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fertility acupuncture

How We Use Acupuncture and Moxa to Help Turn Breech Babies

Moxa sticks, pictured above, are a useful treatment in encouraging a breech baby to turn.
Moxa sticks, pictured above, are a useful treatment in encouraging a breech baby to turn.

If you’ve been told by your midwife or OB/GYN that your baby isn’t in the best position for a vaginal birth, you know what kind of stress this can bring on! Most women facing a possible Cesarean section for breech presentation will search far and wide for things they can do to help their baby get into a better position for delivery.

If you end up consulting Dr. Google, you have probably come across others talking about using acupuncture and moxibustion (moxa) for turning breech babies, and you probably have some questions. It is true that we safely use these techniques to turn many breech babies and it can be successful much of time!

What to expect: At the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture we use a combination of acupuncture and moxa to help encourage a cephalic presentation.

  • Acupuncture: We generally recommend acupuncture 1-2 times per week to help encourage baby to turn, reduce stress, and to relax any tight muscles that might be preventing an ideal presentation.
  • Moxa: You will be given moxa sticks and instruction for their use at home. Our protocol involves moxa treatment 2 times a day for 15 minutes for a course of 7 days (or until the baby turns).

After treatment, you will generally feel an increase in fetal movement, and an overall sense of relaxation and well-being. New to acupuncture? Here is what you can expect.

When to receive treatment: The ideal time to use acupuncture and moxibustion is between week 33 and 35 of your pregnancy.

Beyond week 35, the chances of success decreases as baby is starting to get larger, but many breech babies have turned in the last weeks of pregnancy or even as labor starts.

It’s best to call as soon as you find out you are breech and discuss your personal case with our acupuncturist. We can walk you through your options and what the best course of action is for your situation.

What else can I do?

  1. Swimming: any type of swimming with your stomach down in the water can take the pressures of gravity off your uterus and allow baby to move into a good position
  2. Dance: put your favorite music on and make sure to let your hips rock!
  3. Talk to your baby: Baby can hear your voice and some women have reported success with asking baby to adjust his or her position.
  4. Webster Technique: This is a chiropractic technique that is helpful in turning breech babies. Be sure to seek out someone trained in this technique.
  5. Spinning Babies: The positions on this website can help your baby settle into position and are highly recommended. We also recommend using this site throughout your pregnancy to help prevent breech presentation.
  6. Talk to your doctor about performing an external cephalic version or other medical interventions.

What are the chances that it will work?

In one study, where moxa and acupuncture was compared with a watch and wait approach, 75.4% of women treated with acupuncture and moxa had a cephalic presentation vs 47.7% of the control group. Both groups were offered external cephalic versions and results included the successful versions.

In addition to the recommendations here, we encourage all pregnant women to take advantage of Pre-Birth Acupuncture starting at week 36 to help get your body ready for labor and help support a vaginal birth. Prenatal acupuncture done in the last weeks of pregnancy can reduce the need for interventions like epidurals and emergency C-Sections.

Please give us a call at 865-315-3845 or contact us online for more information or to set up an appointment. We look forward to working with you!

Resources:

https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/acupuncture/research/moxabustion-breech/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20430289

https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/acupuncture/fact-sheets/evidence-base-acupuncture-and-moxibustion-breech-presintation/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15280133

http://www.cochrane.org/CD003928/PREG_cephalic-version-by-moxibustion-for-breech-presentation

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/188144

Case Study: IUI Success After 7 Years. Diagnosis: Endometriosis and Low Progesterone

IUI and acupuncture success after 7 years of infertility!
IUI and acupuncture success after 7 years of infertility!

A 33 year old woman came to our office after experiencing infertility for 7 years. She had a history of endometriosis and low progesterone. Her husband had a history of low motility. She had never been pregnant and was feeling very frustrated.

Her previous fertility treatment included multiple medicated cycles using both clomid and letrozole and two previous IUI cycles. She had undergone two laparoscopies to treat endometriosis. She began fertility treatment in another state before moving to Tennessee, where she began seeing Dr. Doody in Knoxville.

She came to the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture for her third IUI cycle. She took 150mg of clomid to stimulate follicle development in preparation for the IUI. You can read more about our general treatment recommendations here.

We saw her a total of three times during her IUI cycle.

The first treatment was done on cycle day 6 to support follicle growth and reduce the side effects from the clomid. Supporting the first phase of the cycle and making it as healthy as possible sets up the rest of the cycle for optimal fertility and can help treat luteal phase defect.

The second treatment of the cycle was done the morning of the IUI itself. This treatment helped to facilitate ovulation. Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective means of ovulation induction and we like to use it along with the trigger shot.

The points used for the first and second treatments followed a modified Stener-Victorin protocol. This protocol has been specifically shown to increase blood flow to the uterus and is used successfully to improve IVF cycle success and regulate hormones.

The third treatment of the cycle was done 6 days following the IUI to support implantation, reduce uterine contractions, ease stress and support healthy progesterone levels. The points used for this treatment followed a modified Paulus protocol. The Paulus protocol is commonly used before and after embryo transfer during an IVF cycle and has been shown to improve pregnancy rates.

She received a positive pregnancy test about a week later. Her HCG levels rose an appropriate amount between her tests. The pregnancy was confirmed by ultrasound, and has been going well for mom and baby.

We are very excited for her success and hope the rest of her pregnancy goes well!

If you’d like to add acupuncture to your upcoming IUI cycle, call or contact us and we will find a protocol that is best for your cycle! 865-315-3845

My Visit with Dr. Donesky and The Fertility Center: Knoxville, TN

Last week, I had the opportunity to share how fertility acupuncture can benefit those undergoing IUI and IVF with Dr. Donesky and the staff at the Fertility Center. The Fertility Center has offices in Knoxville and Chattanooga.

First off, Knoxville is so lucky to have Dr. Donesky and crew. They truly love their work, and it shows. Although, I have to say that all of the clinics, doctors, and staff in Knoxville that I have met with are really wonderful. We are a very fortunate community!

At my presentation, I explained how acupuncture can be utilized as a complement to any fertility cycle. We went over our IUI and IVF protocols and I presented some of the research that our protocols are based off of.

My main job as an acupuncturist to someone going through fertility treatment is to support the doctors’ efforts. When done in combination with IVF/IUI, acupuncture can improve pregnancy (and live birth rates), reduce miscarriages, reduce side effects of medications, and lessen the feelings of stress. The protocols are all based on each patient’s cycle timing and unique situation.

We talked about acupuncture’s safety during pregnancy and it’s usefulness during the first trimester for morning sickness and even, possibly, miscarriage prevention.

It was a really fun meeting and I am looking forward to working more closely with them and the other clinics here in town. I am grateful to them for having me!

It is my hope that more cycles will be done using acupuncture as a complementary therapy!

If you are struggling with infertility, please consider getting a work up from a reproductive endocrinologist. Having answers will help you make an educated decision on your best path towards parenthood.

Preventing Miscarriage with Acupuncture

Acupuncture can be helpful in preventing miscarriage from certain causes.
Acupuncture can be helpful in preventing miscarriage from certain causes.

Finally seeing those two lines on a pregnancy test is a long-awaited, and rightfully celebrated, moment for all of my patients! This joy can quickly become sadness if the pregnancy is not viable. Miscarriage is a very common occurrence with 10-25% of all pregnancies ending in miscarriage. The most common cause of miscarriage is genetic abnormalities that cause the embryo to be non-viable. Other causes of miscarriage can include:

  • Hormonal abnormalities: PCOS, low progesterone, diabetes, etc
  • Lifestyle issues: smoking, excessive alcohol use, excessive caffeine, drug use,exposure to toxic substances, etc
  • Maternal age: the prevalence of genetic abnormalities increase with age
  • Thin or low quality endometrial lining
  • Immune system issues
  • Trauma: generally only very severe trauma leads to miscarriage
  • Structural abnormalities in the uterus: adhesions, polyps, septum, etc
  • Blood clotting: anti-phospholipid syndrome

For less than 1% women, miscarriages can become recurrent. This is typically diagnosed after having 3 miscarriages. A thorough workup is done to try and find out the cause and determine what treatment is appropriate. Fortunately, many causes of recurrent miscarriage are treatable. Even in the case of genetic abnormalities, like chromosome translocation, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) can be utilized in combination with IVF to help decrease the chance of miscarriage.

What can I do to prevent miscarriage?

There is a lot you can do on your own to help prevent miscarriage. Much of this work involves managing chronic illness or hormonal imbalances and modifying complicating lifestyle factors. For example:

  • Quit smoking as soon as possible in your conception journey
  • Limit coffee and tea to 1-2 cups daily
  • Maintain a healthy BMI
  • Seek the help of your physician in managing diabetes, PCOS, or other health problems
  • Eat a healthy whole-foods diet high in fruits, veggies, and protein and low in sugar and processed foods
  • Limit exposure to toxic chemicals or environments
  • Avoid dangerous situations or activities where severe trauma may occur.

How Can Acupuncture Help?

Acupuncture can be a very useful for assisting in the prevention of miscarriage when not related to chromosomal abnormalities by treating many of the common causes of miscarriage. Acupuncture can be helpful in the following ways:

  • Increasing the thickness and quality of the endometrial lining
  • Helping regulate hormones
  • Helping to treat PCOS 
  • Reducing uterine contractions in early pregnancy
  • Improving uterine blood flow to help prevent blood clots
  • Regulating the immune system
  • Stress reduction

What does the research say?

Research on acupuncture and miscarriage is very promising. One recent study on acupuncture done along with IVF showed a 50% decrease in the miscarriage rate.

Another study suggests acupuncture may even be a potential supportive treatment for threatened or recurrent miscarriages due to its beneficial effects on serum cortisol and prolactin levels during IVF.

Acupuncture’s known effects on stress are also a possible mechanism by which miscarriage rates could be reduced. According this same study, it is possible that stress in very early pregnancy may cause overactivity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis leading to reduced progesterone levels. In reducing this stress, progesterone levels may stay higher.

When should I start acupuncture?

Acupuncture can be started at any point along your journey. Some basic recommendations are here:

  • If you are pregnant: We recommend acupuncture weekly through the first trimester to support blood flow to the uterus, reduce stress, and support progesterone levels before the placenta is fully developed.
  • If you are trying to conceive: Generally, it is recommended to begin acupuncture 3 months prior to conception for most causes of recurrent miscarriage. This allows the treatments to affect overall cycle health, hormone balance, and egg quality as it takes 90 days for an egg to prepare for ovulation. However, the effects of acupuncture are beneficial at any stage of your journey, and accumulate over time. We see many women while they are actively trying to conceive naturally or with fertility treatment. We have protocols for IVF, IUI, medicated cycles and couples trying naturally.

Please give our office a call to discuss your specific situation or to schedule an appointment. We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have. We wish you the best of luck!!

References:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jacquelinehurst/acupuncture-to-support-fe_b_5958722.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3342918/

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/miscarriage/

http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq100.pdf

http://natural-fertility-info.com/increase-egg-health

http://eastwindsacupuncture.com/acupuncture-in-ivf-linked-to-lower-miscarriage-and-ectopic-rates/

Pre-Birth Acupuncture: Helping Prepare Your Body for The Best Birth Possible

Here's a quick guide to Pre-Birth Acupuncture
Here’s a quick guide to Pre-Birth Acupuncture

If you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy, you’ve undoubtedly spent many hours day-dreaming about the upcoming birth of your baby. The last few weeks of pregnancy are a really exciting time! You may have even written a birth plan and discussed your wishes with your doctor or midwife. Many of you will desire to have a vaginal delivery or may even be trying to avoid using any medications during labor and trying to do everything you can to help ensure your birth goes according to plan.

In addition to keeping healthy and active during your pregnancy, there is one more thing you can do in the final weeks of your pregnancy to help encourage a healthy delivery. Pre-Birth acupuncture is helpful in preparing your body and mind for labor and delivery.

 

What is pre-birth acupuncture?

Pre-Birth Acupuncture is a series of 4-5 weekly treatments beginning at week 36 of your pregnancy that are designed to help your body go into labor on time and to labor to progress normally and without complication once it begins. It is not labor induction and will not bring on labor. The baby is in control of his or her arrival date.

Pre-birth acupuncture reduces the need for epidurals, emergency C-sections, and reduces the time you spend in active labor. Overall, vaginal birth rates increase in women who receive these treatments.

 

What does the research show:

  1. Reduces the time spent in the first stage labor (period of time between 3 cm dilated and full dilation) by an average of 2 hours
  2. Reduces the number of inductions in frist time moms by 43% and 35% in all others
  3. Reduces rate of epidural usage by 31%
  4. Reduces emergency C-section rate by 32%
  5. Increases vaginal birth rates by 9%

 

In addition to these benefits, this is a great time to address any stress or symptoms that you might be experiencing in the last few weeks. Acupuncture can be useful for swelling, back/hip pain, acid reflux, headaches, and many other common pregnancy symptoms. We can even use acupuncture to encourage breech babies to turn!

We recommend these treatments as a standard part of our prenatal acupuncture protocol, and many women choose to start prenatal acupuncture in these final weeks to help make their birth plans a reality.

Give us a call with questions or to set up your pre-birth treatments today!

 

References:

https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/acupuncture/research/prebirth/

How We Treat Male Factor Infertility

Acupuncture treatment is helpful in treating many causes of male infertility.
Acupuncture treatment is helpful in treating many causes of male infertility.

Infertility is often seen as something only women have to be concerned about. The reality is that infertility is due to female factors 30% of the time, male factors 30% of the time, and both partners or unexplained infertility 30% of the time.

Male infertility can even go undiagnosed by some practitioners not experienced in treating fertility. A semen analysis should be part of your initial workup with your reproductive endocrinologist. It is a non-invasive, low cost test that can really have an impact on your best course of action.

 

Common causes of male factor infertility include:

  • Varicocele
  • Infection
  • Hormonal Problems
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Blockage of sperm flow
  • DNA Fragmentation
  • Previous vasectomy

 

Many times, varicoceles or blockages can be corrected with surgery. Follow up semen analysis will ensure that fertility has been restored. Other causes can be treated with medication or lifestyle changes. Sperm can sometimes even be removed from the testical directly to be used in an IVF cycle in a minor surgical procedure if needed.

 

Optimizing male fertility is an often overlooked part of a couple’s journey and, yet, there is so much you can do. Various lifestyle changes, complementary medicine, and supplements can have a big impact on male fertility.

 

ACUPUNCTURE AND MALE FACTOR INFERTILITY

Acupuncture has been used successfully to help treat male infertility. Research studies showed both an increase in the total number of sperm present and an increase in the number of sperm present without structural abnormalities. Acupuncture can also be used to help regulate hormonal imbalances.

At the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture, we would like to treat both the male and female partners to help them optimize their fertility. Our recommendations for male factor fertility depend on the timing of the cycle. Sperm go through a 3 month growth and maturation process before they are ready to fertilize and egg. Because of this we like to see men 3 months before their fertility cycle, if possible. However, benefit has been seen from much shorter treatment windows and you can start treatment at any time during your journey. Feel free to call us for a recommendation on your situation.

 

SUPPLEMENTS TO TREAT MALE FACTOR INFERTILITY

We carry Conception XR supplements for male fertility. There are two versions of this supplement, detailed below. Their primary ingredients are antioxidants and other nutrients shown to increase pregnancy and birth rates and improve sperm motility.

  • Reproductive Health Formula: This formula is designed to support normal male fertility and is recommended for any man trying to conceive. You can think of it as a prenatal vitamin for men! It is also recommended for IVF cycles, when motility support is not necessary.

XR3_300w_300h_sb

  • Motility Support: This formula has an added ingredient, L-carnitine, that is specifically helpful with sperm motility. It is recommended for low motility or when trying to conceive naturally or through IUI or medicated cycles.

XM1_300w_300h_sb

LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO SUPPORT MALE FERTILITY

  1. Smoking has been shown to be very detrimental to sperm health. Please see your doctor about quitting.
  2. Alcohol: Limit to 1 drink per day.
  3. Keep your testicles cool: Avoid hot tubs, laptops on your lap, high temperature work areas, or prolonged baths.
  4. Diet: Increase your fruit and veggie intake and stay hydrated.
  5. Exercise: Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day.
  6. Harmful supplements: Some supplements containing DHEA or other ingredients, often used for muscle building, can impair sperm development.
  7. Environmental Hazards: Avoid working with radiation, pesticides, solvents, or other fumes when possible.

 

Sources:

http://www.theralogix.com/sp/theralogix-conceptionxr-motility-support/

http://www.theralogix.com/sp/theralogix-conceptionxr-reproductive-health/

http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20050803/acupuncture-may-improve-sperm-quality

http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/optimizing-fertility/enhancing-male-fertility.html

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