At The Fertility Acupuncture Clinic in Brisbane I have a special interest in fertility-related concerns. Many of my clients are experiencing difficulty becoming or remaining pregnant. Some are trying naturally and others are utilising assisted reproductive technologies (ART’s). ART’s include ovulation induction (using Clomid, Letrazole or follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH), intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). In addition to my previous career as a nurse and midwife I have a Masters in Reproductive Medicine which has helped me better understand what fertility treatments you might already be or are considering utilising to assist you in becoming pregnant.
About fertility acupuncture
What is fertility acupuncture?
Fertility acupuncture is a term we use when acupuncture is performed on women who are presenting with fertility concerns as their primary complaint. There has been a large amount of research performed looking at how acupuncture may benefit fertility with mixed results. At this stage we need further research to to know if it positively affects fertility. If you are after a perspective from fertility clinics about the role of acupuncture when used in conjunction with or for fertility here is a link to Monash IVF’s article about acupuncture and fertility.
Who uses fertility acupuncture?
At The Fertility Acupuncture Clinic in Brisbane I see clients in all stages of the fertility process. Some of my clients can fall pregnant easily but experience recurrent miscarriages and other have never had a positive pregnancy test. Some are still thinking about starting to try to fall pregnant and are trying to ensure they are in the best possible state to conceive a healthy baby. Some have been trying naturally for a little while and looking for some guidance before they embark on testing or fertility treatments. Other clients are about to commence or are already undergoing some form of fertility treatment.
Over the years I have also had many clients who have undergone years of fertility treatments and are at the stage of having to make some very difficult decisions which they never thought they would have to make. This might include having to consider the use of donor gametes (eggs or sperm), some have to consider if a surrogate might be the best option for them and others need to consider if they have exhausted all their options and consider ceasing treatment without the desired outcome.
How to choose a fertility acupuncture clinic?
There are several factors to consider when choosing which clinic and acupuncturist you choose to help with your fertility journey. These include the experience level of the acupuncturist with fertility, the ease of getting to the clinic for your appointments and finding a practitioner who you are comfortable with and enjoy seeing for your appointments. For many women their fertility journey takes time and they need to work through the process, find the puzzle pieces, put them together and, hopefully, have a positive outcome. This will often require you seeing your fertility acupuncturist (and other healthcare providers) multiple times. This needs to be considered when you are choosing your provider. I am often saying to my clients if you are seeing people who don’t quite click with you or you feel you aren’t gaining any positive effects then seek the services of another provider.
My experience level
I have worked in the fertility acupuncture field since 2010 and during that time I have been fortunate enough to support so many women trying to conceive. I am happy to work with and support you where you are in the process and understand that, whilst infertility may affect 1 in 6 couples, your situation is unique to you. I have a Masters in Reproductive Medicine and am very familiar with assisted fertility treatments. I have practised long enough to know my clients will continually come in and educate me on all the new medications and procedures which are continually evolving in this field.If you can see an acupuncturist who is very familiar with fertility and also the processes around it you will obtain far more from your acupuncture treatments than if you go to a practitioner who isn’t as familiar with it.
How I work
I firmly believe that healthy people make healthy babies and that good health includes both the body and the mind. For many people who come into my clinic their fertility journey has already been an endurance event. They have had to draw on enormous psychological strength to keep going. To pick themselves up when the pregnancy test is negative or period arrives and try again. And in some cases again and again and again.
What my clinic can provide
I can provide your fertility acupuncture treatments and also discuss nutrition, vitamin supplements, exercise and relaxation techniques that can help you during this time. As people who are experiencing fertility issues form the bulk of my clientele I am often aware of which specialists may be more experienced with certain conditions than others.
How my clinic differ from other acupuncture fertility clinics
If you choose to come to my clinic for fertility acupuncture you will only see me as I work alone, not in a group of practitioners. This provides you with continuity of care but does mean I can’t provide the amount of appointment times which multi practitioner clinics can. I can, however, recommend other practitioners for you if you need a treatment on a day or time I don’t work. I do provide a range of appointment times, including evenings, early mornings appointments.
Common fertility issues I see in my clinic
Acupuncture and fertility treatment options
Acupuncture and Natural Fertility
If you are trying to fall pregnant naturally find a practitioner who is familiar with the menstrual cycle and can help you identify your ovulation. Many of my clients express their dismay that we are not taught more about out bodies when we are teenagers or young women. We are often told our periods are annoying and if they were painful, heavy, irregular or just inconvenient many of us were encouraged to go on the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) or another form of hormonal contraception (Implanon, Mirena, Depo Provera). When women start these as teenagers they will often continue on them until they are ready you try to fall pregnant. For some women their periods will return quickly and regularly, whilst for others it might take a while. But for all these women they are unfamiliar with the natural cycles of their body’s and need to now learn to understand how it’s working so they can best achieve a timely pregnancy. Practitioners familiar with women’s health and fertility are well-equipped to help if required.
Acupuncture and Ovulation Induction
Ovulation induction is used when a women is either not ovulating or not ovulating regularly. Common ovulation induction medications include oral medications, such as, Clomid and letrazole and injectable medications including follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH), such as Gonal F. These medications stimulate the ovaries to ovulate and then depending on your individual situation, you may have timed intercourse or an IUI.
Acupuncture and IVF
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) involves removing eggs from a women’s ovaries and fertilising them with sperm outside of the body. There are many reasons my clients are using IVF, including male factor issue (such as poor semen quality), tubal issues (blocked or scarred tubes), known genetic concerns which require embryos to be genetically tested prior to use, gynaecological concerns (endometriosis, polycystic ovaries (PCO or PCOS), diminished ovarian reserve, increased maternal age). For others there is no known reasons they aren’t falling pregnant (unexplained infertility).
Acupuncture and Embryo Transfer
Embryo transfers refer to when an embryo which has been grown outside of your body is transferred into your uterus. Embryo transfers can be fresh (transferred in your stimulation cycle) or frozen (transferred in a subsequent menstrual cycle). Most embryos are transferred as a 5 day blastocyst but they can also be transferred from Day 2-5. Fresh transfers are usually 5 days after your egg pick-up (eg if your eggs were harvested on a Monday then your embryo transfer is usually on a Saturday). This can vary though and your fertility specialist will tell you when it will happen.
You can not have a fresh embryo transfer here in Brisbane if you require PGD testing of your embryos. Sometimes you have planned for a fresh embryo transfer but you are unable to have one due to an increased risk of ovarian hyper stimulation (OHSS). This typically occurs when a lot of eggs have been harvested (>20) but I have seen it in women who have had fewer eggs harvested as well. Women are often vey disappointed when this happens but it is vey dangerous if you fall pregnant on that cycle so your doctor needs to ensure you are cared for safely and your embryo will be able to be transferred the following cycle.
Frozen embryo transfers can take place in a medicated or unmedicated cycle. In an unmedicated cycle your doctor will track your ovulation with bloods tests and transfer your embryo five days after you naturally ovulate. Sometimes women will use a trigger and/or progesterone pessaries in these cycles. With a medicated frozen embryo transfer you will tale oral oestrogen which usually means you will not naturally ovulate. Your doctor will monitor your uterine lining with ultrasounds and when your lining is adequate you will start progesterone pessaries and after 5 days of these you will have your embryo transfer. These medications are then often continued until you pregnancy test and if you have a positive pregnancy test you will often continue them until 12 weeks. Again, your specialist or fertility clinic will tell you what to do.
Success rates are slightly higher for frozen embryo transfers. This is probably due to your hormones being at much more normal levels as opposed to in a stimulation cycle. Your fertility specialist will guide you in what is best for you in each individual cycle.
Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer
Here at the Fertility & Pregnancy Acupuncture Clinic in Brisbane I see many women on the day of embryo transfer for acupuncture support.
My clinic is located close to St Andrew’s Day Hospital for women using QFG services and short drive or Uber ride from City Fertility in Newstead, Life Fertility in Bowen Hills and Eve Health which is currently performing most embryo transfer in Auchenflower.
My clients often choose to listen to my pre and/or post embryo transfer meditations whilst lying under my heat lamps and relaxing and enjoying their treatments.
Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer involves either having 2 sessions on the same day (1 prior and 1 afterwards) or those for who that isn’t possible or have already been having regular acupuncture sessions having the 1 session may be more appropriate.
Clients often ask which is more beneficial and I think either is and often we can decide which may be more beneficial depending on when and where in Brisbane you are having your embryo transfer and other circumstances surrounding it.
Some women are also having intralipid transfusions or other procedures on the same day as their embryo transfer and I can work around these things to find an appropriate and stress-free time for you to enjoy a session.
Research on acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer
An article which examines the role of acupuncture on IVF outcomes was published in December 2019 (1). It reviewed 2 large meta-analysis and systematic reviews which were published in 2019. The link to the article is below for those who would like to see it but one of the things the research showed was that acupuncture performed prior to and on the day of embryo transfer improved IVF outcomes.
- 1. Lee E. Hullender Rubin.Medical Acupuncture.Dec 2019.329-333. http://doi.org/10.1089/acu.2019.1392
Acupuncture and male fertility
Male factor infertility accounts for 50% of reasons why a couple aren’t falling pregnant. Issues can include poor quality sperm, such as a high abnormality rate of the sperm, poor motility, meaning it is unable to swim vigorously or straight), low volume (there is not enough sperm in each ejaculate). Often it is not known why men have poor quality semen but there are many lifestyle measure which can help to improve it, such as decreasing alcohol consumption. Other reasons for male factor infertility can be a previous vasectomy or other blockages which affect the delivery of sperm from the testicles.
Common Fertility Questions
Why am I not falling pregnant?
That is certainly the million dollar question. Some of you will have a diagnosis for why you are having trouble falling pregnant, such as poor semen quality or blocked Fallopian tubes. Whilst for many others the answers you’re searching for may never be found. Unexplained infertility accounts for 10-20% of couples experiencing fertility treatment. For more information about unexplained infertility look at this link. Most people find the process very stressful and it can put huge strain on their relationships. Many people find their fertility acupuncture treatments relaxing and for some it will be the only time they have completely to themselves during the week.
Where do the needles for fertility acupuncture go?
I choose my needle location according to your Chinese Medicine Diagnosis and where in your menstrual or IVF cycle you are. Before ovulation or embryo transfer I routinely needle arms, lower legs and lower abdomen. I also apply gentle heat with heat lamps to the lower abdomen and feet. Post ovulation or after a fresh or frozen embryo transfer I generally needle areas and legs but avoid the abdomen and heat lamps are no longer used above the lower abdomen.
What else can I do to optimise my fertility?
- Supplements to support fertility
- Fertility Diets
- Fertility Foods
- Fertility Books
Location, parking and public transport options
My clinic is located on Douglas St in Milton which runs off Park Road. There is free parking available (seee below) and is easily accessible if you are using public transport. It is a 7-8 minute walk from Milton Station if you are catching the train.
Is there free parking?
Yes, there are 5 carparks out the front of the building. If those are full drive up the alley way to the left of the building and there is more free parking there. There is also metre parking available on Douglas and the surrounding streets if you are planning to got to nearby Park Rd for lunch.