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Acupuncture and Fertility


Fertility and Natural Medicine

The Yinova clinic blog posted an article about fertility and natural medicine which was featured in the  June 2011 Natural  Health Magazine. The article talks about how natural medicine, such as acupuncture, herbs, yoga, meditation, and other modalities help with fertility when other options might not.

The tips to make healthier choices for general health and to optimize fertility are great:

  • Get your protein from plants- Animal proteins requiere more insulin to process. Try beans, peas and nuts to mix it up.
  • Ban trans fats-avoid processed, packaged and fried foods. Stick to foods with the good fats- avocado, nuts and olive oil are great choices.
  • Drink more water-avoid soda and caffeine!
  • Beware of the sugar spike- avoid soda, white breads, and potatoes to reduce the overgrowth of yeasts in the body.

The article also suggests that patients take a general herbal tonic , but I feel that it's best to take specific herbal formula for individual needs. Chinese Medicine practitioners are trained to treat each patient as an individual, which means that each herb going into a formula is tailored specifically for that patient. There are several lines of Chinese herbs that come in a patent formula, and they are all according to body types.

Check out this article by Jill Blakeway, LAc to find out more on what your body type might be. After a Chinese Medicine diagnosis, practitioners can tell you which herbal formulas or diet changes might be the best for you.






Acupuncture and IVF

Acupuncture improves the results of couples undergoing IVF. One study that had a positive outcome is the 2002 German study. This study tested a group of women undergoing IVF with acupuncture versus a group without acupuncture. The results were very positive:

"Clinical pregnancies were documented in 34 of 80 patients (42.5%) in the acupuncture group, whereas pregnancy rate was only 26.3% (21 out of 80 patients) in the control group (those who did not receive acupuncture)."

The online magazine Conceive posted this article about using acupuncture for women with fertility concerns. The article quotes Dr. Randine Lewis, a well-known practitioner and author of "The Infertility Cure," and acupuncture offers three main points:

“The most important for older women–those over 35–is that there are acupuncture treatments that improve blood flow to the uterus that almost nothing else can do.” Secondly, explains Lewis, a little needling can help balance hormones by stimulating acupuncture points that moderate beta endorphins in the brain. Lastly, acupuncture reduces stress. “Basically,” says Lewis, “the body does not want you to get pregnant when you are under stress.”

I have treated several women undergoing IVF, and have found this to consistently be true. Having a lot of stress in your life makes it difficult to conceive, which is why I usually recommend weekly treatment for three months leading up to the embryo transfer, increasing the frequency of treatments just before the embryo transfer. While this seems like a lot of acupuncture, the stress reduction, increased blood flow, and overall improved health of the body makes a big difference in the outcome of IVF

If you are interested in the history of IVF, check out the RESOLVE video below of an interview with Dr. Howard Jones, the pioneer of IVF treatment.




Fertility in the Spring

It finally feels that spring has truly arrived in the Northwest. About time, if you ask me! "Spring fever" starts hitting people right around now, which means fertility planning (or even birth planning) is on our minds. There are several great sites that have a wealth of information about baby planning, and how to encourage your body to be in it's optimal state for conception to take place. Spring is definitely a time of new beginnings :)

- offers an amazing book about food and fertility. The entire book is available online, and it's a wonderful resource for learning how to shop, cook, and choose the right foods for your body.

-Acupuncturist Jennifer Dubowsky, of Acupuncture Blog Chicago, posted a great article with five different links to research studies that prove how well acupuncture works for fertility. Check it out to read more about acupuncture in successful in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments and lowered miscarriage rates.

- Dr. Randine Lewis, the author of The Infertility Cure, has information on her website The Fertile Soul about retreats and workshops offered. I have found her books incredibly useful in my own life and practice, and often refer patients to them.



Chinese Medicine in the Spring

Spring is back , and even though it's (still) raining here in the great Northwest, it's time to at least start acting like summer is on it's way! Spring cleaning season is a great time to clean out your closets, prepare for the potential summer abundance from our gardens by caring for the soil and planning gardens, and everything else that's been put off due to winter weather. Get outside and enjoy the vitamin D when the sun shines for a few minutes!

Here are some  posts from acupuncture blogs around the US with tips on a healthy spring, and just a little inspiration to get you motivated.

Lynn Jaffee, LAc of the Acupuncture Twin Cities Blog gives us ten easy ways to improve our health this spring, including eating more green vegetables, getting your eyes checked, and making time to stretch and exercise.

Lorne Brown of Acubalance wrote a great post with stories of hope for couples and women dealing with fertility. There are touching stories of people who are discovering the amazing effects of acupuncture. Even when the immediate results aren't what you expected- often patients will begin treatment for fertility, then suddenly their cramps disappear, energy and digestion improve, and they are sleeping better. The body needs to find a balance first, and these are all signs that the body is working towards balance of the mind and body.

Adam Kuby, the artist in residence for the Portland Acupuncture Project, continues with the project to heal the city of Portland by inserting needles throughout the city in the most needed places. Read about the history of the project and Mr. Kuby's vision here. More needles are sure to be popping up all over Bridgetown!



Fertility and Chemical Exposure

There is a lot of speculation around what a woman should or should not be exposed to while trying to get pregnant. For example, caffeine consumption, tuna fish, processed sugars, and refined flours are all to be avoided when trying to conceive, and only fresh, organic foods should be consumed (which is all true). However, did you know that your environment can also harbor several unknown hazards?

A recent article came out about a research study on fire retardant chemicals and their affect on the ability to conceive :

Researchers looked at data on 223 pregnant women participating in a study specifically studying chemical exposure and any effect on reproductive health. What they discovered was that women born outside the U.S. had lower levels of PBDEs (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers) in their blood than American-born women. And when the researchers looked at data on women trying to conceive a child, they found that women who tested with high levels of the flame retardant in their blood were 50% less likely to become pregnant in any given month than women with lower blood levels of the chemicals.

There is also a need to be aware of not only of which foods you consume, but the chemicals added to the foods during the packaging process. What you find may surprise you! This Times Online article discusses how chemicals used during food packaging are also linked to fertility problems:

A study of 1,240 women has found that those with higher levels of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in their bloodstreams tend to take longer to become pregnant than those with lower levels.

To avoid perflourinated chemicals, check out this article from the site Pollution in People. It has great tips on how to avoid these chemicals that are added to packaging in foods and other consumer products. Look for the words "fluoro” or ”perfluoro" and avoid anything with the word Teflon in the packaging.

Reading the packaging carefully, and trying to eat fresh foods made from ingredients that you either made yourself or cooked at home. Prepare your own meals and take care of your body by eating whole, fresh foods. Organic fruits and vegetables, and preparing homemade soups, stews, and sauces to have on hand is a great way to avoid frozen and prepackaged foods.

A few more articles to check out to improve your fertility and avoid toxic chemicals are: 5 top fats for fertility by Dr. Nishant Rao at, and on Natural Baby Pros, a great article from Lorne Brown- Natural Fertility: Boosting Fertility with Chinese Medicine.