Frequently Asked Questions

Does Acupuncture Hurt?

Acupuncture treatments generally do not hurt. The acupuncture needles used by our acupuncturists are extra thin and we use gentle insertion methods. We only use sterilized, disposable acupuncture needles. The needles are extremely thin and unlike a hypodermic needles do not have a beveled cutting edge and therefore are not painful. Some people report barely feeling the needle go in, and once the needles are in place, patients usually feel at ease and relaxed.

Besides Acupuncture, What Else Is Asian Medicine?

Moxibustion is a traditional technique for activating acupuncture points on the body without using a needle. The process of moxibustion entails the burning of moxa, from the mugwort plant, on or above the acupuncture points. Moxa comes in various forms, from the traditional loose or bulk moxa to the more modernized versions of pre-rolled cones, cylinders, or cigar-like sticks. Qualified practitioners are able to tell when it is clinically appropriate to use moxibustion.

Herbal medicines have been used for fertility treatment since 200 A.D. with the publication of Zhang Zhong Jing’s Classic on Cold Induced Disorders.

The Complete Book of Effective Prescriptions for Diseases of Women was published in 1237 A.D and contains prescriptions for various types of infertility, as well as herbal formulas for the treatment of menopausal syndrome, menstrual cramping, amenorrhea, uterine fibroids, and other gynecological diseases.

All acupuncturists in the state of California are dually licensed under the medical board to prescribe Chinese herbs and practice acupuncture. We only use herbal medicines when appropriate, and during ART, when medications are given, herbs are not prescribed, except under special circumstances, with the consent of the medical doctor. Cupping is a simple treatment modality which has been widely utilized in indigenous medicine practices around the world.

Cupping is the application of suction cups which effectively increases circulation and decreases spasm. Sometimes cupping is used as an adjunct to acupuncture when there is a history of painful menstruation, painful intercourse, or history of abdominal pain or urogenital pain.

What Style Of Acupuncture Do You Use?

We were trained originally in several Chinese styles, including classical and Traditional Chinese Medicine styles. We have years of post-graduate training in a Japanese style, which we use almost exclusively for infertility and women’s health problems.

The goal of all acupuncture styles is to restore and maintain homeostasis and optimize the functional capacity of the body. Ancient Chinese concepts like “qi” (energy) and yin/yang theory are part of the theoretical framework used in acupuncture to restore balance.

Acupuncturists using a Chinese style typically use heavier, thicker needles, and insert the needles without an insertion tube. The Chinese technique often involves the sensation of a minor, momentary twitch or cramp in the muscle when the needle is inserted.

Japanese acupuncture is characterized by shallower insertion of extremely fine needles, using an insertion tube. It has been shown that as many as forty of these very fine needles can be inserted into the tip of a common western hypodermic needle.

The Japanese styles are felt less and are therefore, favored by those who are afraid of needles.The difference in insertion styles is based on the differing interpretation of an important Chinese medical classic. Interestingly, acupuncture is proven to be safe and effective historically and presently, regardless of the many styles practiced world-wide. In March 2006, the FDA reclassified needles from experimental, as a class 3 device, to a class 2 device, indicating the safety of acupuncture needles.

How Long Would I Need Acupuncture To Get Pregnant?

The answer depends greatly on other factors such as whether one is concurrently doing ART, the degree of severity of an underlying gynecological problem as well as the frequency of acupuncture visits and if one is combining acupuncture with Chinese herbs. Generally the range one can expect is between three months and one year, depending on individual factors. The average patient who gets pregnant with us will do so in 5 menstrual cycles, some less and some more. As a rule, we recommend weekly treatment through gestational week 12.

How Much Do Treatments Cost?

  • New patient consultation fee: $210.00
  • Follow up visit fee: $95.00
  • Swedish treatment fee: $55.00
  • Couples fee: $160.00

We are available for embryo transfers seven days per week, including holidays. Please contact our office for further details regarding day-of-transfer fees.

How Is Progress Determined?

Improvements in the hormone ranges or sperm quantity and quality would best indicate progress. Otherwise, we use the basal metabolic rate charts to provide objective information about the probabilities of pregnancy increasing and to observe if the hormonal imbalances are improving. Because of the known link between stress and infertility, decreased stress, which is commonly experienced by patients when they are receiving regular acupuncture treatment is another treatment goal. Decrease in side effects from taking fertility drugs is another commonly reported indication of progress. Again, because of the link between stress and infertility, decreased symptoms of irritability and mood swings, commonly experienced while taking fertility medication, are an indication of progress.

Who Is A Good Candidate And Who Is Not For Acupuncture?

Those who have structural infertility caused by tubal blockage and those with premature ovarian failure are unlikely to do well with acupuncture alone and may consider using acupuncture only as an adjunct to ART. Those men with low sperm counts who have a shortage of time (acupuncture and herbs may take three to twelve months, if successful) will also need to consider ART as the primary treatment modality.

Good candidates for acupuncture for infertility include:

  • Couples who are having difficulty conceiving but are not ready for ART. Some will conceive using acupuncture and others will move on to ART.
  • Women who have done IVF and are taking a break and preparing for another cycle and are seeking acupuncture to improve their probabilities.
  • Women who have done 3 to 5 cycles of IVF without success and women who have been advised not to undergo IVF by their doctor.

Couples for prefer natural medicine or have concerns about ART and are young enough to undergo the longer preparation period usually required for acupuncture.

Is There Anything Patients Can Do Regarding Diet, Stress And Environmental Influences?

Dietary changes have been used traditionally and currently depending on what hormonal imbalance or underlying condition may be contributing to infertility. We have access to information regarding nutritional influences on infertility. There is some research published in reputable medical journals regarding the influence of nutritional factors on infertility, some pertaining to particular underlying conditions.

There is another body of information on the negative effect of certain chemicals on fertility. There is also information on how high protein and “good” fat diets may help create needed hormonal precursors. Individualized nutritional recommendations may be made.Because of the known connection between stress and infertility, we may teach or recommend methods of stress reduction to those who want to learn them. Traditional Asian medicine has used simple breathing and or movement techniques referred to as Qi Gong that may reduce stress.