Understanding the Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy

Pregnancy symptoms differ from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy; however, one of the most significant pregnancy symptoms is a delayed or missed period. Understanding the signs and symptoms of pregnancy is important because each symptom may be related to something other than pregnancy. You may experience signs or symptoms of pregnancy within a week of conception. However, it is possible you may not experience any symptoms for a few weeks.

http://americanpregnancy.org/gettingpregnant/earlypregnancysymptoms.html

Dana Price to Present at The Scottsdale Fertility Forum

The Scottsdale Fertility Forum will be presented on June 15, from 8 to 11 am. Dana Price DOM, L.Ac., FABORM will be presenting as part of a panel of experts in the field. Follow this link for more information and to purchase your tickets. Scottsdale Fertility Forum Event

This is a rare opportunity to join the Valley's top doctors at an exclusive forum specifically about Fertility.

Acupuncture's Positive Effects on Fertility

Did you know that acupuncture's positive effect on fertility is related to:1) influencing hypothalamic function and regulating hormones 2) increasing ovarian and uterine blood flow 3) improving the endometrial environment 4) inhibiting uterine contractitility 5) modulating immune factors 6) reducing stress

September 10 Lecture: Enhance Fertility with Dr. Dana Price

ilumina Healing Sanctuary Lecture SeriesTopic: Enhance Fertility

Date: September 10, 2012 Time: 6:00 to 7:00 pm Location: ilumina on Camelback

Dr. Dana Price DOM, L.Ac., FABORM will be presenting information on Enhancing Fertility with Traditional Chinese Medicine. Dana has been in practice since 1999 and has been sought after for her experience and expertise.

Please call 602-957-2602, or email office@iluminahealing.com to reserve your space.

Lecture Series Aug 13: Mayan Abdominal Massage

Mayan Abdominal Massage is an external, non-invasive massage modality that specifically addresses the uterine position and other internal organs to support the optimal flow of blood, lymph, and chi throughout the body.Some common symptoms/conditions this type of massage can benefit include displaced or prolapsed uterus or bladder, infertility, endometriosis, ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids, as well as pelvic or abdominal pain from previous surgeries or scar tissue. Join us August 13, at 6:00 pm at ilumina to learn more about this modality and how it can be a benefit to you. Spaces will be limited so please call 602-957-2602 to reserve your spot.

We are very excited to have the lecture series back in action, we are currently putting together a schedule of topics that promise to be informative and promising.

Also heading your way is a Infant Massage Class taught by our amazing massage therapist Audrey Blanchard.

The Lecture Series Returns July 9

Many of you may have been fans of the monthly lecture series here at ilumina.  Our break of information is over and we are now ready to meet and share. July 9, at 6:00 pm

Presenter: Dana Price DOM, L.Ac. FABORM

Topic: Infertility

Please Sign up at 602-957-2602, or office@iluminahealing.com, Space is limited.

On the Second Monday of each month we will be presenting lectures based on specific topics of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  You will need to sign up to attend.  These lectures will be free and will be an amazing opportunity to learn from our healing professionals.

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

Trying to conceive is an exciting time but it can also be a trying time if things aren’t going according to your plan. Many women tend to forget about their overall health and well-being until right before they’re deciding to try for a baby. This forgetfulness can hurt your chances of becoming pregnant.

Here are seven easy ways to improve your chances of becoming pregnant that you should start practicing before you decide now is the time to conceive.

Take care of yourself

Easier said than done most of the time, but watching what you eat and getting daily exercise has numerous health benefits.

Cook consciously

When you’re cooking, choose unsaturated fats like olive oil or canola oil. Take some time and read labels and limit your intake of processed foods and trans fat.

When it comes to prepping for meals, cut up veggies at night or on the weekends and freeze them in small portions so that when you need them, they’re easily within your reach and the work is done.

It goes without saying that to cook more consciously you should be making your meals at home rather than eating out. If you feel you’re strapped for time and options, then consider investing in a slow cooker. With minimal time and ingredients, you can whip together a fabulous home-cooked meal while you’re at work or running errands. There are also a ton of free recipes online to help you with your meal planning.

Buy more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to snack on

If you go to grab a snack and all you have in your house are fruits and veggies, then those are your only options. Makes snack time a little easier, don’t you think?

Many fruits and veggies can be eaten on the run while you’re out doing errands or working at your desk. It takes no time to eat an apple, peel a banana, peel a baby cheese round, or munch on baby carrots.

Adding more whole grains into your diet is as easy as choosing multigrain crackers, breads, and pastas.

Cook more vegetarian options

Beans are cheap and full of good-for-you fiber. They can be bought dry or canned and can be tossed in virtually any dish you make to up the fiber content and make the dish more filling.

Also, you can start small by switching out chicken broth for vegetable broth – the change doesn’t have to be immediate unless you want it to be.

Out of a seven day week, try cooking meat-free three or four of those days. If you begin to really enjoy the no-meat factor, then consider going vegetarian full time.

Make water your go-to for everything

Your body is mostly comprised of water, so it’s no secret that it works well in all aspects of your body. Water is fantastic at keeping you hydrated and giving you clear skin. It’s also extremely beneficial for helping to flush out toxins in your body.

To make toting water around easier, buy yourself a pretty water bottle or two and keep them within reach at all times. That’s how I cut out soda – I simply carried water with me everywhere and now it’s really the only thing I drink besides my morning cup of coffee.

Which brings us to our next tip…

Cut out excess caffeine

Coffee in the a.m. is fine, but drinking it throughout the day is not. Caffeine should be halted after twelve noon, this way you’re better able to calm down and fall asleep at a reasonable time.

Exposing yourself to soft drinks, tea, and coffee excessively could lead to headaches, heart palpitations, and overall restlessness of mind and body.

Keep yourself focused

Being present in your choices of food and health is important for keeping you on a healthy track. Simple things like making a list for food shopping, planning out your meals, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator can become second nature when you slowly incorporate them into your daily routine rather than try and change everything at once.

Take up yoga or tai chi to help keep your mind and body balanced and aware of your decisions and goals.

  • The above seven ways are fantastic options for getting your body ready to conceive. Your best chances for a baby are when your mind and body are in a harmonious balance of health, calmness, and vitality.

Written by

www.americanpregnancy.org

Yoga for Fertility and Conception

Which type of yoga class has the best possible benefits to aid fertility and conception? By Jaki Nett

—Kelly, Long Beach, California

Jaki Nett's reply: The type of yoga class that I recommend to aid fertility and conception is a restorative class—a class where the body, mind, and spirit learn the art of relaxation. A woman's desire to conceive can be overpowering and can drive her to the point of obsession. If this happens, sometimes logic is overlooked and stress becomes the foundation for coitus.

Since it is the woman's body and mind that has to be healthy and free of stress, it is her responsibility--with the unwavering support of her partner--to create the most favorable conditions for conception. To start the process both partners should have a comprehensive physical and psychological examination to determine that they are both without physical and mental conditions that could block conception.

To further alleviate stress about trying to conceive, start mapping your cycle of fertility. When entering a fertile time, start practicing restorative poses. As you practice, soften the abdominal area and begin to consciously remove tension from around the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

My teacher, Geeta S. Iyengar, author of Yoga a Gem for Women (Allied, Publishers Limited, 1983), writes extensively on women's issues. She stresses the importance of practicing several asanas to aid in conception. Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand), Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) , and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Supported Bridge Pose) are recommended because of their hypothesized effects on hormonal balance.

She also recommends the following poses:

Forward bends—To make the poses more restorative, place a chair in front of you and rest your head and arms on the seat for support, or use a bolster for support.

Reclining Poses—These poses are helpful because they open and elongate the abdominal area.

I also recommend Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose) after coitus (which will theoretically keep the sperm inside the body and close to the opening of the uterus) to encourage the opportunity for sperm penetration. Before coitus set up for Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose). As you move into and out of the pose, keep the abdominal area soft-your partner can assist you to make this possible. The amount of time you spend in Viparita Karani is up to you.

To set up for Viparita Karani: Fold a sticky mat into quarters and place it two inches from the wall. Place a round bolster or a firm folded blanket on top of the sticky mat with the back edge of the bolster or blanket in line with the back edge of the mat. Place the buttocks on top of the bolster with the sitting bones as close to the wall as possible and the legs up the wall. The tailbone should tilt toward the ceiling so that the vaginal area is pointing upward. The shoulders, arms, and head rest on the floor. Once in the correct pelvic position, allow the legs to soften and bend the knees to allow the abdominal and pelvic floor to relax.

Jaki Nett is a certified Iyengar Yoga instructor in St. Helena, California, and a faculty member of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco. She teaches public classes in the San Francisco Bay Area and leads workshops in the United States and Europe, including specialty workshops on female issues. Written by: Jaki Nett

www.yogajournal.com

ilumina Upcoming Events for November

ilumina Healing Sanctuary is honored to offer these amazing free events that you do not want to miss.  To register please call ilumina Healing Sanctuary at (602) 957-2602.Women’s Circle led by Marion Light M.Ed.6:00pm-7:00pm1st Monday of the Month (November 1st)For women looking to connect with other women in an environment that encourages inner growth and healing.  This meeting encompasses setting the space, clearing negative or stagnant energies, a guided meditation and sharing.  In our society, many women have become overstressed and overburdened with family, work and their own high expectations of themselves.  The age-old tradition of sitting in a circle and sharing has been replaced by hectic, isolated lives that lead to distraction from our deeper selves.  These groups allow a space for community, inner discovery and healing.  This renewed energy then goes forward with each woman and touches al those they encounter.Couples Communication with Marion Light6:00pm-7:00pmMonday, November 8thA large percentage of communication is non-verbal. Most problems in a relationship are caused by an inability to speak the truth to each other about what we feel and what we really need from each other. Come and learn how to communicate and listen with compassion. Spend a evening with Marion Light, Emotional Wellness Therapist and Polarity Practitioner to explore the effects of this process in your relationship.Fertility Circle led by Marion Light M.Ed.6:00pm-7:00pm3rd Monday of the Month (November 15th)For women on the journey to motherhood who are seeking connection with other women on the same path. This circle includes guided visualizations and will remain small to ensure personal attention.

The Fertility Benifits of Eating Organic

A healthy diet can help contribute to a healthy conception, but does it matter if the milk you drink or the veggies you eat are organic? Sometimes it does…There’s no shortage of advice on what you should eat when trying to get pregnant. Much less is known about how food—or more precisely the preservatives, hormones, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals lurking there—could interfere with your ability to conceive. To be on the safe side, some experts think now may be the time to go organic with at least some of the foods you consume. “The science is still inconclusive, but there is some suggestion that women exposed to persistent organic pollutants have more reproductive health problems that can lead to problems with fertility,” says Tracey Woodruff, Ph.D., director of the Program for Reproductive Health and Environment at the University of California at San Francisco.One of the proponents of going green is Robert Greene, M.D., medical director of the Sher Institutes for Reproductive Medicine of Northern California. In his new book, Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility (Three Rivers Press, 2008), Dr. Greene notes that about 90 percent of our total intake of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, preservatives, additives, and antibiotics comes from the foods we eat. Most of these chemicals, he adds, are hormone disrupters, which interfere with the body’s hormone balance and can reduce fertility or lead to miscarriage.While organic foods are becoming more widely available, they still tend to be more expensive. If cost is an issue, Dr. Greene recommends focusing organic purchases on animal products (meat and dairy), which he says are likely to contain the highest levels of hormone disrupter chemicals. Dr. Greene also writes, “The most harmful BioMutagens are contained in the fat of meat and fish, so always buy lean and low-fat products.” Another good strategy is to take a good look at your daily diet, and then buy organic versions of the foods you eat most frequently.Among fruits and vegetables, levels of pesticide residues can vary significantly, according to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). Opt to go green at least with the fruits and vegetables that are most likely to be contaminated (see chart below).The IATP also advises that consumers buy produce from small, local farmers whenever possible. Not only is this produce generally fresher and more flavorful, but it also tends to harbor fewer chemicals than foods grown on large industrial farms. Whatever their source, fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed in cold water before being eaten. Washing can remove at least half of pesticide residues, as well as pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella, which can cause illness.Through the foods you choose, as in all things, the goal is to maintain optimum health when you’re trying to conceive. “Anything you can do to improve overall health is likely to maximize your fertility and ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby,” says Louis DePaolo, M.D., chief of the Reproductive Sciences Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.Highest Pesticide ResiduesApplesGrapes (imported)NectarinesPeachesPearsRed raspberriesStrawberriesBell peppersCarrotsCeleryGreen beansHot peppersPotatoesSpinachModerate Pesticide ResiduesApricotsBlueberriesCantaloupeGrapefruitGrapes (domestic)HoneydewOrangesCollard greensCucumbersKaleLettuceMushroomsSweet potatoesTomatoesTurnip greensWinter squashLowest Pesticide ResiduesApple juiceBananasKiwifruitMangoesOrange juicePapayaPeaches (canned)PineapplesPlumsTangerinesWatermelonAsparagusAvocadoBroccoliCabbageCauliflowerOnionSweet cornSweet peasA version of this article originally appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of Conceive Magazine .

Fertility Circle at ilumina

Join Marion Light this Monday, July 19, 2010 at ilumina Healing Sanctuary. To reserve your space please call. (602)957-2602.Monday July 19, 20106:00pm-7:30pm7520 E. Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251(602)957-2602ilumina is honored to offer a FREE circle for women on their road to motherhood. This women’s circle includes guided visualizations and is small to ensure personal attention. Our intention is to create a safe and nurturing environment for women to receive comfort and support in their journeys. Something magical happens when our stories are witnessed in a neutral, loving and supportive environment. This enables us to listen and hear our own wisdom and to share that wisdom with others on the path of good health and emotional healing.

Healing Through the Emotions

Join Marion on Monday evening for this free event that you do not want to miss! We still have a couple of spaces left so please call to register. (602)957-2602March 8, 2010  (Monday) 6-7:30pmatilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E. Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251Healing through the Emotions with Marion Light M.Ed.Our emotions, both conscious and unconscious play an important role in our learning. It is through the emotions that we gain deeper access to who we really are and what is important to us in our lives.  Living an inner guided life does not ensure an absence of difficulty in your life.  Leaving your emotions and tapping into your intuition will however allow you to move through these transitions with ease and grace without becoming unbalanced.  Come for an evening to learn about the emotional aspects of your physical, financial and relationship issues.

Fertility Healing Circle: Monday, June 15th

Women in Bloom is honored to offer a healing circle at ilumina Healing Sanctuary for women on their road to motherhood. Our intention is to create a safe and nurturing environment for women to receive comfort and support in their journeys. Something magical happens when our stories are witnessed in a neutral, loving and supportive environment. This enables us to listen and hear our own wisdom and to share that wisdom with others on the path of good health and emotional healing. This women's circle will include guided visualizations and will remain small to ensure personal attention.For more information or to sign up for the Fertility Healing Circle please call ilumina Healing Sanctuary at (602)957-2602.Monday, June 15th6:00pm to 7:00pmilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E. Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251(602)957-2602

Forgiveness Is an Act of Self-love

Ghandi wrote, “Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first sign of self-giving love.” True healing occurs when we have the courage to be present with all aspects of ourselves and move through the processes required to return to wholeness. In working with a diverse array of clients, I have found that often the most difficult step of the healing process is forgiveness. As difficult as it may be, forgiveness is necessary to free oneself from the painful emotions that have bound our lives and stifled our Spirit. Of course, once we let go and forgive, we become fully responsible for our own feelings and behaviors and can no longer make excuses or stay stuck in our patterns or stagnation. That can be daunting, so it is understandable that some people resist forgiveness and choose to remain comfortably stuck, but in doing so we limit ourselves, and our lives do not open fully to their potential.Many people hang onto anger and blame out of a misplaced sense of justice. A common misperception is that forgiving someone means accepting their behavior, or letting them off the hook. This is simply not so. We can forgive and also choose not to allow people into our lives who hurt or betray us. We can, if we wish, offer the kind of forgiveness that might free the person we are angry at, but the greatest impact is within. Forgiveness frees us from the low vibrational energies of anger, blame and resentment and allows our heart to open to a more joyful and expansive life.Carrying anger, hate or resentment in your heart will weigh heavily on your life, preventing you from truly healing and moving forward. When you have been hurt or betrayed, there is a process you can turn to in order to release the experience and find alignment with yourself again. The key steps are firstly, AWARENESS of what needs healing or what is holding you back. The second step is to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for the feelings that were triggered by the experience without blaming yourself or others. Next, it is essential to find TRUST in a deeper part of yourself, and know that you are more than your pain. Acknowledge the perfection of every experience and what it has brought to your life. It may be hard to imagine a painful experience as a ‘perfect’ experience, but this simply means that the experience ‘is what it is’ in the fabric of your life, and every experience is full of potential. It becomes ‘what you make it’ and that will shape the tapestry of your future. Seeing the greater picture of your being and your life will allow you to FORGIVE AND LET GO. The final step is to experience a RENEWAL or REMEMBERING of who you really are. In this state, all the energy you have bound up in anger, resentment and pain becomes available to you again in a pure and positive way, resulting in increased joy, vitality and enthusiasm. You find yourself more present in your life and trusting that your inner self can not only handle the experiences of life, but can appreciate them –all of them, for the great gifts they are. This is not an intellectual exercise, but an opening of your heart. It is a gift you give to yourself and your world.Love and Light,Marionwww.marionlight.comwww.womeninbloom.orgilumina Healing Sanctuary, located in Scottsdale, is a unique clinic that combines acupuncture, Traditional Chinese medicine, emotional wellness, general and fertility massage, and whole food nutrition. We are the only clinic in Arizona with board certified practitioners of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. Our highly trained and experiences specialists provide therapies that support the body, mind and spirit through all phases of a women’s life.ilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E. Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251(602)957-2602

Upcoming Events

Please register early for these special events early as space is limited. (ilumina Healing Sanctuary: 602-957-2602) Unless listed, all special events are complimentary but donations are accepted and will take place at ilumina Healing Sanctuary. All donations received will be used to fund microloans for women starting businesses in developing countries through Kiva www.kiva.org.

Monday, June 8th 6:00pm-7:00pmIntroduction to Polarity Therapy with Marion Light

All living things are intricate arrangements of energy. Your physical body, thoughts, and feelings are all patterns of energy. When your energy fields are aligned in smooth-patterned states, their natural expression is health and happiness. However, when the patterns of your energy fields become chaotic or distorted by stressful life experiences, it can have a negative impact on your well-being. Polarity therapy works to restore the intregity and flow of your energy patterns using touch, toning, breathing and communication techniques. A comprehensive system of Eastern and Western modalities, polarity therapyworks to bring your energy field back into thier natural state of alignment.

Come for an evening with Marion Light and learn about the value of having a balanced energy system and how to connect to your own energy and imbalances. You will learn how to listen to your own body's messages and where you might be blocked in your life, on the physical, mental/emotional, financial or spiritual levels.

About Marion Light

www.marionlight.com

Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Marion Light has lived in the United States for 20 years. She has three adult children, a son, Roscoe and twin daughters, Kelsey and Megan.

As a young adult, Marion was a top athlete, selected to play for the national field hockey team. She earned her bachelors degree, with English and Physical Education as a double Major, and received her teaching credentials in South Africa, where she worked as an educator for five years. After moving to the United States, Marion taught physically and mentally challenged children for five years in Los Angeles while earning a Masters Degree in Education at Cal State.

It was after moving to Phoenix that Marion's own health issues compelled her to explore holistic healthcare and alternative therapies. She was drawn to pursue a life in the healing arts, and from that time on, she has felt her life has been divinely guided. She began to follow her intuition and studied energy medicine, including Master level training in polarity, cranial sacral and massage. She also began teaching classes in cranial sacral unwinding, polarity therapy and communications.

Marion feels her practice is the fulfilling of her life's purpose. For over 10 years, she has successfully helped men, women and children find deep relief from depression and anxiety, physical pain, illness, infertility, grief, childhood and sexual abuse, attention deficit disorder and many other issues. She is honored to guide individuals on a journey of self discovery, helping them achieve a greater state of well-being.

ilumina Healing Sanctuary, located in Scottsdale, is a unique clinic that combines acupuncture, Traditional Chinese medicine, emotional wellness, general and fertility massage, and whole food nutrition. We are the only clinic in Arizona with board certified practitioners of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. Our highly trained and experiences specialists provide therapies that support the body, mind and spirit through all phases of a women’s life.ilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E. Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251(602)957-2602

Acupuncture for Infertility on Fox News!

Acupuncture: A Cure for Infertility?Tuesday , April 26, 2005By Catherine Donaldson-EvansNEW YORK —At 36, Lucy Appert has suffered through two miscarriages, a stillbirth at 8 1/2 months and, because of a rare pregnancy-related liver dysfunction, intensive illness and surgery.Yet after enduring five painful years of trying to have their own baby, Appert and her husband Edward finally saw their dream come true last month when their son Henry was born — premature, but healthy.For all the fertility treatments, technologies and prenatal care available to women today, Appert credits the success of her pregnancy to an ancient Chinese secret."I recommend acupuncture (search) to everyone," Appert said. "It does work. I did everything possible for years to have a baby. I almost lost hope."The millennias-old Asian medical practice — in which the acupuncturist places tiny needles in various pressure points, or "Qi" (Chee), in the body to improve circulation and reduce stress — has been around in the United States for years as an "alternative" treatment for numerous ailments.But recently, acupuncture has been picking up steam as a possible remedy for female infertility, with a handful of American and European studies showing that it enhances the success rate of in vitro fertilization (IVF) (search).“Do I believe in it? Absolutely,” said Dr. Paul C. Magarelli, an infertility doctor at the Reproductive Medicine & Fertility Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and co-author of an ongoing study into the use of acupuncture with IVF with Dr. Diane K. Cridennda. Cridennda is a licensed acupuncturist with a master's degree in Oriental medicine from the International Institute of Chinese Medicine (search) who owns East Winds Acupuncture, also in Colorado Springs.Magarelli said he joined the study at the urging of Cridennda, who had approached him about using acupuncture with IVF based on her knowledge of its history as an Eastern fertility treatment. A skeptic at first, Magarelli said he dismissed the idea for a while before signing on."I thought, this is rubbish — it can't be true," Magarelli said. "But no matter how I look at this data, I see an improvement. ... I'm pretty much a convert."In general, studies seem to indicate that doing acupuncture about 30 minutes before and after in vitro fertilization can increase the chance that the embryo will be implanted successfully and reduce the chance of miscarriage.There are also indications that the effectiveness of the IVF drugs and procedure may improve if acupuncture is done about once a week in the month or two leading up to the start of IVF and then continued regularly — once or twice a week — during the whole cycle.And, as in Appert's case, there is anecdotal evidence that acupuncture can help with other fertility and pregnancy problems. Appert didn't need IVF to conceive, but she was told she probably couldn't carry a healthy baby to term because of her liver disorder.But some doctors caution that there is no "magic pill" for fertility, pregnancy and IVF troubles — whether it's acupuncture or something else."The jury is still out on that," said Dr. Eric Surrey, president of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) (search), who has a practice at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. "I don't think we have good data to show that acupuncture before and after the embryo transfer is truly beneficial."And they warn against making too much of claims that acupuncture can help with having babies."It's impossible to say at this point," said Dr. Robert Schenken, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) (search), who has a practice at the University of Texas Health Science Center. "In the absence of any controlled data, I don't think we can come to a firm conclusion."Promising ResearchAcupuncture seems to help some women because it improves circulation to the ovaries (search) — which makes for healthier eggs — and to the uterus (search), which increases the chances that the lining will be strong enough to hold those eggs to full-term."Acupuncture provides better circulation and better blood flow to the womb," said Dr. Raymond Chang, director of New York's Meridian Medical Group, who has been incorporating acupuncture into fertility treatments for the past decade. "It will give a better chance for the eggs to be nourished and therefore carried."There's also the fact that acupuncture can be a stress-reliever during an emotional time."Trying to get pregnant is incredibly stressful," said Victoria Koos, the acupuncturist who treated Appert at Yin and Tonic Acupuncture in New York. "They're crossing their fingers. The longer they're trying to get pregnant, the worse it gets ... Part of [acupuncture's success] is simply relaxation. When the body is relaxed, all systems function better."The Colorado study Magarelli and Cridennda presented at a conference this fall is one of a series the pair have done with acupuncture and in vitro.That one looked at 114 patients who had a good chance of IVF being effective, some who did acupuncture and some who didn’t. It found, among other things, that there were fewer miscarriages, more pregnancies and a 7 percent higher birth rate among those who got acupuncture treatment over those who didn’t, according to Magarelli.It piggybacked off other research the team did on 147 “poor responders” to IVF, which found that the pregnancy rate was 40 percent, with 11 percent more babies born, among those who did acupuncture with in vitro fertilization compared to those who didn’t.In March, Magarelli and Cridennda released findings in Italy involving patients with an average prognosis for IVF success. Those yielded clear numbers that the pregnancy rate increased with acupuncture by 24 percent, according to Magarelli.“What got us was that now we were seeing a firm trend toward getting more people pregnant,” he said.The Colorado research seems to support some findings of two earlier studies, one in Germany by lead researcher Dr. Wolfgang E. Paulus — published in ASRM's “Fertility and Sterility” (search) in April 2002 — and one in Sweden by lead researcher Elisabet Stener-Victorin in the 1990s.Of course, even those who believe in acupuncture concede that while the existing studies have yielded good information, there still isn't sufficient evidence, or a broad enough sample of patients tested, to call acupuncture a proven remedy."We are convinced, but scientifically you need proof — or so-called proof," Chang said. "There is a whole set of proof from lab experiments and animal studies to human studies, but it's very difficult to do human studies."Schenken noted that even though there might be one set of data showing positive results, "it really needs to be corroborated, preferably with several different studies and different patient populations." For example, there can be bias when the entire study sample comes from the same clinic, or when patients know they're doing something different from usual.Schenken said he doesn't get asked about acupuncture often, but when patients do, "we don't recommend it, but we do not discourage it."Surrey takes a similar approach. In his opinion, the data "is not bad" on the theory that acupuncture can help when administered before IVF, but as far as acupuncture generally improving fertility or helping after the embryo transfer in IVF, "there really isn't a whole lot of data on that."But at the very least, "there is absolutely nothing to show that it's harmful if it's done with a trained and appropriately skilled acupuncturist," he said. It's a notion that nearly everyone in the medical field — whether they believe in needles and Qi or not — seems to agree upon.Some Eastern medicine-Western medicine rivalry may come into play with how to treat reproductive problems, but Chang said he sees more resistance with the use of Chinese herbs — which are ingested — than he does with acupuncture. Often, it's the in vitro specialists themselves who refer their patients to him for acupuncture after a couple of failed IVF attempts.As for the couples trying to bring a child into the world — particularly through a complicated, invasive procedure like IVF— anything that helps the process along is welcome.“IVF is so technical that patients feel like they’re being pushed and pulled … with acupuncture, they’re in a sense taking some control,” Magarelli said. "Acupuncture isn't a needle, it's an environment."Added Koos: "They're on these incredibly strong drugs that make the poor women crazy. They're running around like Catwoman. This is to help them stay sane while they're going through the process."The emotional cost of infertility comes with a hefty financial price tag as well — in vitro fertilization can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 a cycle and generally isn't covered by insurance; acupuncture ranges from about $30 to over $200 per treatment — Koos and Chang charge about $90 a pop — and certain health plans do cover at least a portion of it.Meanwhile, researchers and experts in the field are excited at what they're seeing in the studies. Chang said he's currently working with NYU Medical Center on a trial that looks at IVF with and without acupuncture.Appert, for her part, was at the end of her rope and felt she had nothing to lose. She started acupuncture with Koos about two months before she began trying to conceive — with needles in her toes and a couple of liver points — and continued with the treatments throughout the pregnancy."The first time I went, I was completely terrified. My husband went with me and held my hand," she said. "I could feel the muscles in my liver jump and an electric current going through my body. It was very strange but also felt right."She said being monitored by both her obstetrician and Koos helped reassure her about what was going on during her high-risk pregnancy."She would tell me things about how I was doing physically and then I would go to the doctor and he would tell me the same thing," remembers Appert, who works as a professor.When she got sick late in the pregnancy, both Koos and Appert's OB/GYN were able to detect when her liver went dangerously haywire and get her to the hospital for delivery six weeks early, before the problem harmed the fetus and caused another stillbirth.Regardless of the skeptics, Appert said she's relieved that she was finally able to have a nearly full-term baby of her own. At 4 pounds, 6 ounces, Henry has been in intensive care but otherwise is doing "fine.""It really was a miracle," the new mom gushed. "It's one of these weird things that Western medicine can't explain."ilumina Healing Sanctuary, located in Scottsdale, is a unique clinic that combines acupuncture, Traditional Chinese medicine, emotional wellness, general and fertility massage, and whole food nutrition. We are the only clinic in Arizona with board certified practitioners of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. Our highly trained and experiences specialists provide therapies that support the body, mind and spirit through all phases of a women's life. ilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E. Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251(602)957-2602