by Marcia Clark
Following Celine Dion’s public announcement in June that she was pregnant after six rounds of IVF treatment, word also spread quickly that she attributed much of the successful conception to acupuncture treatments she had been receiving in conjunction with the IVF. Many patients at Attain Fertilityâ„¢ Centers across the country have also sought this ancient Eastern treatment to support their IVF treatments with great success.
Dr. Sandy Goodman, a reproductive endocrinologist at The Reproductive Medical Group in Tampa, Florida, a part of the Attain Fertility center network, is a strong advocate for patients who chose to include acupuncture as part of their treatment. The goal for our patients is to get them through the process in one piece with the best possible outcome. The emotional toll of IVF treatment can be huge and it’s vital for patients to find balance both physically and emotionally. Acupuncture helps to support that balance, she explains.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice that uses hair-fine needles placed along meridians in the body that correspond to the body’s organs. The points stimulate the body’s energy flow, opening ˜blocked’ passages and releasing chemicals such as calming neurotransmitters and pain-relieving endorphins, the body’s natural opioid, to the area of pain or blockage. The needles also work locally to open up blood flow and reduce inflammation.
Dr. Goodman has many success stories that include the introduction of acupuncture. Kathy Creighton, a 40-year-old patient is one such success. Working with certified acupuncturist Carolyn Huffman of Huffman Wellness in Tampa, and Dr. Goodman, Kathy is today 19 weeks pregnant.
My husband and I tried IVF back in 2008. I was 38, working in a high pressure job and it was the peak of my busy season. I became pregnant only to learn that it was a tubal pregnancy, which came as a crushing disappointment. At that point I was ready to give up, Creighton explained. Following a consult with Dr. Goodman and another with her OB/GYN she decided to try one more time before she turned 40 this year. I didn’t want to be disappointed so I did a lot of research which lead me to acupuncture and Carolyn. I changed my diet and really took good care of myself. Though a bit skeptical about the impact acupuncture would have, Creighton decided to give herself over to the treatments and found that whatever else was going on internally, emotionally she felt a new sense of calm and balance that she could directly attribute to her work with Carolyn Huffman.
When Kathy first came to me I could tell that she wasn’t entirely on board, but she was willing to give it a try, says Huffman. Although that particular round of IVF didn’t work, when she returned for treatment for the second time, she was really ready. She had clear expectations and was willing to be totally open to the process.
Huffman believes that it is vitally important for there to be a strong rapport between herself and her patients. These women are really scared, especially when they are older; when things begin to break down and change. If I can work with them to help them let go of that stress, then things really begin to open up physically and emotionally.
Huffman is also adamant that her patients see a reproductive endocrinologist, stressing the importance of working with someone who can identify the underlying physical issues that may be contributing factors to infertility issues. By helping women and often their partners improve their diets and lifestyle and reduce stress, we create an opening. Stress constricts everything, and puts your body into a hyper state of fight or flight. When we are stressed our blood vessels contract and that’s when things get blocked, She explains. Acupuncture, it is believed, helps to reduce the stress, regulate the menstrual cycle, improve blood and energy flow and open up the pathway to the hypothalamus, pituitary, ovarian axis.
While many people feel a bit shy about talking to their doctors about acupuncture and other natural treatments, Dr. Goodman encourages her patients to do the research and find a certified acupuncturist. She has worked with Huffman and other practitioners with great success and believes that combining the Western and Eastern modalities is powerful. I talk to my patients about the mind/body connection and find that it is a relief for them to be able to discuss the emotional impact the process is having on them. I find that they do want to connect and learn more. Acupuncture isn’t for everyone but we are always willing to put it on the table as a modality that we believe supports the IVF treatments, she explains.
Goodman feels so strongly about the subject that she and her colleagues at The Reproductive Medicine Group have developed an annual seminar, New Beginnings, which includes medical doctors, therapists, acupuncturists and other mind/body specialists. The seminar focuses on all aspects of fertility treatments, emotional, financial, the mind/body connection, traditional medical treatments and natural therapies. The most important thing is to help people understand their options and to know that they are not alone, she says.
And when a patient like Kathy Creighton and her husband become pregnant? It’s tremendously rewarding for all of us, she admits.
Marcia Clark is the Managing Partner of Shameless Promotions, LLC, a full service Public Relations and Communications firm based in the Lower Hudson Valley of New York. Shameless Promotions provides public relations services to the Attain Fertility Centers division of IntegraMed America, Inc. www.shamelesspromotions.com.