Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some questions and answers which we often deal with. If you have a question that is not covered here, please contact us.
When should we start acupuncture?
I am asked many times when a couple who are planning to start IVF should start acupuncture treatment. Firstly I always ask if the initial condition which caused them to look at IVF treatment was unexplained infertility as this may offer another option. When unexplained infertility is diagnosed I always suggest that the couple try a course of acupuncture first. I have found that sometimes a course of acupuncture with weekly treatments over 2 cycles can be very effective where unexplained infertility is concerned. If the acupuncture treatment is unsuccessful on its own it still forms the basis of the treatment I recommend prior to IVF, so the time and treatment is not wasted.
How many treatments will I need?
I recommend at least 4 weekly treatments prior to the down-regulating process of IVF or ICSI. If ICSI is being used due to a sperm condition, I would also recommend treatment for the male partner to optimise sperm quality.
I would not carry out treatment during the down-regulating process (usually 2-3 weeks) as in my experience acupuncture can reduce the effect of the drugs used. My treatment would resume during the next stage of IVF / ICSI when the patient starts to take the stimulating drugs. This usually lasts for 2 weeks sometimes longer, I recommend treatment weekly during this process. I only recommend one further treatment just prior to embryo transfer with an optional treatment after transfer. This amounts to 7-8 treatments in all.
Further treatments during your term may be helpful, in particular when there has been a history of miscarriage or it is a concern, or to help with morning sickness.
How important is timing and consistency of treatment?
Timing and consistency of treatment, whether having acupuncture or just taking herbs, is of primary importance. Consistency of treatment is most important for men, as to raise sperm count and motility with herbs starts to take effect at the fourth month of treatment. It takes 70 days to generate new sperm.
Timing and consistency is also important for women as there are specific hormonal adjustments that can be made at each week of the cycle. Missing a week of treatment may lose an important opportunity to heal a particular segment of the four phase menstrual cycle. It takes a minimum of three consecutive cycles (12 treatments) to do the foundation work of regulation regardless of biological age. Most women can benefit from this type of concentrated foundational treatment every two years, even if they aren’t trying to conceive. This should be started before a woman reaches 28 years old or earlier if birth control pills have been taken.
Can I turn back the clock?
“Turning back the clock” is indeed possible. Regarding biological vs. chronological age, according to the 2,000 year old Chinese medical classic (Nei Ching su wen ling shu) there are some precepts of health and aging that are very important in this day and age. Accordingly, the normal life span for humans is over 100 years. There are documented life spans of monks that have lived in good health to well over 150 years old. In the Nei Ching there is a dialogue between the Yellow Emperor and an old Taoist teacher named Chi-po. Why does medicine exist? asks the Yellow Emperor, “…because people have severed themselves from their roots (Tao)”. The reconnection between the individual and their “roots” (spirituality) is a very important aspect in the maintaining of youthfulness and is thereby inherent in the basic foundation of traditional medicine. Modern science supports this in the focus on the emerging stem cell technologies and the possible cures for major life threatening diseases. Stem cells are found in abundance in the umbilical cord which suggests this deep root connection to the Jing Qi (essential energy). Understanding the root cause and quality of one’s own longevity can slow the aging process and rejuvenate the body as thoughts can create reality. Knowing with certainty that we are an ageless body is the basis for creating high level wellness in the modern world. Longevity however is more than just belief.
Correct dietary and exercise habits are just as important for the preconceptive mother as for the father. Eating salads (cold nature food) for a year is not the best diet for a person who has generally a low basal body temperature (BBT). Sometimes eating meat such as lamb (warming food) can help tonify a “cold” barren uterus. For male factor and unexplained infertility there are specific physical and mental exercises to be done by couples to generate the right environment necessary for creativity and conception
Should I tell my fertility doctor about my acupuncture treatment?
Combining conventional reproductive technologies with ancient acupuncture and herbal techniques demands accurate communications between team members which includes the patient as captain. Communication between the patient, the acupuncturist and the reproductive specialist is a delicate process. It is important for the physician to have knowledge of the procedures of the acupuncturist/herbalist and vis a vis. Lacking knowledge of an herbal program that a patient is on can effect the results of an ART procedure. It can even be detrimental as alternative therapies are effective in changing a persons body. Likewise it is important for the patient to inform the acupuncturist of any herbs or vitamins that are being taken while undergoing treatment, other than prenatal vitamins. Over the counter herbal remedies might be effective in some cases but may not be indicated for a particular cycle. It could be like having carpet delivered for the newborns room before the concrete foundation was poured for the house. Acupuncture works quite differently than western medicines. They are gentle and deep acting rather than flashy and bright. Expect to feel a growing subtle influence that permeates your life like the smell of star jasmine on a summers night.
What if I have already had a course of acupuncture treatment in the past?
If you have tried acupuncture in the past unsuccessfully I would strongly recommend that you try my infertility treatment style to obtain results. 50% of my patients had tried acupuncture unsuccessfully before they were recommended to me. My style of acupuncture is unique to me and geared to offer my patients the best possible treatment.
When selecting an acupuncturist or any healer it is important to know that they are suitably qualified to do fertility work. Communication, experience and skill are important. Having a state acupuncture license means that the acupuncturist has passed a course of study that qualifies them as an entry level practitioner. Usually this is about 3,000 hours training, though there are some physician programs that are only 300. A growing number of practitioners have a greater than entry level experience of treating couples that are integrating oriental medicine with conventional reproductive techniques. These practitioners are to be sought out, as treating an infertile couple demands not just general practice but also specialty skill. General practice skills help remove pre-existing conditions. If these conditions are the cause of infertility then the couples fecundity quotient will be increased. However, if either reproductive function or biological age of the endocrine system is the primary contributory factor then specialty skills and experience is necessary.
What are some of the advantages of having acupuncture?
Not only does acupuncture assist in regulating the menstrual cycle and invigorating the sperm, but it also serves to enhance the function of the whole body. This “whole body” health approach, in turn, provides a key to unlock unlimited potential in healing. This is especially appropriate for the over 40 couple as it stimulates overall health to effect reproductive health and a reduction of biological age.
PMS, amenorrhoea, endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, immune system incongruities, and infertility related hormonal problems yield to many of these old world (traditional) procedures. Furthermore, acupuncture that tonifies the kidney energy (renal and adrenal function), and kidney essence (jing) are especially beneficial in raising sperm count and motility. The highly technical and expensive methods used in Western Medicine are supported by the complimentary set of procedures and techniques of acupuncture.
There are several advantages to using acupuncture as an approach to heightening a couple’s fertility:
- Acupuncture sees the person as an integral mind/body organism, thereby does not treat just symptoms/diseases. Acupuncture ventures to stimulate the bodies natural healing potential by treating root causes rather than just symptoms.
- Acupuncture used in the treatment of infertility, minimizes undesired side effects and accumulated toxicity from invasive procedures and drug therapies, known and unknown.
- Traditional Chinese medicine may be used to strengthen and balance one’s general health so that IVF, GIFT, ZIFT, ICSI, AHT and TET procedures are more effective. The acupuncture patient derives general health benefits and endocrine system balancing from specific acupuncture and herbal regimes. Pregnancy becomes easier to achieve and postpartum recuperation happens faster. Medical studies have been done in China to verify this type of whole body health enhancement.
- The widespread use of acupuncture suggests that it is a complete traditional medical health care system and can be used with or without the integration of Western medical techniques. The integration of Western medicine, as we know it in America, began in the Orient less than a century ago. It is called INTEGRAL CHINESE MEDICINE (ITCM). Ancient medical techniques of acupuncture utilized with modern procedures, seem to work best.
How do I choose and trust my acupuncturist?
Many people are unaware that training in acupuncture varies enormously. When choosing a competent acupuncturist that has been trained properly in traditional acupuncture be sure to check that they are members of the British Acupuncture Council who require very high clinical standards and qualifications of their members. Their members are usually degree trained (at least 3,600 hours of training) and can use the letters MBAcC after their names. Some medical professionals who claim to practice acupuncture may only have 4 days training or even less!
Some practitioners who describe themselves as “Acupuncturists” have received no training in any of the Far Eastern Medical knowledge that underpins the use of acupuncture points. They may have done a course which merely shows how to anatomically locate the acupuncture points. I recommend that you ask any Practitioner who offers you acupuncture, be they a GP, Physiotherapist, or Nurse etc “what length of training they have had in acupuncture, and who are they registered with?” Registration with a professional acupuncture organisation ensures insurance. Do not agree to treatment without being fully informed of this and if necessary before you sign up check with their professional body. Members of any of the professional bodies listed below will be able to show you their current membership certificate.
I offer you the following information to help you decide whether to let a practitioner treat you.
You can also gather your own information off the web – try typing in acupuncture.org.uk
Members of the British Acupuncture Council (MBAcC) 020 873 50400 est 1984 are:
- required to have attended and passed a three year course which includes 3,600 hours of study, (450 days) including 6 months clinical whereby students perform supervised treatment of patients. (Until 1999 this qualification was know as a Licence in Traditional Acupuncture, (Lic.AC) since then it is a BA Honours course),
- required to continue to attend Traditional Acupuncture courses after qualification to maintain continuing professional development,
- undergo extensive training in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western biomedical sciences,
- abide by strict codes of safe practice, ethics, and professional conduct,
- are covered by full liability insurance.
Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) 01603 623994 est 1987 & The British Kanpo Association
- This register is part of the larger European Herbal Practitioners Association.
- Practitioners in this register have frequently completed an 3 year BAcC recognised Acupuncture Course first. Herbal course are 1-3 years, and depending on whether the practitioner prescribes patent or loose herbs. So please check which course they have done.
- Chinese herbal medicines are very efficacious when prescribed well, but like western pharmacology, there is a possibility they could have side effects.
- As the RMCH website points out” there are now a great number of people and shops in the UK who claim to be able to Practice Chinese medicine”…” it should be noted that forged certificates are not unheard of”….
- If you cannot read the language that the certificate is written in, you are even less likely to know whether it is authentic. If a practitioner has no recognised regulatory body behind them, they are unlikely to have insurance. So make sure you check that the register they belong to is a recognised professional body.