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How acupuncture treats women having difficulty becoming pregnant
Written by Frances Desmone
August 2006

Acupuncture, which originated in China well over 2,000 years ago, is a health care practice involving the stimulation of selected points on the body by a variety of techniques. The purpose of point selection and stimulation is to balance the energy of the body known as qi (pronounced “chee”). The most familiar technique involves the insertion of very thin metallic needles into the selected points. The needles are smetimes manipulated, either by hand or electrically. In the United States acceptance of acupuncture as a treatment for a wide variety of health conditions has steadily grown during the past several decades. In addition to classically trained acupuncturists there are many physicians and dentists who have received some training in acupuncture.

Used alone or in combination with traditional medical practices acupuncture has shown itself to be effective in the treatment of many conditions. Addiction, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, low-back pain, and asthma are exmples.

Frances Desmone, a Martha’s Vineyard acupuncturist, describes how acupuncture treats women having difficulty becoming pregnant:

Oriental medicine gauges women's health via the menstrual cycle. The overall health is reflected in the variations in the menses. We look at the number of days between the periods. They should follow the lunar cycle of 28 days or every 2-3 months common in athletes. The flow of the usual period lasts 4 to 6 days, but it can vary from 2 to15 days. The color of the blood normally would be bright red throughout the period. Brown clotting is a sign of stagnation. The common symptoms of cramping, breast tenderness and irritability reflect degrees of imbalance. Many factors contribute to the diagnosis and regulation of the menstrual cycle: stress, diet, too much or too little body fat, and sexually transmitted diseases such as chlymidia. The goal of acupuncture is to bring harmony and balance to the person, mentally, emotionally and physically. I have treated four women who have become pregnant with the help of acupuncture.

The first woman I treated while I was an intern in my final year of graduate school. She was a lawyer under a great amount of stress. At the time she was in her late thirties. She ate well but had a history of Reynaud's disease, a condition which decreases the circulation and presents as cold hands and feet. Her diagnosis in Chinese medicine was ‘liver qi stagnation’. After two months of treatment she became pregnant and now has a healthy 4 years old boy.

The second woman was leading a very active life, working two jobs and remodeling her house in anticipation of a family. Her health history revealed an irregular menstrual cycle with heavy flow, clotting, cramping and breast tenderness. Her diet was good but she was prone to indigestion. This signaled she was prone to dampness and ‘qi stagnation’. After five treatments she became pregnant and now has a healthy girl.

The third woman I treated had been receiving treatment from a fertility clinic in Boston. They referred her to me because of clinical statistics showing a 50% increase in pregnancy rates with acupuncture. Her had poor circulation and was cold all over most of the time except in the heat of summer. She ate a good diet and exercised regularly. Her menses flow was heavy with some clotting. She had mild cramping and bloating. Her diagnosis was more ‘spleen qi deficiency’. I recommended she take her vacation before getting pregnant. My treatment focused on her circulation and energy and balancing her menstrual cycle. After ten months of treatment she had a healthy girl.

The fourth woman also had a baby girl. Her menses came every three months with heavy cramping, large clots and dark blood. She also ran cold in temperature and was under much work related stress. For this person the diagnosis was ‘blood stagnation’ due to the time between cycles and the large clots. After six months of treatment she able to break the good news.

In each case there were different reasons why these women were having difficulty conceiving. Each had a different health history revealing disharmony in the menses, but the common factor was stress.

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