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luteal phase defect

Preconception Tips to Help Ensure Your Cycle is a Success: A 90 Day Plan

Help your cycle become a success with these preconception tips!

Many of our patients have been told they have poor egg quality or diminished ovarian reserve, or even poor embryo quality and this is the reason why they are having trouble conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term. While it is true that your egg health diminishes over time, it is not true that there is nothing that can be done to help support your egg health.

Even if you don’t have any specific ovarian or egg quality issues, helping support good egg health will help increase the chances your cycle will be a success!

The total time it takes for one egg to fully mature is about 90 days. It is during this window of time that we are able to have the biggest impact on egg health. So, we recommend that all of our patients looking to plan a treatment cycle take advantage of this time to prepare and consider acupuncture, supplements, diet, and lifestyle changes to help support their egg health.

 

Some of the main factors affecting egg health are:

  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Blood flow to the uterus and ovaries
  • Oxygenation of your blood
  • Stress
  • Hormone balance

Our three favorite ways to improve all of these factors affecting egg health are acupuncture (of course!), diet and exercise, and specific supplements.

 

1. Preconception Acupuncture:

Each of our treatment protocols (IUI, IVF, and medicated cycles) begins with the recommendation of preconception acupuncture. Preconception acupuncture is treatments given weekly in the 1-3 months prior to any fertility cycle specifically designed to support egg health and hormone balance.

By now, you probably know that acupuncture done alongside a fertility cycle can improve the chances of pregnancy for that cycle. What you may not know, is that acupuncture’s effect is cumulative, much like exercise. Each treatment and treatment cycle builds on the previous. Research done on fertility acupuncture supports this idea. Generally, the more acupuncture one receives, the better the pregnancy rates.

The reasons why acupuncture done in the months prior to a fertility cycle can have an impact on your egg health and the overall success of your cycle are:

  • Dramatically improved blood flow to the uterus and ovaries: This increases the   delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and facilities waste product removal, improving overall egg health.
  • Hormone regulation: Many women notice changes in their cycles during preconception acupuncture: less  pain, more regular ovulation, and normalization of menstrual flow.
  • Reduced stress: Help your body and mind get ready for the upcoming cycle.

 

2.  Diet, Exercise and Lifestyle:

Diet: A healthy diet can dramatically affect one’s fertility (and overall health!). Taking the preconception time period to focus on eating a clean, whole-food, plant-based diet can help improve egg health. Our favorite general fertility diet comes from a Harvard Medical School research study, but many diagnoses related to infertility, such as endometriosis or PCOS, call for some specialized nutrition.

Overall, the basics of a healthy fertility diet include:

  • Low amounts of saturated fat: Choose plant based fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and healthy fats like those found in salmon and other fish.
  • Local, grass fed, organic meats whenever possible
  • Fresh fruits and veggies: We suggest eating foods from every color of the rainbow and making sure at least half of your plate is filled with veggies as an easy way to maximize your fruit and vegetable intake
  • Vegetable protein sources: Try to replace one serving of meat per day with a vegetarian protein source like beans or tofu.
  • Lots of fresh water: Try to avoid water bottled in plastic and stick to filtered when possible.
  • Whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread and pasta, etc instead of simple, white carbs,
  • Iron rich plants: spinach, pumpkins, beans, tomatoes, and beets.
  • Full fat dairy instead of low fat varieties.
  • Minimal (or no) sugar intake: be sure to watch added sugars and high fructose corn syrup as they can hide in many unsuspecting foods as well as sugary drinks and desserts.

For women who have endometriosis, we recommend following an anti-inflammatory diet. For those with PCOS, a low-glycemic index diet is best.

 

Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise improves the oxygenation of blood and increased blood flow throughout the body. It is also a great stress reliever and helps maintain a healthy BMI, which is associated with higher pregnancy rates. Yoga is also a great way to strengthen your core and help reduce stress.

The preconception time is perfect for implementing a consistent exercise routine as exercise is commonly limited by your doctor during a fertility treatment cycle.

 

Lifestyle: There are many lifestyle habits that can have an effect on egg health. Our top suggestions are the following:

  • Stop smoking
  • Allow personal ‘down-time’ to meditate, read, or just relax.
  • Listen to fertility meditations via Circle Bloom to help de-stress and foster a healthy body/mind connection
  • Work to reduce stress and overwork as much as possible
  • Seek counseling or a support group if you feel it is necessary.

 

3. Supplements and herbs: In addition to a good quality prenatal vitamin, there are some supplements that you can take that will help support egg quality and overall fertility. One supplement that has some evidence showing it’s efficacy is CoQ-10.

CoQ-10 is a vitamin-like substance (meaning our bodies can make some on their own) that functions within the energy production centers, called mitochondria, present in each cell. As we age, the efficiency of the mitochondria declines. The idea is that by supplementing CoQ-10, we can help support this energy production, which is especially needed for high-energy processes like the cellular division involved in egg production and embryo development. There is some preliminary research showing an egg-health benefit in mice and we await further research. CoQ-10 is generally regarded as very safe to take while trying to conceive and most experience no side effects. It also shows some promise in helping support male fertility as well.

Other supplements that we typically recommend are:

  • Fish Oil: high in omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce inflammation in the body
  • Probiotics: to support good digestion and absorption of nutrients.

There are also specific supplements and herbs available for other fertility related conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis, luteal phase defect, male factor infertility, etc and will be recommended as needed.

 

Please call 865-315-3845 or contact us, we are more than happy to answer your questions or set you up for preconception acupuncture! Good luck with your cycle!

 

5 Reasons to Try Acupuncture for Fertility

5 reasons why you should consider adding acupuncture to your fertility treatment.

 

Are you currently trying to get pregnant or planning to try in the next few months? Have you considered adding fertility acupuncture to your IVF, IUI, or medicated cycle?

You’ve probably read or heard a little about acupuncture for fertility, but maybe don’t know much about how it can help you. Here are our top five reasons why you should book an acupuncture treatment with your next cycle!

 

  1. Increases Chances of a Take Home Baby: Research shows that acupuncture not only improves pregnancy rates (up to 60%!), but can reduce miscarriages leading to an overall increase in the chances of a take home baby! After all, this is what everyone facing infertility really wants! This research is typically done on IVF cycles, but the same mechanisms of action can help improve an IUI, medicated, or natural cycle in much the same way.

 

  1. Improves Blood Flow:  Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow to the uterus. This improved blood flow is associated with a better chance of embryo implantation in IVF cycles. It can also facilitate better nutrient delivery and waste product removal to potentially increase the the quality of your follicles and endometrial lining.

 

  1. Hormone Regulation: Over the course of 1-3 months, acupuncture can help to regulate your reproductive hormones. For example, women with PCOS often begin ovulating after treatment with acupuncture. Subtle cycle changes also occur as hormones become more balanced. Changes often noticed during the course of treatment include: increased fertile cervical mucous, a longer luteal phase, reduced PMS symptoms, and even changes in your basal body temperature chart.

 

  1. Reduced Stress: We all know struggling with infertility is stressful. Acupuncture can help you cope with this stress so you can relax and feel normal while going through treatment cycles. It causes a release of ‘feel-good’ chemical called endorphins in your brain that will…. well, help you feel good! You may also notice that you sleep better or have better digestion after treatment as well.

 

  1. Treatment of Side effects: Often when we are treating patients during their cycles, we use points to reduce headaches, nausea, bloating, irritability, insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, constipation, anxiety…. you name it! Making you feel comfortable during treatment is a huge part of what we do. The way we see it is that, for many couples, success can be a matter of time. Time finding the right medication combination that works with your body and time waiting for the right follicle to develop. If we can make that wait easier, you’re more likely to try an additional cycle or two and increase your chances of success! Additionally, we all know you can’t push the pause button on life while you undergo fertility treatment, so we work to help keep you at your best so you can continue to be a wife, co-worker, student, mother, sister, friend, and/or superwoman!

 

As you can see, combining acupuncture to your fertility treatment plan is a great way to, not only, increase your chances of pregnancy, but to feel more comfortable, relaxed and get a more regulated cycle!

We work with both men and women to find a treatment protocol that works with the timing of their cycles to give you the maximum benefit of acupuncture. Please give us a call or contact us online and we’ll walk you through what is best for your situation. Or, if you’re ready, you can schedule an appointment online now! 

 

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