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Top 10 Things to Help You Train for the Boston Marathon

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac.DNBAO…

We’re less than a month away from Boston’s 121st Marathon so this week we’re talking about sports medicine and training for the big event.  Whether you are well into your training for the marathon and looking for an extra edge or you’ve recently been inspired to lace up your old sneakers and start with a 5K, here are a few tips to get you started.

Start on the Right Foot

How do you prepare for an endurance event that will test all of your physical and mental mettle? Take a moment to consider your overall health and well-being. Find a sports medicine specialist to evaluate your physical condition, address biomechanical imbalances, or perform a gait analysis to prevent future injuries. Developing a pre-training plan with an expert will help you reach an optimal training level and address any underlying issues before you begin to add up the miles.

Get Well

Instead of waiting for the first signs of injury, schedule a “well” check-up every four to six weeks to identify signs of physical stress. Check-in with a training coach, chiropractor, or strength and conditioning specialist to help you develop a self-care routine during your training.  Try acupuncture to keep levels of inflammation down and recovery times to a minimum.  Athletes are often afraid to seek treatment when they notice the first sign of pain or discomfort. Treating an acute injury optimizes your chance at recovery and minimizes the risk of long-term damage or chronic pain.

Cross Train

Cross-training by incorporating multiple physical modalities will help you customize a routine, prevent over-training and address areas of weakness.  Substitute different forms of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, speed intervals, or exercise rehabilitation.  Don’t forget to rest. If you’re training for 26.2 miles or any endurance event, you need one to two days of hard-core rest combined with one cross-training or light training day.

Build Core Strength

Core strength training refers to the conditioning of the stabilizing muscles of your spine, pelvis, and torso. These muscles provide a foundation for all physical movement. When you increase their strength, you increase your power, speed, and stride efficiency. This training season, substitute a Pilates class for crunches. Pilates is one form of exercise that builds core strength as well as being a powerful tool for injury prevention and increasing athletic performance.

Stretch Yourself

You’ve heard it before but you still can’t touch your toes. Would you try stretching if it restored your muscles to their normal length so that they contract at their optimal resting potential? Would you try stretching if it increased your range of motion? You know the routine: warm-up, hold each stretch for 30 seconds, do not bounce, and spend at least 15 minutes focusing on lower-body muscle groups. Here’s the alternative that we love just as much: the foam roller. Spend 5-10 minutes rolling out various muscle groups, paying attention to trigger points. The massage and myofascial release may just help your stride whether or not you can touch your toes.

Don’t Bonk!

Bonking, otherwise known as “crashing” or “hitting the wall” is the dreaded, race-day phenomenon causing endurance athletes to suffer from exhaustion, extreme muscle fatigue, and symptoms of hypoglycemia. In addition to carbohydrate loading, watch for signs of overtraining as you prepare for your event. Symptoms include a higher resting heart rate, low appetite, high blood pressure, weight loss, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and generalized fatigue. If you notice any of these signs, reevaluate your training or see an expert before you get deeper into your workouts.

Discover Massage

If you’ve never had a good excuse to treat yourself to a regular massage, here’s your chance. Regular massage reduces lactic acid build-up that can cause cramping and contribute to muscle fatigue.   A great sports massage can improve your range of motion while managing aches and pains. If you can’t find the time to get regular massages during your training, schedule a session one to two weeks before your event, visit the massage tent after you cross the finish line, and have a massage within seven days after your big race.

Make Friends with Complex Carbs

It’s time to make friends with complex carbohydrates. Incorporating a nutrition program customized for your refueling needs can be more challenging than completing your first 10K.  Some of you should belly up to the pasta bar (or quinoa bar if you’re gluten free), while others will focus on electrolyte replacement, hydration, and increasing essential fatty acids. Sitting down with a nutritional counselor can take the guess work out of what to eat for those 1,000 meals each year. Don’t forget those post-run snacks to help refuel your glycogen stores. Start with a nut-butter and a banana for your muscles (and belly) will thank you.

Stay Local

Sign up for local events to help keep you on track. Choose races that correspond with the mileage you are working towards. The anticipated races will keep you motivated to work towards short-term goals and it’s always good to get SWAG (Stuff We All Get). Hello, goody bags, t-shirts, energy bars, and coupons!

Try Sport Psychology

Endurance training is all about mental preparation. To prepare for your next event, experiment with different forms of relaxation such as meditation, visualization, and body awareness. If you don’t know where to begin, try yoga. Each yoga session, will help you clear your mind, develop powerful breathing techniques, and visualize your sweet race-day success.  If you prefer to get your daily dose of mind-body medicine in private, try your hand at meditation.  Start with a 15-minute session after each workout by sitting with your eyes closed.  Try slow belly breathing (inhaling and exhaling for a count of four each) and see where your mind goes.

Want to try acupuncture this year?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how acupuncture can benefit your health and training regimen this year.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women’s health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.

Book online for any acupuncture service in our Boston location or contact OMBE for additional information.

Top 10 Things You Can Do For Your Fertility Now!

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO…

More than ever, I find that patients feel overwhelmed navigating through conflicting information in the media on the role of diet, exercise, stress on our overall health and specifically fertility.  Exercise more, exercise less-or don’t exercise at all.  Eat ice cream, don’t eat ice cream. (Yes-there really is a body of research that recommends that women eat full fat dairy to help them conceive.)  Eat grapefruit, eat kale, and the list goes on. The truth is that a cookie-cutter treatment plan effective for all patients doesn’t exist. As an acupuncturist and integrative medical professional, I stress this point to all of my fertility clients so that they can begin assembling a supportive team that will help them customize a treatment plan. It’s important to find health care practitioners that will do the same for you so that you can discover your fertility formula. In the meantime, here is my list of 10 things you can do now without any hype.

  1. Read a Book: It’s time to brush up on what you know about your body, sex, fertility treatments, and conception. That’s right-twenty years later you still need to take sex education. Although this time, you can do it the privacy of your home. Several wonderful books have been published about the above topics. A few favorites include Christiane Northrop’s Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and Making Babies, a book co-written by physician, Sami S. David, and acupuncturist, Jill Blakeway. So, get out of those crazy fertility chat rooms and educate yourself. What you learn about your body will serve you for a lifetime and on your path to becoming a parent.
  1. Take Your Temperature: A basal body temperature (BBT) chart is a powerful tool. It involves taking your temperature every day at the same time and tracking the results. Your BBT chart will help you maximize conception, predict ovulation (or lack there of), and rule out various endocrine-related issues. To learn more about BBT charting visit www.tcoyf.com or pick up Toni Weschler’s book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
  1. Ask for Help: As you may have discovered, it takes a lot of energy to create a baby and you literally can’t do it alone. My clients braving single parenthood will tell you that there are more people out there willing to help than one would ever imagine-even neighbors who are surprisingly good with time-sensitive injections. Your partner or village can act as your appointment coordinator, cook (see #5), workout partner (see #6), or hand-holder. You just need to begin by asking for their help.
  1. Do the Math: You may have read in fertility-related pieces that you need to “aim for a healthy weight”. Research has shown that women with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) are the least likely to have difficulty conceiving. If you’ve never been a fan of math, visit: www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi and the website will help you calculate your BMI. It is time to consider #5 if your BMI is out of range or if you are not ovulating and your BMI is at the low-end or high-end of normal.
  1. Find a Nutritionist: The recent book, The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant by J. Chavarro, W. Willett, and P. Skerrett was pivotal in clarifying specific diet factors to improve fertility. As you may have read, you should be eating less sugar, more foods of color, better sources of essential fatty acids, more vegetarian sources of protein, and possibly ice cream. Exhausted by this list? This is why you may need a nutritional counselor to help customize a nutrition plan and work out the real-life logistics of eating a healthier diet in a burgers- and-fries world. Additionally, if weight issues (see #4) bring any twinge of emotion, it’s time to get support and resolve the emotional underbelly of your dinner plate.
  1. Move Your Body: Once you have a good nutrition program, it’s time to move your body. Research compiled in the The Fertility Diet book has also shown that incorporating vigorous exercise (running, swimming, cross-country skiing etc.) for 30-minutes, 3-5 days per week, improves rates of conception. If your BMI is above average, experts estimate that you may need 45-60 minutes, 3-5 days per week. Don’t overdo it-too much exercise can work against conception if your BMI is low or below normal. If this is the case, choose moderate forms of activity less than the recommendation until you maintain a healthy weight.
  1. Try Acupuncture: Since 2000, studies have been showing that acupuncture regulates the endocrine system, increases the rates of IVF/ICSI, reduces the rates of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies, and increases the rates of live births. Did I mention that it’s also good for stress? To find a licensed acupuncturist in your neighborhood, visit http://www.nccaom.org and ask about their women’s health and infertility experience. When you do become pregnant, acupuncture can help you with nausea, back pain, breached presentation, and inducing labor if necessary.
  1. Find an OB/GYN: This may seem like an obvious “to-do” but so often we pick a health care provider based on what our insurance plan offers, geographical convenience, or who happens to accepting new patients. Your relationship with your OB/GYN is one of the most important long-term relationships that will affect your health. Do your homework-ask nurses, physicians, coworkers, and friends for good referrals. Ask a few interview questions and don’t be afraid to “shop around” until you find a great fit.
  1. Get Counseling: Did you know that there are counselors specializing in fertility-related issues? Many fertility clinics offer individuals and couples free or reduced-cost services. Ask your circle of peers for a good referral before becoming isolated in the process and interview the therapist. Regardless of where you are in your journey, having the extra support can be crucial in helping you manage the physical and emotional demands of infertility.
  1. Join a Support Group: If #9 doesn’t seem to be a good fit or if the process is too expensive, try a support group. Connecting with a group of peers with a shared experience can provide you with great insight, an occasional laugh, and a form of support that goes beyond words. Support groups exist in non- traditional formats such as Facebook pages, Meet-up groups, and Twitter handles as well as their traditional format. Visit RESOLVE’s website for local listings.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women’s health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.

Book online for any acupuncture service in our Boston location or contact OMBE for additional information.

Vitamin D & Fertility

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO…

Many patients ask me about vitamin supplementation and potential benefits for overall health and fertility. Given that we are in the middle of a New England winter, Vitamin D supplementation has been a subject of daily conversation. Frequently asked questions include: Should I get my levels tested? What is considered a normal value? How much should I supplement and for how long? Is Vitamin D important for fertility? I thought it would be helpful to discuss in today’s blog, the importance of Vitamin D and how it relates to general health and fertility to answer some of those FAQs.

Over the last decade, researchers and medical practitioners have become aware that Vitamin D deficiency has become prevalent across all racial groups in the United Sates. According to research, the rates of Vitamin D deficiency nearly doubled from 1994 to 2004. Additionally, almost 40% of women in their reproductive years were found to have Vitamin D deficiencies.

Most of us are aware of Vitamin D’s important role in the body to help keep bones healthy and strong via calcium absorption. Many experts in this field would say that a more accurate statement would be that appropriate ratios of Vitamin D, Vitamin A and Vitamin K2 are important for developing strong bone structure. The interplay of these three fat-soluble vitamins is a subject too lengthy for this blog but we’ll cover it another day!

Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin-it’s a hormone with the ability to affect many different types of cells and organs in the body by turning genes “on and off”. We now know through recent research that Vitamin D plays an important role in preventing disease such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other diseases related to the immune system. Low Vitamin D levels have also been associated with a 30 to 50 percent increased risk of colon, prostate, and breast cancer. We also now know through research that Vitamin D even plays an important role in weight management.

In reproductive research, Vitamin D has been shown (via mice studies) to be connected to uterine underdevelopment and the inability to form normal, mature eggs. Additionally, Vitamin D deficiency was found to be related to fetal underdevelopment when pregnancy was achieved. All of the above reproductive disorders normalized (in mice) with Vitamin D supplementation.

In women, the Vitamin D receptor is present in many female organs, including the ovary, uterus, and placenta. The active form of vitamin D (calcitriol) has many roles during female reproduction. Bound to its receptor, calcitriol is able to control genes involved in embryo implantation. Once a woman becomes pregnant, the uterus and placenta continue to make calcitriol, which helps fight infections. Poor vitamin D status has been associated with preganancy risks including gestational hypertension and diabetes.

Two recent studies found that women undergoing IVF were significantly more likely to achieve pregnancy than those who were deficient in Vitamin D. In one of these studies, performed at an IVF center, there was a four-fold increase in pregnancy rates. Another study showed that women receiving donor eggs were also more likely to achieve pregnancy suggesting that Vitamin D’s most important role may be in the uterus.

These initial studies in regards to Vitamin D are encouraging both for those trying to conceive naturally, improving their overall health, as well as those looking to achieve pregnancy through IVF. Next time you visit your PCP, OBGYN, or endocrinologist, ask to have your Vitamin D levels evaluated. Although levels of 32 ng/mL are considered to be normal, levels in the range of 50-80ng/mL are those found in research to be optimal for immune system function and protective for the diseases mentioned above including breast, prostate, and colon cancer.

How much should you supplement? Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin so you should supplement for a period of 6-12 weeks and have your levels retested to adjust supplementation accordingly. Typically, 2000 IUs daily are recommended to increase blood serum levels. However, many practitioners recommend higher dosages up to 10,000 IUs daily depending on your level of deficiency. In other words, you should discuss the supplementation level with your practitioner and then retest to see the impact on your levels. In the meantime, try to get some sun exposure for a natural Vitamin D boost as the temperatures warm up in New England! Below are the resources for human studies and current Vitamin D research.

Have more questions about Vitamin D or acupuncture?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how Vitamin D or acupuncture can benefit your health this year.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

REFERENCES

Vigano P, Lattuada D, Mangioni S, Ermellino L, Vignali M, Caporizzo E, Panina-Bordignon P, Besozzi M, DiBlasio AM. Cycling and early pregnant endometrium as a site of regulated expression of the vitamin D system. J Mol Endocrinol, 2006;36(3):415-24.

Vigano P, Lattuada D, Mangioni S, Ermellino L, Vignali M, Caporizzo E, Panina-Bordignon P, Besozzi M, DiBlasio AM. Cycling and early pregnant endometrium as a site of regulated expression of the vitamin D system. J Mol Endocrinol, 2006;36(3):415-24.

Bodnar LM, Catov JM, Simhan HN, Holick MF, Powers RW, Roberts JM. Maternal vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of preeclampsia. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2007;92(9):3517-22.

Ozkan S, Jindal S, Greenseid K, Shu J, Zeitlian G, Hickmon C, Pal L. Replete vitamin D stores predict reproductive success following in vitro fertilization. Fertility and Sterility, 2010;94(4):1314-9.

Rudick B, Ingles SA, Stanczyk F, Chung K, Paulson R, Bendikson K. Characterizing the role of vitamin D levels on IVF outcomes: stimulation, embryo, or endometrium? O-245, Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 2010.

Rudick B, Ingles SA, Stanczyk F, Chung K, Paulson R, Bendikson K. The role of vitamin D levels on IVF outcomes in donor-recipient cycles. O-9, Annual Meeting of the Pacific Coast Reproductive Society, 2011.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women’s health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.

Book online for any acupuncture service in our Boston location or contact OMBE for additional information.

 

 

Cervical Fluid Part II

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac.DNBAO…

CERVICAL FLUID OPTIMIZATION PART II

Last week we discussed the importance of cervical fluid when trying to conceive naturally.  As a quick review, when considering optimizing fertility, much emphasis is placed on two important factors: healthy sperm and a healthy egg.  Cervical fluid is the third and key factor in assisting conception as well as increasing your fertile window each month.  Women can have anywhere from one to five days of cervical fluid prior to ovulation. Optimizing the quality and quantity of cervical fluid can increase your odds of conceiving each month by increasing the length of time that sperm will be able to survive in advance of ovulation. Below is a list of several factors that we discussed which can help to improve your cervical fluid.

  1. Stay hydrated.
  2. Avoid caffeine or drink less than 300 mg (approximately 1 cup) daily
  3. Avoid antihistamines and decongestants
  4. Eliminate any feminine products especially those using scents, perfumes, or bleach. This includes tampons, pads, toilet paper, lubricants, douches etc..)
  5. Vitamin C Intake:  Less than 750-1000mg daily can improve fertility but anything in excess of that amount has the potential to decrease cervical fluid
  6. Increase Essential Fatty Acids: Fish Oils, Olive Oils, Evening Primrose Oil, Flax Seed Oil, & Grapeseed Oil. When purchasing oils, make sure to choose items that are stored in dark or amber-colored bottles and store these products in the refrigerator to prevent the oils from becoming rancid.
  7. Include alkalizing foods in your diet including dark greens and cruciferous vegetables to optimize the pH of cervical fluid for sperm survival. Additionally, eating one clove of raw garlic daily can increase the quantity of cervical fluid.
  8. Include arginine-rich foods or an L-Arginine supplement in your diet
  9. Preseed: This is currently the only manufactured lubricant available that does not affect sperm and may assist couples in trying to conceive. Do not use any other lubricants (including saliva) as they can be less than hospitable to sperm and increase the acidity of cervical fluid.
  10. Guaifenesin: Guaifenesin is the ingredient contained in many cough syrups. Guaifenesin causes all secretions in your body to become more liquid-like in their consistency. If you find that none of the above options to be effective, try this method for one month to test the results.

In my conversations with patients, once we’ve discussed cervical fluid and basal body temperature charting, the inevitable next question is:  When should I look for cervical fluid?  This is the tricky part while trying to conceive naturally.  Typically, women will have anywhere from one to five days of cervical fluid prior to ovulation.  This means that you should see fertile cervical fluid (egg-white like consistency) prior to your temperature shift.  Once your temperature shifts and you have ovulated, your cervical fluid will also change.  Cervical fluid exists on a continuum so as your period tapers off, start to look for cervical fluid and note the consistency.  As your estrogen levels rise, your cervical fluid will gradually change until it appears in that egg-white, clear, stretchy, fertile-fluid that helps to nourish and protect sperm.  Everyone’s body is different, so no two women will have the same pattern.  Similar to basal body temperature charting, if you need helping deciphering how to match up your BBT chart with cervical fluid to time conception, connect with an acupuncturist or another medical professional to help you eliminate the guess work.

Have more questions about BBT charting or trying to conceive naturally? Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how acupuncture can benefit your health this year.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, Chinese Herbology and Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

Cervical Fluid & Fertility Part I

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac.DNBAO…

CERVICAL FLUID OPTIMIZATION

Last week we discussed basal body temperature charting and how it can help couples conceive naturally as well as help trouble-shoot common menstrual cycle issues.  If you are basal body temperature charting or just trying to conceive naturally without using any tools, there may be one detail to consider.

When considering optimizing fertility, much emphasis is placed on two important factors: healthy sperm and a healthy egg. However, cervical fluid is the third and key factor in assisting conception as well as increasing your fertile window each month. Due to hormonal changes, the quality of cervical fluid will change as your menstrual cycle progresses each month. As your body approaches ovulation, rising levels of estrogen change the quality, quantity, and consistency of your cervical fluid in an effort to create an optimal environment for sperm. Spinnbarkeit is the term to describe stretchy, clear, fluid-like cervical fluid (often described as looking like raw egg-whites) optimal to providing sperm both nutrients and protection so they can survive as they wait for an egg to arrive (ovulation). Women can have anywhere from one to five days of cervical fluid prior to ovulation. Optimizing the quality and quantity of cervical fluid can increase your odds of conceiving each month by increasing the length of time that sperm will be able to survive in advance of ovulation. Below is a list of several factors that can help to improve your cervical fluid.

  1. Stay hydrated.
  2. Avoid caffeine or drink less than 300 mg (approximately 1 cup) daily
  3. Avoid antihistamines and decongestants
  4. Eliminate any feminine products especially those using scents, perfumes, or bleach. This includes tampons, pads, toilet paper, lubricants, douches etc..)
  5. Vitamin C Intake:  Less than 750-1000mg daily can improve fertility but anything in excess of that amount has the potential to decrease cervical fluid
  6. Increase Essential Fatty Acids: Fish Oils, Olive Oils, Evening Primrose Oil, Flax Seed Oil, & Grapeseed Oil. When purchasing oils, make sure to choose items that are stored in dark or amber-colored bottles and store these products in the refrigerator to prevent the oils from becoming rancid.
  7. Include alkalizing foods in your diet including dark greens and cruciferous vegetables to optimize the pH of cervical fluid for sperm survival. Additionally, eating one clove of raw garlic daily can increase the quantity of cervical fluid.
  8. Include arginine-rich foods or an L-Arginine supplement in your diet
  9. Preseed: This is currently the only manufactured lubricant available that does not affect sperm and may assist couples in trying to conceive. Do not use any other lubricants (including saliva) as they can be less than hospitable to sperm and increase the acidity of cervical fluid.
  10. Guaifenesin: Guaifenesin is the ingredient contained in many cough syrups. Guaifenesin causes all secretions in your body to become more liquid-like in their consistency. If you find that none of the above options to be effective, try this method for one month to test the results.

Have more questions about BBT charting or trying to conceive naturally? Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how acupuncture can benefit your health this year.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, Chinese Herbology and Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

Basal Body Temperature Charting Part II

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac.DNBAO…

In January, we started to talk about basal body temperature charting and some basic tips to get started.  Basal body temperature charting is one of my favorite non-invasive tools to help patients conceive naturally and determine potentially undiagnosed fertility issues.  I wish that I had made copies of every BBT chart that had led to a pregnancy from the start of my practice-it would make quite an art collage for the office!

As as a quick review, basal body temping is one of the least expensive (the cost is zero unless you need a new thermometer) ways to determine a significant amount of information about your body and your menstrual cycle without subjecting yourself to any invasive testing. A BBT chart can help you time conception, determine whether you are ovulating or pregnant, as well as trouble shoot common issues related to your cycle or conception that many have gone unnoticed or undiagnosed.  For patients determined to conceive naturally or trying to troubleshoot their cycle, I recommend that they pick up a copy of Toni Weschler’s book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

Here’s a list of the basic tips to help you get you started:

  • Take your temperature at the same time each morning
  • Take it before you get out of bed, move, talk, or use the bathroom
  • You must be sleeping for at least 3 hours to get an accurate temperature reading
  • Note that your temperature will rise every ½ hour as you sleep later
  • Heating pads, electric blankets, fevers, and drinking alcohol the night before will raise your temperature
  • Note on your chart if there was any reason that you thought your temperature may not be accurate
  • Circle your temperature on a graph each day or use one of the current smartphone apps
  • Continue to take your temperature for the length of your cycle, beginning Day 1 of your menstrual period until the beginning of your next period
  • Note on your chart when you start your period, have spotting, or cervical fluid

After a month of charting, you should be able to connect the dots to see the outline of a curve formed by a series of low points prior to ovulation and a series of high points following ovulation.  This pattern should help you determine a significant information about your cycle including when you ovulate, the length of your luteal cycle (important for implantation), and whether you have fertile-like cervical fluid prior to ovulation as outlined in TCOYF.

If your BBT chart is difficult to decipher, I highly recommend that you take your chart to an acupuncturist or other medical professional familiar with trouble-shooting basal body temperature charts.  Our bodies do not perform like robots, therefore, it is normal to have temperatures that are outliers but still considered part of a normal pattern.  Someone that has looked at hundreds or thousands of basal body temperature will help you determine whether something is abnormal and eliminate the guess work for you.

Next week, we will discuss the wonderful world of cervical fluid and how it related to basal body temperature charting.  Until then, happy charting!

Do you have more questions about BBT charts or acupuncture?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, Chinese Herbology and Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

Basal Body Temperature Charting Part I

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac.DNBAO…

Many patients ask me about basal body temperature charting and whether they should try keeping a chart at home when trying to conceive.   Basal body temping is one of the least invasive and least expensive (the cost is zero unless you need a new thermometer) ways to determine a significant amount of information about your body and your menstrual cycle without subjecting yourself to any invasive testing.

A BBT chart can help you time conception, determine whether you are ovulating or pregnant, as well as trouble shoot common issues related to your cycle or conception that many have gone unnoticed or undiagnosed.  It’s hard to believe that so much information can be determined just by using a thermometer and a piece of paper.  If you have any doubts, pick up a copy of Toni Weschler’s book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

What is BBT charting?  It’s the act of simply taking your temperature at approximately the same time every morning to help you chart your menstrual cycle.  By doing so, you create a series of points on a graph that form a pattern helping you or a health practitioner familiar with BBT charts determine your best window to conceive.  Even if you’re not trying to conceive, creating a BBT chart for yourself can help to put yourself in tune with your body in a way that you haven’t been before.  Once you have a sense of your pattern, you can predict peak fertility times in your cycle and use this information to help conceive or avoid pregnancy.  To make it even easier, there are several smartphone apps to help you along the way including one from Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

If you’re just getting started, here are some basic tips to get you started:

  • Take your temperature at the same time each morning
  • Take it before you get out of bed, move, talk, or use the bathroom
  • You must be sleeping for at least 3 hours to get an accurate temperature reading
  • Note that your temperature will rise every ½ hour as you sleep later
  • Heating pads, electric blankets, fevers, and drinking alcohol the night before will raise your temperature
  • Note on your chart if there was any reason that you thought your temperature may not be accurate
  • Circle your temperature on a graph each day or use one of the current smartphone apps
  • Continue to take your temperature for the length of your cycle, beginning Day 1 of your menstrual period until the beginning of your next period

 

Next week, we’ll discuss what to look for on your BBT chart and how to analyze the data!

Do you have more questions about BBT charts or acupuncture?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, Chinese Herbology and Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

Immune Empowering Diet Part II: Why Eating the Rainbow Helps Sperm

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac. DNBAO…

This past week we have been writing and talking about New Year’s resolutions including ways to improve your health with every-day foods.  Although many of us strive to eat healthier, I think it’s always easier to make a change when you feel strongly motivated or have a specific reason to do so.  Improving IVF outcomes is a strong reason to motivate any couple to change their diet.  Last week we talked about Immune Empowering Diets  as well as Diet & Fertility  as it relates to women.  Today’s post is all about immune empowering carbohydrates and how they relate to male fertility.

Carbohydrates are an important macronutrient and source of fuel for your body.  When we think major diseases that affect Americans today such as heart disease, allergies, asthma, autoimmune disorders, or osteoarthritis they are seemingly unrelated.  However, they have a common culprit: inflammation.  Foods that contain high levels of antioxidants, minerals, and essential fatty acids can all help to reduce inflammation, boost your immune system, as well as benefit your health in unexpected ways.

In a study completed 10 years ago, the antioxidant supplement, Menevit, was found to reduce oxidative stress in sperm and improve IVF outcomes.  What was in the supplement? Lycopene (found in tomatoes), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc, selenium, as well as a few other antioxidants.  Foods with dark pigments have high antioxidant levels.  So when you think of eating carbohydrates, think of eating from the rainbow-reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, and purples.  Tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, kale, blueberries, and grapes.  Who knew that choosing the right carbohydrates could improve your immune system and give sperm a boost?  Similarly, eating carbohydrates without color (pasta, bread, white rice, etc…) have the potential to increase levels of inflammation.  Choose quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat instead.

Want to learn more about immune empowering foods or acupuncture?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how acupuncture can benefit your health this year.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, Chinese Herbology and Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

Immune Empowering Diets

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac.DNBAO…

This time of year is a natural time to take a closer look at the foods we tend to eat and not eat.  One reason to do so is in the name of your immune system.  Acupuncture is a powerful tool to help support the immune system and decrease levels of inflammation in the body and so are certain food sources.  Your diet can have a profound impact on your immune system, endocrine system, energy levels, and how efficiently your body functions. The right diet can help your body reduce inflammation, cope with stress, survive cold and flu season, and be an important tool in coping with a myriad of health issues. The following recommendations are based on the idea that the one thousand plus meals you eat each year can be a powerful form of medicine.  We’ll discuss fats today as well as other macro and micro nutrients throughout the rest of the week.

Good fats affect mood, behavior, and levels of inflammation in the body.  High, chronic levels of inflammation in the body burdens the immune system. We know through research that supplementing with essential fatty acids can also decrease depression in women postpartum and decrease pain due to osteoarthritis.  What are essential fatty acids (EFAs)?  They are essential because the body does not produce them, therefore, we need to include them in our diet. The two essential fatty acids are known as linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).  Sources include: salmon, herring, mackerel, cod, olive oil, flax oil, seeds and other nuts such as almonds or walnuts, and avocados.

Want to learn more about acupuncture or an anti-inflammatory diet?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how acupuncture can benefit your health this year.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, Chinese Herbology and Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

Diet & Fertility

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac.DNBAO…

Although I have posted my Diet & Fertility worksheet that I review with many of my fertility patients, I felt that it deserved another post this week given the theme of a healthy new year.  Although I customize these diet recommendations for my patients, these general rules have the potential to benefit many health conditions. Give it a try!

 

The following recommendations are based on the Nurses’ Health Study, which began in 1989 and followed more than 18,000 female nurses anticipating a pregnancy of the duration of the eight-year study. Visit www.nurseshealthstudy.org to learn more details about the study and participants.

 

  1. Eliminate fast foods from your diet & avoid all other trans-fats.

 

  1. Stop smoking.  Smoking has been linked to abnormal oocytes and heavy metals in follicular fluid. Smokers have been found to take longer to get pregnant and are more likely to miscarry.

 

  1. Use more unsaturated vegetable oils and make sure to include omega-3 fats such as fish oil, olive oil, walnut oil, flax oil, and canola oil.

 

  1. Eat more vegetable protein such as beans and nuts and less animal protein.

 

  1. Choose whole grains and other sources of carbohydrates that have lower, slower effects on blood sugar and insulin rather than refined carbohydrates.

 

  1. Drink a glass of whole milk or have a small dish of ice cream or full-fat yogurt everyday; temporarily trade in skim milk and low or no-fat diary products… for their full-fat cousins.

 

  1. Get plenty of iron from fruits, vegetables, beans but not from red meat. Iron plays a key role in DNA replication and in the maturing of the egg in advance of ovulation. Research shows that women who get enough iron cut their risk of ovulatory infertility by about one half!

 

  1. Take a multivitamin that contains iron, folic acid and other B vitamins. Studies show that regular use of a multivitamin decreases the risk of ovulatory infertility. Multivitamins have been shown to benefit men’s fertility as well, increasing sperm count, quality and motility.

 

  1. Beverages matter: Remove sugary drinks and sodas from your diet.  Drink coffee, tea and alcohol in moderation. High intake of caffeine is linked to infertility due to tubal problems or endometriosis but was not associated with ovulatory infertility. Water is great.

 

  1. Overall-maintain a healthy weight:  Losing or gaining 5-10% of your body weight can have a significant impact on ovulation.  Women with a BMI between 20-24 were found to be least likely to have experienced ovulatory infertility.
  1. Aim to eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day, choosing from a variety of all colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple).

 

SOURCES

 

  1. David, Sami S. M.D., Blakeway, Jill. Making Babies. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2009. 121.
  2. David, Sami S. M.D., Blakeway, Jill. Making Babies. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company,2009.115.
  3. Chavarro, Jeorge E. M.D., Willett, Walter C. M.D. The Fertility Diet. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. 2008.143

 

Want to try acupuncture this year?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how acupuncture can benefit your health this year.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, Chinese Herbology and Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.