Pins and Needles

You would think that once I realized that things were not as they should be reproductively wise, I would enlist all manners of assistance to get knocked up and stay that way.  On the Western side of the equation, that has been the case. I was popping Clomid within eight months of starting to try to get pregnant and I had a full RE workup a little over a year after we started trying. But, West is not the only game in town.

run-dorkas-runEast has quite a few weapons in the arsenal.  None of those weapons, however, were in my infertility tool kit. Why was this?

The people I have known in my life who turn to Eastern medicine have done so as a last resort, not as a first option.  It didn’t help that what I did know of it involved sticking needles in strange places. At that point in my life, my dates with needles were few and far between, the fewer the better.  In other words, I had no positive experiences to view Eastern medicine as a serious and worthy compliment to Western medicine.

And then I became infertile.  My opinion of Eastern medicine, however, did not change, partly because Western medicine did get me pretty far.  Acupuncture probably wouldn’t have cleared out my tubes, but darned if that laparascopy did the trick!  And, then I got pregnant.  And, I miscarried.  Then I got pregnant again, and I miscarried again. With the same chromosomal abnormality.

It was at that point that I began to look at what we had been doing to see what we could do differently to change our outcome because even though we had been given a diagnosis of Bad Luck, I wanted to see what we could differently to possibly counteract whatever was causing things to go awry.  I began to seriously consider acupuncture, having read a lot about its benefits with IVF, and general well-being.  Dr. Salsa recommended it, something Dr. Uterus never mentioned, and Dr. Salsa had even partnered with an acupuncturist so that they would work out of his office.  It couldn’t have been any easier to get acupuncture treatment.

And yet I still hesitated.  That little part of my brain* kept saying, “this is the last step to you declaring that you are a desperate infertile!”, obviously a throw back to my original opinions about Eastern medicine.  Then my cycle started getting out of whack and I reached the point where I wanted to do something, anything, that did not involve more hormones to get things moving back in the right direction.  And, it wouldn’t hurt that acupuncture has been shown to help with IVF, which we are on schedule to do in the spring.  So, I made an appointment and I have now had two sessions.  I will have two a week up until it’s IVF time and then one on the day of retrieval and two on the day of transfer. 

So far, it’s been interesting. Some of the sticks hurt, others don’t. Once the needles are in, she leaves me for 30 minutes to sleep, which so far I haven’t been able to do.  I’ll stick (ha!) with it, though, because even if it has few to no physical benefits, the mental benefits of knowing that I am doing something toward our goal and that it is something new, are worth it. 

*The little voice has completely changed her tune, by the way. She’s now convinced that acupuncture will magically fix everything.  I’m going to have my hands full beating down her expectations and remaining realistic. 

image: run dorkas run

14 thoughts on “Pins and Needles

  1. I’m convinced that acupuncture was what made the difference for us, and am holding out every hope that you too find it beneficial.

    May 2009 bring you peace and joy, dear Mrs X!

  2. So glad you are trying Eastern Medicine and acupuncture in conjunction with medical fertility treatment. At Pulling Down the Moon we have seen so many women benefit both physically and mentally from acupuncture. As you know, there is evidence suggesting that acupuncture done before and after embryo transfer significantly increases conception rates. We also see empirical evidence through our large population of women we treat that it can help those not undergoing medical treatment as well. We were struck by your comment “even if it has few to no physical benefits, the mental benefits of knowing that I am doing something toward our goal and that it is something new, are worth it.” This is how so many of our patients feel who have integrated holistic treatments in with their medical. We might also suggest fertility yoga (for stress and blood flow) and a nutrition consultation which can help you learn how best to eat for optimal conception and preparing your body for pregnancy. You’d be surprised by how many women think they are eating “fertility friendly foods” only to learn that a diet of green salads all day long and diet sodas will not do the trick. Check out our book on holistic infertility entitled: “Fully Fertile” for some great tips and info on acupuncture, yoga,nutrition, sleep, dealing with disappointment and even prayer. Best of luck on your journey toward parenthood.

  3. i tried acupuncture for over 6 months and i stopped going ‘cos it was too expensive AND i thought that my practioner wasn’t paying attention to me all the time.

    if it was covered by insurance i would’ve continued, but the dwindling bank account dictated me choice.

  4. I am resisting acupuncture because my family keep touting it as The Answer (I am aware this proves my relationship with my family is a little untidy). But I keep thinking, maybe, just maybe, it would be worth it, even if all it did was sort out the hair-loss or soothe the anxst and tantrums.

  5. This is something I have also considered. Right now it’s ruled out only because I haven’t done the research to find if anyone in the area does infertility treatments.

    And since I have joined the ranks of those who have done injectable cycles, I’m not quite as fearful of the needles, which was my other reservation.

  6. I think acupuncture has a very positive affect on women’s cycles, and that in turn can impact fertility positively. I know that it has helped me become a lot healthier–I never get sick anymore–and reduced my PMS to a barely-there sensation. I think it’s worth a try, at the very least as a way to calm you and support you as you reenter the treatment arena.

  7. I’m glad you are trying acupuncture. I think it’s a great. My period went from 9 days to 4 in three months and my PMS is minimal. I’m hoping it will help me achieve pregnancy, but I’m thinking we’ll probably have to go back to the RE for that….

  8. like some of the others above, I thought acu and chinese herbs were really helpful for balancing my cycle and relaxing. I had other beneficial impacts too, but pregnancy was not one of them.

    were it not for the ongoing expense and the fact that my little wizard doc insisted on telling me how many women she treats go on to conceive and carry healthy babies (who were all OLDER than me, thank you very much), I would have stuck with it. ha, “stuck,” get it?

  9. I’m an anomaly in the online IF community as I’ve only had 3 medicated cycles in 3+ years of TTC. And although I haven’t done much “Eastern” medicine, I’ve tried quite a bit in the realm of “holistic” medicine. ‘Cause, see, for me, the problem with East isn’t all that different than West: $$$.

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