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Infertility and Loneliness

We work with many individuals and couples to support their fertility goals.

Infertility comes with many complex emotions. Dealing with infertility and loneliness can be a double strike. From day to day, minute to minute, emotions can range from excitement and joy at a positive test result, a response to medication, or a particular symptom to devastation, sadness, or anger over another failed cycle, miscarriage, or dead end. Through what can only be described as a rollercoaster, one prevailing feeling often shines through. 

Loneliness. 

For many of the couples that come for acupuncture at our office here in Knoxville, their support system is very small, or even non-existent. Other than their spouse, support may only come from a very small group of people; a trusted friend, mother, etc. I can’t think of many other stressful life events that aren’t shared, overshared, discussed, laughed or cried about with a larger group of support people. 

And nobody brings over casseroles when you’re going through infertility. 

Is social media helpful?

Even in the event one does decide to break the silence and share their situation, they’re often met with well-meaning, but not helpful comments like “just relax,” “my friend took this vitamin, you should try it,” “have you thought about adoption?” Or, worse yet, they slowly drop off their level of communication and effectively vanish from their lives.

What about the other areas of daily life?

And this isolation just doesn’t stop at social relationships. It can extend to work or other hobbies. Living through infertility often means playing a game of “what if.”

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Constantly wondering if/when treatment might be successful can create situations where women might put off going for a promotion, changing jobs, etc to prepare for what might be.

Infertility itself can even be a reason to put careers on hold. Sometimes a job might be a good fit for the flexibility needed for fertility treatment, or health insurance at a job might even cover treatment. 

Finding a connection.

For some, social media is a great outlet where one can even remain anonymous if they prefer. There are countless groups based on diagnosis, clinic, region, cycle, etc. But when they log off, that connection is gone.

Some couples turn to counseling or therapy to work on communication and coping skills. For others, their place of worship plays a vital role.  

Be a support.

I don’t have an answer to solve this loneliness (though I wish I did…), but I want you to know that we hear you and our thoughts are with you. The one thing we all can do is learn from this and be that support to other struggling with infertility.

If we are chosen to be that, maybe they’ll have just a little bit less loneliness as they walk their own journey. Hopefully, over time, with advocacy and more openness, this will all be a thing of the past.

Here in Knoxville we are lucky to have many organizations and support groups that are also willing to help with those struggling through infertility and loneliness. Please reach out and let us know how we can support you.

Is Hydration Important For Fertility?

According to research the short answer is: yes!

We hear all the time about ways to increase fertility, especially tips about diet and lifestyle. Many of us don’t think about hydration as being important for fertility but in fact researchers are finding that hydration does play a role. 

Along with eating healthy, reducing the consumption of processed foods, getting enough sleep and all the other healthy things we should be doing, hydration is not always considered.

Most of us think about hydration in the summer when your outside hiking or being active. However, all of us should be conscious about our fluid intake no matter the season.

Acupuncture before and after your embryo transfer is a great way to relax and help increase your chances of success!

So how does hydration affect fertility?

In one big way hydration affects the male and female fluid qualities. In females that’s cervical mucus and in males that’s ejaculatory fluid. Researchers are finding that the more dehydrated you and/or your partner are at the time of intercourse the harder it is for the sperm and ovum to meet. 

Cervical mucus usually fluctuates throughout the month. If a woman has a relatively normal cycle, the mucus should changes around ovulation time, becoming thinner and less acidic. This change allows sperm to move more easily through the vagina and cervical mucus towards the ovum. Just as in females, if males are dehydrated their sperm could also have a hard time “swimming” within semen as well. 

Don’t stress, find balance.

We want to emphasize the importance of balance and not stressing. Yes, water is important but make sure not to over-do it. The general recommendation is half your body weight in ounces but if you are not a big water fan you might need to work up to that slowly. Infertility is hard. We know many out there trying all the things to make it work. We found this article interesting and wanted to share. 

Any questions? We’re your resource for Fertility Acupuncture in Knoxville!

If you have any questions about adding acupuncture to your cycle or how we might be able to support your journey, please give us a call or an email. We are always happy to help.

Never Say Never

“You’ll never be able to get pregnant.” 

Have you had anyone ever tell you this? These 7 words are one of our biggest pet peeves. So often, I’ve heard this come from other providers without a proper diagnosis and exam or even friends and family members and it is absolutely devastating to the couple involved. Thankfully, Knoxville’s reproductive endocrinologists are careful with their words and would never say such a thing without first doing a careful exam and diagnosis and discussing all the options with you. Much of the time, they are able to present a treatment plan that will eventually result in a healthy pregnancy. We are truly lucky here in East Tennessee, but I digress.

NEVER is such a strong word (assuming, obviously, you have the necessary organs, etc). In my 10 + year career as an acupuncturist, I have been blessed to be a witness to some amazing miracles in women who seemingly have little chance. 

My patients hear me talk about this all the time when encouraging them to try while they wait for IVF or during an unlikely cycle (if, of course, they don’t feel it would add undue stress on them). I finally decided to write about never saying never because one of our miracle patients just delivered healthy twin boys. She had been trying to conceive for over 4 years and went through cycle after cycle, IUI, medications, and more, finally deciding to move forward with IVF. During her retrieval cycle, her response was much less than her doctor anticipated, so the tough decision was made to cancel the retrieval and, instead, do an IUI. She agreed to the plan, with hopes of repeating the retrieval with a different medication protocol in a coming cycle, but was understandably not feeling positive about the IUI at all. We used acupuncture and timed her treatments with our standard IUI treatment protocol. Then, on a day I’ll never forget, I got a phone call. “Uh, so, uh, my pregnancy test was positive.” The shock and disbelief was palpable and understandable!  After congratulations (and some tears), we started with our prenatal wellness protocol. After 9 healthy months, two sweet baby boys were born. 

Do I think acupuncture was the reason this miracle happened? No. Acupuncture, as much as I wish it was, is not magical. Who knows exactly why it happened. She had an excellent fertility team, a healthy lifestyle, had been doing acupuncture regularly, and the right egg and sperm finally met. Everything just came together. Acupuncture can improve blood flow, help regulate hormones, calm stress, and reduce side effects, but it isn’t magical. 

Acupuncture makes a great complement to any type of treatment cycle.

Upon reflecting back on my patients over the years, there have been a number of equally miraculous situations:

-A patient with one tube fell pregnant when she had only one mature follicle on the side without a tube (there is evidence that eggs can transfer to the other tube during ovulation).

– A woman with severe diminished egg reserve who became pregnant on her own after multiple failed IVF cycles with some of the most well known clinics in the country. For the record, she was not doing acupuncture when she got pregnant. They had stopped “trying.” She shared the news with me after a healthy 20 week anatomy scan. 

-A woman who ovulated a second time after her trigger shot and IUI and became pregnant with that follicle based on the timing of her positive pregnancy test and beta hCG numbers. 

– Many patients who’ve become pregnant naturally before moving forward with an IVF cycle, surgery, etc.

And many more whose details have softened over the years. While I wish every patient had this story, we are so happy for those who do. 

We often get feedback about how hopeful we are as we walk with our patients on their infertility journeys. We nervously anticipate pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, blood work numbers right alongside our patients and feel the highs and lows of the rollercoaster ride. But our optimism, while sometimes a bit foreign to our patients who’ve been through so much, is rooted in these stories. We encourage our patients to try on their own (when it is possible, of course, and won’t cause too much stress) while they wait for a cycle to begin, surgery, etc. Because, you never know what might happen. Never say never


If you have any questions about adding acupuncture to your cycle or how we might be able to support your journey, please give us a call or an email. We are always happy to help.

Welcome and a little of our history….

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Welcome to Knoxville’s first and only acupuncture clinic specializing in fertility and prenatal wellness!

Hello and welcome to the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture’s first blog post!

I’d like to take a moment and introduce the myself, the clinic, and tell you a bit about the services here.

My name is Sarah Prater. I am the founder and acupuncturist at the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture. I recently moved here with my family from Indianapolis, IN. We came to be closer to the mountains and our family. As avid cyclists and outdoor lovers, we feel at home up in the Smokies. And, personally, I LOVE the warmer weather down south!

I studied pre-medicine at Indiana University in Bloomington and finished my bachelor’s in 2005. I went on to complete a master’s degree in Oriental Medicine in 2008 and have maintained a private practice ever since. I decided to become an acupuncturist instead of continuing on to medical school gradually during a time of self reflection. I was suffering from some health issues and had discovered that my diet, lifestyle, activity level, and some alternative treatments had such an impact on how well I felt and how well my medications and other treatments were working. I thought of my future patients and how I wanted to instill this knowledge in them so they could help themselves feel as I did! Over time, and with the guidance of a few mentors, I decided to pursue a career in Chinese Medicine.

In my early years of practice, I began to realize how much I truly loved working with families trying to conceive. Nothing beats a patient bringing their new bundle of joy into the office for a quick visit! I also realized the clinical benefit that acupuncture treatment could have on someone undergoing fertility treatment. Aside from increasing pregnancy rates, acupuncture was helping my patients reduce side effects, stress levels, and making each cycle a little easier to go through. Research in integrative fertility shows acupuncture can decrease miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and increase overall live birth rates. Once pregnant, it can help a woman feel more comfortable during her pregnancy and have a faster, easier birth with reduced interventions. It seemed my specialty had found me!

After deciding to specialize in fertility and prenatal wellness, I was able to focus my efforts on meeting the needs of my patients by offering flexible scheduling (as the body cannot be reliably put on a calendar), treatments around embryo transfer and developing protocols that work with a woman’s cycle, whether natural, medicated, IVF or IUI. It also afforded me the time to be able to stay current with research in the field, which is something I truly value.

I am so excited to be bringing my passion here to Knoxville! The Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture is our area’s first and only fertility and prenatal speciality clinic. We are truly built from the ground up to be able to work alongside your treatment cycle and (hopefully!) pregnancy.

It is my sincere hope that all families experiencing fertility challenges will be able to realize their dream and we are here to help.

In the future, this blog will serve as a voice for our clinic in addition to Facebook and our website. We will post clinic updates, case studies, research, patient guides and tips and anything else that we feel will be of service to you, our patients.

We truly look forward to working with you! Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to set up treatment with your cycle or during your pregnancy. We are happy to answer your questions and find a treatment that is right for you.