Acupuncture for Fertility and Pregnancy: A Cross-Post

Acupuncture has gained traction in recent years among Westerners, especially for its use in attenuating pain. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, about 3.1 million Americans said they had used acupuncture in the past year. This post on acupuncture and fertility is the first of a series which will discuss the use of acupuncture for different issues, including fertility and pregnancy, myofascial pain (so-called “acupuncture for athletes”) and depression and anxiety.

The Evidence on Acupuncture and Fertility

The scientific literature on acupuncture and fertility is relatively sparse. There have been, however, a few positive notes coming out of peer-reviewed journals in recent years.

In 2008, investigators published a meta-analysis (an analysis of other studies) in theBritish Journal of Medicine indicating that “acupuncture given with embryo transfer improves rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilization” (IVF). While The Guardian reported the increased chances of pregnancy to be 65%, the authors of the study actually cautioned that the rate was lower, specifically that “10 women would need to be treated with acupuncture to bring about one additional clinical pregnancy.”

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Power of Prayer

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In the ancient, mystical city of Tsfat, there is a tomb of a famous scholar known as Yonatan ben Uzziel.  It is known as a special place to pray for marriage, for children, and more.  From what I understand, women looking to get married hang headscarves there after they pray.  Either way, the image of this woman with a look of connection to something higher is stunning.

From Pop Chassid

For three months I charted my temperature, peed on sticks, frantically checked for fertility mucus (still none) and while I did get a faint second line on an OPK Kit I’m not positive that I’m actually ovulating, doing it “right” or testing at the proper time. To be honest, as much as I think I know about my body, my cycle and the process of getting pregnant I’m still very much lost.

So, I’ve made an appointment to get fertility testing done in Brooklyn, NY the first week of June. It’s just a consultation, but the over-the-phone in take seemed fine to me. When the receptionist asked about my partner and if he needed sperm testing I told her that my partner was female and didn’t have sperm. She apologized politely, not profusely, and went on to the next question. Towards the end she asked if my partner would be coming in to do testing at the same time and I joked that we wanted to remain sane-only one pregnant woman at a time. She chuckled with me and I have a good feeling about this.

Like this entire process, I’m trying to remain calm, relaxed, focused and prayerful. When I found this photo from Pop Chassid I was almost moved to tears and wanted to immediately jump on a plane to Israel…or simply to pray.

Next Step: Fertility Testing

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For the past three months I’ve tracked my period, took my temperature, peed on sticks, noted when I had midpain, looked desperately into the crotch of my underware for signs of fertility mucous-all to no avail. In all of this tracking and peeing and temperature taking I’m not quite confident that I’m actually ovulating, if I’m tracking incorrectly, or what so I’ve decided that in order to stick to the schedule of starting inseminate in August, I need to get some fertility testing done.

I started on the It’s Conceivable website to try to find doctors who are LGBTQ friendly and have put in calls to a few. Hopefully I can find someone who’s understanding.

It’s been a bit disheartening, so I’ve stopped taking my temperature and have decided to wait until I’m done testing to get back on the 6AM wake up call. I’m praying for peace and relaxation.

pregnantbellyBy Tamara Reese

I wasn’t much for prayer. I used to think talking out loud to a theological being felt creepy and forced. If I remembered before bed I’d run through a little, “Now I lay me down to sleep, bless my family, hope I don’t die, why the heck is world peace taking so long, blah, blah, blah.”  When I converted to Judaism, I was intimidated by prayer in another language and felt inadequate and silly when asked to light the candles, even in my own home.

My husband and I prayed together in our home for the first time on the day we found out we were pregnant. We knew we wanted to ask for guidance and health for our unborn child but neither of us had any clue where to start. Our temple gave us a book that we lovingly refer to as Cliffs Notes for Bad Jews. There, amongst the transliterations, English translations and prayer suggestions, we found a prayer for expectant parents. My husband’s job kept us apart for my first two trimesters but we memorized the words and prayed them together each night on the phone with voices full of cautious optimism.

God of all generations, You have blessed our life with companionship and mutual love. For all Your past gifts we are thankful, now are hearts are full, in this time of expectant hope.

We await the birth of a new life and You are with us. As a parent holds the hand of a child, so now make our spirits serene. Let us wait in confidence and calm, with hearts unafraid. Let our child be born to health and happiness. Help us to be worthy parents, and bless us with a long life nourished and sustained by the sweetness of family love. Amen.

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I’m Ovulating! I’m Ovulating! (I think)

Early Morning Ovulation TestGuess who took an ovulation test in her office this morning? This girl.

On my morning commute I had a dull cramping on my lower right side. It took me a while to realize it was midpain since this cycle has been really really bizarre.

Early in the month, at brunch with a friend in from LA, I instantly felt nauseous. I excused myself from the table thinking I just needed to use the restroom and instead almost passed out on the throne. I broke out into a cold sweat and literally had to hold the side bars to steady myself. Buttoning my pants felt like the worlds greatest feat and my stomach went into terrible somersaults. It felt like an alien was trying to be born through my stomach like in the movie Species.

I hobbled out of the bathroom and to the booth where I laid down. My partner and friend looked worried, Leah even commented that I looked pale. I mumbled apologies to them both and left in search of a cab. Keep in mind this is Brooklyn, not Manhattan and cabs aren’t always trolling the streets. I waited for about three minutes, which felt like three hours, as waves as nausea washed over me. I stumbled over a bike laying on the street (the guy was changing his tires-I’m pretty sure I dented his spokes). I apologized and tried not to barf on him. Finally across the street and at a car service I ordered a car. Dispatch told me it’d be 8 minutes. I groaned and fumbled for my wallet to get cash out of the adjacent ATM. When I tell you that entering my PIN was as difficult as figuring out a rubik cube I wouldn’t be exaggerating. The pain was that intense.

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