When to Get Pregnant According to Oriental Medicine

When to get pregnant so that the human conception is more likely? The first chapter of a classical medical text from Han dynasty provides a fertility timeline.

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When to get pregnant according to oriental holistic medicine

The classical text I’m referring to is called Basic Questions, which is considered to be the fundamental source for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) since Han dynasty (3rd century BCE – 3rd century CE)

It covers the theoretical foundation and diagnostic methods and is also a major book of Daoist theory and lifestyle.

Eastern philosophy of Yin Yang and Five Phases principles are underlying structures we need to comprehend in order to properly analyze this text

Essentially, it’s the belief that human beings are microcosm of the cosmos and that the external changes directly reflect our internal condition.

The book explores the reasons for diseases, which mostly come from environment, emotions, diet, and age.

The very first chapter of this book asks the question: Why do we become less fertile as we get older?

Translation of the text:

 Female of seven years
 腎氣盛; 齒更髮長
 Kidney energy flourishes; teeth erupt and hair grows 

Energy from the kidneys is considered to be the primal source for the body.

It is primarily responsible for growth and reproductive development. Kidney’s energy governs bones, teeth, marrow, and hair.

By the second seven (age 14),

 The heavenly fluid (= menses) arrives

 Conception vessel is open for passage (of energy) 

 Great Penetration vessel flourishes

 Moon’s work cyclically produces below 

 Thus a child can be conceived.  
  • Heavenly fluid (天癸), when used for the females, indicate menses. However, both male and female possess heavenly fluid. It’s best to interpret this term as a reproductive secretions that allow conception to take place.

Here we get into the fundamentals of energy medicine. The Conception and Penetration vessels are pathways through which energy flows. But they’re seen to be extraordinary.

*NOTE: “vessel,” “channel,” “meridian,” and “ducts,” are some of the terms used to describe the pathways. They are all synonymous; I just prefer to use “vessel!”

when to get pregnant - ren mai
The flow of Conception vessel
when to get pregnant - chong mai
The flow of Penetration vessel. It flows very close to the Conception vessel on the abdomen and face!

You see, the ordinary energy vessels correspond to organs and exist as real entities that can be dissected out in the fascia, but the extraordinary vessels serve as a structure on which ordinary vessels are formed.

If the channels are like roads that enable movement for cars, the extraordinary channels are like the gravel or tarmac used to make the roads.

As you can tell by the name, the conception vessel influences pregnancy. So according to this text, conception vessel begins to pass through energy once menstruation starts. 

Now what about penetration vessel? It is thought of as a sea of blood.

Despite what reaction you may have towards blood, blood is a vital substance from which everything else in our body receive nourishment.

And NO, this is not literally a blood vessel, but an energetic channel that is related to blood.

So this vessel is absolutely critical to our growth and development, especially around puberty. Hence menarche, or first menstruation, is seen as the flourishing of the penetration vessel.   

三七, 腎氣平均 
By the third seven (age 21), kidney energy is in balance

 Hence true molars (= wisdom teeth) erupt 

 Growth is at its ultimate

 四七, 筋骨堅 
 By the fourth seven (age 28), tendons and bones are firm

 Hair length is at its maximum and body is vigorous 

 五七, 陽明脉衰 
 By the fifth seven (age 35), 陽明 (Bright Yang) vessels weaken

 Face begins to be scorched (dried up) and hair begins to fall out 

Now what are Bright Yang vessels? 

These are categories related to the ordinary vessels.

As we learned earlier, ordinary vessels are linked to organs in our body. There are 12 ordinary vessels, and they are divided evenly into Yin (organ) and Yang (bowel).

and each Yin and Yang type is divided again into three subtypes.

For the purpose of this post we’ll just go over the Yang subtypes.

Supreme Yang: small intestine & urinary bladder
Bright Yang : stomach & large intestine
Lesser Yang: triple metabolizer & gall bladder

Fun fact: ALL of these Yang vessels either start or end on the face! It makes sense that these vessels are “Yang” in nature (rising, top, upper).

Stomach vessel originates from the face and descends down towards the genitals, so it’s the reverse direction of the conception vessel. From the pubic area, the channel flows to the thighs and all the way down to the toes, covering the entire front body.

when to get pregnant - stomach vessel
Stomach and Penetration vessel overlap on the abdomen

Large intestine vessel begins in the index finger and travels up the arm and shoulder, then crosses over to the neck and ends right beside the nose where stomach vessel begins.

when to get pregnant - large intestine

Because bright Yang vessels converge at the face, we find that dehydrated facial complexion is one of the first changes to be seen as a result of their energetic decline. 

 六七, 三陽脉衰於上 
 By the sixth seven (age 42), three Yang vessels weaken abo

 The entire face is scorched and hair begins to whiten 

 七七, 任脉虛
 By the seventh seven (age 49), Conception vessel is deficient 

 Great Penetration vessel diminishes

 Heavenly fluid is depleted and does not pass through (the uterus)

 Hence form collapses and child is not conceived. 

Conclusion: When to get pregnant?

Being in tune with our current body development phase helps us to plan better for pregnancy.

If I were a 15 year old girl, I wouldn’t try to get pregnant immediately because my kidney energy is working in overdrive (puberty, anyone?).

In fact, pregnancy during early teenage years can lead to babies being born prematurely or with defects. I’ve already written about the importance of full-term pregnancy, so I would wait for my body to fully mature and the energy to be balanced.

In the same vein, I would not try to get pregnant in my 40’s. It would be more taxing for my body compared to a 25-year-old female body. My body would be less apt to energetically support the baby for 40 weeks.

Once we enter into the decline phase of fertility, it is crucial to conserve the energy and find ways to maintain its vitality.

The gradual weakening of our physical bodies is natural, but does that mean the process have to be painful or debilitating?

Fortunately, we live in a time when conscious changes to our lifestyle to eat healthier, sleep better, and relax more can significantly prolong our physical appearance, fertility, and reproductive health.

We’re in this together!

Thank you for reading,


eternal student of life

P.S. I would appreciate any constructive feedback on this content, as well as suggestions for improving this blog 🙂

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