Can Fertility Acupuncture help your Egg Quality?

As an integrative acupuncturist, I understand the importance of looking into your menstrual cycle health and recognising imbalances such as irregular cycles, painful periods, PMS, excessively heavy or light menstrual flow, and of course the big one…your AMH. By now most of you are probably aware of your egg quality and would like to know how to improve it.

To improve egg quality, we need to establish if there is an imbalance of hormones, review your intake of nutritional supplements and have a look at your diet. It’s also important to look at your stress levels and assess how these may be impacting you. As an acupuncturist, I use palpation to assess the circulation to your ovaries and uterus by examining your abdomen. All of these things help paint a picture of your reproductive health.

So what can you do?

In TCM, we describe the process of ageing by how the kidneys are functioning. We look at how you live, whether you are getting enough rest, eating well, reducing stress, not abusing drugs/alcohol, having sex (but not too much!) etc – all of which can have an impact on how you preserve this material. TCM is an excellent way to help protect and preserve this material and to help it to be best expressed, particularly during the time while you are trying to improve your egg quality.

It’s important to give your body the necessary time for any changes you make to take effect.

You probably know that you are born with your eggs and that these numbers naturally decline as you age. However, the follicles sit in hibernation until around 100 days prior to ovulation. This means that those 100 days before the month you conceive are critical in the quality of your eggs.

An easy way to have a day to day impact on the quality of your eggs is by including some of the following foods into your diet:

  • Salmon
  • Broccoli
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Berries (such as Blueberries)
  • Maca
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Eggs
  • Dark leafy greens (and lots of them)

(Where you can, make sure your fresh veggies and fruit are organic and your salmon is wild caught and not farmed).

And of course, just as it’s important to work towards including more of the foods listed above into your diet, it’s equally as important to understand which foods will damage the quality of your eggs.

Try to eliminate or avoid as much as possible the following:

  • Sugar
  • Processed foods (consider anything in a packet as dead food.. You only want to be eating live foods)
  • GMO’s
  • Low-Fat Foods (they contain a whole lot of nasties)
  • Trans fats
  • Non-organic meats and dairy
  • Soft drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine

Unfortunately, our modern day world contains a plethora of toxins that are not fertility friendly. Look out for BPA, phthalates, and pesticides. These are all common offenders that are well known to disrupt hormone levels in our bodies.

Whenever you can, eat organic, avoid plastic food containers, avoid canned foods, avoid cleaning products and cosmetics that are full of chemicals, ditch perfumes or products with artificial fragrances and make the switch to organic essential oils.

Mayan abdominal massage is a non-invasive, external, massage technique that guides internal abdominal organs into their proper position for optimum fertility health and organ function. The main action Mayan has with improving egg health is that it is fantastic at improving blood circulation to the ovaries, providing optimal nourishment for growing follicles. Mayan therapy is also great at reducing menstrual and ovulation pain, menstrual blood irregularities and improving pregnancy outcomes.

So often the modern approach to health concerns is a symptomatic plan, which can offer short-term relief but fail to address the core issue at hand. We can learn from Chinese Medicine in this instance and our symptoms as a further opportunity to explore and dig deeper to make long-lasting changes towards our health.

The quality of your sleep has an impact on your hormones, mood and fertility. For those of you who find it challenging to fall asleep or have a good night’s sleep, Acupuncture has been consistently proven to be effective for the overall improvement of sleep quality, without the side effects of prescription medications. The use of diaphragmatic breathing can also be enough to switch us from t

he “being” and “doing” state of mind to a more relaxed and calm state, setting up for a good night’s sleep. Taking five big deep breaths before bedtime can help set the tone, allowing the body to relax.

If you’re not already, I cannot state the importance of ensuring you are taking a quality prenatal vitamin. It’s the first thing I recommend to anyone trying to conceive, or even to those considering it in the next few years. Prenatal vitamins are not just for when you’re pregnant, they contain several nutrients that improve how the ovaries function and therefore can improve egg quality.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine are so effective for a number of reasons. They help to balance hormones, improve circulation to the uterus and ovaries, reduce stress, inflammation, and curbside effects of hormonal medications. Unlike many other treatments, acupuncture and herbal medicine are completely customised to each individual client and are able they are able to best address what the individual body needs.


To make an appointment with an acupuncturist at Brisbane Natural Health, call us on 07 3186 5676. 

Breast Health and Self Care

Breasts are the best! You have to give them some more love.

Whether you own them or not, you know that they are good – a symbol of nourishment, fertility, warmth and sexuality; breasts are synonymous with all things good and wholesome. Breasts are the ultimate expression of giving. Women offer up their beautiful breasts to nurse their babies until they can chew and swallow food on their own. We see breasts as a symbol of femininity and sexuality – in fact, the breast is flaunted about our media like giant sacks of wealth, our eyes glued to their every move as though at any moment, they might explode, showering us with nurturing, warmth and riches.

So, as with all things that we need, use, want and desire – we need to be aware of the constant flow of energy, and give back from where we have taken. This means giving some love back to the breasts in the form of nutrients, energy and nourishment. The breast needs to be nurtured as much as anything or anyone else. I’m going to give you a few ideas on how to feed your feeders, nourish your knockers, and make your jubbly’s feel lovely.

1. Nutrition – important nutrients for breast health include:

  • Iodine – this is found primarily in seaweed, seafood, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, asparagus and garlic. Iodine insufficiency can cause breast tissue hyperplasia and painful, lumpy breasts
  • Vitamin B6 – found in avocado, carrot, chicken, eggs, legumes, sunflower seeds and walnuts – vitamin B6 can help reduce premenstrual breast tenderness
  • Vitamin E – found in almonds, corn, eggs, hazel nuts, sunflowers and wheat germ. Vitamin E can reduce the painful condition of fibrocystic breast disease and quell premenstrual breast tenderness
  • Brassica family foods – these include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale and radishes
  • Phyto-oestrogen foods such as linseeds compete with stronger oestrogens in the body for receptor sites, thereby reducing the proliferative effect of oestrogen on breast tissue
  • Foods to support the liver – herbs such as turmeric, rosemary and bitter greens are known to increase liver detoxification thereby promoting healthy oestrogen clearance in the body

Self-massage helps to identify any lumps or pain early on so you can get it checked out.

2. Massage – lymphatic drainage

  • Breast massage is not only a great way to perform a regular check for lumps or abnormalities, but is also necessary for good breast health. Breast tissue contains lots of lymphatic vessels, which are designed to drain wastes and toxins from the tissues into the circulation for eventual removal and excretion. By massaging the breast tissue regularly, you are helping this garbage collection system to do its job more efficiently resulting in tissue detoxification.
  • Start by using some nice massage oil – I suggest an almond or macadamia oil base, with the inclusion of essential oils to help lymphatic drainage (such as calendula oil). Start at the nipple and work in a circular sweeping motion outwards towards the armpit. Practice this massage technique twice weekly for best results.

3. Things to reduce

  • Caffeine – can add to the painful breast changes that occur with a menstrual cycle as well as the condition known as ‘fibrocystic breast disease’ where lumps of ropey tissue develop under the skin.
  • Alcohol is also known to have a negative impact on breast health
  • Saturated fats and trans fats – these are essentially inflammatory foods and can have a negative impact on all areas of health – breast included.

If you have specific breast issues or experience painful breasts leading up to your period you may have a hormonal imbalance that requires the advice of your naturopath. Breast pain is not normal and needs to be assessed – call us on 07 3367 0337 for help or see your doctor.

Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Traditional Chinese Approach to Period Pain

Amongst the multitude of treatment options for those experiencing primary dysmenorrhea (period pain which is not attributed to any other pathology such as: endometriosis, fibroids etc.), traditional Chinese medicine and the complimentary medicine approach excels in the management and treatment of symptoms.

From the western perspective, primary dysmenorrhea is one of the most prevalent and disabling gynecological disorders with no identifiable aetiology. It is a disorder which is said to incur an economic impact on a global scale, with an estimated 600 million work hours and 2 billion dollars lost annually in the USA alone. One study recorded as many as 50% of women were affected by primary dysmenorrhea and another 10% experiencing symptoms severe enough to render them incapacitated.

Despite this, other than ruling out secondary dysmenorrhea, the conventional medical approach can offer little insight to its origin. The level of understanding with regard to causative factors from a TCM point of view is more comprehensive in comparison.

In TCM gynecology, the Liver organ and Penetrating vessel, also known as the Chong Mai, are crucial in the free flow of Qi and Blood. Free flow = a painless existence.

The Chong Mai flows through the uterus and is also known as the sea of blood.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture reduces pain in women with dysmenorrhea

Acupuncture, Tui Na (Chinese remedial massage) and Chinese herbs work to harmonise the flow of Qi and Blood in the uterus by treating meridians on the body. There are however, plenty of things that we can do to ensure free flow without even getting to the point of disease! A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, an abundance of physical activity and relaxation exercises, nourishing sleep habits and an avoidance of drugs and alcohol will all benefit the Chong Mai and help to keep the menstrual cycle in balance. This also applies to the treatment of subfertility with Chinese medicine. A healthy cycle is a good way to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Many women are led to believe that it is quite normal to have a huge amount of pain during menstruation and that it is normal to pop a few pain killers or take oral contraceptives to avoid this. According to the old Chinese texts, this is only a modern pathology. Normal periods are pain free and regular in length.

Conventional medicine, although efficient in its pharmacotherapy, lacks the availability of a lasting solution for primary dysmenorrhea and a youth of periods spent fighting pain with prescription medication or pain killers, often leading to undiagnosed complications with fertility, is pretty common unfortunately.

There is a stack of research out there that shows the efficacy of acupuncture and Chinese herbs in dramatically improving the quality of life and level of pain that women are experiencing. Generally, studies show the best results are had over a 3 month treatment regime for chronic cases. The added benefit of an individualised diagnosis and treatment, is that the effects are seen on a more than symptomatic level. Accompanying symptoms such as referred lower back pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, fatigue, anxiety, and dizziness were also alleviated from acupuncture. TCM treatment is also found to have lasting effects on pain relief of up to a 3-6 month follow up period.

Hugh Hayward – Chinese Medicine Doctor, Acupuncture & Chinese Herbalist, An Mo Tui Na and Qi Nei Tsang

Male Fertility

In two out of three cases, there is likely to be a male-related subfertility cause, either alone or in combination with a female factor.

In many cases, conventional reproductive medicine practice tends to ignore the issue of male fertility and it is the female partner who seeks treatment. Most men have semen analysis, although in many cases if the semen is found to be suboptimal, these couples are automatically referred for IVF, rather than the man undergoing further investigations and treatment. Furthermore, men are usually presumed to be fertile if their semen parameters are normal. However, male infertility may be present even when the semen analysis is normal.

Other functional factors which contribute to male infertility include:

  • Lowered or non-existent sperm production
  • Sperm blocked from or imperfectly being released
  • Sperm not functioning properly

Studies report that acupuncture treatment can improve ejaculatory dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, sperm motility, concentration, sperm vitality and total motile count. This is possibly due to the effect that acupuncture has in increasing testosterone levels.

Sperm take about 72 days to clear the production line, so an acupuncture treatment schedule of at least 3-4 months is preferable to ensure benefits are realized.

Semen parameters are not the only measure of male fertility. Delayed parenthood may contribute to low sperm count and higher rates of DNA damage. However, the ensuing lifestyle factors on both the male and female parts could also contribute to these findings, of which, acupuncture can be incorporated with positive results.

Weight and BMI
Paternal weight is also important in male fertility. A 2012 systematic review and meta-analysis of 21 studies concluded that being overweight or obese significantly increased the risk of azoospermia (no sperm) or oligozoospermia (low sperm concentration). The recommended BMI for optimum baby making is currently set between 19 – 24 kg/² for both males and females trying for pregnancy.

Exercise
Although there are mixed results regarding exercise and sperm count, one study showed that men who exercised for at least 15 hours per week had a 73% higher sperm concentration compared with men who exercised under 5 hours per week. The study also showed that men who spend more than 20 hours per wek week watching TV had 44% lower sperm counts compared with men who did not. In any case your general health will be better by being more active and maintaining a healthy weight. Creating offspring should not be the only motivation for exercise!

Alcohol
Consuming alcohol has been shown to affect sperm morphology and sperm production. This is exacerbated with increased intake. Binge drinking on the male part (more than 20 units/week) has shown to significantly increase the couple’s time to conception. There has also been a link with alcohol intake on both the male and female part with miscarriage and reduced IVF success.

Smoking
Smoking in males reduces fertilisation rates and success rates of IVF and ICSI, as studies have shown a link to poor semen parameters.

Drug Use
Recreational drug use is strongly associated with infertility in both males and females, and can contribute to as much as a 70% increase of risk factors.

Medications
Prescription and over the counter medication can also contribute to male infertility, so it is important to make a note of anything that you and your partner are taking and to be aware of which medications could potentially harm reproductive function.

Environment
Environmental factors such as air pollution and exposure to contaminants can affect male fertility. Increased temperatures can also alter sperm production and can include: sitting for long periods, hot baths, using a laptop placed on the lap and sauna use.
Mention any potential environmental predisposition which might be involved to your practitioner.

Occupation
Occupational factors have also been linked to reduced fertility so therefore it is important to disclose this information. Male occupations most strongly associated with subfertility include, welders, bakers, drivers (or others involving high scrotal temperature), radiotherapists, engine drivers, agricultural workers, chemists, laboratory workers and painters (due to solvent exposure).

Nutrition
Macronutrient intake and diet play a huge role in reproductive health. As an acupuncturist, it is important to work with a naturopath or dietician who can rule out any nutrient deficiencies leading to subfertility. Generally speaking, to ensure healthy sperm quality, men should:

  • Eat a diet rich in vegies, fruits, grains, poultry and seafood
  • Reduce intake of foods that have high amounts of carbohydrates and high sugar content, and also reduce intake of processed meats
  • Replace full-fat fairy with low-fat dairy

Generally speaking, conventional medicine perceptions are most often guilty of relinquishing the task of conception and pregnancy to our female counterpart and quick to assume a dysfunction in the female rather than the male. There is much more at play for the paternal role in the synergistic bond of creation. Men so easily forget, as the woman bares the child and experiences the birth, that she is not just a vessel for breeding.

ACUPUNCTURE IN BRISBANE

Experienced Brisbane Acupuncturists That Address Your Whole Health.

At Shift at Brisbane Natural Health our acupuncture team’s number one priority is to leave you feeling relaxed and in a better state than when you came in. With experience in fertility, gut health, anxiety, moods and pain, our acupuncturists will help your body get back to how it’s meant to be. 

If you haven’t tried acupuncture you don’t know what you’re missing. If you have then we guess that’s why you’re here!

So how exactly does acupuncture work? Well acupuncture is one of the oldest healing systems on earth, originating in China thousands of years ago. It works by stimulating your meridians and particular points on the body with fine needles to stimulate your innate healing response and supporting your body to come back into balance.

The techniques used aim to address the cause of your illness, alleviating symptoms and assisting your whole body to heal naturally.

What can acupuncture help with?

Because acupuncture works holistically on the body, it can help with a wide range of issues. At our clinic we commonly help patients that present with issues with their digestion, stress, sleep, hormones, skin, moods and fatigue. Acupuncture has been traditionally used for thousands of years to treat hundreds of different ailments.

Is there any evidence for acupuncture?

The evidence behind the use of acupuncture is mounting. The Acupuncture Evidence Project, which was conducted in 2017, found that acupuncture had evidence of effectiveness in 117 conditions, with stronger evidence for some conditions over others. The review found there to be strong evidence for acupuncture in the treatment of allergic rhinitis (hayfever), chronic lower back pain, headaches, knee osteoarthritis, migraines and postoperative nausea and pain.

There was also moderate evidence for the use of acupuncture in many conditions, including acute lower back pain, anxiety, asthma, pelvic or back pain during pregnancy, constipation, depression (with meds), hypertension (with meds), insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), labour pain, menopausal hot flushes, neck pain, PTSD, restless leg syndrome, schizophrenia (with meds), sciatica, shoulder pain, smoking cessation, and TMJ (jaw) pain.

Another area well researched for acupuncture is it’s use in infertility and IVF. This study shows that acupuncture in conjunction with IVF can improve success rates for example. For more on acupuncture in fertility and IVF, click here.

If you’re curious as to whether we have experience in treating your specific issue with acupuncture at our Brisbane clinic, call us on 07 3367 0337 and ask. You can even book a complimentary call with our acupuncturist to chat about your specific issue and see what might be needed.

Does acupuncture hurt?

There are many different types of acupuncture – ranging from relaxing to ouchy-ouchy. At Shift at Brisbane Natural Health we want you to leave feeling like you’re walking on a cloud, so we choose to provide gentle acupuncture only.

We have 2 acupuncturists at our Brisbane clinic.

Angela Marshall is a women’s health and fertility specialist acupuncturist. She has advanced training in Japanese Kiiko Matsumoto Style (KMS) acupuncture. KMS is very effective, yet gentle.Learn more about our Japanese style of acupuncture here.

Vaughn Ryan uses a modern form of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) style of acupuncture, which uses very fine needles and a gentle technique – so pain is very rare. Vaughn has experience and success with a wide range of conditions, from musculoskeletal complaints, fatigue, immune problems and hormones.

Our patients leave the acupuncture room with what we endearingly call call ‘acupuncture face’ – that hazy blissed out look that shows they’ve just been taken to the relaxation zone.

Discover

At your initial appointment, your acupuncturist will use traditional diagnostic techniques to assess your health. They may look at your tongue or feel your pulse and touch areas of your body to look for tightness and tenderness, which will guide them in which points they will use in treatment. They are looking for dysfunction and blockages in your energy pathways or Qi (Chi), that may be causing illness.

Renew

The acupuncture treatment will help your body to balance, right there on the table but also for some time afterwards. It is very common for our clients to notice changes right away on the table, even before they have left the clinic. As you begin your treatment process the body begins to renew and regenerate, and your symptoms begin to reduce.

Arrive

Get back to where you want to be. Resolve or manage your issue so you can live a life that you love.

Our clients visit us from north, south and central Brisbane – so don’t be shy!

Our clinic is located in Milton, just a short drive from Paddington, Red Hill, Toowong, Indooroopilly, Brisbane city, Kelvin Grove and many other inner city Brisbane locations.  The Milton train station is right across the road and there is a bus stop right out front. Treat yourself to an hour of relaxation and renewal – book your initial appointment today.

Call our Milton clinic to find out more

Call us on 07 3367 0337 or click the online booking button to make an appointment with an acupuncturist at Shift at Brisbane Natural Health and start feeling great again!

Appointments are available 6 days –  Weekdays 8am – 7pm and Saturdays 8am – 2pm


Watch our client story video to see how 3 of our clients – Tessa, Tammy and Sam went through their wellness journey with us.