FAQs for Fertility
Jerusha DeGroote Stephens, LAc
Natural Fertility & IVF Support
Jerusha D. Stephens, LAc, FABORM is the first licensed acupuncturist in Mississippi dedicated to treating infertility and men's and women's reproductive health. Jerusha has provided many couples with natural ways to increase fertility and ultimately achieve their dream of conceiving and having a healthy baby. For those requiring Assisted Reproductive Therapy, she works closely with a number of local OBGYNs and reproductive specialists to provide support for fertility treatments.
Chinese medicine and acupuncture offer you natural ways to increase fertility during the critical three to six months before conception. Our preconception program uses a blend of diet therapy, lifestyle counseling, mind-body techniques, herbal formulas and acupuncture to balance your hormones, improve your fertility, and boost your overall health and well being. Our preconception program is an option for women who simply want to boost their fertility naturally, for women that have been unsuccessful with IVF and want to try a natural alternative, or for women who want to ensure their body is in the best condition to conceive before trying IVF again. If you are trying to conceive naturally, or with medication or IUI, our recommendation is to have three treatments a month, two before ovulation, and one after. This helps focus the body’s attention and circulation on the reproductive organs, nourish follicular development, reduce stress and regulate the menstrual cycle. All patients have individual needs, but timing your treatments between cycle days 3-7, and again the next week, cycle days 9-14 are good target dates. The expectation for spontaneous pregnancy to occur during the preconception program for natural fertility is within three to six months. If you are not pregnant in that time frame, your body will be at an optimal place for more aggressive medical treatment, like IVF. In all cases, Jerusha focuses on treating the whole patient. As a result you will not only experience an improvement in your specific condition but better overall health and sense of wellbeing.
IVF Support – When to Use Chinese Medicine with IVF
For best results, acupuncture should be used before and during IVF. Jerusha recommends 6-8 weeks of weekly treatments in advance of your egg retrieval to maximize the benefits of acupuncture for use in conjunction with IVF. She also likes to monitor your progress during the stimulation phase of your IVF. Ideally, she aims to see you just before your egg retrieval and just before your embryo transfer. Forty-eight hours prior to those procedures is ideal, if possible. Continuing acupuncture after your embryo transfer is optional. Acupuncture is safe during pregnancy in the hands of a highly-skilled acupuncturist, and can be used on an as-needed basis. If you have a history of Repeated Pregnancy Loss, Jerusha recommends continued treatment through the first trimester. For Frozen Embryo Transfers, Jerusha recommends four weekly treatments, with the last treatment at least forty-eight hours prior to your scheduled transfer, if possible.
How Does Chinese Medicine help Improve IVF Success?
- It may increase blood flow to the uterus and increase the thickness of the uterine lining.
- It may help improve circulation to the ovaries, nourishing the follicles as they mature.
- It may aid in preventing uterine contractions during embryo transfer.
- It relaxes the patient and helps reduce stress.
- It diminishes the side-effects of the IVF medications.
- It can improve male sperm factors.
Acupuncture involves inserting very fine, sterilized, single-use needles into specific points on the body that have been empirically proven in treating different disorders. It is not at all like getting a shot because acupuncture needles are not hollow and do not withdraw or inject any substances. The sensation one may feel with acupuncture ranges from nothing at all to a slight achiness, warmth or tingling in the area. Very often, one will fall asleep while the needles are working, providing total relaxation of body and mind. You can continue your usual daily activities after your treatment, such as work or exercise. There are very few side-effects from acupuncture, the most common being bruising at the site of needle insertion.
What to Expect
While receiving your acupuncture treatment, you will be lying down comfortably in a pleasant environment. Most people find acupuncture to be relaxing and may even fall asleep. Depending on your treatment plan, points will be selected on your arms, legs, head, ears, back or abdomen. You will be treated with respect and sensitivity.
To help achieve maximum benefit from your treatment, we suggest that you:
- Wear loose clothing
- Make sure and eat before your treatment, and avoid caffeine for three hours prior
- Relax and breathe
- Ask questions
- Refrain from strenuous activity
- Drink plenty of water and nourish yourself with fresh food