These are some of the most frequently asked questions at Eastern Harmony Clinic. If you have a question which doesn’t appear on this page please contact us at 713.529.1610 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We work very closely with many of the area’s leading Reproductive Endocrinologists and Fertility Specialists. We are deeply committed to a harmonious integration of Chinese Medicine with Western fertility treatments, and believe that these two systems of medicine work best when they are used to complement one another. If your doctor recommends that you do not take herbs during certain phases of your fertility care, you do not have to feel conflicted. You will never be forced to choose between the advice of your fertility doctor and the advice of your acupuncturist.
- What is acupuncture?
- Do I get an acupuncture treatment during my first visit?
- Does it hurt?
- Are the needles disposable?
- How does it work?
- What conditions can be treated by Acupuncture?
- How often do I have to do treatments? How many sessions will I need?
- How can acupuncture help us create a family?
- Which conditions can be addressed with acupuncture during pregnancy?
- How can I combine Acupuncture with undergoing Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) such as In vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intra uterine Inseminations (IUI) ?
What is acupuncture?
An ancient holistic healing medical art Acupuncture was first discovered five thousand years ago. Acupuncture uses thin sterile disposable needles that are inserted into acupuncture points to cause an effect in the body. In Acupuncture, the practitioner treats not just the symptoms but the whole person – mind and body.
Do I get an acupuncture treatment during my first visit?
Your first visit constitutes of a 30 minute consultation followed by an acupuncture treatment session. Please allocate an hour for your first appointment.
Does it hurt?
Since the acupuncture needles are very thin the discomfort is minimal. The needles are filiform, being solid with no lumen they are less invasive than the needles for injections and blood draws. Once the needles are in place there may be a momentary sensation of pulling, distending, radiating, pressure or tingling sensation. This initial sensation “Qi movement” settles down, you feel relaxed and the release of endorphins due to the acupuncture further enhances this positive effect.
During your treatment you may feel a mild humming or buzzing in your body. Most patients are able to relax and even take a nap during the treatment. Your practitioner will be sensitive to your needs and make you as comfortable as possible. Once in a while you may notice a spot of blood at one or more of the needle sites/or a small bruise could develop. This is usually minimal since the needles are so small, but please talk to your practitioner if you are concerned.
How does it work?
Acupuncture has two main theories describing how and why acupuncture works and with the current advancements in science in the fields of biophysics, biochemistry, and physiology we are now able to understand the complex mechanisms of acupuncture.
Insertion of needles stimulates the nervous system releasing chemicals to either alleviate pain or affect the body’s internal regulating systems. It stimulates nerve fibers to carry electrical impulses back to the brain increasing beta endorphin concentrations.
Research has shown that there is a higher electrical magnetic field around the acupuncture points than in the surrounding skin.
Research has found that needle insertion activates pain fibers in the skin. These pain fibers trigger a cascade of chemical messengers, while sending signals to the spinal cord which relays information to the brain stem. Acupuncture can be seen as a bridge that is able to affect and integrate different systems of the body, such as the nervous, endocrine, circulatory, muscular and digestive. Because of these broad effects, needling can create profound changes in the body.
Effects of needling:
• Pain reduction via inhibition of nociceptive fibers
• Activation of blood coagulation and immune complement systems
• Enhances blood circulation
• Restores visceral homeostasis
• Normalization of vascular tone
• Reduces contraction and spasm of the muscles
• Promotes tissue healing (immune response)
• Normalization of endocrine function (Thyroid, Pituitary, Adrenal, Ovary )
• Normalization of neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline)
• Normalization of sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight)
• Normalization of parasympathetic nervous system
What conditions can be treated by Acupuncture?
Too many to list, but the World Health Organization has reported more than forty three conditions, including allergies, asthma, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, colds, flu, constipation, depression, gynecological disorder, headache, heart problems, infertility, insomnia, pre-menstrual syndrome, sciatica, sports injuries, tendonitis and stress.
How often do I have to do treatments? How many sessions will I need?
The frequency and number of treatments required varies based on individual health conditions, duration, severity and symptoms. Acute conditions are generally addressed quicker than chronic complaints. Usually we recommend treatments once a week, but depending on the individual requirement may at times be twice a week.
Some chronic ailments and conditions may require many treatments over time. Chinese herbs can be very helpful to speed this process along. The relief from pain or other symptoms may last for various periods of time.
With focus on treatments geared to enhance reproductive health, irregular menses, anovulation, decreased sperm parameters treatments are recommended for a minimum of three months.
- Improve the function of the ovaries to produce higher quality eggs
- Regulate the hormones to produce a larger number of follicles
- Increase blood flow to the uterus and increase the thickness of the uterine lining
- Relax and de-stress
- Prevent uterine contraction post IVF embryo transfer
- Reduce the side-effects of IVF medications
- Strengthen the immune system/Increase energy
- Improve sperm count, motility, morphology and reduce sperm DNA fragmentation
- Increase chance of conceiving
- Decrease chance of miscarriage
- Delayed Labor
- Nausea & Vomiting
- Feeling Tired / Sluggish
- Light Bleeding
- Dizziness and/or Fainting
- Yeast Infection
- Nasal Stuffiness
Pregnancy and Traditional Chinese Medicine Post-conception acupuncture is a natural way to enhance pregnancy. Pre natal care can reduce many of the negative symptoms associated with early pregnancy. Acupuncture can be beneficial for a number of things including nausea, vomiting, premature contractions, deficient amniotic fluid, small for date baby’s as well as breech presentation.
At Eastern Harmony Clinic we advise treatments once a week for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. When symptoms are severe, two treatments a week are recommended, these are very helpful to address morning sickness and provide relief in extreme cases of hyperemesis gravidarum.
After the first trimester, we advise coming in once a month for acupuncture during the rest of the pregnancy. A few weeks before the estimated date of delivery treatments are recommended once a week in preparation for labor.
How can I combine Acupuncture with undergoing Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) such as In vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intra uterine Inseminations (IUI) ?
The team of researchers and scientists that attempted to measure the effect of acupuncture on IVF success was led by Dr. Eric Manheimer of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. His team’s findings were published in newspapers around the globe under the headline, Course of acupuncture may raise success of IVF treatment by 65%.
The British Medical Journal recently published an analysis that compiled all of the current research data on the effects of acupuncture and IVF. Of the clinical trials investigated, the team of researchers found that almost all trials reported positive findings. Taken collectively, they showed a 65% increase in establishment of pregnancy, an 87% increase in continuing pregnancy, and a 91% increase in live births.
Eastern Harmony Clinic works closely with the best fertility doctors and reproductive medicine facilities in Houston,Texas to offer patients the very best in complementary, integrative care. We work closely with reproductive endocrinologists who emphasizes an integrative approach, and recommend that all IVF patients integrate acupuncture into their IVF plan.
For patients who are using assisted reproductive procedures like IVF and IUI, are offered three types of support services.
Acupuncture for IVF support:
This treatment plan starts several months before the IVF/IUI cycle. We use this time to help patients get into the best overall health possible in order to maximize the opportunity for a successful cycle. During this preparation period, our acupuncture team will work with you to improve sleep, digestion and absorption, manage stress, improve blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, and increase blood production. During preconception preparation, we also make every effort to improve cycle regularity and eliminate any existing menstrual symptoms like painful cramping, spotting, and menstrual headaches.
The amount of time it takes to help patients to prepare for a successful IVF or IUI cycle varies. Because follicles go through a 90-120 day follicular development period before they are released for fertilization, we generally recommend a minimum of three months of treatment prior to transfer in order to best maximize follicular quality. However, in cases where there are advanced menstrual irregularities like erratic cycles, amenorrhea, anovulation, or severe PMS or menstrual pain, we may recommend a longer course of treatment leading up to a patient’s scheduled IUI or IVF.
Acupuncture for patients planning an IVF or IUI cycle:
When patients are planning an IUI or IVF within three months of the time that they begin acupuncture treatment, the goal of the treatment differs slightly. The goal of treatment is to help prepare the body for the best possible result in a relatively short period of time.
For patients who are on the fast track treatment plan, the aim of treatment is to:
- Improve blood flow to the uterus and ovaries to improve receptivity to stimulation
- Thicken uterine lining to encourage implantation
- Decrease uterine cramping to encourage implantation and reduce miscarriage
- Decrease cortisol and reduce stress levels to improve LH and progesterone production
Pre Transfer Acupuncture Treatments for IVF
Whether a patient is taking longer to prepare for an upcoming IUI or IVF, or is having a procedure in the very near future, we always recommend treatment with acupuncture on the actual day of the procedure or as close to the transfer day. Research into the use of acupuncture with IVF shows an increase in rates of conception and live births in women who receive acupuncture before and after their IVF, as compared to those who have IVF only, with no acupuncture treatment.
The goal of this treatment is to relax the patient (less stress produces higher pregnancy rates), improve blood flow to the uterus to promote higher implantation rates, decrease uterine spasms and cramping to improve implantation rates, and decrease the incidence of miscarriage.
If you are planning an IUI, and IVF, or a Frozen Embryo Transfer, treatment with acupuncture and Chinese Medicine may offer a safe, natural and effective way you to improve your chances of a successful outcome. Call to schedule a consultation with one of our practitioners to find out if acupuncture can make a difference for you.
Do I have to take Chinese herbs?
At Eastern Harmony we recommend the use of Chinese herbal medicine to most of our patients. In conjunction with acupuncture and nutritional therapy, herbal medicines help to regulate the movement of blood in and around the uterus and ovaries. Herbal medicines also help to strengthen and improve the function of organs and glands so that they are able to perform optimally.
By regulating blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, and correcting weaknesses in the organs and glands, herbal medicines form a very effective adjunct to acupuncture treatments, and play an integral role on the journey toward improved fertility outcomes.
If you are engaged in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, your doctor may ask you to stop taking herbal remedies. This is especially true during the ovarian stimulation phase of the IVF cycle. For patients who are doing IVF, we usually administer herbal treatments in the weeks and months leading up to the ovarian stimulation phase of the IVF cycle, and use this time to help to maximize each person’s response to the stimulation medications. Once the stimulation begins, most patients will discontinue the use of herbal medications as per their doctor’s instructions.