Women are incredible. We bear children, and that alone makes our bodies unique and intricate. Each woman marches to her own tune and when it comes to her health, I offer highly customized treatments based on each woman’s individual needs and goals. Very often, dietary and lifestyle modifications are integrated into treatment strategies.
Gynecological issues treated include:
Exercise-induced, PCOS, hormonal insufficiencies and imbalances, and some types of imbalances of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis.
Acupuncture can help improve blood circulation in the pelvic region and this eases the pain most women experience due to endometriosis. Important dietary modifications in addition to a custom treatment plan can make a tremendous difference in the quality of a patient’s life.
PCOS, Uterine Fibroids, and Ovarian Cysts
Weekly treatments can help reduce the size of cysts. Dietary modifications are crucial to the success of these treatments.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views this symptom as stagnation within the meridians and treats it as such by improving the circulation of blood and energy within specific meridians. As with any cystic condition, dietary and lifestyle modifications are given to the patient to increase efficacy of treatments.
More common that thought (or spoken about), approximately 43% of women and 31% of men report issues with libido. Lifestyle, stress, anatomical issues, and imbalances of hormones can lead to low sex drive. I have been treating low libido successfully for over 15 years with the combined modalities of acupuncture, herbs, stress reduction, and dietary modifications.
Irregular Menses, Amenorrhea
Hormonal imbalances and lifestyle can contribute largely to irregular cycles. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been successfully treating these irregularities for centuries. Painful menses and PMS symptoms are addressed in the same manner of treatment – to regulate hormones, blood flow to the uterine region, and sedate anxiety and stress that these patients very often experience. Typically a significant change is seen within one to three months when a patient commits to weekly and/or bi-weekly treatments depending on the severity of her condition.
The combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas is found to be highly effective for the treatment of menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, dry and brittle hair and nails, insomnia, weight gain, vaginal dryness, diminished night vision, and night sweats).
The American Pregnancy Association endorses acupuncture for fertility. This integrative medicine system has been used for infertility for over 2,500 years and when combined with western medicine, a successful pregnancy can be realized for many women. Some fertility-related issues treated by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) include:
Moxibustion (this is a non-invasive method of warming a specific points with a herbal stick (ai ye) that is proven to turn breeched babies into the correct position between 70-85% of attempted procedures. There is no guarantee that any fetus will remain in a corrected position, but many OB/GYNs have been sending their patients to me over the years for this service with successful results.
Decreased ovarian reserve
Steiner Vitorin Protocol (see references) is used at my clinic to assist women with a decreased ovarian reserve achieve pregnancy. The combination of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formulas can help regulate FSH levels, which are important for IVF treatments to be successful.
associated with fertility procedures (hormonal changes/implantation)
Traditional Chinese medicine helps to increase the efficacy of IUI/IVF procedures. I utilize the Steiner Vitorin Protocol to increase blood circulation to the ovaries during the stimulation phase of IUI and IVF. Treatment up to one hour prior to transfer and follow-up treatment up to one hour post transfer help to relax the uterus, preventing uterine spasms quite often experienced without acupuncture. Side effects of fertility drugs, allopathic protocols and procedures are treated on a biweekly basis for optimal results.
At approximately week 37 (with the approval of the patient’s OB/GYN), specific points are painlessly needled in the lower sacral region and in the hands and feet. These points are proven to stimulate uterine contractions and can reduce the need for emergency cesareans by 32%, medical inductions an average of 40%, and epidurals by 31%.
Regular weekly treatments can help prevent miscarriage and help reduce symptoms of morning sickness, neuropathies, neck and low back pain, general fatigue, and edema.
Postpartum Recovery/Depression & Lactation Support
Very often, new mothers experience hormonal changes that manifest as post partum depression. Pelvic floor issues, insomnia, low back and hip pain, carpal tunnel and insufficient lactation can all be addressed and treated with acupuncture. The additional treatment by a pelvic floor physical therapist with acupuncture can reap stellar results.
Reduction of miscarriages
Miscarriages happen quite often in the early stages of pregnancy; in many cases, prior to a woman becoming aware of a missed menses (period). A woman’s hormonal imbalances and integrity of a man’s sperm can play significant roles in recurring miscarriages. If you have experienced multiple miscarriages, it would be prudent that you and your partner to be tested by a fertility specialist to determine the root cause of the failed pregnancies (genetics, autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases are some causes). Environmental and lifestyle factors need to be considered to create a complete health profile for both the male and female. Traditional Chinese Medicine can help both partners by addressing certain hormonal imbalances and help support a healthy pregnancy from conception to post partum stages. Your acupuncturist is an important member of your fertility team because we can guide you with proper nutrition, lifestyle modifications as your pregnancy advances, and can help to induce natural labor should the need arise. We can work closely with your ob/gyn, doula and midwife to ensure you have all you need for a viable pregnancy and healthy baby.
Regulation of FSH levels
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is a hormone that is released from the pituitary gland in a woman. The FSH’s job is to signal the ovaries monthly that it is time for them to prepare and egg for ovulation. During a woman’s journey into menopause, her FSH levels increase and fluctuate; these elevated levels are a sign of decreased fertility and onset of menopause. Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture and herbal formulas) can help to regulate these hormonal fluctuations that will make the transition into menopause easier and less traumatic for a woman. Fertility clinics require FSH levels to be within specific parameters for assisted reproductive protocols (IVF for example), so regulation of this hormone is very important from the moment a woman decides to engage in any assisted reproductive treatment.
Weight loss/Weight gain
Traditional Chinese Medicine treats the person as a ‘whole’ and so nutritional counseling, lifestyle modification, herbal medicine and acupuncture all play an integral part of your treatment protocol whether you would like to lose or gain weight. Our Vie En Or (the Golden Life) program has helped patients over the years achieve their desired weight while adapting to healthier lifestyles. Improved sleep, better concentration and immune systems are all benefits of this program.
Acupuncture is proven to help reduce stress, improve quality of sleep and help to down-regulate the sympathetic nervous system (the ‘flight or flight’ mechanism that causes elevated heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety and stress). Regular acupuncture treatments can help you manage your stress and reduce the manifestations it causes. Externally placed nearly visible ear balls are applied in certain cases; enabling a patient to ‘self-treat’ for several days in between regular treatments.
Improved efficacy of implantation
Here at the Golden Acupuncturist™ clinic, we practice the Steiner-Vitorin protocol that has been proven to increase the efficacy of IVF and IUI protocols. This specific method of acupuncture treatment can help to increase blood flow to the ovaries and uterus during stimulation, decrease inflammation and side effects of pharmaceuticals prescribed, relax the uterus post-transfer, and regulate the emotional effects of the hormones administered so often experienced.
Cridennda DK, Magarelli PC, Cohen M. Acupuncture and In Vitro Fertilization: Does the number of treatments impact reproductive outcomes? Integrating Acupuncture & IVF Seminar. May 18, 2007. Vancouver, BC.
Stener-Victorin E, Waldenström U, Andersson SA, Wikland M. Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture. Hum Reprod, Jun 1996; 11(6): 1314-7.
O’Connor J, Bensky D. Acupuncture: A comprehensive text. Translated from Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine. Seattle, Wa: Eastland Press; 1981.
Lewis, R. Treating Infertility with Traditional Chinese Medicine seminar. October 2004. Houston TX
Paulus WE, Zhang M, Stehler E, El-Danasouri I, Sterzik K. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertil Steril, Apr 2002;77:721-724.
Kim J, Shin KH, Na CS. Effect of acupuncture treatment on uterine motility and cyclooxygenase-2 expression in pregnant rats. Gynecol Obstet Invest 2000;50:225-30.
Lewis, R. The Infertility Cure. New York: Little, Brown; 2002.
Olesen, T. Auriculotherapy Manual. 2nd ed. London: Churchill Livingston; 1998.
Collins J. The play of chance. Fertil Steril, May 2006; 85:5:1364-7.
Domar AD. Acupuncture and infertility: we need to stick to good science. Fertil Steril, May 2006; 85:5:1359-61.
Meyers ER. Acupuncture adjunctive therapy in assisted reproduction: remaining uncertainties. Fertil Steril, May 2006; 85:1362-3.
Anderson BJ, Rosenthal L. Acupuncture and IVF studies lack protocol analysis and external validity. Apr 2007 Fertil Steril, 87:1000.
Min JK, Breheny SA, MacLachlan V, Healy L. What is the most relevant standard of success in assisted reproduction? The singleton, term gestation, live birth rate per cycle initiated: the BESST endpoint for assisted reproduction. Hum Reprod, Jan 2004;19:3-7.
Lee Hullender, MS, LAc, Dipl. OM, is a fertility acupuncturist and practices in Bellevue, WA at Abundant Spring LLC, and a fertility clinic, Northwest Center for Reproductive Sciences, Kirkland, WA. She has been profiled in Seattle Metropolitan, Seattle Woman, and on KING-TV.
Current Newsletter Articles:
Treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Related Infertility
Jade eNews – April 2015
Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine in the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease
Jade eNews – April 2015: The Year of the Sheep, ©2015 Jade Institute