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Does Chinese medicine for fertility work?

Does Chinese medicine for fertility work?

Does Chinese medicine for fertility work?
photo: fatihhoca

When trying to get pregnant with my second child, I began asking around for proactive and holistic early fertility treatments, including acupuncture, to supplement my attempts and Western gynecology practices. Among those I polled, the overwhelming answer was Buckhead Acupuncture & Herbal Center, where Mark Schwartz has been exclusively focused on women’s and men’s fertility since 2010.

When looking for a Chinese medicine fertility specialist to help get pregnant, stay pregnant or reduce symptoms, credentials are just as important as in Western medicine, as not all practitioners are created equally. Schwartz has extensive training in his field. He’s a licensed acupuncturist with the Georgia Composite Medical Board and has master’s level training in Chinese medicine, as well as a doctorate in acupuncture and Chinese medicine with a focus on women’s health and reproductive medicine. To consider a practitioner,  he says it’s imperative at minimum to see a licensed acupuncturist to ensure you’re getting quality care from someone who has advanced knowledge and who is governed by the Georgia Composite Medical Board.

While there are five branches of Chinese medicine (herbs, acupuncture, dietary recommendations, movement therapies and longevity techniques), Schwartz’s practice mainly focuses on herbs and acupuncture for fertility issues. Almost all Chinese medicine practitioners in the country offer acupuncture, but not all offer herbs, an essential part of the process, according to Schwartz. “When we put acupuncture and herbs together, we’re working on increasing blood flow to the uterus and helping produce higher pregnancy rates and fewer ectopic pregnancies, and decrease the risk of certain types of early pregnancy loss. They can also help increase IVF egg retrieval, fertilization, blastocyst and live birth rates,” he says. For men’s infertility, they can help with erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, motility and morphology, or the size and shape of sperm.

Patients should expect to spend three to six months with a Chinese medicine doctor to see results. “It’s not a magical, one-time thing,” says Schwartz. A first appointment includes a lengthy intake for a full picture view of a person’s life, health history, stressors and more. Patients undress for an acupuncture session and lie down on their backs (or are elevated with pillows, if further along in a pregnancy) and are covered by a sheet. Single-use sterile needles are then inserted into the body head to foot.

Schwartz always starts with three relaxation points at the top of the head, between the eyebrows and over the sternum. For women’s fertility, he follows up with points on the lower body, including the lower abdomen for the uterus, tubes and ovaries, and a point about three inches above the inner ankle bone. This distal point is the most important one related to women’s health, according to Schwartz. From there, depending on patient symptoms and conditions, he will place somewhere between 10 to 20 additional needles.

His patients visit once a week to receive acupuncture and pick up Chinese herbs. If doing IVF, the frequency of acupuncture treatments will increase six weeks before an embryo transfer to potentially increase pregnancy rates, reduce losses and reduce ectopic pregnancies. The custom blend of herbs is taken in tea form two to three times a day to help treat a patient’s constellation of symptoms.

While Schwartz doesn’t know exactly how many people he’s helped, he measures success by the moms with babies in their arms and the cute pictures he receives. He’ll be getting a photo from me this summer.


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