You’re at a point in your journey when perhaps you’re considering changing your strategy and incorporating a more “Alternative” form of treatment in conjunction with the methods being employed now by your regular RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist). Or perhaps you’ve decided to change course all together and rely solely on a completely natural way to conceive your future child. One or both can work and, in my opinion and experience, can be a very beneficial way of overcoming your particular fertility issues. Consider incorporating Traditional Chinese Medicine-TCM in your fertility treatment.
Well, what is it and how do I find a qualified practitioner?
Traditional Chinese Medicine mainly consists of Acupuncture and ingesting Chinese Herbs as treatment methods for virtually any ailment from which the body suffers. It is non-invasive and holistic and uses very fine and thin needles that stimulate certain points in the body in order to promote circulation, “unblock” the flow of energy (otherwise known as Chi) and therefore, promote healing. The daily ingestion of herbs is then used in conjunction with the Acupuncture to further promote the therapeutic effects. Herbs are commonly prescribed by an Acupuncturist and come in either a powdered or raw form from which the patient then boils into a tea to be taken twice a day (morning and night). An Acupuncturist specializing in Fertility issues, will prescribe different herb mixtures at different times to coincide with the female patient’s menstrual cycle.
Acupuncture treatments can vary greatly as to how often they are prescribed. For example, in preparation for an upcoming IVF, the Acupuncturist might recommend bi-weekly sessions depending on the availability of time prior to the IVF. For others wishing to become pregnant naturally, a once a week treatment might be enough. You and your Acupuncturist can work together in creating your treatment plan. Treatment cycles vary in length but generally last a minimum of 3 months in order to receive the full benefit of healthier eggs.
So you’re interested and wondering how to start your search…such as I mention in my article about approaching your search for your future RE-Reproductive Endocrinologist, it’s just as important to ensure an adequate amount of research performed ahead of deciding on an Acupuncturist. Just like any practicing M.D., Acupuncturists are also required to have licenses or certifications in order to practice. However, in your search you’ll come across Licensed Acupuncturists and Certified Acupuncturists.
What’s the difference?
- As detailed in the NCCAOM site:A licensed acupuncturist has completed over 2,700 hours of training on-site at a nationally recognized college of acupuncture. This training needs to be completed at a high level (master’s level) and is supervised by experienced and qualified acupuncturists. In comparison, certified acupuncturists, who are generally chiropractors and physicians, are only required to complete 300 hours, which can be completed as an in-home study.
- A licensed acupuncturist is required to have seen and treated at least 250 actual patients before his/her licensure, whereas a certified acupuncturist isn’t required to treat patients before certification.
- A licensed acupuncturist has passed the national certification exam (NCCAOM), whereas a certified acupuncturist is not required to do so.
- A licensed acupuncturist is required to complete continuing education courses to maintain his/her license, whereas a certified acupuncturist is not.
Finding a licensed acupuncturist involves making sure an acupuncturist is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), understanding the difference between one who is licensed and one who is certified, checking to see what other patients say about the acupuncturist, and determining whether you feel comfortable entrusting him/her with your health.
Read the following steps to find out how to find a licensed acupuncturist in your area.
- Search for an acupuncturist in your local area using a website like www.AcuFinder.com
- Go to the NCAAOM website and fill out as much information as you can in the online form. Though you can search on full name and address of a practitioner, you can also search on zip code, city or state to check their proximity to you.
- You can also search online for a licensed acupuncturist in your area with such sites as Healthgrades.com, the AAAOM website, or even Yelp.com.
- Ask your physician to recommend a licensed acupuncturist to whom he/she has referred patients before.
- Consider asking on our online Community or during one of our Support Group meetings.
Once you’ve decided on someone, verify the acupuncturists’ credentials and check with your states acupuncture board whether they are state licensed or not and if his/her certification (if opting for a Certified acupuncturist) is still current.
When you attend your first appointment, make sure you are both on the same page in terms of diagnosis and proposed treatment before you commit to any sessions.
Be aware that it might take a while before you notice the effects of the acupuncture. Some people experience immediate relief and significant improvement in their condition, whereas others must wait between 1 and 3 months of regular treatment for long-term effects to become noticeable.
Margo’s personal experience:
Most people ask me if I’ve tried acupuncture and the answer is a resounding yes I have and thank goodness I did! When I first started my journey, I thought that it was normal to experience pre-menstrual symptoms (we’ve all seen the commercials) and that pain and large, dark clots during my cycle were completely normal. Guess what ladies, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s not and it’s also a sign of serious issues affecting your fertility. When I went in for my consultation, I was floored when the acupuncturist diagnosed me with blood clotting disorders way ahead of my eventual blood work which would prove she was right all along. How many traditional GYN doctors have asked you if you suffer from knee pain, ringing in your ears, or something to do with anything besides the “area” of their expertise? Not one in my experience. You see, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) doesn’t “break apart” the human body into different medical areas that are separate from each other (and don’t affect one another, as a theory). TCM instead believes that the human body functions as a whole and, in order to cure it’s ailments, must be seen as one functioning organism joined by its various, interconnecting parts, working together to reach a cure.
When my acupuncturist suggested a treatment plan, I decided to “humor” her and undergo the 2-3 month herb regimen to alleviate my menstrual cycle disorders. From the very next cycle, I noticed a marked change in my menstruation in all things that used to affect me before. As I continued on the 3 month treatment course, not only did the condition lessen but it all disappeared within those 3 months! At this point in my story, people usually say “Wonderful! But that was because you were still undergoing treatment.” To which I say yes I was at the time but it STILL remains the same TODAY and I haven’t undergone another intensive treatment like that in several years. My symptoms NEVER have returned…as long as I too follow my part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. I need to incorporate certain foods into my diet to keep my blood clotting disorder at bay (beets, red onions, etc.) and I always refer to this wonderful book I recommend found in my Shop called “The Infertility Cure” by Randine Lewis. It really will make you see alternative medicine in a whole, other light.
Don’t be a skeptic. Try it and you’ll see the wonders alternative medicine has to offer you.