Notes from a Portland Acupuncturist: Fertility Acupuncture for PCOS

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fertility acupuncture PCOS

PCOS is a common health concern. In fact, estimates suggest that somewhere around 10% of US women have PCOS. There are typical physical concerns that go along with PCOS that include: excess hair growth on face and or body, irregular menses, obesity and/or metabolic syndrome, and acne. However, clinically I see many women who do not fit the “typical” pattern. Women of all shapes and sizes, some with regular bleeding cycles, some with cycles that are rare, some with excess facial hair, some without. The one issue that bonds them together, the reason they come to see me, is infertility.

Sara’s Story

 

When Sara, a 38 year-old executive, found my practice she was feeling powerless, hopeless, and scared. She had been trying to conceive for almost a year, and 6 weeks prior to seeing me she had also been in a fairly serious car accident. Within 6 months of trying to conceive she developed anxiety that led to restless sleep, and that was compounded by the pain from the accident. She was exhausted, agitated, and in pain. The muscle relaxers her doctor gave her only made her sleepy, and the pain medication made her nauseous.

 

She was starting to get depressed. Her biggest fear was that she’d never get pregnant, but she also worried she’d have to deal with physical pain for the rest of her life.

 

“I don’t know what else to do. My doctor said she doesn’t have anything else to offer me. I’m scared that this is it — that by the time I feel well enough, I’m going to be too old to have a baby and it might never happen.”

 

Sara’s Ob-gyn had done some basic blood tests prior to the car accident to assess her fertility, and they showed elevated blood sugar and that Sara, despite having periods every 35 days, was not ovulating. Her official diagnosis was PCOS, and her OB wanted to put her on Metformin and Clomid. Sara resisted, opting to try diet and exercise first. Since the accident, however, she had been unable to adhere to her exercise plan which was making her feel like she had lost the only control she thought she had.

 

Her MD knew about Sara’s desire to conceive, and her doctor and I had already co-treated a few patients successfully in the past. When Sara came in she told me that her doctor was sure that I’d be able to help her feel better, and that I just might have some ideas that could help her get pregnant as well.

 

Before we continue with the story of what helped Sara, I want to tell you a few things about how I practice.

 

Treating the Whole Person, not the Disease

 

Although I do look at test results, and sometimes refer patients to their doctors for further testing, mostly I assess based on how YOU are feeling and what is going on in your body. This medicine is all about YOU and how YOUR BODY behaves, so to gauge progress I gather data from you. I listen for things like:

 

  • “I’m sleeping through the night now!” or
  • “I feel so much more hopeful,” or
  • “My back pain isn’t interfering with exercise anymore,” or
  • “My period was virtually painless this month,” or
  • “I’m not getting headaches anymore,” or
  • “I didn’t have any PMS this cycle,” or
  • “I just feel so much calmer these days,” or
  • any other indicator that your health is improving.

 

When your body comes into balance and your energy starts to improve, you will feel it. You can tell when your hormones align and your health starts to flourish because your pain decreases, your cycles regulate, your stress seems easier to handle, you have more energy and better sleep.

 

When you learn to read the signals your body is giving you, you step back into your innate power. You feel less like your body is at war with you and more like you are both on the same team.

 

YOU START TO THRIVE.

 

Your innate ability to heal gets kicked into high gear, and you feel better. When you are thriving, you feel stronger, more energetic, you sleep better, have a higher libido, and even your fertility improves.

 

That’s it. That’s how it works — simple changes bring big results, and it all starts with you.

After that first visit, Sara felt immediate changes. Her pain from the car accident had been a fairly constant 7/10 on the pain scale, and after just one treatment she noticed that pain level drop to 2-3/10. She had no more radiation of pain from her low back down into her leg. Her 3 times/week headaches stopped. At her third treatment she informed me that she felt ready to get back into some gentle exercise.

 

Her period had been later than usual when she came to see me (with negative pregnancy tests), and it arrived right after leaving her first acupuncture treatment. Remarkably, it was not crampy like it normally was.

 

These are incredible results, but not unusual. Even though fertility was one of Sara’s main concerns, we saw fast results with her pain, her insomnia, her anxiety and depression, and even with the quality of her periods.

 

When the right medicine is used, your body is ready to respond. Natural medicine is aimed at harnessing the innate desire your body has to be in balance. You are powerful and are capable of strong healing if given the proper tools.

 

We had more to work on, and Sara agreed to jump in with both feet. She followed a treatment plan of weekly acupuncture, custom herbal medicine, and a diet focused on managing her blood sugar. She learned how to better read her body’s fertile signals and started swimming in order to get in some exercise and to help manage her stress.

 

Despite the lack of hope Sara had when she first came into my office — despite the pain and the PCOS — when her body was given the guidance it needed, her body responded in powerful ways. She noticed the positive changes right away. And they continued to compound throughout treatment.

Her results were fantastic. Her pain was going away, she no longer had headaches, and even her husband remarked on how much more relaxed and social she was after months of hiding away.

 

After 3 months we saw definite signs that she had started ovulating. She also continued to see improvements in her periods: they arrived every 29 days, had no clots, and no cramps, and came with no discernable PMS.

 

Sara came in at the end of her 5th cycle with me and mentioned that she was on day 35 of her cycle. She was not exhibiting any PMS, but her breasts were tender, and when I felt her pulses they bore the unmistakable mark of pregnancy. I asked her why she hadn’t taken a pregnancy test. “I’m afraid. After waiting for so long I just can’t bring myself to believe that it could happen.”

 

I strongly encouraged her to take a test that night, and I arrived at the office the next morning to an emotional and excited voicemail from Sara stating that she was pregnant. She went on to have an unremarkable pregnancy and a healthy baby boy.

 

Here is an important thing to note: Sara didn’t use any hormones, but clearly her hormones changed. Her pre-treatment blood work showed high testosterone, high FSH, no ovulation and a high A1C. All of those can be barriers to pregnancy.

 

Yet when we focused on her overall health and wellness, those things regulated.

 

When you feel healthier, you are healthier.

 

This is not a one-off story. It also isn’t a story of miracles.

 

It is the story of what happens when the right tools are used to access the healing power in your body. It is the story of how your pain can resolve and your body can get into balance when it is supported and given the opportunity to heal.

 

Your body is no different.

 

This story is meant to be an inspiration. To show you that there is a pathway to healing.  It is meant to give you hope, and to remind you that with the right instruction your body will activate its own innate healing.

 

Your body craves balance. It wants to heal.

 

When you find the right processes that speak to your body’s unique needs, it will return to balance. It will heal.

 

Are you ready to explore your own healing?

 

Schedule your free consultation and we’ll meet to discuss your health concerns. The consultation gives you an opportunity to come see the office, meet me, and have an open conversation about your medical history.

 

If I believe I can help you after our chat, you’ll have the chance to work with me.

 

I’m here to help you reclaim your health. If you are ready, schedule your free consultation now.