F.A.Q.


General Information

TCM, Acupuncture for Infertility or IVF treatments

(What other conditions can be treated by acupuncture?)

(How dose acupuncture help IVF/IUI?-Youtube video)


What is TCM ?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (T.C.M.) is one type of Oriental Medicine. T.C.M. possesses two outstanding features: holistic point of view and application of treatment according to the differentiation, including herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, massage (TuiNa), remedial exercises and diet. It has been used in China to restore health and treat disease for over 3000 years. In the western point of view, T.C.M. just stands for Traditional Chinese herbal Medicine, which consists mostly of nature herbal plants and mineral substances. The herbal medicine can be used to treat diseases by oral taking or external application. Herbal formulas can be oral taken in a variety of ways. The patient may be prescribed raw herbs. He/she will take home, and following simple instruction, steep these herbs into a tea to be drunk at home. Although we call it "tea," some patients find the taste to be a little less than "delicious." For this reason, many practitioners also offer herbal supplements in pill and capsule form. Herbal formulas tend to be created for a single patient and their specific pattern of disharmony. Back to FAQ Contents

What are the differences between T.C.M. and Western Medicine ?

In short, Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been viewed as two distinct and divergent medicines. Their approaches to physiology and healing appear quite different in perspective. While Western medicine separates the various systems and organs of the body and delves deeper and deeper into the particles that comprise matter. Chinese medicine views the body and further, the whole person, as a unified organic whole. Spiritual, mental, emotional and physical aspects are all seen as interrelated and interdependent.
The diagnosis of Western Medicine is based on evidence found in the body and the principle of treatment is almost similar to the same disease. However, the diagnosis of TCM and the approach of treatment are based on each individualized practitioner's experience and knowledge. Therefore, the therapeutic effect is different quite often. So, it is more important for clients to find a good TCM practitioner.
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What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture (the insertion of very fine needles to promote the flow of energy within the body) is a balancing technique purported to restore the body to optimal health. The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues, blood flow and nervous pulses also follow meridians to run through the body to various parts, structures and organs. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers are like a dam that backs up the flow in one part of the body and restricts it in others. Any obstruction and blockages or deficiencies of energy, blood and nervous pulses would eventually lead to disease. Needling the acupuncture points can influence the meridians: the acupuncture needles unblock the obstruction at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body's internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians. Modern science explain the functions of acupuncture as following: Needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones, which influence the body's own internal regulating system. Back to FAQ Contents

How does acupuncture work?

According to Chinese medical theory, energy or Qi ("Chi") runs through the body and along its surface in regular patterns called channels or meridians. These channels nourish and regulate the functions of the body. When the energy flows freely in these channels, health is maintained. When the energy is blocked or depleted, pain or illness results. Needling acupuncture points normalizes the flow of Qi to help correct internal imbalances in the body. A more scientific explanation of acupuncture is that the stimulation of certain trigger points on the body by acupuncture needles affects the autonomic nervous system, the vascular and endocrine physiology, and the brain chemistry, as well as the body's production of endorphins. Back to FAQ Contents

Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture (the insertion of very fine needles to promote the flow of energy within the body) is a balancing technique purported to restore the body to optimal health. The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues, blood flow and nervous pulses also follow meridians to run through the body to various parts, structures and organs. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers are like a dam that backs up the flow in one part of the body and restricts it in others. Any obstruction and blockages or deficiencies of energy, blood and nervous pulses would eventually lead to disease. Needling the acupuncture points can influence the meridians: the acupuncture needles unblock the obstruction at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body's internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians. Modern science explain the functions of acupuncture as following: Needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones, which influence the body's own internal regulating system. Back to FAQ Contents

What kinds of needles are used? Painful? Safe?

Extremely fine stainless steel needles are used. To avoid the risk of transmission of contagious disease, all needles are pre-sterilized, pre-packaged and disposable. In the majority of cases, patients barely feel anything at all, but only a small percentage experience some discomfort during treatment. Back to FAQ Contents

How many treatments do I need?

Since each person is unique, the number of treatments will vary. Among the determining factors are the nature,severity, and history of each person's complaint, as well as the general health of the individual. Usually one or two treatments per week are necessary to begin with. Many conditions can be alleviated very rapidly with acupuncture and herbs. Chronic illnesses may require treatment for several weeks or longer. Acute problems generally respond much faster. As in any form of medical care, the patient's attitude, diet, determination, and lifestyle will affect the outcome and course of treatment. Back to FAQ Contents

Who will be appropriate candidates for acupuncture and herbal medicine?

Women with unexplained infertility or hormonal imbalances, such as menstrual irregularities, PMS, high FSH level, anovulation, difficult implantation, and frequent miscarriage, would be encouraged to seek relief from Acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The most frequent cause of unexplained infertility or hormonal imbalance is energy stagnation, which affects blood flow in the pelvic area. Many years of emotional stress, depression, frustration, overwork, and improper diet and lifestyle often play a major role in energy congestion.
Men with unexplained infertility or sperm abnormality are also considered to be the appropriate candidates.
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How does TCM help infertility?

Acupuncture stimulates the flow of intrinsic energy in the body, enhances the blood circulation to the pelvic region and benefits vital organ function. Chinese herbal formulas tonify (restore) kidney energy (renal and adrenal function) and nourish the deeper vital essence to help the body produce a healthy ovum. In addition, proper exercise, correct diet and a healthy life style all promote the flow of specific meridians and remove existing inner psychological frustration restoring your reproductive health, which helps you not only to conceive, but also to deliver a healthy, full term baby. Back to FAQ Contents

How does acupuncture help treat infertility?

Acupuncture affects the central nervous system to regulate the pituitary and the hormonal system. Acupuncture also promotes circulation of blood and energy throughout your body, especially to the reproductive organs (ovaries, uterus, and testicles) which is extremely important to help you conceive. Some manifestations of poor blood and energy flow are: premenstrual symptoms, ovulatory pain, endometriosis, blocked tubes, fibroids, clotting in the menstrual blood, headaches associated with your cycle, high FSH levels, and suboptimal sperm analysis. While the above signs and symptoms in and of themselves will not necessarily be the primary cause of your inability to conceive, they do reveal internal blockages of energy and blood which may contribute to infertility. Back to FAQ Contents

How long will it take for me to get pregnant?

Most patients (men and women) need a minimum of 3 months of treatment with most couples conceiving between 6 to 12 months. For women, consistent treatment is important so specific hormonal adjustments can be made at each week of the cycle using acupuncture and herbs. Missing a week of treatment may lose an important opportunity to heal a particular segment of the four-phase menstrual cycle (menstruation, follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase). A minimum of three consecutive cycles (twelve treatments) begins to regulate a woman's system regardless of biological age. However, if you will be using acupuncture with ART, the treatment period will vary depending on the success of the procedure. If the procedure is unsuccessful, most continue acupuncture for as long as they want to try to conceive. Because of the cumulative healing effect of acupuncture and its ability to increase one's fertility quotient, most patients continue acupuncture for the duration of time that the individual is trying to conceive. Remember that trying to get pregnant is a statistical game. The more you try, naturally or with ART, the better your chances are. This applies to acupuncture as well, the longer you allow it to correct and balance your body, the better your chances are, naturally or with ART. Therefore, the couple must expect to devote six to nine months to consistent treatment before evaluating results. There is no quick path when it comes to conception and full-term pregnancy of a healthy child, but it's well worth the wait. Back to FAQ Contents

What else is important in addition to receiving acupuncture?

Regular Quality Sleep - Having regular quality sleep is extremely important for fertility as studies show low fertility rates and early pregnancy losses among shift workers. Regular, quality sleep is particularly important if a woman is suffering from an irregular menstrual cycle, anovulation, or amenorrhea, all of which can be considered to be part of a biological rhythm disorder.
Stress and Relaxation - Despite the well-known link between infertility and stress, anxiety, and/or depression, the importance of stress management and relaxation is often underestimated. We believe stress contributes, at least to a certain degree, in almost all cases of primary infertility, unexplained failed IVF, and unexplained miscarriages. Prolonged stress over the years can lead to the conditions that cause infertility. Stress hormones such as catecholamines (adrenalin, noradrenalin, and dopamine) and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis interact with hormones which are responsible for normal ovulatory cycles (ie., GnRH, prolactin, LH and FSH). Furthermore, some hormones that are released during times of stress can cause the uterus to contract and/or negatively interact with immune cells, both of which will interfere with proper implantation.
Regular practice of stress management and relaxation exercises is very important. However, in this day and age, everyone is exposed to all kinds of stress and realistically it is impossible to avoid stress. In fact, the medical tests and treatments for infertility are some of the major sources of stress for many women trying to conceive.
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My FSH is too high. Does acupuncture correct hormonal imbalance?

An increasing number of women are visiting acupuncture clinics seeking help in correcting the hormone imbalances (FSH, LH, progesterone, prolactin etc.) they are suffering from.
Regular acupuncture treatments can be very helpful in regulating hormonal imbalances, although it should be noted that acupuncture does not directly alter the female hormones. Rather, acupuncture is considered to influence the hormonal regulation centers in the brain and autonomic nervous system (i.e., the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis) and as a result, improvement in hormonal status can occur over time.
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As I receive a series of treatments, how do you and I know that acupuncture is working for me?

If you are not presently on hormones, we recommend that you record your basal body temperature (BBT) every morning. The BBT chart is not the best method available to detect the exact time of ovulation, however, it is an excellent method to get an idea about the female hormone fluctuation pattern and can be used as a one of the indexes to know your progress by observing changes in the BBT pattern from month to month.
As mentioned earlier, the focus of our acupuncture approach is to help improve overall health. Therefore, as patients receive a series of acupuncture treatments, many of them experience easier menses and enhanced feelings of well-being such as more restful sleep, better digestion, decreased anxiety, increase of energy, etc. These physical and emotional shifts can only positively influence the chance of conceiving regardless of whether one is trying naturally or undergoing medical reproductive treatment.
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Should my husband be treated?

It is estimated that men are responsible for up to 50% of infertility among couples. Despite scientific medical advances, the cause of 40% to 50% of males with infertility is unknown with little to no available medical treatment, leaving IVF as the only option. In our practice the majority of women pursue IVF because of male factor infertility. If the semen analysis shows decreased sperm count, motility, poor liquefaction, or low levels of normal morphology, acupuncture & herbal medicine can address these issues successfully. Recent studies have shown acupuncture can improve semen abnormalities in concentration, motility and/or morphology. If the men had sought appropriate treatment at the onset of the diagnosis, it is most likely they would not have needed IVF and would have been able to conceive naturally. If the only reason a couple can't conceive is due to male factor infertility, then acupuncture and herbal medicine should be considered as a primary approach.
If your partner/husband is unwilling to seek acupuncture treatment, we highly recommend that he come in for an herbal and nutritional consultation. Although not as effective as treatment in combination with acupuncture, taking herbs and supplements can still improve abnormal sperm parameters.
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I will be undergoing IVF. When should I start acupuncture?

While some patients respond to acupuncture quickly, acupuncture certainly does not work overnight.Most patients require a series of ongoing treatments over a few months to a year. The recommended treatment schedule is based on consideration of a variety of factors in each individual case. In many cases, we recommend that you start acupuncture treatment at least 2 months prior to the commencement of the IVF cycle and that you continue for 1 to 2 times a week until the day of the transfer. Back to FAQ Contents

My acupuncturist gave me a bottle of herbal medicine. They were pills. Are these herbs the right ones for me?

Probably not. Herbal medicine is an art and a science which has been and continues to be developed. The use of herbal medicine spans over a period of more than three-thousand years. After all this time, it has been determined that the best way to prescribe herbal medicine is via development of a custom made formula which is designed exclusively for the particular patient being treated. The bottled stuff is known as a "Patent Formula". It is given to multiple patients regardless of the differences in their presenting pathologies.
When treating complex presentations such as infertility, custom formulae are the only way to go. If a person is taking Patent Medicine, they are definitely not taking advantage of the power and flexibility which herbal medicine has to offer.
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If what you say is true, why did my practitioner give me this Patent stuff?

Your practitioner is probably not board certified in herbal medicine. If he or she is, then they limited experience in proper diagnosis and formula design. Prescribing custom developed herbal formula (the traditional way!) is an art which takes years of arduous study and practice to master. Remember, just because one is licensed as an acupuncturist does not automatically mean that one possesses knowledge of herbal medicine. Typically, in China, practitioners of herbal medicine are not acupuncturists and acupuncturists are not herbalists. It takes years to master each discipline, so doing both is that much more difficult. Back to FAQ Contents

I understand that you use herbal medicine with many of your patients. What do the herbs do? And, are they safe?

Acupuncture adjusts your body back to balance easily. If your systemic deficiencies contributing to infertility, acupuncture in and of itself may not be enough. Herbal medicine can have a direct impact on your metabolic system, your endocrine system and other systems which may be hypofunctioning and contributing to infertility. Herbal medicine can nourish your internal reproductive landscape and give your body something it lacks; acupuncture can invigorate that which is stagnant and move that which is blocked.
As far as the safety factor of herbal medicine, there are more than one million hospitalizations per year in America as a result of adverse reactions to prescribed medications. When is the last time that you read about someone being hospitalized for taking herbal medicine? If a Board Certified herbalist prescribes an herbal formula for a patient, it will, generally speaking, be safe. What you must not do is self medicate with herbal medicine or take herbal medicine prescribed by someone who is not Board Certified; in this case, they may be harmful!
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