Acupuncture & Fertility

 
 Photo by Ken Treloar

Photo by Ken Treloar

The process of trying to get pregnant is a lot of work, and can be frustrating and stressful for many couples. Fertility is very personal, yet the procedures involved can be complicated, confusing, and impersonal. It doesn't have to be that way! Whether you're trying naturally or with assisted reproductive Technology (ART), I work closely with you and your doctors to support you in every stage of the process.

For even the healthiest mothers, it often takes months to conceive. To best support natural conception or ART, you’ll want to start preparing your body 3-6 months before trying to get pregnant. In cases where you don’t have that time, even 1 month can significantly improve your chances of conception. I understand weekly treatments may not be affordable for everyone, which is why I’ve worked hard to incorporate herbal medicine into my practice to supplement treatments in order for my patients to get the best results possible. Prenatal vitamins, nutrition therapy, and regular acupuncture and herbs are all important parts of the process. TCM can help resolve issues that lead to infertility or habitual miscarriage, and even ectopic pregnancy.

 

Studies show that acupuncture can:

  • Support your body in each phase of your menstrual cycle

  •  Balance hormone levels and regulate your cycle

  • Improve lining of the endometrium

  • Increase blood flow to the uterus to support implantation

  • Improve ovarian function and ovulation in patients with PCOS and anovulatory cycles

  • Increase quality and quantity of follicles for retrieval

  • Improve results in each stage of the IVF cycle

  • Reduce stress and anxiety associated with infertility

  • Reduce side effects of fertility drugs (i.e. bloating, water retention, moodiness, headaches)

 

Ovulation is regulated by a feedback loop of hormones between your reproductive system and your brain. After menses, a deficit of hormones signals your body to rebuild, stimulating follicle growth (with FSH) as you prep for ovulation. Estrogen rises, signaling your uterine lining to build, and triggers the release of an egg. Progesterone peaks, but falls if the egg is unfertilized; the lining sheds as menstrual blood so the cycle can begin anew. If any of these hormones are too high or too low, conditions won’t be ripe for conception.

Maybe you’ve noticed how your cycle changes during high stress times. Cortisol, sometimes known as “the stress hormone,” runs high in your body during these times, and can negatively influence the hormones that control healthy follicle growth and ovulation. Sperm production, quality, and motility are also negatively affected by stress. In TCM, we reduce stress by “Regulating Qi,” which supports fertility in both partners and has a host of additional benefits.

Ovarian function, antral follicle count, and egg quality translates to something we call “Kidney Essence” in TCM. When your Kidney Essence is deficient, you want to nourish what you have. Treatments would focus on improving response to FSH and better quality of the actual eggs. Treatments and herbal medicine are like diet and exercise: best results are when you do them consistently.

 
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Some tips to get started

Women:

  • Track your cycle and get to know your body's fertile signs. I recommend using the fertility app Kindara. It’s free, easy to use, and I have a practitioner’s account to help you track your cycles.

  • Eat a diet high in folate

  • Take prenatal vitamins

Men:

  • Avoid tight fitting pants

  • Don't put your cellphones in your pants pockets

  • Avoid saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms

Men and Women:

  • Don't smoke (anything!) and avoid alcohol

  • Get 7-8 hours of good-quality sleep every night

  • Exercise regularly (women: train with your cycle!)

  • Eat wholesome foods free of pesticides

  • Stay hydrated, but avoid or limit caffeinated drinks to 1 serving per day

  • Avoid toxic fumes, harmful chemicals, and excess radiation

  • Find a healthy outlet for stress

  • Have sex

 

 

You're in good hands

In San Francisco, Prisca apprenticed with renowned women's health and fertility acupuncturist Dr. Lifang Liang, OMD, Ph.D., L.Ac., author of Acupuncture & IVF, whose skills and wisdom made her one of the top fertility acupuncturists in the world. Her power acupuncture treatments and herbal formulas have helped hundreds of couples start families.

 

Curious? Questions?
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