Acupuncture For Fertility
The demand for acupuncture continues to grow for couples who seek a natural solution to their fertility challenges. I am fortunate to have helped so many patients get pregnant over my 36 years in practice. Interestingly, over the past decade, the number of new patients coming to me seeking fertility assistance has noticeably increased.
Infertility is a common problem in our country. National surveys show over 2 million U.S. couples are infertile. The national average of infertile couples, as defined by couples who have tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant for at least one year, is 15% of the total number of couples trying to get pregnant. And for couples who have never been pregnant before, the prevalence of infertility is an astonishing 24%.
I treat my fertility patients with a whole person/whole family approach, relying heavily on acupuncture as the mainstay of the treatment plan. I integrate special acupuncture fertility points with my Five Element acupuncture treatments, to balance the underlying root cause of each individual’s fertility issues. Based on my clinical experience, I am convinced that customizing the treatment of each patient according to their unique original root cause is a key to my high degree of success with fertility.
I integrate lifestyle recommendations in my holistic treatment for infertile couples. The scientific literature reflects a number of potential lifestyle risks that have been associated with infertility. Lifestyle factors directly related to infertility include increasing age, an ectopic pregnancy history, current smoking, regular alcohol consumption, and obesity. Where habits relating to smoking, alcohol, weight and diet can be changed, I always encourage my couples to make healthier lifestyle choices that enhance their fertility success rate. I work with my patients to make dietary changes when there is an identified need.
Another unique aspect to my integrative approach to fertility treatment is my reliance on lab testing to identify potential fertility problems. At least one-third of the time the couple’s infertility is male-related, so I start with requesting a sperm analysis for the man. If there are no issues with the sperm analysis, nor any lifestyle issues with him, I generally don’t need to treat the man. However, if there are issues with the man’s sperm or lifestyle, I generally treat both people in the infertile couple. If his sperm analysis is abnormal, I use male hormone testing to identify underlying causes of the problem, and correct hormonal imbalances with plant-based natural bio-identical hormone therapy. I add acupuncture and herbal medicine to enhance his fertility.
For my female patients, I use saliva lab testing to measure the key hormones for fertility. If there is an imbalance in a woman’s hormones, it can cause her fertility to be significantly impaired. I have found that blood testing for female hormones, while the standard of conventional medicine, is not accurate for a variety of reasons.
Saliva testing for free-fraction (unbound) female hormones is the most accurate method of lab testing, because (unlike the blood) there are no hormone-binding molecules in saliva. The “free” hormone is what activates a hormone receptor, so getting an accurate free hormone test is important. My expanded female hormone panel analyzes these free hormones for 11 convenient at-home saliva collections throughout the menstrual cycle – one collection every two or three days. In this way, the lab results build an accurate hormonal picture through 11 “snapshots” of free estrogen, free progesterone, and other key free hormones, to discover where in her cycle there is an imbalance. Each saliva sample is frozen at home after collection, and after the cycle is complete, my patient ships all 11 frozen samples to the lab for analysis. In many cases, my lab testing uncovers the key hormonal imbalance that has gone undiagnosed by their conventional medical doctors who rely only on blood testing.
For women with abnormal hormone lab results, I use plant-based natural bio-identical hormone therapy to correct imbalances, targeted to the time of the menstrual cycle when the need for balancing has been discovered. It is common to find abnormal labs in my infertile female patients. My targeted natural hormone supplementation enhances my patient’s hormonal health and her chance of getting pregnant naturally.
For women who have normal hormone test results, I don’t need to use natural hormone therapy. Instead, I add Chinese herbal medicine to my holistic acupuncture treatment for infertility. Like with the Five Element acupuncture, I customize the herbal treatment as a patient-centered approach, for optimal results.
My approach for successful treatment of infertility is to integrate the science of state-of-the-art hormone lab testing with the holistic practice of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and common-sense lifestyle changes for both partners in the couple. I also welcome patients going through reproductive endocrinology treatments such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other treatments such as IUI. In these cases, I generally only treat the woman in the couple, and use only acupuncture.
There is clear evidence that acupuncture-assisted IVF is more successful than IVF without acupuncture. Not only does adding acupuncture to IVF therapy reduce the average number of cycles needed to achieve pregnancy, and thus lower the woman’s repeated exposure to strong fertility drugs, but it also saves the couple a tremendous amount of money by not having to repeat expensive IVF cycles.
Helping couples have a baby is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of my job! Usually couples can achieve pregnancy within 6 months of fertility treatment with me. I especially feel gratified to be able to help my patients achieve their goals in a safe and natural way, using the best of holistic medicine. If you know someone who is trying unsuccessfully to have a baby, please refer them to your trusted source of holistic health care, the Acupuncture & Holistic Health Center in Jacksonville. Have them call me with any questions, or to make an appointment, at (904) 296-9545.