Fall is my favorite season. I love the cool, crisp weather and watching leaves fall to the ground. Most importantly, I enjoy spending holidays with friends and family. I feel incredibly grateful to work in a profession that allows me to have an impact on other's lives and work with such incredible people. So, thank you for trusting me with your care.
With the holidays around the corner, consider giving the gift of wellness for family, friends or yourself. I will be offering a 20% discount on gift certificate amounts purchased in the month of November and December.
I am happy to announce effective January 1, 2015, I will become a member of the Regence network. Keep this in mind for those have who have insurance through Regence or friends or family with Regence coverage and could benefit from acupuncture.
Enhance your Fertility
The topic of fertility is an area of great interest to me. I feel so honored to support those who are currently in their journey to become parents. Fertility is a complicated area which can be affected by many different factors for men and women.
I want to dedicate a newsletter to provide practical tips informed by recent studies. Much of this information is based a compilation of research discussed in the book, It Starts with the Egg, by Rebecca Fett.Egg Quality:
The most current research indicates egg quality is the most important factor in failed IVF cycles, recurrent miscarriage, and age-related infertility. Poor egg quality may also contribute to infertility related to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and unexplained infertility.
The ability to improve egg quality will have a great impact on the amount of time to become pregnant as well as avoiding a miscarriage. Many will turn to artificial reproductive technologies (ART) to boost their pregnancy odds. For some couples this is the answer, however the current approach to ART does not address the underlying cause of fertility issues often resulting in unsuccessful outcomes.
It is important to note, most eggs develop problems a few months before ovulation not over the woman's life. Aging itself does not cause the eggs to have chromosomal abnormalities but lifestyle and genetic factors will predispose the eggs to not be viable. The follicle takes approximately three months to mature into an egg. This is why acupuncturists will ask their patients to receive at least three to four months of ongoing treatments to enhance the quality of the egg through the maturation cycle as well as improve other aspects of the reproductive system.
I am often asked how egg quality can be improved. The good news it is possible to change your reproductive health. How to do so can be impacted by several factors: diet, supplement support, lifestyle, and minimizing exposure to environmental toxins. As I mentioned earlier, most of the suggestions below will require at least three to four months to show improvement.Diet:
Our food can have a huge impact on our overall well-being including our fertility health. Maintaining steady insulin levels is very important. Too much sugar (via simple carbs or sweets) can disrupt other hormones which regulate the reproductive system. This is evident in PCOS where too much insulin activates excess male hormones such as testosterone. Other studies have found that increased insulin levels may also contribute to recurrent miscarriage.
So what can you do? Studies show women who consumed diets based on vegetables, fruits, vegetable oils, legumes and lean protein and low-glycemic carbs were found to dramatically increase their pregnancy outcome.Vitamins and Supplements:
Prenatal vitamin - It is never too soon to start prenatal vitamins. It is recommended to begin three months before becoming pregnant. Folate is one of the most critical vitamins in a prenatal supplement. Folate is a vitamin B known as folic acid in the synthetic form. Folate is critical for the body to create protein building blocks and has been found to have a significant impact on the the prevention of neural tubal defects in the baby.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) - This is a molecule found in nearly every cell of the body and simply stated functions by supporting cellular energy to occur. CoQ10 has been used for years to support athletes and recent studies support it can be helpful in Parkinson's, Huntington's, and congestive heart failure.
Recent research suggests this supplement can also improve egg quality and in particular would be helpful for women with diminished ovarian reserve or are in the mid - 30's or older.
DHEA - This is a hormone that is now widely being added to the supplement regime for women undergoing IVF diagnosed with with age-related infertility and/or diminished ovarian reserve. DHEA is a precursor produced by the adrenals and ovaries in the production of estrogen and testosterone. When taken as a supplement it may increase estrogen and testosterone. Therefore, women with PCOS should not take this. It is recommended to take DHEA for three to four months before seeing an improvement in egg quality.
Vitamin D - This is a steroid hormone that responds to exposure to the sun. Fertility specialists have been interested in the link between vitamin D levels and fertility. For general health vitamin D levels in the blood should be 30 ng/ml. Many people living in northern areas do not receive sufficient levels.
A 2012 Italian study looked at women undergoing IVF and compared those who measured as having inadequate vitamin D levels (less than 20 ng/ml) and those who had adequate levels (more than 20 ng/ml. The study found those women with sufficient vitamin D levels almost twice as likely to conceive than those with insufficient levels. Endocrinologists believe vitamin D helps boost egg quality and support implantation.
Myo-Inositol - This B vitamin is showing promise in particular for women with PCOS and/or insulin resistance. This is in part due to a 2002 study which found a link to the levels of myo-inositol inside each follicle to the quality of the egg and fertilization rates. For women who do not have insulin resistance, the follow up studies did not show a positive fertility improvement.Lifestyle:
We know our mental state has a long reaching impact on our all aspects of our lives. Our fertility health is no different. Keeping the stress hormone cortisol low helps regulate our nervous system which helps support our reproductive system. Meditation, yoga, and acupuncture are all ways to access our body's parasympathetic state and reduce cortisol levels.
In addition, acupuncture has been shown to support reproductive health through:
- regulation of hormones and ovulation
- improve uterine lining
- increase follicle number and size
- improve sperm quality and counts
Bisphenol A (BPA) - BPA has been proven to greatly impact egg quality and fertility. This was first accidentally discovered in a lab experiment in which mice were found to have a 38% increase in abnormal egg production. The source was discovered to come from BPA which leached from the plastic water holder and plastic animal cage.
Repeated studies support even small amounts can have serious effects on reproductive health. This can especially affect women with PCOS since BPA also affects insulin resistance.
BPA is found in many different sources such as plastic food containers, food cans (particularly containing acidic foods such as tomatoes and fruit), automatic coffee makers, and paper receipts. Polycarbonate (often indicated with the number 7) is the most important plastic to avoid. If you do have plastic containers or utensils avoid washing with hot water which can cause BPA to leach from the plastic.
Phthalates - This is another toxin that is believed to act as an endocrine disruptor and decrease egg quality and fertility. Phthalates are found in vinyl, soft plastic, nail polish, cosmetics, fragrances, and cleaning products. The research on phthalates is mostly focused on the impact on male fertility specifically reducing sperm quality. The latest research suggests that these toxins negatively affect egg quality.Resources:
Rebecca Fett, It Starts with the Egg (2014)
Randine Lewis, The Infertility Cure (2005)
Toni Weschler, Taking Charge of Your Fertility (2006)
If you are interested in learning how acupuncture can support and improve your pregnancy, call today or book online to make an appointment.
- December 2015 - Acupuncture Reduces Stress
- April 2015 - Why Athletes Should Use Acupuncture
- November 2014 - Enhance your Fertility with Acupuncture
- August 2014 - Acupuncture Can Support A Healthy Pregnancy
- June 2014 - Acupuncture Improves Sleep
- February 2014 - Acupuncture Treats Headaches
- November 2013 - Tuning Forks
- July 2013 - Fire Element and Cupping
- April 2013 - Chinese Medicine and the Liver
- November 2012 - Treating Pain through Acupuncture
- October 2012 - Chinese Medicine, Lung, and Large Intestine
- September 2012 - Auricular (Ear) Acupuncture
- February 2010 - Cupping
- March 2010 - Moxabustion (Moxa)