Sarah, age 36: When I first came to The Fertility Clinic at Practice Longevity, my husband and I had recently experienced a failed IVF cycle. We knew we wanted to try again, but didn't think we had much of a chance. I had been diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve and poor egg quality; my doctor said I had the ovaries of a 45 year old woman. After meeting with Erika, I felt that there might be some hope that I could go into my next cycle better prepared, with healthier eggs. Well, everything was different than with my first cycle. I responded much better, and we received better news at each step of the process. The best news of all is the blessing of my baby girl. Now, I recommend Erika to anyone facing infertility, for her expertise and support.
Being told you have “bad” eggs or very few viable eggs can be a devastating blow. There are many tests today that attempt to determine ovarian reserve, egg quality and reproductive age, including FSH, AMH, clomid challenge, day 3 estradiol, and antral follicle counts. Abnormal results found through these tests generally result in the diagnosis of diminished ovarian reserve and poor egg quality. This news can seem overwhelming, and the possibilities for pregnancy bleak and hopeless.
There is hope. We have seen many, many women who have been told that they would only conceive using donor eggs, women who have had IVF cycles canceled due to poor response, and women who have had multiple failed IVF cycles go on to have biological babies both naturally and through a combination of holistic medicine with ART.
Clinical research confirms that Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can successfully increase blood flow to the entire pelvic region, including the reproductive organs. When the ovaries age, and when we are stressed, the available blood flow to the ovaries, and developing eggs, decreases. By enhancing blood flow to the ovaries with acupuncture, egg quality may improve, and the ovaries can become more responsive to circulating hormones and FSH.
It is important to understand there are three types of ovarian egg-producing follicles: primordial, antral, and mature. Antral follicles are small follicles that are ready to grow through hormonal stimulation for ovulation. Antral follicles can be measured and counted using vaginal ultrasound early in the menstrual cycle. Many reproductive specialists consider a woman’s antral follicle count to be the best predictor of ovarian reserve and an important factor in a woman’s chances for success with IVF.
Primordial follicles are the microscopic follicles that are in a state of deep sleep; they are not yet growing in preparation for ovulation. Primordial follicles are dormant and cannot be seen, but each contains an immature egg that will develop and mature for future cycles over 90-120 days. Our goal with acupuncture is to stimulate blood flow to these follicles to improve their health, quality, ability to grow and mature, and to help the ovaries recruit larger numbers of primordial follicles to become antral follicles.
During the 90 day pre-conception period during which these primordial follicles transition to antral follicles, we will incorporate a variety of strategies to facilitate normal, healthy egg development. Acupuncture plays a crucial role in our treatment plans for cases of Elevated FSH, Diminished Ovarian Reserve and Poor Egg Quality. We also employ other techniques to improve blood flow and to address the metabolic needs of the developing ovarian follicles and residing eggs.
Your personalized plan may include a combination of acupuncture, healthy dietary changes, nutritional supplements, herbal formulae, environmental detoxification, stress reducing techniques, and exercise. Your treatment plan will be tailored specifically to you to best address the unique factors affecting your fertility to give you the best chance for a healthy pregnancy.
Many women that have consistently followed our treatment plans have seen their FSH levels decrease, their antral follicle counts increase, and, if undergoing a subsequent IVF cycle, better response to stimulation, more mature eggs upon retrieval, healthier embryos and successful pregnancies.
A 2004 study entitled “Acupuncture and IVF Poor Responders: A Cure?”, in "Fertility and Sterility" by Dr. Paul Magarelli, found that women who have poor ovarian reserve and elevated FSH who combine acupuncture treatment with their IVF cycle can expect about the same chance of success as women with normal ovarian reserve and FSH levels who undergo IVF without acupuncture.
The Fertility Clinic is a specialty reproductive acupuncture center with expertise and experience in the treatment of female and male fertility.
Erika Foy is a board certified, reproductive acupuncture specialist with a strong commitment to the quality of care and support she provides to her patients.
The Fertility Clinic at Practice Longevity
4040 N. Calhoun Rd.
Brookfield, Wi 53005
The Fertility Clinic is located in Brookfield and provides acupuncture fertility services to the greater Milwaukee area of Wisconsin.
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