What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient medical system that takes a deep understanding of the laws and patterns of nature and applies them to the human body. TCM is not "New Age," nor is it a patchwork of different healing modalities. TCM is a complete medical system that has been practiced for more than five thousand years.
At the heart of TCM is the tenet that the root cause of illnesses, not their symptoms, must be treated. In modern-day terms, TCM is holistic in its approach; it views every aspect of a person (body, mind, spirit and emotions), as part of one complete circle rather than loosely connected pieces to be treated individually.
TCM treatment methods may include acupuncture, acupressure, nutrition, massage tui na, herbs, cupping, moxibustion, meditation practices, movement, tai chi and counseling.
How does acupuncture work?
First, the acupuncturist will discuss your particular situation and/or symptoms. This helps the practitioner in identifying specific points on your body that require treatment. Very fine metal needles are inserted into these points. The number of needles will vary depending on where they are placed on the body. Once inserted, needles stay in place for several minutes to an hour. During the treatment, acupuncture needles may be energized electrically or warmed to intensify the effect of the treatment. When electricity is applied, a tingling sensation is common. Each needle stimulates the body's natural pain relievers and anti-inflammatory chemicals. Needles can be inserted directly into areas where the pain exists or into other acupuncture points that reach paths in the body called channels.
Can acupuncture be used to help fertility? What types of fertility concerns can acupuncture and herbal medicine treat?
Yes. It helps. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can treat many fertility concerns including:
- Reducing the stress hormones that interfere with ovulation
- Increasing the blood flow to the reproductive organs
- Increasing endorphin levels—the body’s “feel good” hormones
- Stimulating and normalizing hormone production to promote a balanced endocrine system that allows for more efficient ovulation and fertilization
- Improving the quality of the eggs released by the ovaries
- Enhancing the uterine lining so that the embryo can implant successfully and receive proper nutrients to help avoid miscarriage
- Enhancing the quality of cervical mucus
How can stress affect one’s fertility?
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), acute stress can result in increased heart rate, blood pressure and respiration, as well as sweaty palms and cool, clammy skin. Chronic stress can also cause depression and result in changes in the immune system and sleep patterns. Because stress triggers a “fight or flight” response, the blood flow away from the body’s gastrointestinal, endocrine and reproductive systems is increased. When this happens again and again, the blood over nourishes certain areas of the body and starves others throwing the balance of hormones off. A healthy menstrual cycle cannot be achieved with such an imbalance.
In 2001, a study by the University of California, San Diego, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Division of Epidemiology, examined a group of patients undergoing gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT) or IVF. The study concluded that those women with the highest stress levels were 93 percent less likely to become pregnant and achieve a live birth than women who scored lower on the stress scale.
Do you specialize in treating fertility and pregnant women or do you treat "everything"?
While the practitioners have experience in all areas of treatment, this practice specializes in treating fertility as a component of overall holistic health. We work to help our patients discover a new way to think about themselves, their bodies and their health on their journeys to conception.
I was told I require IVF to get pregnant. Can acupuncture help increase my chances of success?
While acupuncture is not “required” in order to achieve pregnancy, many physcians are increasingly recognizing the benefit that acupuncture provides as part of an integrative approach to achieving pregnancy. Leading practitioners worldwide are increasingly recommending and often partnering with acupuncturists to augment treatments to conceive.
Moreover, there have not been many clinical studies concerning acupuncture and fertility. This is because, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, patients are not easily placed into test and control groups. One of the most prominent studies on acupuncture and fertility was done in Germany by Dr. Wolfgang Paulus and his team in 2002. The study concluded that acupuncture seems to be a useful tool for improving pregnancy rates after assisted reproductive therapy (ART). In the study, clinical pregnancies were documented in 42.5 percent of the patients in the acupuncture group, whereas the pregnancy rate was only 26.3 percent in the control group.
I just started an IVF cycle. Is it too late to start treatment?
No. Our area of expertise is supporting women going through IUI and IVF treatments. While we would ideally like to see you before starting your cycle, there is never a ‘bad’ time to come in during a cycle.
What should I expect on the day of my embryo transfer?
We have a very special protocol designed for embryo transfer day. We would like to see you immediately before and after your transfer for acupuncture treatments.
What if my embryo transfer falls on a weekend or holiday?
Our team is available nearly 365 days a year for embryo transfer treatments. We understand how important transfer days are and are here to support you during that crucial time.
I only want to work with you on the day of my embryo transfer. Is that okay?
Yes. We see embryo transfer only patients pending availability. Please contact our administrative team several days in advance of your embryo transfer day.
What if I do not require IUI or IVF; can acupuncture still help me to conceive?
Absolutely. Many of our patients have used acupuncture to supplement their Western fertility treatments. Others have started treatment as a “preparation” for treatment or after losing hope of conceiving with their own eggs. After a few months of treatment and dietary changes to ensure an optimal physical body and clear mind, we have seen many of these women become pregnant naturally with no additional medical intervention.
My FSH is too high. Does acupuncture correct hormonal imbalance?
An increasing number of women are visiting acupuncture clinics seeking help in correcting the hormone imbalances (FSH, LH, E2, progesterone, prolactin, etc.) they are suffering from. Regular acupuncture treatments can be very helpful in regulating hormonal imbalances, although it should be noted that acupuncture does not directly alter the female hormones. Rather, acupuncture is considered to influence the hormonal regulation centers in the brain and nervous system and, as a result, improvement in hormonal status can occur over time.
Will nutrition be addressed in our sessions?
As an integrative practice, the primary components of optimum health and improved fertility are thoroughly assessed, including mind, body and spirit. Nutrition will be addressed as it relates to the body. At no time in your life is nutrition more important than as you plan for parenthood. A healthy diet in preparation for pregnancy and as a boost to fertility is one of the most powerful health decisions that you can make. Studies have shown that specific dietary changes can enhance fertility and set the stage for a healthy pregnancy by increasing healthy ovulation, preventing miscarriage and supporting an overall healthy pregnancy.
How can nutrition support fertility?
Nutrition plays a significant role in creating a healthy body and reproductive system. Nutrient dense, whole foods, act as a natural medicine, making the body healthy, balanced and fertile; free of allergens, toxins and chemicals.
Nature has created foods to help nourish and feed the body: 100 percent organic fruits and vegetables, fresh fish, chicken and turkey and non-gluten grains in their whole and natural form, nuts and seeds. When the body is optimally nourished and unhealthy foods are avoided, the body is then able to repair and rebuild itself. This is very helpful for fertility, especially if there is an underlying imbalance or fertility issue.
Some of the changes you might experience are:
- Improved absorption and distribution of nutrients
- Reduced PMS
- Balanced blood sugar levels that address PCOS and gestational diabetes
- Detoxification from environmental toxins
- Balanced hormones
- Optimized weight to attain an ideal body mass index
My male partner doesn’t think this is necessary—should he be treated, too?
If your partner has a pathological presentation, which is a contributing factor, then of course he should be treated. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been shown to:
- Significantly increase sperm production
- Increase the percentage of healthy sperm
- Improve sperm movement (motility)
- Improve the levels of hormones responsible for fertility
- Increase the rate of pregnancy when used in conjunction with ART
Our goal is not simply to assist you through conception, but to strengthen the system that allows you to give birth to a healthy baby. To increase the chances of having a healthy baby and to prepare for the demanding role of parenthood, it is best to increase both partners' well-being before attempting to conceive.
When should treatment begin?
Ideally, treatment should begin three months before an IVF cycle. One of the essential steps is to establish a healthy menstrual cycle, this requires careful monitoring of physical signs/symptoms and implementing basic behavioral modifications.
How long will my appointment last?
Your initial consultation be 90 minutes, and all follow up treatments will be 60 minutes. Each appointment includes a consultation and treatment. Extended consultations are available upon request.
How can I get the most out of my acupuncture treatments?
- Listen to your body
- Approach treatment with a sense of hope
- Embrace your responsibility and become an active participant in your healing
- Commit to dietary adjustments
How long will I have to be treated for fertility?
Treatment length is very individual and depends upon several factors, including the patient’s medical history and willingness to adopt and integrate lifestyle changes.
Do you treat patients at home?
Yes. Please contact our administrative team for details.
Can I continue treatment once I’m pregnant?
Upon conception, our patients continue their care at Fifth Avenue Fertility Wellness. From infertility to pregnancy support and post-partum rebalancing, our team is dedicated to supporting you through the entire journey to motherhood.
If I’m already pregnant, can I start treatments?
Yes. We support women throughout healthy pregnancies, including labor preparation and post-partum care.
How old was the oldest person you helped with fertility?
Our oldest patient was 59 years old and used a donor egg. She and her child are enjoying happy, healthy lives.
Do you partner with any reproductive endocrinologists?
Yes, we have great working relationships with many leading reproductive endocrinologists in New York and across the country.
Do I need to believe in acupuncture for it to work?
No, many patients are initially referred by their doctors. They have no experience with acupuncture and still get positive results.
Will acupuncture be covered by my insurance?
It depends on your individual insurance carrier and policy. It is best to check with your provider to determine coverage. You can submit claims (using your consultation invoice and diagnosis if required) directly to your provider for processing.