Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Demystifying Acupuncture

I got electrostimulated for the first time at The Poke Clinic this afternoon (apparently, it's supposed to make the Clomid "work better") and was going to blog the experience. But I thought maybe I should write a more introductory post for anyone who hasn't tried it yet just to demystify it a little. I mean, so many of us IF bloggers write frankly about IUI, injectibles, IVF, etc, but I don't see a lot of stuff about moxibustion, cupping, electrostim, or even just plain ol' acupuncture.

My ethnic background is Asian, so you might think that I'd have grown up with getting needles stuck in me since I was kid, but nothing could be further from the truth. I grew up going to a regular ol' pediatrician at Kaiser, an HMO, and my only exposure to acupuncture was through kung fu movies.

I initially had visions of a old-bearded Chinese man with spectacles and a silk robe working out of a back room of an herb shop, but my acupuncturists are all pretty young, they're all white, and they work out of a regular medical office building. There is modern asian decor theme going on, and I'm pretty sure the place was feng-shui'd. Their office also smells faintly of herbs, which might be off-putting to some, but the smell has grown on me.

Now obviously my experiences may be radically different from someone else's, but here's the general gist of it:
  • My appointments start with my acupuncturist viewing my BBT chart and getting a general rundown of my health that week - quality of sleep, changes in digestion, energy level, etc.
  • The needles do poke, but they're not particularly painful, and you get acclimated to the sensation pretty quickly.
  • The most noteworthy sensation is when the acupuncturist turns the needle slightly - it can sometimes cause a tingly sensation, and it feels a little bit like your nerves are being tuned. I've noticed that I'm more sensitive to this in my luteal phase, and they acknowledge that the sensitivity comes from having more progesterone in the body.
  • Although a lot of acupuncture images (like the one above) show lots of needles being used, that's never been the case with me. Maybe around 6-10 needles in key points in each session. The usual areas of needling are my feet, my ankles, my calves, the side of my hand, tops of my ears, top of my head, and sometimes my lower abdomen.
  • My favorite point is the one right in the middle of the forehead, where a bindi would go. One of my acupuncturists calls this the "happy point." It never fails to relax me, and I will often fall asleep during a session if I get "happy-pointed."
  • It is possible to insert acupuncture needles through clothing because the points are so sharp, but thick denim can be a problem. I usually go in yoga clothes so that they can easily roll up/down sleeves, pant legs, waistbands, or insert them straight through the clothing if need be.
  • Once the needles are in, my acupuncturist will usually darken the room and leave me to "cook" for 20 - 30 minutes. I'm pretty used to just zoning out or taking a light nap when they go, though it's occurred to me to load up an iPod with some inspirational thoughts or affirmations and meditate to that.
  • My acupuncturists do give me herb tinctures (herb mixes distilled in alcohol) to take a few times a day. (Mr. Stick calls them my "Liza Minnelli" moments the alcohol smells pretty strong.) I take different herb mixes depending on my cycle - whether I'm menstruating, in my follicular phase, or my luteal phase.
  • I do acupuncture once a week, though when I started a few months ago, they asked me to come in twice a week to "get things moving" more quickly.
But does it work?

Well, it hasn't given me a BFP yet, and that to me is the biggest litmus test. And it hasn't moved my O date (I'm a "late ovulator") like I had expected it to, though I can say that it has definitely "smoothed" out my BBT charts. My temps don't jump around as much (though that has changed with Clomid), and the temp shift in my luteal phase is very clear and strong.

I can unequivocally say that acupuncture has done wonders for my allergies. I've had the easiest cedar season in ten years since doing acupuncture. I haven't had to take Claritin, and my neti pot is actually starting to collect dust. So I know it hasn't been a waste of money and has improved the quality of my life in a measurable way.

So tomorrow - on to the electrostimming account!


  1. How much does each session cost? I don't even know if there is any place close to me that offers it, I would probably have to drive to Dallas but it sounds like it would be worth it!

  2. Hi Samantha,

    Sessions cost between $65 - $80, depending on whether you prepay for package of sessions in advance. There are some insurance company policies that do reimburse for acupuncture, and my paperwork lists a "gynecological" diagnosis as opposed to one that states "infertility" explicitly.

    Since you're in Dallas, I'm going to ahead and out The Poke Clinic. They're the Texas Center for Reproductive Acupuncture (http://texasfertilityacupuncture.com/), and they have offices in both Fort Worth and Dallas.

  3. thank you so much for the website! Plano isn't far at all!

  4. Very interesting! I've been meaning to give it a shot. No pun intended :) Thanks for sharing!

  5. Very interesting indeed... I hadn't ever thought of everything that goes into a session - plus, even if it doesn't give you a BFP, the relief in allergies has to be worth something!


  6. I loce acupunture. This winter my acupuncturist has gotten me through sinus congestion, back spasms and numbness post-surgery in addition to what he regularly does for me. I also had cupping when I had the session for the back spasms - it was better than a deep tissue massage!


  7. Thanks! I was wondering. This was a super useful posting.

    I have a friend who somehow became a total alcoholic... like we all used to party, but most of us mellowed out over the years, while she just got more and more into it, eventually getting to the point where she drank all day every day. She tried and tried, but could NOT quit on her own (severe alcoholism runs in her family, so this was definitely an 'illness' type of situation). Anyways, she finally did quit after starting acupuncture! She said that the acupuncture totally removed the cravings! So I am a firm believer that it WORKS, for a variety of problems. Just haven't done it myself yet... I'll ask you more details if I do decide to :)

  8. I've certainly wondered about acupuncture... It seems like all the IVFers do it, just in case, and I've kinda thought if I get that far, I might. Tell me that it can cure laziness, though, and I'll get started right away!

  9. Inserting Post. Thanks for sharing .Acupuncture works effectively with very less cost and side effects.

    Chinese Medicine

    Pregnancy Acupuncture

  10. Great post,try this Acupuncture in Dallas as a vibrantlife which effectively works.

  11. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work. acupuncture near me