Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Fertility NOW!

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

 

In the recent news, there has been a lot of conflicting information on the role of diet, exercise, stress, and fertility treatments for patients trying to conceive. Eat ice cream, don’t eat ice cream. Exercise more, exercise less. 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 healthcare practitioners who will do the same for you so that you can discover your fertility formula. In the meantime, here are my “Top 10 Things You Can Do to Boost Your Fertility NOW!”

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 in 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 and Women’s Wisdom, as well as Randine Lewis’s The Infertility Cure. 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. 

2. 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 thereof), 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Find an OB/GYN: This may seem like an obvious “to-do” but so often we pick a healthcare provider based on what our insurance plan offers, geographical convenience, or who happens to be 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.

9. 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.

10. 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. 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, infertility, and sports medicine. She is the owner of OMBE, an integrative health center located in Copley Square in Boston, MA. The eco-friendly center offers acupuncture, chiropractic, life coaching, massage, naturopathy, nutritional counseling, personal training, Pilates and yoga. For more information about acupuncture or OMBE, visit www.ombecenter.com.

Acupuncture for Chronic Headache or Migraine

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Acupuncture is a common alternative to pharmalogical medication for chronic headaches or migraines, and the research shows why. Read below to learn about a study entitled, Acupuncture for chronic headache in primary care.

Methods: The study involved 401 patients with chronic headache, mainly migraine, who were randomly divided into an experimental and control group. The experimental group received up to 12 acupuncture treatments over the course of three months while the control group received usual care. Using a Likert scale, the patients assessed the intensity of their headache. Every three months for a year after the beginning of the study, patients also completed questionnaires.

Results: After 12 months, there was a greater reduction in the headache score of the acupuncture group than the control group. Specifically, it was 34% lower in the acupuncture group and only 16% lower in the control group. Patients who received acupuncture experienced an equivalent of 22 fewer days of headache per year. These patients also used 15% less medication, made 25% fewer visits to general practitioners, and took 15% fewer days off sick.

Conclusion: Acupuncture shows benefits for primary care patients with chronic headache, especially migraine.

At OMBE, we have two acupuncturists on staff. Call or book online to schedule an appointment or free, 30-minute consult.

 

Source

Vickers, Andrew J., et al. Acupuncture for chronic headache in primary care: large, pragmatic, randomised trial. BMJ. March 2004; 328:744.

Acupuncture for Pain Relief During Pregnancy

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A recent study investigated the effects of acupuncture on pelvic and low-back pain in women during their last trimester of pregnancy. Read below for details or check out the study here.

Methods: 72 pregnant women reporting pelvic and low-back pain were divided into an experimental and control group. The experimental group subjects received acupuncture treatments customized to their individual pain patterns. They received treatments once or twice a week until delivery or complete recovery. The control group subjects did not receive any treatment. Every week, the subjects made visual analogue scale evaluations of pain intensity, as well as three-point assessments of pain intensity during specific activities.

Results: Over the course of the study, the visual analogue scores of pain intensity decreased in 60% of subjects in the acupuncture group. In the control group, it decreased by only 14%. At the end of the study, 43% of those who received acupuncture reported less pain during the activities. Only 9% reported a decrease in the control group. Most importantly, there were no adverse effects in either the women who received acupuncture or their infants.

Conclusion: This study shows acupuncture can relieve low-back and pelvic pain during late pregnancy without negative side effects.

At OMBE, we have two acupuncturists on staff who specialize in women’s health. Call or book online to schedule an appointment or free, 30-minute consult.

 

Source:

Kvorning, Nina, et al. (2004). Acupuncture relieves pelvic and low-back pain in late pregnancy. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica (83)3, 246–250.

Effects of Acupuncture on Menopause: Part 3

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As discussed in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, research shows acupuncture can have beneficial effects on menopause and significantly ease its symptoms. A recent study from the Journal of The North American Menopause Society also examined acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating menopause.

Methods: The controlled study consisted of peri- and postmenopausal women who were randomly divided into two groups. The experimental group received twelve acupuncture treatments and maintained their usual care for four weeks. The control group simply underwent usual care. To measure hot flashes, the researchers multiplied their frequency by their severity on a scale of one to ten. These calculations were recorded daily.

Researchers measured the change in the women’s hot flash scores over the four-week period. Also, using the total Menopause Rating Scale, they measured the change in other menopause-related symptoms.

Results: The change in hot flash score was –16.57 in the acupuncture group and only –6.93 in the control group. Measurements from the Menopause Rating Scale showed significant improvements in the psychological, somatic, and urogenital symptoms within the acupuncture group compared to the control group.

Conclusion: This study shows that receiving acupuncture in conjunction with usual care can ease hot flashes and other menopause-related symptoms in peri- and postmenopausal women.

At OMBE, we have two acupuncturists on staff who specialize in women’s health. Call or book online to schedule an appointment or free, 30-minute consult.

 

Source

Kim, Kun Hyung, et al. (2010). Effects of acupuncture on hot flashes in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women—a multicenter randomized clinical trial. The Journal of The North American Menopause Society (17)2, 269–280.

Effects of Acupuncture on Menopause: Part 2

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Similar to the research discussed in last week’s post, a study from Holistic Nursing Practice examined the effects of acupuncture on the symptoms of menopause. These include hot flushes and sleep disturbances. The participants were randomized into two groups, both of which received acupuncture. The experimental group’s treatment involved specific body points related to menopausal symptoms. The control group received general treatments that did not involve points related to menopausal symptoms.

The results for the experimental group showed a decrease in sleep disturbances and the average monthly hot flush severity. For the group that received the comparison acupuncture treatments, the results did not show significant changes in these areas. Find further details about the study here.

When customized to the symptoms of menopause, acupuncture shows signs of providing relief for hot flushes and sleep disturbances.

At OMBE, we have two acupuncturists on staff who specialize in women’s health. Call or book online to schedule an appointment or free, 30-minute consult.

Check back next week for more research on how acupuncture can ease the symptoms of menopause!

 

Source

Cohen, Susan M., et al. (2003). Can Acupuncture Ease the Symptoms of Menopause? Holistic Nursing Practice (17)6, 295–299.

Effects of Acupuncture on Menopause: Part 1

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Although symptoms typical of menopause may ease in postmenopausal women, they sometimes persist during this stage. A recent study explored the effects of acupuncture on hot flashes and health-related quality of life in postmenopausal women. You can find the study here or read below for a summary.

Summary: Participants included postmenopausal women who experienced an average of seven hot flashes a day. The experimental group received ten acupuncture treatments and self-care advice, while the control group received only self-care advice. The participants recorded the frequency and severity (on a scale of one to ten) of their hot flashes.   Their health-related quality of life was measured by the Women’s Health Questionnaire.

Results: The hot flash frequency decreased by 5.8 per 24 hours in the experimental group and 3.7 per 24 hours in the control group. The hot flash severity also decreased by 3.2 units in the experimental group and 1.8 in the control group. Additionally, results of the Women’s Health Questionnaire showed that the experimental group experienced statistically significant improvements in vasomotor, sleep, and somatic symptoms compared with the control group.

Conclusion: Acupuncture in combination with self-care can reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes and improve quality of life in postmenopausal women.

At OMBE, we have two acupuncturists on staff who specialize in women’s health. Call or book online to schedule an appointment or free, 30-minute consult.

Check back next week for more research on how acupuncture can ease the symptoms of menopause!

 

Source

Borud, Einar Kristian, et al. (2009). The Acupuncture on Hot Flushes Among Menopausal Women (ACUFLASH) study, a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of The North American Menopause Society (16)3, 484-493.

Acupuncture & IVF Part 3: Increase Odds of a Live Birth

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In Acupuncture & IVF Part 2: Improve Pregnancy Rates, we discussed research on how acupuncture can improve the pregnancy rate in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF).   In the study referenced, patients in the test group received an acupuncture treatment before and after embryo transfer. While this resulted in higher pregnancy rates than the control group, who received no treatment, other studies have investigated the effects of not only acupuncture but also Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine (WS-TCM). Acupuncture is one facet of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

A study from May of this year divided 1,069 IVF patients into three groups:

  1. The WS-TCM group received acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and dietary or lifestyle recommendations before embryo transfer. They also received acupuncture treatments before and after the embryo transfer.
  2. The acupuncture group received one treatment before and after embryo transfer.
  3. The control group received no additional treatment.

The results found that there was a significantly higher rate of live births in the WS-TCM compared to the acupuncture and control groups. The number of biochemical pregnancies was lower in the WS-TCM group than the acupuncture and control groups. There was no significant difference in the number of miscarriages between the groups.

While research has shown that acupuncture treatments before and after embryo transfer improves rates of success, this study demonstrates that it may be even more effective to receive Traditional Chinese Medicine specific to your individual needs.

Instead of only receiving treatments directly before and after, acupuncturists often recommend receiving treatments up to 3–6 months prior to IVF transfer. To begin a treatment plan, meet with one of our acupuncturists. At OMBE, we have two on staff who specialize in areas of fertility. Meet with one of them to discuss a treatment plan! Call or book online to schedule an appointment or free, 30-minute consult.

Acupuncture & IVF Part 2: Increase Pregnancy Rates

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As mentioned last week in Acupuncture & IVF Part 1, research has shown acupuncture’s ability to reduce anxiety brought on by in vitro fertilization (IVF). Not only can acupuncture help keep you calm and relaxed, but it can also increase the success rates of IVF.

A recent study examined the effects of acupuncture on the pregnancy rates of 160 women. (101 of the women underwent IVF, while 59 were treated with intracytoplasmic sperm injection.) 80 women were randomly placed in the test group to receive acupuncture, while the other 80 were placed in the control group to receive therapy without acupuncture.

The results found that the pregnancy rate in women who received acupuncture was significantly higher than those who did not: 42.5% vs. 26.3%, respectively. In sum, acupuncture can improve the success rates of IVF. For more details, read the complete study.

To learn more about how acupuncture can help if you’re planning to undergo IVF, meet with one of our acupuncturists at OMBE. We have two on staff who specialize in areas of fertility and would be happy to meet with you for a free, 30-minute consult. To book an appointment, call or schedule online!

 

Source

Paulus, Wolfgang E., et al. (2002). Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertility and Sterility (70)4, 721-724.

Acupuncture & IVF Part 1: Reduce Anxiety

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In vitro fertilization (IVF) has been helping couples to conceive since the late 1970s. Such issues as endometriosis, problems with ovulation, low sperm count, and unidentified causes of infertility lead people to use IVF. While it may be helpful to couples with fertility issues, undergoing IVF can cause a lot of stress because of the physical, emotional, and financial investments it entails. Various research studies have investigated whether acupuncture can help reduce anxiety in women going through this procedure.

One recent study involved a randomized clinical trial in which 43 patients were divided into a test group (of 22 people) and control group (of 21 people). Everyone received four weekly treatments. In the test group, the needles were inserted at specific acupuncture points, while in the control group, the needles were inserted in areas near but not corresponding to those points. Before and after treatment, the patients’ anxiety levels were examined using the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAS). After the four-week experimental period, researchers found that the average HAS score was significantly lower in the test group than the control group. The results of the study indicate that acupuncture can indeed reduce anxiety in women undergoing IVF! Read the complete study here.

To relieve your anxiety, call OMBE to schedule an acupuncture appointment or book online. We offer complimentary consults for those who are interested but want to learn more before receiving a treatment!

For more information on how acupuncture can help those going through IVF, check back for next week’s post on Part 2 of Acupuncture & IVF!

 

Source

Isoyama, Daniela, et al. (2012). Effect of acupuncture on symptoms of anxiety in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: a prospective randomised controlled study. Acupuncture in Medicine 30(2), 85-88.

What is PCOS and Can Acupuncture Help?

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Recent research shows that acupuncture has positive effects on the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is the most common female endocrine disorder. Its symptoms usually include cysts on the ovaries and irregular or absent menstruation. In addition to being the leading cause of female infertility, PCOS also heightens the risk of developing hypertension and diabetes. Past research has demonstrated that acupuncture improves menstrual frequency and decreases circulating testosterone in women with PCOS. A recent study investigated whether acupuncture also affects ovulation frequency. Read the complete study here: Acupuncture for Ovulation Induction in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

In the study, thirty-two women with PCOS were randomly assigned to groups to receive either acupuncture with low-frequency electrical stimulation or meet with a physical therapist (the control group) twice a week for ten to thirteen weeks. The researchers measured the circulating levels of ovarian and adrenal sex steroid serum, which are elevated in women with PCOS. The results showed that these levels were significantly lower in the acupuncture group than the control group. Also, the ovulation frequency of women who received acupuncture was higher than those in the control group.

Overall, the results of this study indicate that acupuncture can improve the condition of the women with PCOS and is more effective than meeting with a physical therapist.

At OMBE, we have two acupuncturists on staff who specialize in areas of fertility. Call to schedule an appointment or book online. We also offer free, 30-minute consults for those who are interested but want to learn more before receiving a treatment!

 

Source

Johansson J, Redman L, Veldhuis PP, et al. Acupuncture for ovulation induction in polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2013-05-01 16:00:40 2013;304(9):E934- E943.