Infertility and Sphenoid

By Dennis Yang

Infertility is a complex condition with diverse causal variables and different medical perspectives on how these variables fit together in causing infertility. The Western medicine typically focuses on hormone glands as the most critical, or perhaps the only, variable, and aims to normalize the hormones that are out of normal range with hormone treatments. The Eastern medicine looks at the harmony of the internal organs as the most important variable, and tries to unblock the acupuncture channels to allow unobstructed energy flow to balance the harmony with acupuncture and herbs, as it does with any other diseases. While I have tremendous respect for these approaches, I would like to share the perspective that I have developed from years of doing actual hands-on clinical work. This perspective is of a mechanical perspective.

I have slowly realized over the years that a body part, any body part, becomes pathological when it loses the freedom of movement. It matters little whether the body part is an internal organ, a muscle, a bone, or even any of embryonic origin. When the movement of a body part becomes constrained, its function suffers. The variables that cause infertility are not any different. I am going to write a series of articles, covering the most critical variables I have observed from this mechanical perspective. In this first article, I am going to share my thoughts on the pituitary gland and its relationship to the sphenoid.

Let us briefly talk about what the pituitary gland is and why it is important to infertility first. The pituitary gland secrets hormones that control most other glands, such as thyroid gland, adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes, which regulate various body processes, including metabolism, growth, blood pressure, and the topic of this article, reproduction. That is why it is often called the “master gland.” Without the properly functioning master gland, the entire endocrine system will malfunction, and infertility can result.

The pituitary gland is located in the head. More specifically, it is housed in the bony structure called sella turcica, which is a median portion of sphenoid as illustrated in the picture below.

PA1.1(from http://pituitary.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=47)

Sphenoid is one of the 8 cranial bones of the skull. It is often debated whether or not the sutures between them allow movement. It is largely believed in the medical community of the United States and the United Kingdom that they do not. However, it is common knowledge in their counterpart in Italy and Israel that they most certainly do. I personally feel the cranial bones expand and contract several times a minute when I perform cranial therapy on my patients. In my humble opinion, those who believe that these bones are immobile simply have not developed sufficient palpatory sensitivity.

05_07Figure-L

These normally freely moving cranial sutures, however, do get stuck at times. When they do, rather subtle pathologies emerge, including not only those that are in the head, such as headache, deviated septum, and TMJ disorder, but also those that are not, such as spastic spinal fluid production and drainage, unbalanced hips, and the inability of the ankles to fully invert. When the effect of aberrant cranial movement reaches as far as ankles, it is not surprising that the pituitary gland, which is held by the sphenoid, would be greatly affected by it. Like any other body part, when the pituitary gland is subject to abnormal mechanical constraint, its function suffers, and along with it, the body’s ability to conceive and deliver a baby also suffers.

There are a few ways to test whether the sphenoid is properly positioned and freely moving. I perform multiple tests in my clinic. I will share two here. The first one is a palpatory test. Press along the eyebrow, especially in the middle and the medial end. If there is pain, the test is positive (abnormal). The second one is a muscle test. Raise one hand to shoulder level. Have someone apply downward pressure on the raised hand while you have both eyes open. This gives the baseline strength. Repeat the test with one eye closed, followed by the other eye closed. If the strength is noticeably weaker with either eye closed, then the test is positive (abnormal).

I do not use acupuncture to free the sphenoid as it does not produce satisfactory results. I use manual cranial therapy instead. I have devised my own way of freeing the cranial bones over the years. The most widely used craniosacral therapy taught by John Upledger emphasizes clearing the craniosacral rhythm with light pressure that is less than 5g. I have found that such light pressure is not strong enough to free the sutures. Instead, I apply enough force with traction, followed by induction. A series of audible “pop, pop, pop…” sounds is often heard as the sutures get released with this technique. After such release, not only does the freedom of the cranial bones return, but also the craniosacral rhythm regains its most optimum form on its own, not needing any separate attention. The release of the sphenoid is verified with the tests described above; they become negative (normal) immediately after the sphenoid is freed from its neighboring cranial bones.

Although the cranial suture release should ideally be performed by a seasoned cranial therapist, there is still a way that a patient can do this at home. The picture below shows the cranium when viewed from the bottom. A close look will reveal that the occiput and the sphenoid make contact near the center. While it is difficult for anyone to directly manipulate his own sphenoid, using the occiput as an indirect handle to the sphenoid via this contact, it is possible to re-center and release the sphenoid to a significant degree.

inferior_view_of_skull1349641344278

The model in the picture below is performing the home remedy I have devised to do exactly this. The sharply flexed neck creates tension in the upper trapezius. Because the trapezius is attached to external occipital protuberance of the occiput, this tension effectively does traction the occiput away from the parietal bones while doing something called “positional release” on the sphenoid. This positional release allows the sphenoid to go through an induction, freeing itself away from its neighboring bones. My wife and I do this for a few minutes while reading in bed at night.

CranialTechnique

Because the sphenoid is in contact with virtually all cranial bones, this simple technique not only frees the sphenoid, but also, to some degree, all the cranial bones. I corrected my deviated septum with this technique in one session, allowing me to breathe the way that I could not for over two decades. I will write about the profound effects I have seen from this technique at some point. For now, let’s just say it is a technique for freeing the sphenoid so that the pituitary gland can have its freedom of movement enabling proper functioning.

In the future articles, I will discuss the variables of scoliosis, ovaries, and uterus from mechanical perspective.

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