What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient medical system that is based on a deep understanding of the laws and patterns of nature and applies them to the human body. TCM is a complete medical system that has been practiced for more than five thousand years.
At the heart of TCM is the tenet that the root cause of illnesses, not their symptoms, must be treated. Addressing the root (cause) will in turn cure the branches (symptoms); after all the symptoms are just a way your body expresses itself of an underlying condition. In modern-day terms, TCM is holistic in its approach; it views every aspect of a person (body, mind, spirit and emotions), as part of one complete circle rather than pieces loosely connected to be treated separately.
TCM treatment methods may include acupuncture, acupressure, nutrition, massage, tui na, herbs, cupping, moxibustion, meditation practices, movement, tai chi and lifestyle counseling.
How does acupuncture work?
First, the acupuncturist will discuss your particular situation and/or symptoms. The acupuncturist will take your pulses (there are 9 pulses on each wrist we use to help our diagnosis) and look at your tongue. This helps the practitioner in identifying specific points on your body that require treatment. Very fine metal needles are inserted into these points. The number of needles will vary depending on where they are placed on the body. Once inserted, needles stay in place for several minutes to an hour. During the treatment, acupuncture needles may be energized electrically or warmed to intensify the effect of the treatment. When electricity is applied, a tingling sensation is common. Each needle stimulates the body’s natural pain relievers and anti-inflammatory chemicals. Needles can be inserted directly into areas where the pain exists or into other acupuncture points that reach paths in the body called channels.
Can acupuncture be used to help fertility? What types of fertility concerns can acupuncture and herbal medicine treat?
Yes acupuncture can help enhance and optimize fertility. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can treat many fertility concerns including:
- Reducing the stress hormones that interfere with ovulation
- Increasing the blood flow to the reproductive organs
- Increasing endorphin levels—the body’s “feel good” hormones
- Stimulating and normalizing hormone production to promote a balanced endocrine system that allows for more efficient ovulation and fertilization
- Improving the quality of the eggs released by the ovaries
- Enhancing the uterine lining so that the embryo can implant successfully and receive proper nutrients to help avoid miscarriage
- Enhancing the quality of cervical mucus
How can stress affect one’s fertility?
- According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), acute stress can result in increased heart rate, blood pressure and respiration, as well as sweaty palms and cool, clammy skin. Chronic stress can also cause depression and result in changes in the immune system and sleep patterns. Because stress triggers a “fight or flight” response, the blood flow away from the body’s gastrointestinal, endocrine and reproductive systems is increased. When this happens again and again, the blood over nourishes certain areas of the body and starves others throwing the balance of hormones off. A healthy menstrual cycle cannot be achieved with such an imbalance.
- In 2001, a study by the University of California, San Diego, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Division of Epidemiology, examined a group of patients undergoing gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT) or IVF. The study concluded that those women with the highest stress levels were 93 percent less likely to become pregnant and achieve a live birth than women who scored lower on the stress scale.
I just started an IVF cycle. Is it too late to start treatment?
No. Our area of expertise is supporting women going through IUI and IVF treatments. While we would ideally like to see you before starting your cycle, there is never a ‘bad’ time to come in during a cycle.
What should I expect on the day of my embryo transfer?
We have a special protocol designed for embryo transfer day. If you would like us to attend your transfer at your Fertility Specialist’s clinic we will make every effort to so even if it falls on a holiday or weekend. Please let us know if that is your intention and we will go over all of the logistics with you.
What if I do not require IUI or IVF; can acupuncture still help me to conceive?
Absolutely. Many of our patients have used acupuncture to supplement their Western fertility treatments. Others have started treatment as a “preparation” for treatment or after losing hope of conceiving with their own eggs. After a few months of treatment and dietary changes to ensure an optimal physical body and clear mind, we have seen many of these women become pregnant naturally with no additional medical intervention.
My FSH is too high. Does acupuncture correct hormonal imbalance?
It is very common for our patients to have a hormonal imbalance. We use acupuncture to influence the hormonal regulation centers in the brain and nervous system and, as a result, improvement in hormonal status can occur over time.
Will nutrition be addressed in our sessions?
Our practice focuses on complete health for our patients. The primary components of optimum health and improved fertility are thoroughly assessed, including mind, body and spirit. Nutrition will be addressed as it relates to the body. At no time in your life is nutrition more important than as you plan for parenthood. A healthy diet in preparation for pregnancy and as a boost to fertility is one of the most powerful health decisions that you can make. Studies have shown that specific dietary changes can enhance fertility and set the stage for a healthy pregnancy by increasing healthy ovulation, preventing miscarriage and supporting an overall healthy pregnancy.
My male partner doesn’t think this is necessary—should he be treated, too?
If your partner has a pathological presentation, which is a contributing factor, then he definitely should be treated. 40-60% of all fertility problems are attributed to male factor problems. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been shown to:
- Significantly increase sperm production
- Increase the percentage of healthy sperm
- Improve sperm movement (motility)
- Improve the levels of hormones responsible for fertility
- Increase the rate of pregnancy when used in conjunction with ART
Our goal is not simply to assist you through conception, but to strengthen the system that allows you to give birth to a healthy baby. To increase the chances of having a healthy baby and to prepare for the demanding role of parenthood, it is best to increase both partners’ well-being before attempting to conceive.
When should fertility treatments begin?
Ideally, treatment should begin three months before an IVF cycle. One of the essential steps is to establish a healthy menstrual cycle, this requires careful monitoring of physical signs/symptoms and implementing basic behavioral modifications. We often don’t get this kind of time and we understand, when you want a baby it’s very difficult to wait. We will meet you wherever you are in your fertility journey and it’s never too late to start supporting your body, mind and emotions during this often challenging time.
How long will my appointment last?
No matter your reason for seeking treatment please plan on being at our clinic for your initial consultation and treatment 90 minutes, and all follow up treatments allow 60 minutes. Extended consultations are available upon request.
How long will I have to be treated for fertility?
Treatment length is very individual and depends upon several factors, including the patient’s medical history and willingness to adopt and integrate lifestyle changes. A standard treatment protocol is 3 months with weekly treatments.
Can I continue treatment once I’m pregnant?
Upon conception, our patients continue their care at Aquino Acupuncture & Holistic Health. From infertility to pregnancy support and postpartum rebalancing, our team is dedicated to supporting you through the entire journey to motherhood.
Do I need to believe in acupuncture for it to work?
No. In fact it’s great when you don’t and we can use objective findings to make sure our treatment plan is on the right track. Also many of our patients come initially because they are referred by their doctors or are desperately trying to find something different to do and they have no experience with acupuncture and still get positive results.
Will acupuncture be covered by my insurance?
It depends on your individual insurance carrier and policy. Our office staff will check your insurance plan and it’s also best for you to double check with your provider to determine coverage. As a courtesy we will submit insurance forms to your carrier on your behalf. You can also submit claims (using your consultation invoice and diagnosis if required) directly to your provider for processing.