Here's How to Talk to Someone Struggling with Infertility

By Mary Sabo, L.Ac DACM

Struggling to conceive can sometimes be the toughest challenge a couple goes through. Having the right support from friends and family can make a difference in quality of life during the journey. The following blog was written by Mary for the national blog MindBodyGreen.  For the full article, click here.

 

Couples struggling to conceive can experience levels of stress and anxiety as extreme as patients undergoing cancer treatments. The process reminds us that we don't have absolute control over our bodies or our fertility. It is frustrating, to say the least, and can be excruciatingly painful the more time goes on. The experience can be tough for friends and family members, too, who may not understand the intensity of this journey. According to resolve.org, one in eight couples will struggle to get pregnant, so there is a good chance someone in a couple's life may know how difficult it can be, but for those who don't have an experienced friend, co-worker, or family member, it can make this process even harder. Below are some tips that may help you create a more supportive interaction with your loved ones who are struggling to get pregnant:

1. Don't assume what worked for you, your friend, your sister, your mother, a celebrity or anyone else will work for them.

Each fertility case is different, and there are many reasons a couple may struggle to conceive. What worked for one person will not work for everyone. Unless your friend asks, try not to give advice or assume you know the reason she's not conceiving unless she asks.

2. Her infertility is not a result of her stressing about her fertility, so please stop telling her to relax.

While intense long-term stress can create hormonal changes that can contribute to infertility, it is typically not the cause. A couple does not usually start out stressing about their fertility, so implying that they are causing it with their anxiety will likely make them feel worse. This is a process that cannot be controlled yet even with the most advanced technology, so assuming a woman can control her fertility in any way, including by just not caring anymore, is reinforcing her stress. Relaxing may improve her quality of life, but reminding her about how unrelaxed she is will probably not help her get pregnant.

Read the rest of the article here!

Exploring Herbs for Fertility via FertilityIQ

By Mary Sabo, L.Ac. DACM

This is an excerpt from a blog post by Mary for FertilityIQ, a national online resource for assisting couples in finding their best-fit doctor and clinic.  For the full post, click here!

When it comes to enhancing fertility with herbs, the claims and possibilities seem endless. It can be frustrating and sometimes difficult to figure out which herbs might be most appropriate and people often end up taking expensive supplements that may or may not be helpful. If possible, it’s wise to work with a qualified practitioner such as an Acupuncturist, Naturopath, or Functional Medicine Doctor to help you discover which herbs are ideal for your case. If you don’t have access to one of these professionals though, that’s ok too. Keep reading! Let’s explore some of the more common and effective herbs that affect fertility and how they may work to give you a more informed perspective and targeted care.

First, let’s be clear that there isn’t one supplement or herb that is going to be helpful for everyone when it comes to fertility. That being said, incorporating targeted herbs in your comprehensive fertility plan can sometimes boost fertility enough to help some couples conceive. 

Here are some common herbs that are readily available and can potentially enhance fertility:

Vitex (Chaste Tree Berry)

A popular herb for balancing the menstrual cycle and resolving PMS, it likely acts on the pituitary gland in the brain, increasing the strength of the Luteinizing Hormone (LH) surge, which triggers ovulation. This in turn can strengthen ovulation and progesterone production in the luteal phase. It has also been shown to decrease abnormally high prolactin, thus improving hormone balance and ovarian function . This herb helps women with ovulation problems and women with luteal phase defect who have a short luteal phase or low progesterone production.

 

Maca (Lepidium meyenii)

Maca has been in use for thousands of years as a libido and fertility enhancing medicinal. It is indigenous to the Peruvian Andes and is a tuber (like a turnip). It acts as an adaptogen, helping the body cope during times of increased stress, but it may also affect androgens (testosterone) in both men and women. It is unclear if it affects actual levels of testosterone or just the receptor, but it has been shown in both male and female mice to affect fertility positively. In light of the effects on testesterone activity, however, this supplement may not be helpful for women with PCOS, which is associated with elevated androgens.

Click here for the rest of the blog and more herbs info on FertilityIQ

Does Acupuncture Really Turn a Breech Baby?

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By Mary Sabo, L.Ac DACM

It may seem somewhat strange, but acupuncture and particularly a technique called Moxibustion, has been used for thousands of years to help a breech baby find the right position for birth. In fact, a recent meta-analysis showed that it is not only helpful to correct a breech baby’s position, but may also reduce the need for pitocin during labor.[i] Working with an acupuncturist in the weeks leading up to labor and delivery is safe and helpful for supporting late pregnancy symptoms like back pain and fatigue and can also help your baby and your body prepare for a healthy labor and delivery.

Moxibustion, also called Moxa, is a warming technique used in conjunction with acupuncture to promote healing and change in the body. It involves warming specific acupuncture points with a medicinal dried herb called mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). It is typically a pleasant experience and does not hurt. To encourage a breech baby to turn, a dried (sometimes also charred) roll of moxa is lit and used to warm an acupuncture point on the pinky toe. While it may seem strange that warming your toe will turn your baby, it has scientific evidence to back it up![ii]  Researchers speculate that applying moxa to this particular area stimulates the baby to move, signaling a malpositioned or breech baby to move into the (likely most comfortable) head down position. Moxa does not hurt the mother or baby and if a baby cannot change position for some reason (cord positioning, fibroid, etc.), it will not turn. Clinically, I have found that moxa often does the trick, but patients who are eligible for an external cephalic version (ECV) who perform moxa in the weeks leading up to the procedure seem more likely to have it work. 

Moxa is typically performed during acupuncture sessions in the weeks leading up to a woman’s due date starting around week 34 or 35. Because moxa is fairly easy to perform, I also give my patients moxa sticks to take home with instructions so they can continue to stimulate the baby to turn. They warm their pinky toes 20 minutes once or twice a day until the baby is in the correct position. This can take only one session or weeks, but once the baby is head down, it often stays that way until birth. It is recommended, however, to discontinue moxa once the baby is in position. 

For more information, contact us at info@marysaboacupuncture.com or to set up an appointment, click here!

 

[i] Qin-hong Zhang, Jin-huan Yue, Ming Liu, Zhong-ren Sun, Qi Sun, Chao Han, and Di Wang. Moxibustion for the Correction of Nonvertex Presentation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 241027.

[ii] Neri I1, Airola G, Contu G, Allais G, Facchinetti F, Benedetto C. Acupuncture plus moxibustion to resolve breech presentation: a randomized controlled study. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2004 Apr;15(4):247-52.

 

5 Ways to Use the Best of Chinese Medicine to Boost Your Fertility

This post was originally published on the Women's Health and Lifestyle site Mother.ly. For the full article, click here!

By Mary Sabo, L.Ac DACM

For a pregnancy to occur, there are many factors in a woman’s body that must be balanced and healthy.  Men must also have normal strong sperm, which can be affected by diet, lifestyle and overall health. When we are young, we are typically naturally more fertile and resilient, but as we age and are exposed to…you know, life (stress, environmental toxins, poor dietary and lifestyle choices, the progression of disease processes, the natural decline of cellular quality), it can become more challenging.  Couples struggling to conceive, however, have many options for improving their odds of conceiving and almost all couples become pregnant or have a child as long as they keep pursuing their options. 

Western medical techniques for fertility are typically focused on targeted intervention in the uterus and ovaries involving manipulating ovulation, surgical procedures (to remove polyps, cysts, endometriosis, or fibroids), and artificial reproductive technologies like intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization. The Eastern medical approach, however, focuses on helping the body self-correct and improves the function and health of the reproductive organs as well as the entire system. Both approaches have limitations, but studies have shown that when done together, they can work better than either alone. 

For 5 tips on boosting your fertility naturally, read the rest of the article HERE!