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Dawit Assefa, L.Ac, MAOM – Acupuncture Fertility & Women's Clinic


What is Acupuncture and how does it work?

Acupuncture is an Asian medical technique used to treat many medical problems by inserting fine needles into various points on the body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine’s theory, the basic energy force of life which flows through all living things is called Qi. When this force flows through the human body, it travels along twelve primary and two secondary channels or meridians in the body. Along these channels there are 365 major acupuncture points. Acupuncture stimulates those points to clear the channel to allow the blood and energy to flow freely again. Acupuncture points can also be beneficial to regulate organs and glands in the body. By placing and manipulating the needles in the proper points, the skilled acupuncturist brings the body back into balance. Acupuncture is beneficial in reducing pain, promoting circulation and calming inflammation. Many patients also feel a deep relaxation with acupuncture so it is helpful in treating conditions that are caused by and exacerbated by stress.

How can Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine help with infertility and gynecological disorders?

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is renowned in treating infertility and gynecological disorders. It is helpful in boosting fertility and reproductive health in both women and men. It also regulates and rebalances hormones and reduces stress. Acupuncture stimulates points along the body to treat the body on a bioelectrical level and Chinese Herbal Medicine will benefit the body on a biochemical level. Chinese herbal medicine can help with many diseases and conditions. In fact, it is one of the most sophisticated and used modalities in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Chinese herbs can nourish and strengthen the body. They can build your qi, blood, and body fluids. This is how it helps boost fertility.

Does Acupuncture hurt?

The needles are about the size of a strand of hair in diameter. Some people feel distension, tingling or pressure, but the sensations are usually mild and subside quickly. However, many people feel nothing at all. Acupuncture is by no means similar to having your blood drawn at the doctor’s office or taking an injection. Acupuncture needles are fine, flexible and solid unlike the thick, hard and hollow needles in doctor’s offices.

Are the needles sterile and do you reuse needles?

Only disposable sterile needles are used. This means they are used once and only once for the patient. We never reuse needles!

Do I have to take Chinese Herbs?

Chinese Herbs, Homeopathic remedies and/or supplements may be advised to help improve fertility and treat gynecological disorders. It will only expedite your healing and allow you to see your results more quickly. You only take these things until your pregnant or until you heal from your gynecological issue. It’s not intended for you take indefinitely. Chinese Herbs are safe when prescribed by a board certified herbalist. As a buyer and seller of herbs, I only use the highest quality herbs in my practice. Herbal teas or pills/tablets are what I prescribe most in my practice.

Is it OK for me to take Chinese Herbs with my western drugs?

A board certified herbalist should always take into consideration what drugs a patient is on when prescribing herbs, homeopathic remedies and supplements. Having knowledge of herb-drug interactions is important when prescribing herbs. There are instances when taking herbs with certain drugs is not recommended, and other times when it’s safe.

Why do you incorporate lifestyle counseling in your Fertility practice?

Nature creates this mechanism where it wants the healthiest and strongest to reproduce so in order to have children you have to be healthy. Many diseases are caused by and exacerbated by an unhealthy lifestyle. Stress, over work, exhaustion, bad diet, poor sleep and lack of exercise all contribute to illness. We must sit and talk about these things
in order for true change to occur. For example, if you’re a woman thats trying to get pregnant and you work long hours, eating a poor diet and are under a lot of stress and pressure, it will be more difficult to get pregnant. The body is not in optimal health with that kind of lifestyle. Likewise, if you’re a man and you refuse to stop/decrease alcohol or smoking, it will be difficult to improve your sperm count, motility or morphology. Another example is a woman suffering with PCOS. If she refuses to change her diet and exercise, it won’t help make her cycles regular even while taking metaformin. Addressing lifestyle is imperative in getting you pregnant. This is true for both women and men.

What can I expect during a session?

First it’s best that you wear loose clothing or we can drape you in the office. Do not come to the office with a full stomach. It’s best to eat at least 1.5 hrs to 2 hrs prior to treatment. Avoiding stimulants like coffee and energy drinks prior to treatment so you can relax more during the treatment. Bring in any pertinent medical information related to fertility for you and your partner. From there, we will do a thorough history intake. We will also address issues like stress, diet, exercise and sleep. Many diseases can be mitigated or even resolved through major lifestyle changes. From there we’ll proceed with Acupuncture therapy. Herbs, homeopathic remedies and/or supplements may be given at the end of the session.

I’m already in the midst of an IVF cycle, can Acupuncture be of benefit?

Ideally, it’s best to prepare you body for an IVF cycle for 2-3 months but doing Acupuncture during stimulation is still beneficial. Acupuncture will help reduce stress and promote circulation in the pelvic region. Getting blood flow to the ovaries is imperative at this time. Usually you can come in 2-3 times during stimulation to get the best retrieval possible. Many patients also come in pre/post transfer.

I have low ovarian reserve and I don’t respond well to stimulation, can Acupuncture help?

Women with low ovarian reserve (high FSH and low AMH) often times don’t respond well to IVF stimulation drugs. I often recommend Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine treatment for 2-3 months and then trying a NATURAL IVF @ Dominion Fertility. Dr DiMattina is the doctor I often refer my patients to @ Dominion. I have helped many women over the years with this protocol. A natural IVF is cheaper, you don’t have to go through stimulation, and it allows your body to work on producing one good egg (as nature intended), rather than trying to produce multiple eggs that are often times of poor quality. Other reasons you may want to go the natural IVF route are if 1) if you are high risk for ovarian hyperstimulation (OHSS) 2) You don’t respond well to fertility stimulation drugs 3) You want to avoid the cost of fertility stimulation drugs 4) You don’t want to produce multiple embryo’s for religious or ethical reasons. Here’s a link to a study on natural vs stimulated IVF for you to look over:
Study Download

I am an older woman trying to get pregnant,the doctor told me that I am not producing good quality eggs. Can Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine help improve egg quality?

Nature creates this mechanism so that healthy and strong people can reproduce. It’s nature’s way of protecting the gene pool. So the goal of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is to get you healthier. The egg comes from you so if we can get you healthier then you will produce a healthier egg. Many patients also need to change their lifestyle so that they can get healthier. Diet, stress, sleep etc need to be addressed to optimize your health. Once you’re healthier, you have a much higher chance of producing a good quality egg. I have had much success helping patients this way.

Can Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine help with male factor infertility?

Yes, yes and yes ! Men often times get very good and quick results with treatment. The hardest part about treating men is getting them in the door. Many men are simply not willing to seek treatment for male factor infertility. It’s unfortunate but true. The second thing that can be difficult is getting men to make lifestyle changes so that they’re not doing things that may damage their sperm count, motility and morphology. 40%-50% of couples that have fertility issues is rooted in male factor. If you’re a man suffering from low sperm count, poor motility and/or poor morphology, I hope you will consider this as a healthy natural alternative to get your numbers better. Many patients go for a semen analysis 3 months after starting treatment and see a marked improvement in their numbers.

I have PCOS and have very irregular cycles, can Acupuncture help?

Absolutely ! I have helped many women with PCOS regulate their cycles. The treatments, herbs and supplements are all helpful but the patient must be willing to change their diet (low carbs/sugar) and exercise. I always ask my patients to help me help them, and a good diet, an exercise regimen along with reducing stress can help a woman who is suffering with irregular or no cycles due to PCOS.

Does Acupuncture help with recurrent miscarriage?

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help with recurrent miscarriage. There are different reasons why a woman may suffer from recurrent miscarriage. We must figure out why there is recurrent miscarriage. The main reasons for recurrent miscarriage are poor embryo/fetus quality (genetic defect), an unhealthy uterine environment (endometriosis/fibroids), or low progesterone levels. Older women or women with low ovarian reserve usually have miscarriages due to genetic defects. The goal in this scenario is to get the woman healthier and boost her fertility so that she can produce a healthier egg. If it’s a male factor that may be causing the poor quality embryo, the goal would be to improve sperm quality. If the uterus is not healthy, the goal would be to resolve uterine issues to create a healthy environment for implantation and growth of a fetus. Lastly, if progesterone levels are too low, it may cause miscarriage since progesterone is the hormone that helps maintain pregnancy. It’s best to address this issue prior to getting pregnant to avoid miscarriage. Women with a luteal phase defect are more prone to miscarriage.

I have endometriosis and would like to get pregnant. Can Acupuncture help?

Having a healthy uterus will aid with implantation and growth of a fetus. Many women with endometriosis have gone through multiple laparoscopic procedures to clean things out, yet it returns. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine will definitely help along with lifestyle change. Reducing stress and having an anti-inflammatory and anti-estrogenic diet will also be beneficial.

I have fibroids and/or polyps. I would like to get pregnant, can Acupuncture help?

Depending on the size and location, many women can get pregnant with no issues despite having fibroids. However, in cases where the fibroids/polyps are disrupting implantation then it is best to resolve the fibroids and/or polyps. If the fibroids are relatively small, Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and maybe even some bio-identical progesterone cream can have the effect of reducing the fibroid. If the fibroid is the size of a walnut or smaller, success is much higher. However, if you have multiple fibroids the size of a lemon or larger, it can be difficult to resolve with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. If you are looking to get pregnant sooner rather than later and you have fibroids that are difficult to resolve using Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, surgery is recommended. The less invasive laparoscopic surgery is ideal. Healing will happen much more quickly with a laparoscopic procedure. After surgery, Acupuncture and Chinese medicine will help in preventing the development of future fibroids/polyps and assist in getting pregnant.