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Top 10 Reasons To Try Acupuncture During Pregnancy

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

The month of September celebrates National Women’s Health and Fitness Day (September 27th), so I thought I would include my top 10 list of reasons for women to try acupuncture while in various stages of pregnancy.  Acupuncture can prevent and assist with the various conditions that typically coincide with pregnancy resulting in a much more pleasant experience.  Here’s the list:

  1. Morning Sickness
  2. Carpal Tunnel
  3. Heartburn
  4. Constipation
  5. Headaches & Migraines
  6. Back Pain & Sciatica
  7. Breech Positioning
  8. Labor Induction
  9. Improved lactation & breast feeding
  10. Anxiety & post-partum depression

Want to try acupuncture this year?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn what it all about!  Email info@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.

September Celebrates National Women’s Health Day

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

In honor of September celebrating National Women’s Health and Fitness Day (September 27th), I’m listing my top 10 list of reasons for women to try acupuncture this year:

  1. Ammenorhea
  1. Endometriosis
  1. Infertility
  1. Irregular Cycles
  1. Menopause & Hot Flashes
  1. Menstrual Cramps
  1. Morning Sickness
  1. Ovarian Cysts & PCOS
  1. Premenstrual Syndrome
  1. Uterine & Breast Fibroids

Want to try acupuncture this year?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn what it all about!  Email info@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.

Top 11 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 11 things you can do now without any hype.  This year, I am adding an 11th “to do” on the list of things to do to improve your fertility and overall health.  I can not stress the importance of this 11th item and yet I find that it is rarely discussed by medical professionals.  I referring to the connection between the environment and our bodies, specifically the impact of chemical exposure on our ability to conceive.  Read on to learn more.

  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.
  2. Consider Going Green:  The trend to go green is finally entering the world of fertility.  Definitive research now links chemicals such as BPA, dioxins, and PCBS (to name a few) to various endocrine disorders related to fertility.  If you haven’t considered the impact of various chemicals on your body not to mention the complex cocktail of chemicals that most of us are exposed to in food, water, skincare products, cleaning products, furniture (to name a few), it is time. The topic is overwhelming but making changes now will not only result in health benefits for yourself, but ensure a cleaner and safer environment for baby.

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.

Environmental Links to PCOS

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

For my patients with PCOS, I typically integrate acupuncture therapies along with nutritional recommendations.  Acupuncture works to restore the entire sympathetic nervous system including the endocrine system encouraging a healthy cycle, conception and pregnancy. Studies done in Europe in the 1990s on anovulatory women with PCOS showed that electroacupuncture restored ovulation in one-third of the test subjects. Acupuncture also reduced endocrine indicators of PCOS, including LH/FSH ratios, mean testosterone concentrations, and beta-endorphin concentrations.

However, what tends to be the most surprising for many of my patients is that there is an environmental connection as well.  Chemicals found in our food, water, cosmetics, as well as many other sources have a profound effect on our endocrine system.  In a new study, researchers divided 71 women with PCOS and 100 healthy female control subjects into subgroups matched by age and body composition (obese or lean). Blood levels of BPA, compared with those of controls, were nearly 60 percent higher in lean women with PCOS and more than 30 percent higher in obese women with the syndrome.   The following is a list of chemicals to avoid as they have been known to mimic estrogen, and disrupt the endocrine system:

  • BPAs: Water bottles, baby bottles, canned food, and more.
  • Dioxins: Found in non-organic beef, poultry, and dairy products. Also found in bleach and chlorine products, bleached toilet paper, sanitary napkins, and tampons
  • Xenoestrogens: Found in plastic bottles, wraps, and food storage containers.
  • Parabens: Found in perfumes, bath and body products, make-up, and anything listed with a “fragrance.”
  • PCBs: Pesticides, paints, fire retardants, and wood floor finishing’s.
  • PVCs: Found in plumbing fixtures, rain gear, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, and toys.
  • Pesticides & Fungicides:  Choose non-chemical treatments whenever possible.
  • MSG/Aspartame: Found in the great majority of packaged foods, chewing gum, diet sodas and other diet beverages, “sugar-free” treats, some candies, and more.

Want to try acupuncture this year for PCOS?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn what it all about!  Email info@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.

The Health Benefits of Vitamin K2

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

The Health Benefits of Vitamin K2

This week’s blog is regarding Vitamin K2-an important vitamin essential for heart health, bone health, fertility, and much more.  I posted this article back in June but with the recent explosion of Vitamin K2 supplements available, I thought it would be worth a repost.  The story of Vitamin K2 is long and windy, but it is worth the read given its vital importance for your overall health. In the past few years, the subject of Vitamin D has been a hot topic among health care practitioners and I can only hope that the conversation begins to include Vitamin K2.

Here is a list of conditions associated with Vitamin K2 deficiency:

  • Atherosclerosis (the hardening of arteries which may lead to strokes, heart attacks, other cardiovascular diseases)
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Dental cavities & narrowing of the dental arch in both children and adults
  • Diabetes
  • Increased risk of cancer including breast, prostate, and liver
  • Infertility (including male fertility in relation to regulating testosterone levels)
  • Kidney Disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

You may be wondering why you’ve never heard of Vitamin K2, if it is so important in the body. When I mention Vitamin K2 along with its benefits, the typical response from my clients is a blank stare.  Most of my patients have never heard of Vitamin K2 and there is good reason. Vitamin K2 and its discovery simply got lost in the shuffle. I’ve included a brief history about the discovery of Vitamin K2 later in this blog. The forgotten discovery of K2 helps us to understand why this vitamin is relatively unknown and not well understood. However, let’s first talk about what it does and how you can get it into your diet.

How does Vitamin K2 work?

Vitamin K2 works by activating proteins to assist calcium to deposit in your skeleton.  K2 also activates another protein called matrix Gla-protein (MGP) which helps to remove calcium out of soft tissues such as the arteries and veins where minerals can be potentially harmful. These mechanisms help in the prevention of both cardiovascular disease as well as osteoporosis and tooth decay. In addition to being important for bone metabolism and maintaining the elasticity of the cardiovascular system, Vitamin K2 is also thought to help activate other proteins responsible for inhibiting cancerous growths. Last but not least, Vitamin K2 is also found in high concentrations in the brain where it contributes to myelin production. K2 is thought to be protective against free radical damage in the brain and potentially play a role in the development of the central nervous system. Additionally, we know that it plays a role in insulin sensitivity and blood glucose linking it to two related disorders: diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Why is Vitamin K2 important for fertility?

 A study in 2016, examined the role of Vitamin K2 and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and found that Vitamin K2 lowered levels of DHEA and free testosterone. We know as well that studies have shown Vitamin K2 to improve insulin sensitivity in diabetes patients leading researchers to believe that Vitamin K2 would have similar benefits for patients with PCOS. Initial animal studies have also shown that Vitamin K2 improves testosterone production therefore having the potential to improve sperm counts and other functional measure of sperm. As male sperm count has been dropping precipitously since the the beginning of the previous century, this may be an important vitamin to recommend to your male partner if you are trying to conceive. Studies have also shown Vitamin K1 deficiency to occur in higher rates in patients with endometriosis with severe bleeding. Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2 have different properties and should not be confused as equivalents. Although I am not aware of any studies that have been done on Vitamin K2 and endometriosis as of writing this entry, I can only wonder if there is a connection between Vitamin K2 and the severity and onset of endometriosis similar to studies linking Vitamin D to the severity and onset of endometriosis. Additionally, with Vitamin K2 being linked to teeth formation and central nervous development, one can make the leap that this is a vitamin extremely important for prenatal care.   Plus, wouldn’t it be nice if your child didn’t need braces?

 How do you get Vitamin K2 in your Diet?

Now that you know how important Vitamin K2 is in the body, how do you get Vitamin K2 in your diet? The body does not maintain large stores of Vitamin K2, therefore we need to eat foods rich in K2 to keep this catalyst working for us.  However, the only food source include organ meats, goose liver pate, as well as other grass-fed meats, grass-fed eggs, and grass-fed dairy products.  Additionally, fermented foods such as Brie and Roquefort cheeses contain Vitamin K2. The best source of K2 is natto-a Japanese fermented food. If you choose to eat these foods-do so knowing you’re getting some Vitamin K2 in your diet!  If you are eating a daily dose of non-GMO natto-congratulations! You are probably one of the few people getting an optimal level of Vitamin K2 in your diet. Since most of us are not eating pasture-raised animals, fermented cheeses, or natto, then you’ll most likely need to supplement. Still curious about why this nutrient was not upheld as one of the greatest discoveries in nutrition? Here’s a few more words about the discovery of Vitamin K2:

The Discovery of Vitamin K2

In the 1930s, Danish biochemist Henrik Dam discovered Vitamin K1. The vitamin was named Vitamin K for the word “koagulation” due to its important role in blood clotting. An American researcher by the name of Edward Doisy then determined Vitamin K’s structure. The two researchers together won the 1943 Nobel Prize in Physiology for their discovery of this important nutrient. Both of these researchers recognized that Vitamin K had two forms (Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2). However, they considered them to be the same vitamin, not recognizing that Vitamin K2 had distinct properties outside of blood clotting.   Vitamin K1 is highly recycled in the body, therefore, the body needs very small doses to maintain adequate levels. As a result, the story of Vitamin K and its discovery ended there.

Around the same time, a dentist by the name of Weston Price started to research the connection between nutrition and chronic illness. Dr. Price was concerned by the number of patients in his practice experiencing both chronic illness along with tooth decay and gum disease. He and his wife embarked on a global adventure to discover the root cause of these conditions.  During this time, he noted that many indigenous families lived without such luxuries as medical or dental care, or a toothbrush and floss! However, they were generally living without the nuisance of chronic illness. Additionally, he noted that their children had perfectly straight teeth, excellent jaw formation, without tooth decay or gum disease.

His determination to solve this paradox led him to compare dietary practices. As a result, he discovered a fat-soluble vitamin and called it: “activator X”.  Price demonstrated that the lack of this “activator X” resulted in a reproducible pattern of disease including tooth decay, gum disease, and other chronic illnesses.  His documentation showed that the diets of healthy, native populations contained at least four times more minerals and water-soluble vitamins as well as ten times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins in comparison to the the standard American diet at the time. You may guess by now that this “activator X” is now what is known to be Vitamin K2. Still, his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and its findings did not become mainstream nutritional advice.

Tragically, it was not until 1997, when an study determined that Vitamin K2 was essential for two processes unrelated to blood clotting: helping calcium deposit in the bones and preventing calcification of arteries. In 2007, an additional study showed that Vitamin K2 deficiency was widespread. In other words, the majority of the population was no longer eating pasture-raised animals and had become silently deficient. It took almost 70 years for the scientific community to recognize the importance of “activator X”!

More Information About Vitamin K2

Although this blog entry is longer than typical posts, it only covers a fraction of the information about Vitamin K2. For more information, please turn to two of my favorite experts on this subject. The Ultimate Vitamin K2 Resource, is a website created by Chris Masterjohn, Ph.D. detailing everything that you could possibly want to know about Vitamin K2. Additionally, Kate Rheaume-Bleue, B.Sc., N.D. wrote the book, Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox which I now include on my Women’s Health Book List.

Until then, happy natto eating!

~Jessica

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. 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 500 acupuncturists in the United States. Prior to studying Traditional Chinese Medicine, she graduated from the University of California at Davis with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery.

She currently maintains a private acupuncture practice in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. Her practice was awarded Best Acupuncture Center by Boston Magazine. Areas of specialty include women’s health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For clients interested in learning more about the benefits of acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please visit our acupuncture + fertility page. New patients can book online to schedule any acupuncture service including a complimentary consult.

In addition to seeing patients in her private practice, Jessica works as a health care consultant for integrative medical institutes in the United States. Her clients include IVF and infertility centers, functional medicine offices, orthopedic facilities, concierge practices, and green spas. If you are interested in learning more about these services, please contact OMBE.

Prior to her consulting work, Jessica founded an integrative health center in Boston. The eco-friendly center was one of the first twenty-five companies certified as a Sustainable Business Leader in Boston. During its ten-year tenure, the center provided services including acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, naturopathy, nutritional counseling, personal training, Pilates, and yoga. The center’s class studio offered mom and baby programming, Mongan Method Hypnobirthing, natural childbirth education, the Holistic Moms Network, as well as ballet barre, Pilates, and yoga classes. The center was the recipient of several awards, including Mayor Menino’s Green Business Award, a multiple recipient of Boston Business Journal’s Best Workplace, Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston Award for Massage Therapy as well as Best Eco-Friendly Massage, Eco-Beauty Bar, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, Pilates, and Workout.

Tools to Conceive Naturally Part IV

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

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.

Tools to Conceive Naturally Part III

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.

Tools to Conceive Naturally 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.

Tools to Conceive Naturally

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

One of the best tools to use when you are trying to conceive naturally is basal body temperature charting.  This is a great thing to do whether you are just starting out or have been trying to conceive for a handful of months and want to eliminate any guesswork.  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.

Fertility & Vitamin D Supplementation

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. During this time of year, patients ask whether it is better to go without sunscreen to get a healthy dose of morning sun exposure as well as Vitamin D.  Other 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’ve discussed the importance of Vitamin D previously this year, but I thought it would be helpful to discuss in today’s blog again, 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.