Fertility Treatment Process Utilizing Acupucture & Herbal Medicine
Thank you for considering entrusting Ariele's Apothecary with your most sacred hopes and dreams: starting or growing a family. We recognize that this is an honor, and we assure you that we will do our very best to help your dream become a reality.
While fertility issues can be a long road, as a patient of Ariele's Apothecary, we hold your hand at every step. What you can expect from us is honesty and support. If you want us to be completely and brutally honest, let us know. If, instead, you prefer that we be constant positive supporters, let us know this too. We are on your side and in your corner, and we have confidence in the ability of acupuncture and herbs to help balance your body.
Step by step guide of what to expect:
If you have not yet seen your ObGyn or Reproductive Endocrinologist yet, we do recommend certain testing. This can help to give us a baseline and to know what we need to focus on. Acupuncture and herbal medicine is extremely effective in balancing hormone levels, so even if some results come back as problematic, we can help you, without you having to resort to Western medicine.
We recommend the following for all patients:
Day 2 or 3 LH, FSH, Estrogen, AMH Levels
Day 21 Progesterone Level
Day 14 post-coital semen analysis
Please bring a copy of your results or have your doctor's office fax the results to our office for review.
We might suggest more testing as deemed necessary, but above are the basic tests we like all of our patients to receive.
When to schedule your acupuncture session:
While we recognize that not every woman has a "perfect" 28-30 day cycle, we all should have natural phases in our cycle during which we should be treating various energies of our body. It is best for you to try to come in for a session as close to these times as possible.
If you do are experiencing Amenorrhea, or lack of a period, we recommend you come in weekly.
1. While you have your period, or sometime between days 1 and 7.
2. Ovulation Protocol: 1-4 days before ovulation is expected, usually approximately days 8-13
3. Implantation Protocol: 3-7 Days post-ovulation, typically between days 16-21
4. During the Luteal Phase, 3-7 Days before Period is expected.
In our experience, Chinese Herbal remedies are often what tips the balance and helps you achieve pregnancy. We feel SO much more confident when a patient agrees to take herbs; we KNOW that herbs are safe and SO effective. We only choose herbal products that are grown and produced in the states, have strict manufacturing guidelines, and are completely safe for pregnancy. We have so many patients who have taken herbs to help them become pregnant, have taken herbal formulas all through their pregnancies (to help prevent miscarriage, for example) and whose babies are completely perfect and healthy. Herbs can not only help to correct an imbalance which might be leading to an inability to become pregnant, but can also help to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
We have had patients whose doctors are not comfortable with them taking herbal formulas. To this, we say that it is obviously your choice. You need to do what you feel most comfortable with. But all of our acupuncturists have had years of schooling in Chinese Herbalism and have received their Masters in Oriental Medicine, which includes an herbal degree. All are Nationally certified Herbalists. We understand that doctors can fear that which they do not understand or have not studied. But we feel extremely confident in our ability to diagnose you and prescribe you with the herbal formula which most suits your needs.
Herbs are digested and absorbed through digestion, and some recognizable herbs are ginger, yam, pepper, aloe and licorice. When we are not familiar with herbs, they can seem scary and foreign, but we believe that they are part of nature and meant for us to use them for healing. They work perfectly in conjunction with acupuncture, and we have all noticed that women become pregnant more quickly and easily when they combine acupuncture with herbal remedies.
Your acupuncturist will select an herbal formula for each phase of your menstrual cycle. While we will choose your specific formula based on your diagnosis, below is an example of what your herbal regimen might look like:
Days 1-5: Jade Moon Phase 1
Days 6-11: Jade Moon Phase 2: Over 35
Days 12-18: Jade Moon Phase 3
Days 19-next Period: Jade Moon Phase 4
We recommend that all of our patients take a prenatal multivitamin and 2000 IU of vitamin D daily.
Basal Body Temperature Chart
We recommend that most of our patients keep track of their cycle using a basal body temperature chart. Some patients like to use an ovulation predictor kit, and it's fine for you to continue to do so. But a BBT chart gives us so much more information about what is happening during the rest of your cycle. It can help us to see where you body is improving, and where we need to continue to work.
We will give you a chart, and show you how to mark your temperature. Make a few photocopies of a blank chart so that you can track your cycle for a few months. If it seems like too much work or energy to track your chart, we just ask for one consistent cycle, so that we know what we're working with.
Also be sure to let us know about cervical mucus. You should see mucus that looks like raw egg white consistency around ovulation. This is fertile cervical fluid!
Day 1 is the first day of your period, or the first day you wake up bleeding. Purchase a non-digital thermometer. There are ones that are specifically basal thermometers, which means that the temperature range is not as big so it's easier to read. Any non-digital thermometer is fine. Keep it on your nightstand and every morning, before you even get out of bed, take and record your temperature. If you have gotten out of bed within three hours of taking your temperature for any reason (to go to the bathroom, get a drink, etc) make a note of it on your chart, as it will elevate your temperature. If you have been sick, drank alcohol or traveled, note that as well. Temperature must be taken as close to the same time every morning as possible. Some patients set their alarms on weekends, take their temperature, and go back to sleep, not even looking at the thermometer until they wake up later. That's the good thing about non-digital thermometers: they hold their temperature until you shake it!
From your BBT chart, we can see how your follicles are likely developing, when you ovulate, how you ovulate, and if your progesterone levels are high enough. We will treat you accordingly based on your BBT chart, as well as on what we see and diagnose during our sessions together.
Women are sometimes embarrassed to ask about sex. But, yes, there will be a lot of sex going on! If you are not sure when you are ovulating, we recommend having intercourse every other day, starting at Day 8 through around Day 16. If you know when you are ovulating, begin having intercourse every other day starting at Day 8, and then have intercourse on three consecutive days, beginning the day before you are supposed to ovulate. Intercourse after the day after you ovulate is optional.
If your husband's sperm count or quality is low, have intercourse only every other day, not every day. Make sure that he does not "waste" ejaculate with masturbation around your ovulation time.
General Instructions for Men:
Do not smoke marijuana.
Wear boxer shorts, not "tighties."
No hot tubs or long bike rides.
We recognize how frustrating it can be to have cycles come and go without getting pregnant. Yes, some women do become pregnant just one cycle after starting acupuncture treatments. But, when women ask us how long it should take, we always say to give it at least 6 months before deciding to begin ART or "giving up". We will be honest with you if we feel you need some sort of Western Medical intervention before then.
We consider the first 3 months as the time your body needs to correct imbalances. We need to nourish your yin and blood to support healthy follicular growth, warm your yang to ensure progesterone levels, boost your qi so that you have the energy you need to support a pregnancy to full-term. Usually we will see significant change after those three months, whether in the way you feel or as shown on your BBT chart.
Acupuncture for IVF & IUI
If you do choose to begin the IUI or IVF process, we will support you 100%. Acupuncture has been proven to help to increase the success rate of both IUI and IVF by up to 40%... see attached study.
If possible, we do recommend that you begin acupuncture treatments at least 3 months prior to beginning your treatment. Sometimes women conceive and are thrilled to be able to cancelled their scheduled treatments. But even if you do not conceive naturally, acupuncture will help your body be at its most healthy to place to accept the fertility treatments. It will also help to reduce the side effects of the hormone therapy and medication.
We recommend once weekly treatments in the months leading up the your IVF or IUI cycle. During your cycle, we recommend twice weekly sessions. On the day of IVF transfer, we recommend a session before and after the transfer. If you're unable to come in twice on the day of transfer, we recommend a session the night before, and one as close to the completion of transfer as possible. If not the same day, the next morning is okay. We recommend a session before or after IUI.
We recommend once or twice weekly sessions post-IUI or IVF procedure until fetal heartbeat is detected, about 4-5 weeks post transfer.
Acupuncture for Pregnancy
Acupuncture is very safe and even helpful during pregnancy, so if you'd like to continue your treatments, we are always happy to continue treating you!
If you have experienced miscarriage in the past, we like to continue to treat women through their first trimester, to help to support the pregnancy and prevent miscarriage. There is a very powerful herbal formula, as well, that can help to prevent miscarriage.
We see many women through their first trimester to help with morning sickness, headaches and fatigue. Most women feel wonderful during their second trimester, so they sometimes choose to take a break from treatments (although many continue to come in simply because they love it!)
Third trimester, acupuncture can help balance blood sugar to help prevent gestational diabetes. It can also help to manage blood pressure, relieve aches and pains of your growing body and changing center of gravity, and help with sleep.
We get a lot of women coming in for "Labor Induction" at week 40 or even 41, but we always recommend beginning acupuncture treatments at week 35 or 36 to start things moving. It won't "make" you go into labor before your body is ready, but it can certainly clear stagnation and move blocks that could prevent labor from starting on its own. Around week 39 or 40, we can certainly really start to get things moving, but we always find that results are better when the mama has been getting regular acupuncutre sessions in advance of that.