How can Chinese Medicine help me have a baby?
Chinese Medicine uses a rich metaphorical language to describe how our bodies function. This language is able to take into account various physical symptoms and states of mind that may point to what is getting in the way of having a healthy pregnancy. Once we make a diagnosis, we then offer acupuncture, herbal medicine, dietary suggestions and various exercises that will help nourish the reproductive system, remove blockages and balance hormones. For example, if a woman is having trouble conceiving due to endometriosis, we not only treat the endometriosis, but we also treat the cause of the endometriosis as defined by our individualized diagnosis. In this way, our goal is not only to help you have a child, but to bring your overall health into better balance.
Who does it work for?
The beauty of Chinese Medicine is that it treats the person, not the disease. Because of this, it can be helpful to anyone. Whether you are just beginning to think about starting a family or have already begun assisted reproductive technologies, Chinese Medicine may be able to strengthen your reproductive health and manage the emotional stress of trying to conceive.
What are my chances of success?
Infertility is a difficult disease. Whether you are using Western or Chinese medicine, there are no guarantees of success, and your chances of having a child decrease with age. Often there are very real physical and emotional factors contributing to a couple’s difficulty conceiving. That said, our patients report an overall increased sense of well-being, more regulated menstrual cycles, less anxiety and fewer side effects to fertility treatments. Your practitioner can discuss your personal strengths, challenges and expected course of treatment at your first visit.
What will happen when I come in?
During your first appointment, your practitioner will ask you questions about all aspects of your medical history and current health. She will then feel your pulse and ask to see your tongue. Based on all of this information, she will begin to construct a Chinese Medical diagnosis that may explain what may be causing your fertility challenges, as well as link together many of your seemingly unrelated symptoms.
Based on this diagnosis, your practitioner will then give you suggestions about diet and exercise, and will probably recommend a series of acupuncture treatments. She will likely create a customized herbal formula for you that addresses your most pressing issues. This formula may change over time, and she may prescribe different formulas for different phases of your menstrual cycle.
How long will I have to continue treatment?
Of course, each individual case is different. If you have already begun IVF, you may only see us a few times. However, if you are trying to get pregnant on your own, we generally recommend that a woman plan to be in treatment 6-12 months. The first three months is often spent regulating the menstrual cycle, and during this time we usually will want to see you weekly.
Depending on your diagnosis (and your age), we may ask you to actively not try to conceive for these first few months. This time off allows us to use herbal medicines in order to move blockages (like endometriosis) and to restore healthy, fresh blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. It also gives the couple a respite period from the emotional stress of trying to predict ovulation and then waiting for that test result.
We may ask you to keep track of your basal body temperature from the beginning of your treatment with us. This helps us have a better understanding of your diagnosis, and also helps you understand how your particular menstrual cycle is performing. Often you will see positive changes over time, and these can be very encouraging. Once your cycle is relatively normal, we will encourage you to begin trying to conceive. During this time, we often only see you 2-3 times per month, with the timing dependent on your diagnosis.
How much will this cost?
Your first visit will be a private consultation and treatment and will cost $120. Follow-up visits are $70. However, it may be possible for you to be seen 1-2 times per month in our community clinic, where fees are based on a sliding scale. This is especially true for visits after ovulation and when your herbal therapy has been well-established.
Herbs tend to cost between $10 and $50 per month. Your practitioner may also recommend supplements such as prenatal vitamins, omega 3 oils, and others which can be purchased through us or elsewhere.
What if I’m using ART?
While we like to begin seeing you as early in your fertility journey as possible, there are times when women call us just before an embryo transfer. No matter where you are in this process we are happy to work with you as best we can. During the suppression phase, we simply try to regulate the qi (energy), nourish the reproductive system and calm stress as much as possible. Once the stimulating agents are begun, we use acupuncture and sometimes herbs to both enhance the response to the drugs by the ovaries and to mediate any side effects you may have. Finally, we like to treat both before and after the actual embryo transfer or insemination to strongly increase blood flow to the uterus and encourage fertilization and/or implantation.
After the celebration, we then closely monitor you for any signs that the pregnancy may be fragile. If you are using a reproductive clinic, they will often test your HcG levels frequently. If those levels are not rising as they should, we can offer treatments that may help stimulate the hormonal response. If you experience cramping or spotting, we will immediately apply treatment to address these symptoms and try to prevent miscarriage. Once the pregnancy is stable, we like to see you once each trimester, just to maintain overall balance and support a healthy and happy baby.
Can you treat the discomforts of pregnancy?
Absolutely. Acupuncture has been shown to be safe and effective for a myriad of pregnancy-related complaints including: morning sickness, fatigue, heartburn, back pain, breech presentation and delayed labor.