Last year was an interesting year. As some of you know, early in the year I was hired by Pulling Down the Moon to work in their new Highland Park office. It was a wonderful opportunity to specialize and focus on the field of infertility. In the past, I had a more general practice and worked on everything from depression and anxiety to insomnia to pain, and had worked on women’s health in some cases, but not as a specific specialty.
My year got off to a slow and comfortable start and throughout the year have had the opportunity to work with amazing people who are trying to conceive naturally with the help of acupuncture, or who are going through ‘assisted reproductive technology’ and have been referred to our clinic by their Reproductive Endocrinologist.
I want to relay a few things that I’ve learned throughout last year. I’m sure there are more, but I want to keep this first post simple and will add more when I post in the future. Here are some lessons learned:
1. Acupuncture increases the odds of conception but still there are no guarantees. There is medical data that shows that women who use acupuncturist during ART or while trying to conceive naturally increase their chances of conceiving quite a bit. For instance, there is a medical study that was done in Germany called the Paulus study that shows that the group going through ART who also received acupuncture 25 minutes before and after IVF had a rate of conception increase to 42.5% where the non-acupuncture group had a 26.3% rate. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11937123
2. There is some misinformation about acupuncture, and sometimes the medical community encourages their patients to seek holistic options and other times they discourage it. We work with several doctors who are well informed of the benefits of acupuncture, but there are a rare few (and even fewer still as more information is published in medical journals) who discourage it without providing their patients reliable data. Regarding this, I have received feedback from patients who have gone through their first IVF transfer without acupuncture treatment, and then went through a second cycle with acupuncture. They noted that, regardless of the outcome, receiving acupuncture during an IVF cycle made the process a lot easier, from lessening the side effects of the medication to the stress of the whole process to making the transfer more comfortable. I hope that as the medical community becomes better informed and that there is more encouragement for this complimentary treatment, and certainly less discouragement.
3. There was another medical study done in Sweden that indicated that electro-acupuncture could improve blood flow circulation to the ovaries and uterus. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8671446 While patients are going through IVF, we often will treat our patients with a combination of acupuncture with electrical stimulation based on this study.
4. Healthy lifestyle is important. There are no guarantees that all patients will conceive, but when there is a willingness to make lifestyle changes like to exercise in moderation, eat healthy food and limit work to work hours and take time to relax and enjoy life, it certainly improves the ‘environment’ for conception and increases the odds.
Anyway, these are some of my thoughts as I reflect on last year. I look forward to another year of learning and growing and also working with the best patients ever. Happy 2015 and many blessings to you!