Why it’s so important to keep your feet warm for fertility

To a western person, the feet may seem to have little relevance to fertility. In fact, most of us don’t really pay much attention to our feet at all.

But to me, a Reflexologist and Traditional Chinese Acupuncturist, the feet hold the key to optimum fertility. Most of my patients will know that I am always pleading with them to keep their feet warm, especially in the second half of their menstrual cycle, known as the luteal phase or yang phase.

And this is because of their importance to the kidney channel which starts on the foot and travels up the inside of the ankle and calf.

TCM is focused on balancing the Yin (cool) and Yang (warm) of the organs of the body. The Kidney is the organ responsible for fertility, growth and development, so it is really important that the KD Yin and Yang is balanced.

In a high percentage of my female patients (if not all of them) who are struggling with fertility, one of the main issues is that of Kidney Yang Deficiency.

Signs of Kidney Yang Deficiency:

  • Low energy / lethargy
  • Low motivation and libido
  • Lower back ache, sometimes with knee ache which feels worse in cold weather
  • Lack of regular periods
  • Short luteal phase
  • Low Basal Body Temperature readings (sometimes lower than 36 degrees)
  • Low progesterone levels in blood tests
  • Pale swollen tongue

So what causes Kidney Yang Deficiency?

Women seem to be prone to KD Yang deficiency possibly because by nature, women are more Yin (cool) Men are more Yang (warm). You probably are aware of this already… men prefer to have the window open in the home, whereas the women are desperately trying to sneak the heating on 24/7!

External factors can also affect kidney yang, such as living/ working in a cold environment. FYI the North West of England definitely qualifies as a cold, damp environment. But also the food we eat can have an impact. Taking food straight out of the fridge and eating it cold isn’t great for kidney yang as is drinking cold, iced drinks. So many of my patients chose to have salads and sandwiches, even when it’s 4 degrees and pouring down outside.

To benefit Kidney Yang, a diet of warm, nourishing foods is ideal.

“This means eating foods which are nutrient or calorie-rich such as protein or carbohydrate and eating foods which have been cooked. It also means avoiding ice-cold drinks and foods like ice cream. Methods of cooking such as long slow baking or simmering will increase the Yang Qi in foods.

Cooking foods like fruits can reduce their cooling nature and addition of some spices like ginger, shallots, or cinnamon can increase Yang Qi in foods. Very hot spices like cayenne and chilli certainly add Heat to food and in moderation can be helpful in raising a sluggish metabolism.

When very pungent spices are eaten a lot (as they are in some very hot and tropical climates), they can have the opposite effect, i.e. become cooling, because they provoke sweating.

Stimulants like coffee are favoured by Yang-deficient people because the adrenaline (epinephrine) they provoke creates an impression of internal Heat and activity. However, it is false Yang, and eventually consumes reserves rather than stimulating them.”

We need the Yin and Yang of the Kidneys to be balanced as they provide the Yin and Yang for the rest of the organs of the body. They work together to maintain the “Ming Men Fire” , which is like the heating system of the body. If the KD Yang is insufficient, the fire cannot be maintained properly and the body shows signs of cold, which is detrimental to fertility.

So what’s this got to do with the feet?

If presented with a patient displaying signs of KD Yang Deficiency, an acupuncturist will chose points to needle which nourish the KD Yang, such as KD3 and KD7. These important Kidney points are located on the ankle.

KD1 is a really important point for fertility and is located on the sole of the foot. It is particularly unpleasant to needle as it is so sensitive, but quite often it will be warmed with moxa.

These three points are really important for fertility and keeping them warm will be very beneficial. So a good pair of warm socks, although not especially fashionable or sexy, is my Top Recommendation for something you can do yourself to improve your chances of a) getting pregnant and b) maintaining a pregnancy.

This is something that the IVF clinics have also been recommending recently too.

In Summary:

If you are trying to conceive either naturally or via IVF, please get yourself warm. Most women that I treat in my clinic are freezing cold. Cold hands, cold feet, cold nose. And they don’t even seem to realise as they are so used to it. I’m afraid this means big pants and a vest too!

Make sure that your feet are warm at all times, day and night. The Kidney channel originates from the sole of the foot and travels up the inside of the ankle and calf, continuing up to the pubic area close to the uterus and ovaries. So it has a huge impact on fertility, especially because the Kidney organ is responsible for fertility and conception.

Eat warm, nourishing foods. Think ‘old-fashioned’ cooking, soups, casseroles etc. and get rid of the caffeine, sugar and alcohol.

Regular acupuncture treatments can also help the body to nourish and support the kidneys, helping to restore balance and promote a good environment to create and sustain a pregnancy.