Fertility & The Modern Woman

 

Fertility Challenge
Fertility challenge and infertility medical symbol as an incomplete puzzle with an image of a uterus with fallopian tubes as a gynecology icon for problems in female reproduction in a 3D illustration style.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, “infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (or six months if a woman is 35 or older).  Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile.  About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” (womenshealth.gov).

When you are a woman trying to get pregnant, all the statistics in the world don’t matter.  You just want to be healthy.

As a woman who wanted to have a baby after the age of 35, which used to bear the unbearable name of “geriatric pregnancy”, I wasn’t sure about my fertility.  I wasn’t concerned with whether or not I would have children until I found the love of my life and began to see the world and a potential family through a new and different lens.

I decided to be proactive and googled fertility and acupuncture.  I wasn’t interested in taking the traditional path to western medicine.  I came across a clinic that was dedicated to women’s health.  There, I learned about Kiné Fischler and Willow Tree Wellness.

Kiné, the clinic director and distinguished Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine, is a master acupuncturist and medical herbalist specializing in women’s health, fertility and pregnancy care.  She has a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine from the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley, CA.  She is a proud member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, building professional relationships with Reproductive Endocrinologists to offer integrative care for mutual patients.

Her credentials are impressive.

I scheduled an appointment.  I immediately felt a good vibe about Kiné and was so happy to begin this journey.  She guided me through the process to understand my fertility.  She became a kind of yogi to me and she helped me to become my own advocate when it came to working with conventional medicine to address my needs and concerns.

First, I requested an appointment with my OB-GYN to learn about my chances of getting pregnant.  My doctor ran a series of tests to find out about my egg quality and if I’m nearing menopause.  The results came back promising.

Kiné had me track my cycle for the past year.  I have always had a short cycle – anywhere from 24-26 days.  She explained the importance of a longer cycle, closer to the normal 28 days.

Starting in October of 2017, we began a weekly treatment regimen of acupuncture and Chinese herbs to balance my hormones and lengthen my cycle.  Kiné explained it takes about six months of treatment to balance most clients towards healthy ovulation and pregnancy.

The process was amazing.  Kiné not only balanced my hormones and lengthened my cycle to 26-28 days, but her treatments alleviated my worst menstrual symptoms, including debilitating, painful cramps.  She also encouraged me to go back to my OB-GYN to test my levels of progesterone.

My doctor was very much on board with working as a team with my acupuncturist.  She ordered the progesterone test and even ordered an HSG test.  HSG, or hysteronsalpingography, is a special kind of x-ray used to evaluate female fertility and involves placing an iodine-based dye through the cervix and taking x-rays. The x-rays help evaluate the shape of the uterus and whether the fallopian tubes are blocked.

Interestingly enough, many women claim they got pregnant one or two months after an HSG.   Doctors suggest you’re more likely to conceive after this fertility test because it opens up the fallopian tubes and makes it easier for sperm to reach the egg.

I had the procedure done in early April of 2018.  The test results came back normal.

Meantime, my progesterone levels were low.  So, Kiné directed me to advocate for myself and ask my doctor to write me a progesterone suppository prescription.  This is very important.  My doctor was happy to write the prescription.  However, my health insurance company fought me and tried to change the prescription to a progesterone pill.  Here’s where it became critical for me to fight for my health and what I believed was best for my body.  My sister had a history of low progesterone and miscarriage.  The only thing that worked and gave her two babies was the use of progesterone suppositories.  The synthetic pill did not work for her and could not prevent miscarriage!

It was difficult to work with my insurance company.  But, I fought for what I knew was right for my body.  And, it took tears in the pharmacy to finally get some help.  While the pharmacist could not fill the prescription, he called a local compounder who could mix and fulfill the prescription – at a fraction of the cost!

The following month, on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13th, I took a home pregnancy test and was stunned by a positive sign.  I took the prescribed progesterone suppositories until the end of my first trimester.

I continue to see Kiné once a week for prenatal acupuncture and pregnancy support.  She is amazing!  I would not be pregnant if not for Kiné!

I decided to start my blog with this story because it is one of the most important stories of my life.  I didn’t know if I would ever get pregnant.  I feared my age would be prohibitive.  Our society scares women to death, especially when we are no longer young maidens.  We are placed to such incomprehensible standards about our choices, our lifestyle, our image, and our health.

Here’s my hope.  For any woman out there who is struggling to get pregnant, or who worries about her biological clock, or who feels invisible in the conventional healthcare system – please take heart.  I am over 40 years old and I did not need fertility treatment.  Please let that sink in.  I know that women have different issues and we are all bio-individuals, so you can’t make a blanket statement about a woman’s health at any stage.  Be your own advocate.  If you are healthy and take care of yourself, you are more than likely better off than you may realize.

Conventional medicine will not consider lengthening your cycle!  Acupuncture will and with results.  While you may have a normal 28 day cycle, you may have other disharmonies that a good acupuncturist will address.  These little imbalances may be all the difference in seeing results with conventional medicine.  It’s worth finding someone like Kiné to help you learn about your body.

I did not require fertility treatment to get pregnant.  It happened for me within 6 months of Kiné’s care.  My journey was to learn about my bio-individuality, my own needs and requirements.  I’ve had a short cycle since the beginning of my womanhood.  Acupuncture put my system on track.  I took tests to learn about my body.  I believe in manifesting.  And the very process of taking a holistic look at my health and fertility opened up the possibility of getting pregnant.  It worked.

Stress commonly prevents couples from conceiving.  I never had any stress because I was getting acupuncture – which helps to alleviate and/or prevent stress.  I approached my fertility clearly and objectively – but not always without emotion.  Fertility is an emotional topic!  But, I had a real team of healthcare providers who guided me through a beautiful process of discovery about myself.

I am in my early 40’s and I am fertile, healthy and happily pregnant.

The journey obviously doesn’t stop there.  I am integrating holistic nutrition to feed myself and my growing baby.  I am living on a budget, and, still I put my nutrition as my top priority.  I don’t eat processed foods at all, I’ve limited sugar, and I’m enjoying fresh, whole, organic foods whenever possible.

Kiné introduced me to Carol Gray of MamaSpace Yoga in Portland.  “MamaSpace is all about making room for babies in pregnant bodies.  When babies have room to move they assume more ideal positions for birth.  This unique prenatal yoga style enhances and supports the bodywork developed for pregnant people by Carol Gray.  The concept of maternal mobility making space for babies receives little attention in our culture, but is vitally important to fetal development and birth outcomes.”

Each decision I have made has empowered me, cleared me, and helped me manifest my health, pregnancy, and delivery goals.  Balancing my hormones via acupuncture came at a fraction of the cost of facing fertility treatment.

There are so many myths about women’s health.  Pregnancy and birth are incredible miracles.  I believe in every day miracles.  I believe you hold the power to realize a healthy pregnancy at any stage or age of fertility.   Of course, specific diseases require  different considerations and approaches.  Still, I will always enlist in acupuncture to support conventional care and I will always recommend this for everyone.