When I think about the different “fertility types,” my mind immediately jumps to the various personalities in our community and the ways in which they navigate their infertility diagnosis. 

There is the researcher, the person who Googles endlessly in an attempt to remain one step ahead of their medical care team. There is the open book, the person that tells anyone and everyone about their struggle to conceive. There is the silent sufferer, the person that tells no one except, maybe, their therapist. And there is the eternal optimist, the person that refuses to give up hope or see the glass half empty no matter how much the odds might be stacked against them. 

This list is in no way exhaustive. Rather, it is to assure you that whatever your fertility “type” is, there is no right or wrong way to deal with infertility. It’s all hard, and we’re all getting through it the best we can. 

There is another kind of fertility “type,” though, and these ones extend from the complex world of East Asian Medicine. After decades of working with fertility patients and identifying key patterns, Dr. Jill Blakeway, founder of The Yinova Center, constructed The Five Fertility Types to help her patients understand the root causes of infertility and offer more tailored guidance. In her book, Making Babies, Jill offers insight into each type: The Dry Type, The Pale Type, The Stuck Type, The Tired Type, and the Waterlogged Type. 

How does it work? 

East Asian Medicine works to increase blood flow to the ovaries and the uterus to support a healthy ovarian follicle and uterine lining. East Asian herbs can be used alone or as a complement to acupuncture treatment to support hormonal balance, nourish the ovarian follicle, clear inflammation, boost pelvic circulation, promote healthy cervical mucus and address complex fertility disorders.

The Yinova Center is known for their expertise in enhancing fertility. With clinics in NY and virtual services for people nationwide, they use East Asian medicine to treat a wide range of fertility-related problems such as PCOS, endometriosis, luteal phase defect, irregular cycles, and amenorrhea. They also support thousands of people a year as they go through IVF and other assisted reproductive techniques. 

The Fertility Types 

Learning more about your fertility type allows you the space to focus on the advice most relevant to you and your situation. By identifying and understanding the subtle signs your body is providing, you can focus on your body’s needs as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The Dry Type

From a Chinese medicine perspective, we refer to this type as kidney “yin” deficiency. Yin describes the functions of the body that are cooling, nourishing, and dampening; without enough yin, the body gets hotter and dries out. This is reflected in low estrogen levels, thinner uterine lining, and less cervical fluid. It can also cause premature ejaculation, low semen volumes, and frequent erections. Yin naturally depletes with age, but some people use up their yin faster either through lack of sleep, poor diet, or exercising in intense bursts.

The Pale Type 

People who are Pale Types frequently have pale complexions. They are often malnourished, either because they don’t eat enough healthy food or because their digestive system cannot extract nutrients from their food. For some, it is caused by heavy periods that result in too much blood loss. Lack of nourishment can cause amenorrhea, long cycles, short or light periods, or a thin uterine lining. It is common for Pale Types to suffer from anemia, fatigue, hair loss, blurry vision, or difficulty getting to sleep.

The Stuck Type 

People who are Stuck Types often feel stressed. They can be a bit like a pressure cooker in that energy builds up and can be released unexpectedly, resulting in symptoms such as headaches, irritability, angry outbursts, or flank pain. People with a “nervous” digestive system are often the Stuck Type. It often causes estrogen dominance in relation to progesterone, leading to PMS, fibrocystic breasts, and painful clotted menses. Over time this can result in anovulation, irregular cycles, periods that stop and start, or even endometriosis, uterine fibroids and polyps, or functional ovarian cysts. It can also create muscular tension, which often causes inflammation.

The Tired Type 

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Tired Types run cold and are often metabolically sluggish. They feel sleepy, are often groggy in the morning, and feel cold at night. It’s common for Tired Types to experience weight gain, achy muscles, frequent urination, and sensitivity to sugar. Some people with a diagnosis of hypothyroid are also the Tired Type. In women, this Type can experience heavy periods, insulin resistance, and low progesterone levels, all of which can affect fertility. In men, this Type can experience weak erections, low sperm counts, or poor sperm motility.

The Waterlogged Type 

Many people with PCOS are the Waterlogged Type, though it can affect other people too. The main symptoms in women are irregular or no periods, ovarian cysts (particularly those that look like a string of pearls on a sonogram), and insulin resistance. Waterlogged Types often lack the energy to process fluids leading to swelling, mucus, and poor hormonal transitions. This can lead to excessive vaginal discharge and elevated androgens, which in turn cause abnormal hair growth or skin breakouts. This Type can experience a greasy tongue coat, sinus problems, weight gain, loose stools, painful joints, or aching limbs.

I recently took Yinova’s fertility type quiz and found out that I am the Tired Type: “Tired Types are a bit like flat tires. Deflation is not a permanent condition, but they just can’t be their usual selves as long as they are out of air.” Along with my results, they also provided me with tailored advice to help bring my body back into balance, including which herbs and supplements to add to my routine, as well as what kinds of foods to consume. 

The Yinova Center is dedicated to putting integrative care within your reach, giving you the ability to take your health in hand. They do this by combining all the tools that Chinese medicine offers us — from acupuncture to gua sha, Chinese herbal formulas to nutritional advice, cupping to dietary guidance – as each of these modalities can play an important role in healing and supporting fertility. 

To find out your fertility type, take the quiz here.

Kristyn Hodgdon is the Co-Founder and Chief Community Officer at Rescripted.