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Archive for the ‘fertility’ Category

Anemia During Pregnancy: How Acupuncture/Moxibustion Can Help

Posted on: May 21st, 2019 by TouchStone Health

by Anna Totzke, Registered Acupuncturist

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia women develop during pregnancy.  The most vulnerable times for developing iron deficiency anemia is around the 20th week (the blood volume increases at this point), and the last 4-6 weeks (as the baby is developing its own iron stores).

Acupuncture and Moxibustion*:

When iron levels are low during pregnancy, women are generally advised to take an iron supplement. Studies have shown that doing a series of moxibustion and acupuncture treatments significantly helps increase the absorption rate of iron while taking an iron supplement.

*Moxibustionis a Traditional Chinese Medicine therapy which consists of burning dried mugwort (an herb) on particular points on the body

For more information about Acupuncture in Pregnancy or to ask a question, feel free to contact Anna Totzke, R.Ac. annatotzke@gmail.com

Lessons Learned from my Fertility Journey

Posted on: February 20th, 2019 by TouchStone Health

By Melanie Reidl, Naturopathic Doctor

2018 was a difficult year for me, to say the least. One of my fears became a reality, I was struggling with trying to conceive and was experiencing significant anxiety and depression about it. I wanted to share a little about my fertility journey in this article, as I have so many patients, friends, and family members who have had their own fertility challenges and I know it can be a very isolating and distressing experience.

Going through my own fertility challenges has given me insight and compassion for others who are also going through it. The extensive testing, frequent appointments, worry, sadness, relationship stress…I’ve been there. But I do know that your experience can really depend on the approach you choose to take toward your fertility journey. When I started going to a fertility clinic this summer, I was overcome with anxiety, fear, and distrust. I didn’t trust in my body, my decisions, the doctor… and the experience became very scary for me.

Life circumstances required me to take a short break from care with the fertility clinic. During this time, I decided that I was tired of feeling like my fertility was out of my control. I took my health into my hands and I started to take better care of myself. I wanted to do what I could to improve my fertility, naturally. So, I nourished my body with whole foods. I moved my body in ways that felt good: yoga and walking. I made sleep a priority. I took high quality supplements to support my nutritional status, egg quality, and hormonal balance. I started meditating to calm my mind at night and practiced mindfulness. I used affirmations and chose to think more positive thoughts.

After a few months, I felt ready to return to the fertility clinic, but this time I decided to go in with a new outlook. I trusted my body more, felt more confident in my decisions, and trusted my great doctor. I began to feel a sense of empowerment over my health and fertility. I no longer felt anxious about the experience, I felt excited about it. After all, it was leading me to (hopefully) conceiving!

With time and patience, my body responded to all of the self-care I had been doing. I started to get regular ovulatory menstrual cycles again. My bloodwork showed that my hormones were doing exactly what they should be. My ultrasounds showed that my follicles were growing and that I was ovulating. With each piece of encouraging news, I started to trust and love my body more and more for the amazing things it was doing for me.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this journey is to TRUST. Trust is the opposite of anxiety. When you trust in your body, yourself, your doctors, the universe… you will feel calmer and more at peace with your journey. Feeling calmer and more at peace is also exactly the state you want to be in to allow your nervous system to relax and support healthy conception. :)

Please let Melanie know if you have any questions ( MelanieReidlND@gmail.com ).

A Naturopathic Approach to Infertility

Posted on: January 22nd, 2019 by TouchStone Health

by Melanie Reidl, Naturopathic Doctor

For those of you struggling with infertility, I understand the pain. As an ND who has gone through it, I understand the worry, sadness, and stress it can cause. Even finding the right practitioners and the right treatment approach can be a challenge. From my own fertility journey, to the many patients I’ve supported on theirs, I have seen the magic of naturopathic medicine alone or alongside conventional fertility care.

In this article, I wanted to outline the assessment and treatment approach, and modalities that I use when a patient comes to me for fertility support.  In some cases, a specific diagnosis for the infertility has been made, and we would start treatment. In other cases, patients come to me with ‘unexplained infertility’ and I will spend the time necessary to help uncover reasons for the infertility.

In the case of ‘unexplained infertility’, I often run some laboratory tests to more thoroughly check thyroid function and hormones such as cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone. This helps to determine if there are subtle abnormalities with the thyroid or hormones that are impacting fertility. I also have these patients track their BBT (basal body temperature) and ovulation signs so that we can monitor the cycle and increase fertility awareness.

Once a diagnosis has been established, we focus on treatment. As far as treatment goals, they include the following:

1) Optimize egg/sperm quality,  

2) Balance hormones

3) Treat the specific cause of infertility

4) Support mental-emotional health (a very important piece!)

Treatment modalities that I frequently use with my fertility patients include the following:

1) Nutritional Medicine

2) Lifestyle Medicine

3) Herbs/Botanical Medicine

4) Acupuncture

5) Counselling & Mindfulness techniques.

Nutrition involves a dietary assessment, individualized dietary guidelines, and nutrient supplementation. Lifestyle medicine involves an assessment of one’s current lifestyle and introducing changes that support fertility such as exercise and sleep recommendations, and specific stress reduction strategies. Herbs can be very powerful in the treatment of infertility. There are several that have been studied and found to regulate the menstrual cycle and improve conception rates. Acupuncture has also been well studied and has been found to be a great supportive treatment in infertility. I find that acupuncture, in addition to mindfulness techniques can really improve patients’ mental-emotional health and support the relaxation of the nervous system that is needed for healthy conception.

An individualized approach to infertility is so important, since there are so many possible causes and reasons for it. This is why seeing and ND can be so helpful; the holistic and individualized assessment and treatment approach lends itself to fertility care. As an ND who has been there herself, I strive to be a compassionate practitioner who sees and supports you as a beautiful person going through a challenging time, not as an infertility diagnosis.

 

Acupuncture IVF Treatment Plan

Posted on: January 23rd, 2018 by TouchStone Health

By Anna Totzke, Registered Acupuncturist

Acupuncture has been used to optimize women’s fertility for over 2000 years. There have been several recent clinical studies showing that acupuncture for IVF can:

-Increase your chances of implantation and full-term births.

-Minimize symptoms associated with ART treatments.

-Reduce stress and help you relax before and during IVF.

Acupuncture: To Prepare for IVF

Starting acupuncture treatments 2-3 + months before your IVF cycle is ideal to help prepare your body for pregnancy, to encourage relaxation, to balance any underlying health concerns, and focus on the maturation of the egg.

One acupuncture treatment a week is recommended if acupuncture is started 2-3 months ahead but if acupuncture treatments are started 1 month or less before the IVF cycle, twice a week is recommended.

Acupuncture During the IVF Cycle: (days are approximate)

DAY 1-3 Menstrual Period – One acupuncture treatment

DAY 6-11 Follicular Development – One acupuncture treatment

Acupuncture can alleviate the side-effects of hormonal stimulation, improve blood flow to the ovaries and uterus (resulting in better ovarian response and a receptive endometrium).

DAY 11-14 Days leading into Trigger Injection and/or Day of – 1-2 treatments

Day 14- 16  After Egg Collection – One acupuncture treatment

Acupuncture can help recover from the procedure and prepare the uterus for implantation. This treatment also helps with any bloating and ease cramping after egg collection.

Day Of / Day Before Transfer – One acupuncture treatment

Research shows that this treatment significantly increases pregnancy rates.

Day after to week after Transfer – One treatment following transfer and one about a week later

These treatments promote implantation and eases any anxiety.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Anna Totzke, R.Ac. annatotzke@gmail.com.

Study: Acupuncture Improves Fertility in Men, Too

Posted on: November 21st, 2016 by TouchStone Health

A study published in Acupuncture Today outlines the positive effects of acupuncture treatments to help with male infertility.

The study showed:

  • Significant improvement in sperm motility levels
  • A dramatic increase in the number of healthy sperm (increased more than four-fold)
  • Improvement in sperm structure and quality

To view the full study please follow the article link: http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/archives2005/oct/10infertility.html

Acupuncture is a safe treatment that not only helps with female fertility but male fertility. If you are interested in learning more about how acupuncture can help reach pregnancy naturally or along with ART, please feel free to contact Anna Totzke,  Registered Acupuncturist, annatotzke@gmail.com

Mother Warming: Benefits During Post-Partum Recovery

Posted on: October 18th, 2016 by TouchStone Health

By Anna Totzke, R.Ac.

After giving birth, women are more prone to colds, flus, and fatigue because our qi (life energy) and blood is depleted and bodies are weakened after the birthing process. These depletions can affect energy levels, sleep, breast milk (quantity and quality), and overall well being.

To help with postpartum recovery, a treatment of smokeless moxibustion (a lit compressed herb called mugwort) is applied to the lower abdomen and lower back for 5-10 minutes on days 4 or 5 postpartum. It is a very simple and relaxing treatment.

Benefits of Mother Warming:

-Warms the uterus- for future healthy menstruation/fertility

-Can reduce postpartum uterine cramping

-Boosts the milk supply

-Treats and prevents prolapse

-Replenishes the Qi- which helps improve energy levels

-Nourishes the blood

-Helps promote a calm and stable state

-Helps increase iron levels during postpartum blood loss

-Is very relaxing

 

If you have any questions about Mother Warming, please feel free to contact Anna: annatotzke@gmail.com

The Benefits of Acupuncture for Fertility

Posted on: July 31st, 2016 by TouchStone Health

By Anna Totzke, R.Ac.

For thousands of years Acupuncture has been used to help with reproductive and fertility issues. Recently, with more research, studies, and interest in Acupuncture for fertility, more people are being recommended to try acupuncture for fertility issues or to prepare for pregnancy by doctors and fertility experts.

For Female Fertility, Acupuncture helps:

-Regulate the menstrual cycle

-Increases blood flow to the uterus, increasing the thickness of the lining, for better implantation

-Can provide better blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, creating a stronger chance for an egg to be nourished and carried to term

-Reduces stress- an important factor in fertility

For Male Fertility, Acupuncture helps:

-Increases sperm motility

-Increases the quantity of healthy sperm

-Improves sperm structure and quality

Acupuncture for IVF, IUI:

-Helps regulate the hormones

-Increases ovarian response for more and improved egg quality

-Improves the success rate

-Reduces the side effects of the IVF medications

If you have any questions Acupuncture & Fertility, please feel free to contact Anna: annatotzke@gmail.com

A Naturopath Not Being Able to Breastfeed

Posted on: February 3rd, 2014 by TouchStone Health

I thought this title may bring about intrigue, as many wouldn’t envision these words going together….and if they did indeed go together, publicly speaking about it, is even more peculiar.  But this was my experience and I believe, an important one to share, as things don’t always go according to ‘plan’ and there is value in being vulnerable.

I was fortunate enough to become pregnant and had a pregnancy consistent with what many others experience.  There were certainly unique twists and turns for babe and I, but each pregnancy goes through these and on the whole, it was a good experience.  My delivery was wonderful and I was able to go through labour without an epidural due to the sheer speed of moving through contractions.  I healed easily and readily with the use of Arnica and was up and functioning really well the same day.  All was going according to ‘plan’.

Breastfeeding took a bit of getting used to, but I was prepared that it could take 4-6 weeks to get this thing figured out and was committed to that.  I loved it and felt my babe and I had figured out a latch that worked.  Again, all was going according to ‘plan’ and then she was weighed on Day 2 and had lost 10 ounces.  I kept things up, but as she was continually losing.  Sometimes it was an ounce a day, so intervention was necessary.

Every resource you can imagine was brought in to increase my milk supply that has helped so many of the people I work with: herbs, drugs, meditation, relaxation, lactation consultants, blood work and analysis, every breastfeeding pillow imaginable…but I didn’t have enough milk…I didn’t have much at all to give my babe.  The amounts of formula continually needed to be increased to get her filling enough diapers and by week 8, and 2 rounds of plugged ducts and a case of mastitis, I was done.  It was like my body was yelling at me to stop what wasn’t working and I finally listened.

So, why share this story?  For some, there was an easy solution here, as we live in a place where formula and breastmilk banks are readily available to ensure babes are nourished when breast milk isn’t an option.  And, I was fortunate to have a babe, which some are not, so why speak about this?

Why I am writing this is to remind us all that sharing our imperfections doesn’t make us weaker…but empowers those around us to be real and feel comfortable.

We live in a world where we want others to believe we have it all together, that things are going perfectly and according to our ‘plan’.

But this is rarely or ever the case.

I am a Naturopath who couldn’t get my breasts to make enough milk to nourish my baby.  That was my experience.  Do I wish I tried harder and longer to make it work?  Absolutely.  Sometimes, daily.   And when comments are shared or looks are given when I pull out a bottle, they reinforce the judgment that already exists inside of me.  The interesting thing is most people have no idea how powerful these statements or expressions can be.  I’ve heard too many stories where people are asked why they don’t have children, or why they only have one, or why they don’t breastfeed, or why they don’t use this particular formula, or sleep train, or use cloth diapers, or, or, or.  And this is just scraping the surface of fertility/childrearing…it exists in every domain.  There is enough pressure out there to look like we have it all perfectly together, so why not ease up on each other and ourselves?

Being vulnerable and honest has always been helpful for me and my hope is, helpful for others too.  If a naturopath can share that she couldn’t breastfeed, hopefully that empowers someone else to share something they are going through.

When life doesn’t go according to ‘plan’…try sharing your experience and if you are connected with good people that you trust, you may find them beginning to become more vulnerable with you…reminding us all to be kinder and more compassionate.  It’s much more enjoyable living that way.

Amanda Cressman, ND

564-572 Weber Street North, Unit 3A
Waterloo, Ontario
N2L5C6