listen.
- Maciocia, G. (2015). The foundations of Chinese medicine (3rd ed). Elsevier.
- Maciocia, G. (2011). Obstetrics and gynecology (2nd ed). Churchill Livingstone.
- Lyttleton, J. (2013). Treatment of infertility with Chinese medicine (2nd ed). Churchill Livingstone.