Along with Hanabusa’s minimalist approach to IVF using mini or Japanese IVF, we are dedicated to our patients’ overall health and well-being. To that end, we collaborate with a range of holistic practitioners whose treatments support the entire IVF process and help to create a healthy, low-stress path to pregnancy. Because stress is one of the leading causes complicating and compromising reproductive health, fertility and IVF success, we recommend that our patients incorporate several stress-reduction practices and techniques into their treatment plans. We’ve collaborated with acupuncturists and Chinese medicine specialists who can help patients enhance their fertility and we’ve invited some specialists to discuss these topics and how their treatments can benefit overall IVF treatment.
Heidi Brockmyre, (M.S. LAc) is a San Francisco-based acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner specializing in fertility. She has worked with our patients in the past and we’ve asked Brockmyre to share some of her knowledge and recommendations about acupuncture, herbal medicine and stress-reduction techniques before, during and after IVF.
“Stress and the stress hormone cortisol are directly linked to fertility and reproductive issues,” Brockmyre explains. Through a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and lifestyle coaching, she works with her clients to help them manage their stress levels as they prepare for and undergo IVF.
As Brockmyre explains, studies have long indicated that acupuncture can improve fertility.
“It’s linked to overall hormone health, and, in the case of IVF, the sessions help the body better process fertility medications, which makes the entire IVF process more comfortable for the patient,” she notes. Overall, Brockmyre posits that acupuncture is a great stress reliever; it reduces anxiety and particularly the stress and anxiety that can accompany IVF, which places an extra stress on the body. “The costs and time commitment can add to the stress factor too,” she continues and she works with her clients to develop a treatment plan that will help alleviate both the stress on the mind and the body, ensuring the best environment for fertilization and a lasting pregnancy.
Acupuncture then can be an important addition to IVF treatment—pre and post-procedure—and Brockmyre recommends continuing acupuncture sessions through the first trimester. “Acupuncture works over a long period of time and so has a cumulative effect,” she explains. “The best time to begin treatment is three months prior to the start of IVF.” She also likes her clients to continue on with the acupuncture treatments for a good three months into the pregnancy. “A total of 6 months of acupuncture treatments is ideal,” she advises.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
In addition to acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine can also help her clients aiming to conceive through IVF. “Following some of Chinese medicine’s basic tenets can help increase fertility and reproductive health,” Brockmyre explains. “For instance, an imbalance in the liver can be related to fertility problems and hormonal issues.” Through a combination of acupuncture and herbal medicines, she can help to correct the imbalance. Brockmyre also works with the patient to determine whether or not they have a hot, dry, cold or damp system and she then identifies which foods patients should be eating accordingly. “For instance, while salad may seem a healthy choice,” she says, “it may actually be better for certain clients to avoid cold vegetables and lettuces and instead eat cooked vegetables.”
Lifestyle—Exercise, Diet and Sleep
In her practice, Brockmyre also works with her clients on their overall lifestyle and wellbeing, examining exercise, diet and sleep patterns. “All of this can have an effect on fertility,” she notes, “and a bit of lifestyle coaching can help reduce stress and create an optimal environment for IVF success.”
Hanabusa, a leading San Diego IVF specialist, has collaborated with Brockmyre for several years and she’s helped our patients enhance their fertility, reduce stress and prepare for fertilization and a healthy pregnancy. Her Fertility Wellness blog posts are also informative and interesting to read and you can learn more about Brockmyre and her practice here: www.heidibrockmyre.com.