Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Choosing an Acupuncturist

I always tell people who are having trouble conceiving that diet doesn't work alone. You also need to minimize stress and support other healthy lifestyle habits, like getting plenty of rest. Yoga, meditation and visualizations all help; they keep the mind, body and spirit balanced.

A lot of women (and men) also seek the support that acupuncture provides. Acupuncture is said to improve success rates in IVF (in-vitro fertilization), and in one particular study, the miscarriage rate was almost halved in the acupuncture group (8% vs. 14%) vs. the control group. Research aside, there is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that acupuncture, along with herbs, can help with fertility and pregnancy problems.

What acupuncture does is improve blood circulation to the ovaries and uterus, making for possibly healthier eggs and definitely a thicker, healthier uterine lining. Acupuncture (and Traditional Chinese Medicine) also works at bringing the whole body into balance, and it is a great stress reliever.

I for one am a big believer in acupuncture and herbs. In trying for a second child last year, I spent seven months with acupuncturist Dr. Angela Wu, author of Fertility Wisdom, here in San Francisco. I followed this up with my first and only IVF. Although it was not successful for me, my fertility doctor remarked that my lining was in above average shape, and I grew 8 follicles (not bad for a 43-year-old). Plus, I felt great physically. The doctor was confident that if my embryos were viable (they had age-related chromosomal abnormalities), I would have been pregnant.

But Dr. Wu has tremendous success with her patients and I have seen acupuncture work for many friends too.

If you can afford the weekly visits and herbs, do it! It’s a great addition to your efforts, whether you’re trying to conceive naturally or with medical assistance.

One caution, though. I do think it’s important to find the right acupuncturist. How? Here are some tips:
  • Ask a friend who is going through fertility issues for a recommendation. This is the best way to find any good health practitioner. If you don’t know anyone to ask, contact, the non-profit infertility support group. They can direct you to qualified acupuncturists in your area or to a local group who will have that information.
  • Make sure the acupuncturist specializes in fertility or women’s issues. Here’s how to find out. Call their offices and ask what they specialize in. Don’t tell them what your issues are until they’ve answered the question. They may say, “chronic pain and women’s issues,” and that works.
  • Make sure the acupuncturist is certified. Ask. You can also check with the NCCAOM for a certified practitioner.
  • Try it. See if you connect with the acupuncturist. Keep in mind that acupuncture, like diet, takes time to be effective. It takes about three months for the body to adjust and change.
Stories that link acupuncture with improved IVF:
Complimentary Medicine and Fertility

Other links:
Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine