Treatment Options

Acupuncture

ACUPUNCTURE: WHAT IS IT?

Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning achieved by inserting disposable solid needles, applying heat or electrical stimulation to multiple acupuncture points.

HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?

The classical Chinese explanation of acupuncture is that channels of energy run in regular patterns throughout the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others. Diagnosis and etiology guide treatment protocols based on this system.

The meridians may be influenced by needling the acupuncture points allowing the acupuncture needles to unblock the obstructions at the dams and reestablishing the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.

The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones, which influence the body’s internal regulating system.

The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.

DO THE NEEDLES HURT?

Each person experiences acupuncture differently and each practitioner has a different style. Most patients feel only minimal sensation at certain points; at other points there is no sensation felt. Once the needles are in place, endorphins are released and a relaxation response is experienced.

DO I HAVE TO BELIEVE IN ACUPUNCTURE FOR IT TO WORK?

No. Acupuncture is used successfully on animals. These animal patients do not understand or believe in the process that helps them get better. A positive attitude toward the process may reinforce the effects of the treatment received. A neutral attitude (“I don’t know if I really believe in this.”) will not block the treatment results.

HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?

You may choose to have acupuncture only on the day of your embryo transfer to decrease uterine cramping and aid in relaxation, to decrease side effects during hormonal stimulation, or simply to decrease stress during this time. You may consider using acupuncture to prepare for In Vitro Fertilization or Intrauterine Insemination treatment as well. A treatment plan will be created based on the infertility diagnosis for each partner. For those interested in natural conception, the number of therapeutic treatments will be based on the diagnosis and general health of each individual. A treatment plan of two treatments per week for several months may be recommended.

HOW WILL ACUPUNCTURE HELP DURING THE IVF TREATMENT ?

On WebMD; James Dillard, M.D. of Columbia University states acupuncture “can allow you to cross the line from infertile to fertile by helping your body function more efficiently, which, in turn, allows other, more modern reproductive treatments, like IVF, to also work more efficiently.”

How does it help the body function more efficiently?

  • Acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterus (proven by research), encouraging an efficient remodeling of the endometrial layers such that the uterine lining is conducive for implantation of an embryo.
  • Acupuncture increases blood flow to the ovaries, increasing maximal delivery of nutrients, oxygen and drugs to the follicles as they are developing, and may aid the recruited follicles to grow at a similar rate for retrieval.
  • Reduces stress and anxiety to bolster the patient’s resilience.
  • Decreases side effects: Headaches, high blood pressure, nausea, insomnia, dizziness, rashes, night sweats, abdominal distention, constipation and pain.
  • On The Day of the Embryo Transfer: Acupuncture relaxes the uterus; reducing cramping and tension to aid implantation. Stress reduction alone may also increase implantation rates. Multiple research studies have found acupuncture on this day increases live birth rates.
  • Studies have found that acupuncture both increases live births and decreases miscarriage rates when combined with IVF.

HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE PREPARE US FOR IVF/IUI TREATMENT?

  • SPERM QUALITY: specific acu-points have demonstrated an improvement in the microcirculation in testes, which diminishes with age. Acupuncture increases blood supply (oxygen and nutrients) to the testicles.
  • Acupuncture has an effect on the follicular microenvironment; increasing blood flow (oxygen and nutrients) to the follicles.
  • Increase oocyte mitochondrial ATP output (increased energy within cells of eggs), to enhance egg quality with certain Chinese herbs.
  • Enhance follicle antioxidant defenses with certain Chinese herbs
  • PCOS: Acupuncture improves ovarian function by regulating hormone levels (e.g. LH, testosterone)
  • Reduces stress hormones associated with reduced IVF success.
  • Improve follicle environment by reducing inflammatory cytokines with certain Chinese herbs to improve egg quality affected by endometriosis.

CAN ACUPUNCTURE HELP US GET PREGNANT NATURALLY?

Acupuncture may stimulate proper ovulation. Raymond Chang M.D. has stated,  “When you compare the pregnancy rates for a drug such as Clomid to acupuncture alone, the rates are equal.”

We offer comprehensive treatment protocols to aid ‘natural’ conception, (protocols are holistic and may include acupuncture, Chinese medicine, stress management, as well as recommendations regarding nutrition and exercise). A consultation and evaluation of your medical history is necessary to determine if you are a good candidate.

  • Unexplained infertility
  • Secondary infertility
  • Luteal Phase Defect
  • Amenorrhea/Dysmenorrhea
  • Sperm Quality: Motility and Morphology
  • Immune Factors
  • PCOS
  • Endometriosis
  • Diminished Ovarian Reserve
  • Ovulation irregularities
  • Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

WHAT ELSE DO YOU TREAT OTHER THAN INFERTILITY?

Acupuncture may be effective as the only treatment used, or as support or adjunct to other medical treatment forms in various medical disorders.

  • Digestive disorders: gastritis and hyperacidity, spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea
  • Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, recurrent chest infections, allergies
  • Neurological and muscular disorders: pain, headaches, migraines, facial tics, Bell’s palsy, neck pain, rib neuritis, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, various forms of tendinitis, low back pain, pelvic pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Adjunct Cancer Care: nausea/vomiting, neuropathy, low platelet count, xerostomia (dry mouth), stress, pain, digestive complaints
  • Acupuncture is particularly useful in resolving physical problems related to tension, stress and emotional conditions (depression, anxiety, insomnia, nervousness, and addictions)
  • Acupuncture During Pregnancy: any of the above conditions are treated in our office with acupuncture, as well as hemorrhoids, recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI), itching, nosebleeds.
  • Preparation for birth: research shows acupuncture decreases medical interventions and time spent in labor
  • Attempting a vaginal birth after previous C-section

WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF PRACTICE FOR AN ACUPUNCTURIST?

Acupuncture is provided by state licensed Acupuncturists (L.Ac.), which are required to hold a Master’s degree as an entry-level standard for professional practice in the U.S. prior to licensure.

In the state of California, a L.Ac. is considered a primary health care professional which has the ability to diagnose, prescribe and administer treatments. The scope of an acupuncturist’s license authorizes the holder thereof to engage in the practice of acupuncture, to perform or prescribe the use of acupressure, breathing techniques, exercise, heat, cold, magnets, nutrition, diet, herbs, plant, animal and mineral products, and dietary supplements to promote, maintain and restore health.

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