If you are interested in trying acupuncture for your fertility concerns and you don’t know anyone who has tried it or anyone who is presently getting acupuncture treatment or if your doctor has no referrals to give, what do you do? Do you begin by looking at the phone book or going online and call the first person who you think might help? What exactly do you have to do to find an acupuncturist whom you can rely on to address your needs?
It is not that easy to find the right practitioner. You may find practitioners who have shining charisma and great personalities but have really pitiful medical skills. Then again, you might find ones who have strong personalities and very bad bed side manners but excel when it comes to medical expertise. Acupuncture just like in any profession, may have practitioners who devote plenty of energy and time to hone their skills constantly and practitioners who feel that what they already know is sufficient enough to provide good healthcare and think that putting much effort into increasing their knowledge is totally unnecessary.
The media has been positive about acupuncture treatment for infertility treatment for the past couple of years and because of that the number of Chinese medicine practitioners who have decided to advertise infertility treatment as part of their practice is growing. It is a fact that in treating infertility, most Chinese medicine practitioners receive very minimal training. Specialties are not offered by Chinese medicine schools, and it does not necessarily imply that when an acupuncturist refers to him/herself a “specialist” in any field of treatment, he/she has actually undergone years of extra training in that particular field. A Chinese medicine specialist is not equal to a “specialist” title in Western medicine that often requires some extra years of medical training.
Clinical doctorates in Chinese medicine are a relatively new offering to practitioners who want to get more training in a special field of interest. There are now a few colleges that offer focused study on geriatric medicine, women’s health, cancer therapies, and more. Those courses do provide a more in depth study in specific areas. There is certainly a lot of interest in making a doctorate degree in a field in Chinese medicine a standard education requirement future incoming students. It may take some time though for that process to take effect since virtually all acupuncture schools operate on a non-profit basis and are small.
You need to be proactive and not be afraid to ask the practitioners questions when you are looking for one who can help you get over your fertility problems. The following are some questions that may help:
Have you received any extra training in treatment of infertility? If yes, how much training, where, and by whom? Since additional training is definitely required in this specific field, I think that these are important pieces of information.
How much of your practice has focused on the treatment of infertility?
If the practitioner has devoted a substantial amount of time in his/her practice addressing infertility, it very likely that that practitioner has wide degree of knowledge in that field. A practitioner who treats infertility issues every now and then may not have the expertise or experience required to provide with you the best available treatment and thus should not be the one who should treat your infertility concerns.
Did you have training in herbal medicine?
Acupuncture programs that do not include herbal training are offered by some colleges. Herbal medicine is the primary mode of treatment for infertility In China for thousands of years. It is acupuncture that’s actually used as an adjunct therapy and is oftentimes not used as a standalone treatment for infertility. At different parts of their menstrual cycle and depending on their specific condition, women commonly need to take various types of herbal remedies. So it’s not uncommon to see women taking four different herbal prescriptions throughout the month.
You need to treat herbal medicine just like any medical treatment. This means understanding your options and treatment plan and to ask questions. The human body, in Chinese medicine, is seen in a different way than western medicine. At times, it is hard to understand the principle behind Chinese medicine and it is the responsibility of the practitioner to explain to you what would be a reasonable prognosis and the steps needed to take to address your condition.
In order to get a clear picture of your condition, your practitioner may recommend that you be examined by a reproductive endocrinologist. If you suffer, for example, from severe obstruction in the fallopian tube Western medicine treatment may be your only option in order to conceive. If that is the case, to prepare you for assisted reproductive therapies such as IVF, Chinese medicine can be utilized as an adjunct modality. But if your practitioner can’t figure out your diagnosis you could be wasting your time getting natural treatment.
Practitioners to Avoid
Those who provide patients with unbelievably high rates of success (“75%-80% of all my patients get pregnant”). You may need to know how many patients are there in their sample size. If the practitioner has only managed to resolve three cases of infertility and all three were successful in achieving pregnancy then the success rate is 100%! Do the success rates of the practitioner involve just counting pregnancies or do they include live births, as well? Does the practitioner include in his/her count patients who have had acupuncture and have undergone IVF? All these questions are essential in determining the usefulness of the success rates of a practitioner.
Those whose promises are too good to be true (e.g. “in just one month of treatment, I promise that you will get pregnant”). No one knows for sure not even the practitioner if the treatment will be a success or not. But for sure, the length of the treatment takes longer than one month. Usually, it takes at least three months to seem some positive results. Some patients may need one year of treatment for them to get pregnant. But If after a year of treatment, you still aren’t able to conceive it is definitely time move on to other treatment options.