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Does Acupuncture Help with Fertility?

achieving pregnancy

 

When you are trying to get pregnant, every month can seem like an eternity.  It can feel like a race against time and like every day matters.  You may feel pressured by society because of your age, or by the burden of a diagnosis.

So, what to do? Acupuncture is a well-known treatment to help improve fertility.

How Does Acupuncture work for fertility?

Acupuncture can help balance hormones, improve blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, and help reduce stress hormones that might interfere with fertility. As a holistic therapy, the goal is making you healthier overall to allow conception and a healthy pregnancy.  Acupuncture sessions are very relaxing, and can be a great source of hope and strength while you are dealing with fertility issues.

How long does acupuncture take to work?

As with anything someone seeks treatment for, it depends on many factors, but most people start seeing changes as soon as their first cycle. More regular periods, less pain and PMS symptoms, and better sleep and digestion are all signs that acupuncture treatments are working and preparing your body for pregnancy.

In general, you should plan for a minimum of three cycles to balance your hormones and improve egg quality. It might take longer if you have a known condition like PCOS or endometriosis, but even those respond well to acupuncture.

At each session, your acupuncturist will offer nutritional guidance as well as lifestyle support to help you reach your goals. The more healthy choices you can make outside the treatment room, the better acupuncture will work—helping you get pregnant faster.

Even more important is how soon you start treatment. Often people wait for months or years to seek out acupuncture. Actually, getting started sooner will give you a better chance of success. Add acupuncture treatments as soon as you start wondering if you are having trouble, and you’ll be meeting your baby before you know it!

 

We’re happy to answer your questions and support you throughout your fertility journey.  Contact us and let us know how we can help!

Retraining the Diaphragm to Enhance Your Health!

Believe it or not, but the way you breathe can impact your health! And vice versa.  The diaphragm is a muscle that sits under the lungs between the chest cavity and the abdominal cavity.  As with any muscle in the body it can get tight or spastic or out of shape.  What’s more, is the connective tissue surrounding the diaphragm connects it to so many different parts of the body, thus implicating it in any type of pain or dysregulation in the body.

Luckily, we can affect the health of the diaphragm and its movement through breathing exercises. practicing mindful breathing every day does more than just calm you down for a few minutes. It retrains and exercises the diaphragm thus helping to relax and reprogram many other muscles and tissues they connect with all over your body.  

 

Diaphragmatic breathing

 

How does diaphragmatic breathing (also called deep breathing or a 3 part breath) detoxify and restore our bodies?

Deep breathing stimulates the lymph nodes and assists lymph drainage (think of the lymphatic system like the sewage system of the body, where debris and toxins are collected and then eliminated).  In fact, it increases the rate of elimination as much as 15 times!

When the diaphragm moves up and down in deep breathing, it stimulates the vagus nerve, which houses many of the parasympathetic nervous systems’ fibers.  This is important because the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the ‘rest and digest’ response.  When we are able to digest we absorb more nutrients to build and protect our bodies and when we can rest, our bodies are given a chance to repair. -Deep breathing assists the circulatory system, improving blood circulation, another major channel of elimination and detoxification.

 

So, how do we practice diaphragmatic breathing?

I found it helpful when I was first learning to lie on my back and place one hand on my lower belly and one hand on my ribcage. Begin by slowing down the breath and relaxing the mind, using the nostrils to breath. Then take an inhale sending the breath down into the lower belly, feeling the hand rising up, keep inhaling and now fill the ribcage with air, feeling the sides of the ribs expand, and finally feel the top of the lungs, the upper chest fill with air. Exhale, reversing the flow.  So, upper chest empties, then side ribs, then lower belly. If it’s helpful, imagine filling a balloon. Inhale, sending breath down to the bottom of the balloon, filling the lower belly, then the side ribs and up to the top, a full balloon. Exhale, top of the balloon, chest deflates, then side ribs contract and finally lower belly, almost squeezes the last of the air out. You can begin with a 4 second inhale count and a 4 second exhale count and as your lung capacity increases you can gradually lengthen each, keeping the length of the inhale the same as the exhale.

Who Can Benefit from breathing exercises?

This practice is appropriate for anyone experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, pain, menstrual difficulties, urinary frequency and urgency, sleep trouble, and really anything!  I encourage all my patients to incorporate mindful breathing – breathing without doing anything else for a few moments – as part of their home work.  They love knowing this simple practice can help them, and it’s a life skill worth practicing!
If you are suffering from a condition that interferes with the life you want to be living, please call 630-335-1069 to schedule a free consultation!

Acupuncture Supports Breast Cancer Patients

 

As a holistic practitioner specializing in women’s health, and the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I feel deeply connected to the work I do to support women going through cancer treatments and women dealing with the after effects of treatment.

While cancer treatments are life saving they’re also harsh to the body and spirit.  Acupuncture is a safe way to support a woman receiving chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.  It allows the body to enter a resting state so it can heal and repair. And it’s not just the needles.  As the practitioner, I am not just a technician inserting needles.  There is a patient-practitioner synergy that has its own value in the healing process.  The result is very supportive and healing.

This article on cancer.gov discusses how several studies show that acupuncture can reduce side effects of treatment such as joint pain.

And this breastcancer.org article cites studies showing acupuncture as being effective for other sides effects including nausea, hot flashes and fatigue.

Let’s not forget the mental-emotional strain cancer causes.  Acupuncture is very effective for anxiety, insomnia, and depression as well.

Acupuncture does not interfere with medications and can be modified to accomodate each patient individually.  Please share this article with someone you know who needs support as she makes her way through this difficult journey.

Why Get Cupped?

I love turning nouns into verbs!  So ya, in my world, I cup people. It’s fun for me and my patients love it too!!

 

What is cupping?

 

Cupping is the application of suction cups to any area of the body on the skin.  The cups may be glass with suction created by fire inserted into cup then quickly placed on the body.  I use plastic cups and use a handheld device to remove air from inside the cups.  Oil is mostly used on the skin and the oil may contain herbs or camphor.

There’s two ways to cup – leave them in one place or slide them around,  pulling  up the tissue with the suction like an inverse massage.  Instead of pressing into muscles, the muscles are gently pulled up, and the amount of suction can be adjusted to comfort.

What does Cupping Do?

Cupping is a deep tissue therapy that breaks up adhesions,  promotes blood and lymph circulation,  and releases tension in the local tissues.  Often joints, muscles, and various connective tissues can accumulate toxins due to tension and lack of circulation.  These toxins contribute to pain and discomfort.  Because cupping releases blockages, this in turn means it promotes qi circulation.   The result is looser tissues allowing waste products to be flushed out and blood and lymph and qi to circulate more freely.

 

Why Get Cupped?

 

I will cup patients typically for the following reasons:

  • relieving pain or tension in the muscles
  • relieving pain or tension in joints
  • relieving symptoms of colds
  • coughs
  • digestive and metabolic support
  • general detoxification support
  • as a diagnostic tool

What Are Side Effects and Contraindications?

 

I don’t cup pregnant women, and I don’t cup those who have bleeding or clotting disorders or who are on anticoagulant medications.

Most patients will have marks in the shapes of the circular cups for a few days after the cupping session.   This is normal and discoloration varies from hardly anything to very dark purplish or red marks.

To determine if or when cupping is right for each patient, I create individualized treatment plans.  I can do a quick short amount of cupping with acupuncture after, or we can do a whole cupping session to cover more areas and spend more time with it.

 

Questions? I would love to hear from you.  Drop me a line.

PCOS – Root Causes and Real Life Solutions

September is PCOS Awareness Month, and since this is something I see a lot in my practice, I want to delve in and not only explain what it is, but also give some real solutions for reversing.  A whopping one in ten women of reproductive age have PCOS, so it definitely deserves attention.

 

The Many Faces of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

A syndrome, by definition, is a collection of criteria, that, when someone meets a certain number of these, is given the diagnosis.  There are misconceptions about what it looks like and who has it.  The main sign is, like in the name, multiple cysts on the ovaries detected with ultrasound.  However, not everyone with PCOS has this.  Elevated androgens (i.e. testosterone), which can cause abnormal hair growth on face or body, head hair loss, and acne.  And irregular periods or no periods.  Some also have weight gain around the middle.  Again, some PCOS patients have some of these symptoms, while others don’t.  Not everyone with PCOS is overweight, and not all have acne or hirsutism.  Diagnosis is based on at least two of the above symptoms.

 

What is PCOS Really?

As a natural health practitioner – we always ask why.  A conventional medical diagnosis often just describes the problem, but doesn’t explain it. Luckily, quite a bit of research since this syndrome rose in prominence in the 90’s has pretty much identified what goes wrong in these women’s bodies.  Here’s the gist:

  •  This is a metabolic syndrome.  Insulin Resistance is a major factor.  Blood sugar disregulation leads to…
  • Inflammation – nowadays everything is attributed to chronic inflammation, but it’s true, this is a basis for many chronic illnesses because of….
  • Stress overload – Chronic stress is not what we’re designed for.  Fight or flight was supposed to be something that turns on in emergencies and turns off the majority of time.  Now many of us have a broken autonomic nervous system switch that keeps us fight or flight most of the time.  The result is overproduction of cortisol, which negatively impacts our sex hormones.  See my other blog.

Bottom line: chronic stress, inflammation, and dysregulation of blood sugar is a recipe for hormonal imbalance, weight gain, etc.

What Causes Insulin Resistance Contains Clues for Treatment

By realizing the underlying causes of Insulin Resistance we can begin to create a treatment plan to address and reverse the upsets to the biology.

  1. SUGAR! Yup, a diet with too much simple carbs, refined carbs, including sugar, will directly mess with metabolism and create inflammation.  This is the #1 most important thing we have control to change for the greatest impact.  Overall a diet that balances healthy fats, complex carbs, and quality protein is crucial for overcoming PCOS. 
  2. Low muscle mass – 85% of energy that we derive from food, aka glucose – goes to feeding our muscles.  If there’s not a lot of muscle, then the energy/glucose will be redirected to storage in the liver or fat tissue.
  3. Nutrient deficiencies – metabolism and hormone production from cholesterol requires numerous vitamins and minerals and essential fatty acids.  Drugs, poor diet, and stress can deplete these, while some can be used therapeutically, such as .
  4. Sleep deficiency – I know that lots of people lack quality sleep.  It seems to be something that is sacrificed or difficult to obtain for some.

The built in treatment

The above 4 points form a foundation for what needs to be addressed and changed in order to allow PCOS patients to reverse the disorder.

  1. Switch from sugary and refined carbs to complex carbs that will not spike blood sugar or require overproduction of insulin.  Fasting for 12 of every 24 hours at least 4 times weekly helps the brain to use sugar more efficiently.
  2. Resistance training exercise – research shows that high intensity interval training, the Peak 8 plan, and similar systems burn fat and build muscle better than other types of exercise.  You gotta get out of breath and sweat but you don’t have to be at it for more than 20 minutes to get the positive impact.
  3. Supplementing several nutrients depending on the individual is important. This is something to discuss with your practitioner to customize for you, since PCOS takes so many variations.
  4. If you don’t get good enough sleep due to poor habits, please reflect and reprioritize.  If you lack good sleep due to insomnia, seek help.

What if You’ve made all these changes and still can’t get pregnant or Resolve Symptoms?

While lifestyle modifications are essential, this alone may not be enough for some PCOS patients.  The power of East Asian Medicine includes techniques that work deep in the mind-body to further repair and restore hormonal health.  I develop a treatment plan incorporating acupuncture, nutritional therapy, lifestyle counseling, herbal medicine, and emotional healing to address the underlying imbalances.  It’s so effective because I assess each patient individually, and tailor the plan to each woman’s unique needs.  Health is never one dimensional, healthcare shouldn’t be either.

Please call or text 630-335-1069 to find out more or to schedule a free consultation.

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