How is acupuncture going to help me conceive?

by Naomi Jankowski, FGHG Acupuncturist

The question I receive the most frequently in clinic is ‘How does acupuncture work?’ This is such a fantastic question with multifaceted answers. The question I like even better is ‘How is acupuncture going to help me conceive?’ When I consider this, there are two parts to the answer which are relatively easy to explain, and which are very important for patients to hear so they understand what we are doing, rather than just going along with a bunch of arbitrary needles.

The first part of this relates more broadly to the question of how acupuncture works. Through my experience in clinic, I have found that so much of acupuncture works on benefiting blood flow and circulation.  Acupuncture does not just work by bringing blood flow to the area where the needle is inserted, in fact often the needles selected will direct the blood flow to an entirely different area of the body.  For example, I routinely use points on the hands that have a direct affinity to the ovaries and uterus.  If a patient comes to see me on a day that they have menstrual cramping, using these points on the hands usually decreases the pain within a few minutes.  By facilitating blood flow to the area, the uterus is then able to function more efficiently.

In many cases, menstrual cramping is caused by a small amount of uterine clotting that is stuck.  The cramps occur when the uterus has small contractions to try to push the clots out.  Unfortunately, the contractions often become inefficient, and then we have the problem which we so often see in clinic, where a woman either has pain or heavy bleeding.  Increasing the blood flow to the uterus facilitates more efficient uterine contractions.  This in turn will decrease pain, decrease heavy bleeding, and, most importantly, create a good basis of endometrial lining.

This brings us to the next point, and our next question of ‘How is acupuncture going to help me conceive?’ Patients often tell me they have low AMH, and that their fertility specialist has told them they cannot conceive as a result of poor egg quality.  Egg quality is certainly part of the picture, and cannot be overlooked.  But let’s consider another perspective.  What good is the perfect egg if the quality of the endometrial lining is so poor that implantation cannot occur?

The analogy of soil works best to illustrate this point.  A seed will not be able to form roots in soil that is littered with rocks, debris and clumped up dirt.  No matter how much fertilizer you add, if there are enough rocks in the soil, your seed will not grow.  These rocks are the clots in the endometrial lining.  First and foremost, our job is to help eliminate this clotting.  Secondly, we work to add fertilizer to the soil i.e. thicken the endometrial lining.  Then, if necessary, we work on egg quality.  Often I never need to directly work on step three, because by that time, conception has successfully occurred.

It is important to note here that patients often have their lining measured, and are told that it looks fine.  This is a measurement in millimeters that does not take into account quality of lining and possible clotting.  Clots will, in a sense, artificially increase the ‘true’ lining of the uterus present on the scan.  It is detrimental lining that leads to a false reading in millimeters.

So to summarize and answer these clinically relevant questions, the benefit of traditional Chinese gynecology is that it takes into account the quality of the endometrial lining.  Acupuncture can facilitate blood flow to the uterus, to improve the quality of this lining which increases the ability of an embryo to implant.

NaomiJANKOWSKIColourNaomi Jankowski is a highly experienced, registered acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine practitioner. Naomi is known for her ability to build relationships with her patients where they feel truly supported supported, even the most difficult of fertility and reproductive journeys.

Creating A Calm and Supportive IVF Embryo Transfer Day

By Amy O’Brien, FGHG Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner

Working at Fertile Ground as an Acupuncturist there is a lot of opportunity to understand how women are feeling on the day of their embryo transfer. We treat with acupuncture once or twice on the day of transfer, and there is a real wisdom in the instant feedback of what women share about their experience of this day.

The things they are glad that they put in place, and the things they wish they had done differently. The emotions and physical terrain they’re navigating, and what’s helping their head, their heart and their body. The ways they feel isolated, or vulnerable or scared or hopeful. Things they might believe are true only for them, but which largely apply to majority of women in a similar circumstance.

IVF is such a big process. Often overwhelming, and often a case of taking things one day at a time. And yet, when it comes to embryo transfer, it can be really quite useful to plan ahead a little too.

For example, almost every woman who tries to work on the day of their embryo transfer, and around their acupuncture appointments, inevitably says ‘Gosh, I really should have just taken the day off. It would have made things easier.’ So for a woman approaching her first transfer, this is really useful to know!

And for women who have experienced an embryo transfer before, and is preparing for another, this can be a great opportunity to up level self care and self compassion on this day.

We don’t know what we don’t know, so let me offer up some insight from the collective experience of embryo transfer day.

Here’s a list of things that you might just find useful to implement on the day of your embryo transfer. It’s packed with insight I have gained since the day I first offered Acupuncture on the day of transfer at Fertile Ground, eleven years ago.

These are all relatively easy to implement. Relevant for all kinds of cycles. And focus on navigating a day that is not only stacked to improve outcomes, but to care for the beautiful human you are, too.

All the best for your cycle, and we look forward to supporting you along the way.

LINK:

https://www.thewrittenelixir.com/post/embryo-transfer-day

 

Amy O’Brien, FGHG Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner, and creator of The Written Elixir

Amy facilitates a space where people feel confident to explore their health challenges. She recognises how anxiety, insomnia, digestive and sleep disorders can hop along for the ride when lovely women are grappling with issues surrounding their cycles, fertility and pregnancy. Amy is comfortable treating all aspects of women’s health including period problems, cycle irregularities, preconception, fertility and pregnancy care.

Who is Ashley Gordon, Acupuncturist?

We talk to Ashley Gordon, Acupuncturist at FGHG and discover what makes him such a fabulous, dedicated practitioner and why he has chosen to focus on reproductive health, fertility and pregnancy acupuncture.

What initially ignited your interest in studying to become a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner and acupuncturist?

Before my time as a TCM practitioner, I was a middle school Biology and Maths teacher. This was good, but I knew there was something… I was on the prowl for job satisfaction. Whilst having a treatment from my acupuncturist, she said “you seem to know a lot about it, ever thought of studying it?”… baffled at the timing of that statement, my answer was “not until now…” and the rest was history!!

How does an Eastern philosophy differ from a western philosophy in terms of fertility and reproductive support?

In my understanding, as different as they can be, they are both just as crucial as the other. Simplistically and generally, Western philosophy seems to go by numbers… if they fit, then they are good. This may not always take into consideration factors such as stress, emotions, sleep and their related symptoms in the body… this is where Eastern philosophy comes in quite strongly. Together, they can make as awesome team, but each have their own ability to stand independently. Fertility and reproductive support can be so easily affected by so many different lifestyle choices. It make sense to sort these out ASAP!

What unique challenges and rewards come from working with your patients in an independent, non-Western healthcare care setting ?

The rewards are many. In fertility and reproductive support specifically, the answer is simply sharing in the joy of people succeeding in their goal of having a baby. In general, assisting people in working towards better health and maximising all that their body and life has to offer. The body knows, we just need to point it in the right direction sometimes…

Chinese Medicine is such a broad discipline with so many different tools, could you offer some insight into how Chinese Medicine works best for you as a practitioner and which areas you particularly love treating?

Without a doubt, my passion lies in treating pregnancy with acupuncture. My fascination and intrigue with the human body is epitomised by pregnancy. Watching the body, grow, adapt and mould whilst still supporting the day-to-day life of a human, blows me away. My other favourite is pre-conception care – assisting this miracle to happen is such a joy!

 

Ash-Gordon-colourAshley Gordon, FGHG Acupuncturist

Ashley is an experienced acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist who is passionate about utilising the innate healing qualities of the body in achieving the desired outcomes. Be that in fertility, pregnancy or general health.

Ashley has a strong focus on preconception care, pregnancy and birth preparation and is motivated by the journeys and emotional and physical changes that these experiences bring. It is his privilege to a be a part of such a personal and life-changing journey.

Is there an acupuncture treatment to support IVF?

The use of acupuncture treatment to support IVF has fast become a popular treatment. When considering the use of Acupuncture to support IVF and other ART there are a few key components of treatment to consider.

Some people undertake only the minimum pre-transfer and post-transfer appointments to support the embryo transfer.  Most embark on a more holistic program of treatment aiming to treat the whole person and underlying issues that may be affecting fertility.

At Fertile Ground Health Group, it is our preference to treat more holistically, and we would usually see patients weekly in the lead up to egg collection and transfer.  We also have an excellent system that allows us to cater to short term patients, however most current research suggests just doing embryo transfer (ET) acupuncture does not appear to benefit IVF outcomes when compared to any controls; but may improve outcomes when compared to no treatment.

What does the research tell us?

Acupuncture is associated with more live births when administered at a larger dose (9-12 visits prior to ET). At FGHG we recommend regular weekly treatments with women and couples trying to conceive and undergoing IVF.  Working weekly enables us to address underlying health issues that may be affecting fertility, as well as working across a cycle to maximise hormone balancing and cycle regulation, follicular and endometrial development, stress as well as addressing any side effects from medications.

Acupuncture is proposed to aid fertility in three ways:

  1. By inhibiting central sympathetic nerve activity to promote vasodilation and increase blood flow to ovaries and uterus.
  2. Inducing neurotransmitters, which activate hormonal activity in the pituitary gland, increasing ovulation, menstrual regularity, and overall fertility.
  3. Increase the ‘feel good hormones’ mitigating adverse stress response.
When should I start acupuncture in relation to my IVF or ART cycle?

We suggest starting acupuncture as many as three cycles prior to starting IVF or any ART, this suggestion is based on the whole systems TCM approach. The Whole systems approach has shown significantly more benefits compared with just doing protocol acupuncture for embryo transfer.

In any Acupuncture treatment, it is also important to note that the treatment is always designed in relation to what a woman needs constitutionally and specifically at the time of treatment.  Based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) your practitioner will assess your health and address any concerns presenting on the day.  For example if a patient has a headache, or pain remaining from egg collection, point selection takes this into account.

A follow up treatment one week after the transfer is also recommended in support of possible implantation.  This is also a time when many women find their stress levels and anxiety start to peak. The relaxing effects of Acupuncture as well as the chance to talk to their practitioner about how they are feeling during this waiting period is highly advantageous.  Treatment aims are similar to the post transfer treatment – settling everything down, supporting implantation and circulation to the uterus, etc.

Prior to starting any IVF cycles, Acupuncture treatment for approximately three months prior for both partners is advisable. Acupuncture is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a treatment for infertility and is used to help the couple to optimise their health and maximise their chances of success. However even without this, the research into the effects of Acupuncture on the outcomes of IVF cycles by just focusing on the pre- and post-transfer treatments is more than favourable.

I want to know more

In 2008 the British Medical Journal published a world first meta-analysis by highly respected Cochrane Review researchers and scientists.  The meta-analysis assessed the main research from around the world pertaining to acupuncture and IVF.  The results clearly showed a positive association between the use of acupuncture and increased success rates with IVF.  For more information on the Cochrane Review and the meta-analysis, see:

 Manheimer E, Zhang G, Udoff L, et al. Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2008;336 (7643):545-549.

For more studies see below

Impact of Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine on In Vitro Fertilization Outcomes

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4458185/

The relationship between perceived stress, acupuncture, and pregnancy rates among IVF patients: a pilot study.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20621276

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3962314/

Getting to know your practitioner – Sonia Millett, FGHG acupuncturist

What inspired you to become an acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist, with a special interest in fertility and pregnancy?

Fertility, pregnancy and women’s health conditions are some of the most interesting and complex to treat, for this reason it has always drawn me – there are so many interesting aspects to consider, such as hormonal and emotional factors.

I love the challenges fertility issues present, and in particular the joy of hard-fought successes such as conceiving a baby after years of trying.  I also enjoy then treating  patients up until they give birth –  there is a real sense of completion and connection with the patient.

I first experienced the benefits of Chinese Medicine when my infant son did not gain weight and was diagnosed with ‘failure to thrive’, and was very unsettled. Several pediatricians were unable to provide a reason or a solution. Chinese Medicine, however, provided some notable improvements, and I was hooked.

What do you see as the strengths that acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (CM) have to offer in terms of fertility and reproductive support?

Fertility and pregnancy treatments are a major area of strength in Chinese Medicine as it fills a gap in conventional Western Medicine. This makes it a wonderful adjunct to medical treatments such as IVF.  If a pathology is not visible (eg in scans/to the eye) or does not show up in testing such as blood tests, Chinese Medicine excels. This is why Chinese Medicine can be effective with diagnoses such as ‘unexplained’ infertility, or for older patients. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a different diagnostic system and we can find a diagnosis (and therefore help treat) even when there is none in Western Medicine.

Chinese Medicine practitioners treat the individual, not the disease, and aim to strengthen underlying issues in the body.  The treatments are more patient- centred.

Also, Chinese Medicine is a holistic approach, supporting the OVERALL health and vitality of the body, as well as treating health issues directly. The principle aim of Chinese Medicine and acupuncture is to recover the equilibrium between the physical and emotional aspects of an individual, by treating the whole person. This is why we also provide lifestyle and dietary advice, and consider the emotional state of patients.

Patients often report they feel less stressed and more able to cope following acupuncture treatments, and we see this as a vital part of the treatment.

In your work you assist a lot of women on their journey to becoming pregnant, do you recommend they continue to see you after they have fallen pregnant? What does acupuncture and Chinese medicine have to offer during pregnancy?

Chinese Medicine is very useful throughout pregnancy. It offers a gentle approach to treatment without side-effects. It can help treat conditions such as nausea in early pregnancy, and any pain throughout the pregnancy. In late pregnancy, acupuncture can be used to prepare the patient for an on-time labour.

The benefits of treatment also extend to post-partum for issues such as poor milk supply and for a boost in energy when exhausted.

Your week tends to be very busy, what sort of self-care do you do to recharge outside of seeing patients?

I get lots of benefit from connecting with special friends, and possibly combining this with a walk. Also a regular yoga practice. I find that any practice that nourishes you emotionally as well as physically, has more far-reaching benefits. Whenever time permits, I also enjoy  acupuncture, kinesiology or massage treatments throughout the year.

I enjoy massage treatments primarily for stress relief, and acupuncture or kinesiology when I have a more acute condition that needs addressing such as pain.  I personally really enjoy kinesiology – it’s an eclectic mix of treatment approaches (and even incorporates some Chinese Medicine channel theory).

What are your top five tips for others to help maintain a healthy lifestyle?

  • Eat a nutritious diet with primarily fresh fruit and vegetables (no need to eat low fat foods) and get daily exercise (doesn’t need to be strenuous).
  • Make time for fun and nurture the special relationships in your life. Particularly important when going through challenging times such as when trying to conceive or with a new baby.
  • Find Gratitude – notice things in your life daily that you are grateful for
  • Get plenty of sleep, ideally within the hours of 11pm – 6.00am.
  • And of course have regular therapeutic treatments such as acupuncture, massage, naturopathy, kinesiology, to maintain health – after all, prevention is better than cure! CM is great as a preventative to help keep you in peak heath and manage stress.

Learn more about Sonia Millet on our practitioner page here: Sonia Millet, FGHG Acupuncturist

Acupuncture IVF support after egg retrieval

Acupuncture has become a common modality used to support an IVF cycle. In recent years there has been a lot of excitement and extensive literature published about the use of acupuncture to support an embryo transfer and specifically, utilising it for pre and post transfer to reduce uterine contractions and spasms, as well as stress and anxiety [1]. There has also been more investigation into using acupuncture in preparation for starting an IVF cycle. These treatments usually begin 12 weeks prior to the IVF cycle and focus on stimulating blood flow to the uterus and the ovaries, to establish a healthy menstrual cycle and ovulation – with the benefit of having a healthy cycle to improve the outcome of IVF.

What many people are not aware of is an acupuncture IVF support treatment that deserves equal attention, with just as many benefits as pre and post embryo transfer acupuncture. That treatment is acupuncture to support recovery from the Egg Retrieval procedure.

Egg Retrieval or egg ‘pick up’ is a hospital day procedure where the eggs are collected from the ovaries and takes about 20-30 minutes under a general anaesthetic. During the procedure, your fertility specialist uses ultrasound to guide a needle into each ovary where the eggs are contained in a fluid within the follicles on your ovaries. The specialist removes fluid from the follicles that look like they’ve grown enough to have an egg inside. You will be in the recovery for about 30 minutes after the surgery and it is at this time the doctor or nurse will often tell you how many eggs they managed to retrieve.

Depending on many factors, the full recovery from egg ‘pick up’ can range from being quick, easy and painless, to a slower recovery and on rare occasions can be quite serious resulting with perhaps a stay in hospital.

The more severe and rare cases are often diagnosed with Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).  Symptoms of OHSS includes rapid weight gain, severe abdominal pain, persistent nausea and vomiting, decreased urination, shortness of breath and enlarged and tight abdomen. Milder cases have more mild to moderate abdominal pain, abdominal bloating, nausea, diarrhoea and tenderness in the ovaries. If you are at risk of this, your IVF clinic will keep a close eye on you during your recovery period.

What is not so commonly talked about or written about, is the support that acupuncture can offer in recovering from an egg ‘pick up’. This is particularly important because the egg ‘pick up’ is done only part way through the IVF cycle. Your body still needs to receive and hopefully implant the embryo later in the IVF cycle.  Treating any swelling and discomfort after the egg pick up and before embryo transfer can be very beneficial.

During post egg pick up acupuncture sessions, we use acupuncture treatment to support circulation in the pelvic cavity, which is thought to bring healing cells and remove inflammatory cells in the region. The acupuncture needles are placed on the legs, arms and abdomen and many people find they feel the swelling go down instantly, after only 30 minutes with needles.

Along with using acupuncture in post egg retrieval, we always suggest some simple things like drinking plenty of water, eating lots of fibre and resting, whilst still getting some very gentle exercise like slow walking.

If you are going in for an egg retrieval and feel you might be at risk because you fit into one of the following categories:

  • have been diagnosed with PCOS,
  • have seen a large number of follicles on scans,
  • have a low body weight,
  • are under 30 years old or
  • have had previous OHSS.

We suggest organising an acupuncture treatment 1-3 days post the surgery. The good news is that if you are doing a fresh embryo transfer in that cycle, you can often combine the post egg pick up acupuncture with the pre- embryo transfer acupuncture to provide support for both procedures.

If you are seeing an acupuncturist and soon to do an egg retrieval it is worth asking them to suggest a plan for you around the time of the surgery. If you are not seeing an acupuncturist and feel that you could benefit from using acupuncture to recover from an impending egg retrieval, it is worth seeing a practitioner at least one week prior to the egg ‘pick up’ so they know your history and constitution and can guide you on the correct timing of treatments.

[1] Effect of acupuncture on symptoms of anxiety in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: a prospective randomised controlled study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20621276

 

Joanne SharkeyBy Joanne Sharkey, FGHG Acupuncturist

Joanne has been in clinical practice for more than 10 years. Her experience and knowledge make her a highly effective practitioner to support women and couples in starting a family. She individually tailors treatments, herbal, dietary & lifestyle advice for preconception care, health during pregnancy and birth preparation for a safe delivery. Joanne also has a special interest in treating PCOS holistically to regulate cycles as well as the hormonal side effects of PCOS including infertility

What’s Your Fertility Plan?

Your Fertility Plan with Sage King from Fertile Ground Health Group

It can be quite overwhelming for any individual or couple to decide if their family plan includes children, let alone go one step further and reach out for support to optimise or facilitate fertility. These decisions can be even more complex for those who fall outside of the mainstream heteronormative, coupled, gender binary. 

Fertility plan – where to start?

Knowing when you want to have children is key to where you can choose to start on this journey. Does your family plan include children within the next 3-12 months? Did you know that preconception care takes a minimum of three months to positively influence reproductive health,  including egg quality? 

One of our expert fertility naturopaths, Sage King, has written a 6-part series to help individuals and couples of all gender identities and sexual orientations confidently navigate their fertility journey and create their own fertility plan. This series is inclusive of everything from preconception pathology screening, naturopathic preconception considerations, how to enhance your fertility naturally, to egg freezing, intrauterine insemination (IU) and In vitro fertilisation (IVF). Sage will be taking a deep-dive in how you can optimise your fertility outcomes.

What you’ll learn in this free 6-part article series

Part One: Identify Your Unique & Individual Needs

  • Individual considerations
  • Couple considerations
  • Sperm donor considerations

Part Two: Do You Need Preconception Screening?

  • Understanding your optimal preconception window
  • GP preconception screening
  • Your functional preconception assessment options
  • Naturopathic preconception considerations
  • PCOS, Endometriosis and the impacts on fertility

Part Three: Enhance Your Fertility Naturally

  • Eating for your fertility
  • Exercising for your fertility
  • Stress management
  • Enhancing sleep quality for your fertility
  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals and why you should avoid them

Part Four: Is Egg Freezing for You?

  • Age and egg freezing – what’s the go?
  • Understanding the egg freezing process
  • How to access Naturopathic support for egg freezing

Part Five: What is IUI & do I qualify?

  • What is intrauterine insemination?
  • Is IUI for you?
  • Natural vs. medicated cycle
  • Importance of collaborative care
  • Naturopathic support options for IUI

Part Six: Your Guide to IVF

  • What is IVF?
  • Is IVF for you?
  • Importance of collaborative care
  • Naturopathic support options for IVF

Are you single? In a couple? Do you wish to use your own eggs, or do you want to carry using your partner’s eggs, or vice versa? Do you have a known sperm donor, or will you use clinic-recruited donor sperm? Perhaps a child is not in your short-term plans but you wish to freeze your eggs for peace of mind down the track – there is great information here for you too. 

Register to receive notification as each article in this 6 part series is released. Sage is dedicated to helping you identify your unique and individual needs, as well as to provide you with the information you need to feel more informed, more confident on how to best navigate your situation, and most importantly helping you feel fully supported on your fertility journey.

Bonus Preconception Q&As with Sage online

Get your questions answered by joining our closed Create a Fertile Life Facebook group. Submit your questions in this group and Sage will answer.

The next step in your Acupuncture career?

Are you our new Acupuncturist?

An exciting opportunity for an experienced acupuncturist / Chinese herbal medicine practitioner to join Fertile Ground Health Group is now available.

FGHG practitioners are leaders in their respective professions for IVF support, fertility and pregnancy related treatments and are well respected among medical specialists and experts within this area of practice. The launch of the new preconception bible (Create A Fertile Life) by the team at FGHG, along with moving to beautiful new premises and creating The Melbourne Apothecary, has seen huge growth for us in what evidently (and very sadly) has been a devastating year for many other practices and dispensaries.

We are ready to grow our team and we are looking for our next incredible Acupuncturist. To be eligible for this position you already have passion, confidence and experience in reproductive health, pre-conception care, infertility, IVF/ART, pregnancy, birth and beyond. Importantly, you also have a point of difference and love treating conditions or patient groups we don’t already have covered by our expert practitioners already.

Sound like a fantastic opportunity for you? Would you like to join us?

You will receive

You will have a fabulous, supportive team of well-known professionals to work, grow and collaborate with, along with a highly experienced business management and support team to guide, develop and expand your professional profile. You will have new patients waiting to see you and the established reputation of Fertile Ground Health Group to provide you with a consistent flow of patients to work with on an ongoing basis.

Is this you?

You value collaboration and your ability to develop referrer relationships and patient results are a must. You want to establish yourself as a leader in your profession and you are willing and ready to raise your profile through opportunities that excite you (or even scare you at least a little in all the juicy, good growth ways). You understand the value of writing blogs and social media, marketing contribution, networking, speaking opportunities (to health professionals or patient groups), running workshops, classes or support groups (in person, on zoom or on social media). The opportunities for growth within our team are endless, especially with your full access to all the foundational goods that come as part of the extensive springboard that is Fertile Ground Health Group.

What we’re looking for

We are looking for an experienced Chinese medicine practitioner who would like to simplify the work involved in running a business, who is ready to focus on being a fantastic and fully supported practitioner, dedicating efforts to growing patient reach and enhancing their profile and career with Fertile Ground Health Group.

Mentoring is also available for the right candidate if needed.

Practice session times

You will need to commit to a minimum of three sessions per week including alternate Saturdays. You will be working in one of Australia’s most intentionally beautiful and vibrant clinic spaces with an extensive dispensary supplying all of your prescription needs. We stock a Chinese raw herb, granule and pill dispensary and supply needles, moxa, and general equipment and other needs for practice. There is an extensive nutrition and western herbal dispensary available at The Melbourne Apothecary too.

What is The Melbourne Apothecary?

The Melbourne Apothecary has been created to provide Melbourne’s first prescription-only naturopathic dispensary, serving the FGHG team as well as filling prescriptions for Naturopaths all over Australia. The MA serves to protect the privacy of our fertility and IVF patients (for those who need it) along with opening up to the general health population as a street-frontage “shop”. It is a truly beautiful space and strives to be an example of what is possible.

Apply

To apply please email a cover letter and resume to Charmaine Dennis at charmaine@fertileground.com.au

Interviewing now

We will be interviewing as soon as the right candidates land in our inbox.

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life” Confucius

What does your period tell you about your endometrial lining?

your period
The Chinese medicine take on the quality of your menstrual flow

As a woman, if you’ve ever had a Chinese medicine consultation, it is quite likely you’ve been questioned about the health of your endometrial lining and your period in some detail, even if you are not trying to conceive. We ask a lot of questions because every woman’s period gives us valuable insight into her overall health and these details inform our diagnosis and treatment. Your period reflects what has been happening in the previous weeks, months and years.  As we commence treatment, you may often notice positive changes in your menstrual flow, which give us valuable feedback that we are on the right track with your acupuncture and/or herbal treatment. Having a healthy period is always very important and is especially so if you are trying to conceive. 

Many of my clients are not used to observing their menstrual flow in such detail and may not know how to answer some of my questions. When I was a teenager, all I learned about my period was that it happened. The subject was taboo, only the essentials were discussed, and further information just wasn’t available. If you are the same, then it may take some months of observation to notice things you haven’t before. It is not uncommon that women return and tell me that their period is quite different to what they thought.

So, what do we want to know about your period?

Examples of some of the questions we may ask are:

  • How often do you change your pad or tampon (or menstrual cup or period undies)? 
  • How many days do you bleed for?
  • What colour is the blood? (Red, maroon, purple, black, brown, pink)
  • Is the viscosity like normal blood or is it thick and sticky or watery?
  • Are there any clots? If so, how big (specks, coin sizes, as big as your wrist)
  • Is there any pain? When does it start and finish? How strong? Where is it felt?
  • Does it stop and start?
  • Is there an odour?

What we are looking for are deviations from a healthy menstruation. It should flow easily, be pain free, be a fresh red colour and not contain clots, dark strands or mucous. There needs to be enough blood to reflect a lining of adequate thickness, but it must be healthy too. It should arrive without a lot of fuss, finish up neatly and not outstay it’s welcome. 

Prepare the garden bed

You may have heard the analogy of the garden bed. A strong healthy plant needs a quality nutritious soil that is free of weeds, rocks and clay. If we prepare the soil before we plant the seed, we have a greater chance of it taking root and growing big and strong. 

As a Doctor of Chinese medicine, my main therapeutic tools are herbs and acupuncture. Our herbs are prescribed as formulas containing multiple herbs chosen to suit your particular diagnosis. I mostly use soluble granulated herbs, although pills, tinctures and teas are not uncommon. All herbs are free from endangered species or unethically sourced products and are of the highest quality grade. Specific dietary guidance aimed at improving menstrual health may also be given. 

A Chinese medicine gynaecology or fertility consultation includes enquiring about your menstrual history and the details of your entire menstrual cycle, not just the period. We discuss your diet, digestion, lifestyle, work, stress and anxiety levels and any other health concerns or test results you may have. We use all this information alongside our traditional diagnostic techniques to inform our diagnosis and design your treatment plan. 

If you have been concerned about the health of your period, suffering every month with pain or heavy bleeding or have been having difficulty conceiving and are unsure what to do, then I would love to see you in clinic to discuss your concerns and possible treatment options. 

Written by Kim Riley

Kim Riley is available for one on one in person acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine consultations. You’re welcome to book in with Kim.

Acupuncture for IVF support

Research shows that acupuncture can be used to enhance IVF outcomes. Did you know that acupuncturists can help with preconception care, support around egg collection, pre- and post-transfer treatments and miscarriage prevention? Listen as Gina Fox (FGHG naturopath) interviews Joanne Sharkey (FGHG acupuncturist) about the how’s and why’s of acupuncture to support IVF.  What do you want to know? It’s all covered here!

We are so excited to share this podcast from Fertile Ground Health Group practitioners! Podcasts are such a convenient way to learn, as you can tune in anytime you are able to listen – in the car, on the train, out for a walk in the sunshine, in the bath… you don’t have to be pinned to your desk for yet another session of research on what might help your chances of conceiving.

Listen to the podcast!

 

We would love to hear your thoughts, as well as answer any questions you may have about the discussion between Jo and Gina.

Feel free to reply directly onto the podcast itself, or send us a message any time. We are always happy to hear from you!

Thanks for listening, and for sharing this information with anyone you know who is struggling with their fertility or embarking on IVF. There are so many benefits of acupuncture (along with scientific confirmation that chances of conceiving are increased up up to 65%!), it may be the thing that makes the difference for success with the next cycle. Given the difficulties and stress of undertaking IVF to conceive, let alone the out-of-pocket costs, why wouldn’t you do this?

Acupuncture is available Monday to Saturday at Fertile Ground Health Group, including daily sessions in our much-loved Multi-bed project.

For more information on all the ways we can support your fertility, please see our website. We will love to help you create your healthy family.