What should I bring to a Fertility Consultation?

Please bring along any test results that you have, preferably a photocopy, if possible, for your patient file. Additionally, please bring a list of medications, treatment regimes and dosages to keep on record.

Do I need to be undergoing fertility medical treatment to have Acupuncture for fertility?

No, Acupuncture can be used as a standalone treatment, and may boost fertility alone. Some women prefer to have acupuncture before beginning fertility treatment as a way to regulate their cycles, balance hormones, and as a way of staying calm and supported before treatment begins.

How does Acupuncture help with increasing female fertility, and is there evidence to support this?

Acupuncture assists with conception in many ways for female infertility. 

One of the immeasurable qualities that an Acupuncturist will be able to provide is support, during an emotionally heightened time. All fertility treatments I offer will include Acupuncture points which support and promote calm. There is no separation of emotions and health in Chinese medicine, and all treatment approaches integrate the two. This is crucial during fertility treatment, as the stress hormone cortisol interferes with conception by unsettling the hormonal cycle. Emotional support is also offered by way of creating a space for you to talk through your experiences, fears, hopes and dreams.

I will offer you a full support service while you are undergoing fertility treatment with me, and I can help you uncover what your body needs in order to conceive. I will be able to assess when there are discrepancies in cycle charts, blood test result markers and refer you for the correct investigations when there is an anomaly, so that when you approach your healthcare provider, you are armed with more knowledge and know what to ask for.

When looking at the evidence, clinical trials have shown Acupuncture to: 

  • Promote the release of beta-endorphins in the brain, which affect the Hypothalamus to secrete Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone, the Pituitary gland to release Follicle Stimulating Hormone, and the Ovary to produce Oestrogen and Progesterone. All of these processes are interrupted by stress, and this effect on the brain is crucial to fertility function.
  • Increase blood flow to the Ovarian arteries, to enhance the environment in which Ovarian Follicles develop.
  • Increase blood flow to the Uterus which in turn thickens the Endometrial lining to increase chances of implantation of the Embryo.
  • Reduce the number of Ovarian cysts, stimulate ovulation, and balance hormones in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
  • Increase egg production.
  • Improve Oocyte quality.
  • Enhance Luteal Function.
  • Increase pregnancy rate and a greater number of live births when used in the embryo transfer stage of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).

The British Acupuncture Council has compiled factsheets about how Acupuncture helps improve fertility in specific ways, and documents the evidence they have gathered. 

To read the factsheet and the full papers of the evidence on how Acupuncture helps female infertility, please click here:

https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/1132-female-fertility.html

To read the factsheet and evidence on Acupuncture helps with female infertility while undergoing Assisted Reproductive Technology, please click here:

https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/infertility-art.html

Wherever you are on your fertility journey, call to arrange a full health consultation. I would love to help.

 

How does Acupuncture help with increasing male fertility, and is there evidence to support this?

Research into Male Infertility is currently inconclusive, and has so far shown that Acupuncture may help with the following:

  • Lowering Scrotal temperature
  • Improving sperm maturation in the Epidymus
  • Increasing Testosterone levels
  • Reducing destruction of sperm

To read the factsheet and evidence on how Acupuncture helps male infertility, please click here:

https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/1136-male-infertility.html

Research shows that there is a wealth of lifestyle advice which men can adopt to alter and improve sperm motility, morphology and sperm count. This is advice which I can go through with patients seeking fertility advice, some of which is rooted in Chinese medicine treatment approaches tailored to your individual Chinese medicine diagnosis, and some which is taken from a current medical understanding of how to improve these markers.

Do you offer lifestyle advice along with Acupuncture treatment?

The first thing to mention if you are trying to conceive is if you are not already, is to begin taking Folic Acid supplements. This not only helps with conception, but protects the foetus once conception has taken place. Once we have a Chinese medicine diagnosis, I can offer you dietary advice, and further supplementation which is tailored to your diagnosis. Nutrition advice for a woman who has Kidney Yang deficiency, will be different to a woman who is diagnosed with Blood Stasis, and in this way the Eastern approach becomes highly individualised. I will also show you some Qi Gong exercises which promote flow into the Conception vessel. 

I will also be able to refer you for any additional diagnostic testing if your symptoms, menstrual cycle, or BBT charts indicate further investigations are needed.

The good news is that there are plenty of changes you can make now which will help conception! The number one change that will have an enormous impact is to treat any symptoms of stress. Stress can exhibit as worry, anxiety, preoccupation, and restlessness. When we are stressed, the hormone Cortisol is released, which has been shown to direct blood flow away from the Uterus and Ovaries, to disrupt the hormone cycle. The hormone adrenaline is also released which has been shown to lower the utilisation of progesterone, an important hormone involved in reproduction. 

 

 

 

 

What is a BBT chart, and do I need to complete one for fertility treatment?

A BBT (Basal Body Temperature chart)  tracks a woman’s monthly cycle, and shows when she has ovulated. This information is very useful, as it gives the couple an overview of when ovulation occurs in the cycle, particularly when there is discrepancy due to a long Follicular or Luteal phase. It allows the couple to assess when the ideal fertile window is. From a Chinese medicine perspective, it gives the practitioner a lot of diagnostic information. For example, a graph which shows a slow, step like pattern in the Luteal phase, indicates Qi stagnation caused by Blood stasis or Kidney Yang deficiency. This information allows the practitioner to view diagnostic information across the whole cycle, and to tailor the treatments to your particular cycle. I will also be able to determine any additional blood tests you may need based on this information, giving a deeper understanding of your fertility, and more treatment options.

How do I fill in a BBT chart?

Documenting a BBT chart requires some commitment, and a routine. The woman has a thermometer next to the bed, and takes her temperature first thing in the morning, before rising, eating, drinking or speaking at the same time each day, across the whole menstrual cycle. It can be helpful to set an alarm or reminder for each day. She then completes the information on the chart, which is displayed as a graph across the whole cycle.

How long do I need to complete BBT charts for?

Ideally it would be useful to track the temperature changes for a 3 cycle period, particularly if the cycle is irregular. However, just having the chart completed for one cycle will be very diagnostically useful.

Where do I find a BBT chart to complete?

You can find a BBT chart to print and complete by clicking the following link: 

https://www.babycentre.co.uk/ims/pdf/uk/blank_basal_body_temperature_and_cervical_mucus.pdf

There are also Apps which correlate the information for you after you have input the information. A selection of which can be found here:

https://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/fertility-apps-which-one-best-you

Please bring any completed charts in to your next Acupuncture appointment. 

I do not want to complete a BBT chart, will Acupuncture for fertility still be able to help?

Yes. BBT charts are one of many diagnostic tools that an Acupuncturist will use to determine the Chinese medicine diagnosis. They are useful, and are more likely to provide the whole picture across a cycle. However if they cause stress, they are not essential. Some women prefer not to think about numbers every day, or to worry too much if things are not charting in a predictable manner. The most important thing as a woman trying to conceive is to stay calm, and as stress free as possible, and as an Acupuncturist, giving treatments which promote calm and reassurance at what can be a tumultuous time, is always at the core of any fertility treatments I offer.

 

I have been using ovulation predictor kits, does this mean I already have all the information I need?

Ovulation kits, are  tools which give a prediction as to when ovulation is about to occur.  In contrast, the diagnostic information that a BBT chart gives the practitioner, shows what is happening across the whole cycle, which allows the Acupuncturist to form a Chinese medicine diagnosis. This gives the opportunity for a highly individualised treatment approach. 

I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), can Acupuncture help me to conceive?

The British Acupuncture Council has analysed the research, and concluded that Acupuncture may help women with PCOS by performing among others, the following specific functions:

  • Regulates FSH, LSH and Androgens
  • Improves blood flow to the ovaries
  • Controls hyperglycaemia by increasing insulin sensitivity.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Lowers the body’s stress response by modulating the sympathetic nervous system

All the above information is taken from The British Acupuncture Council, the factsheet and evidence can be found here:

https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/1870-pcos.html

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