If you're interested in trying acupuncture, you'll want to find a fertility acupuncturist. Given the popularity of acupuncture, finding an acupuncturist shouldn't be too difficult. However, finding an acupuncturist who's trained to work with infertility patients isn't always easy.
I asked Jill Blakeway, Clinic Director of The YinOva Center in New York City and author of the book Making Babies: A Proven Three Month Program for Maximum Fertility (Little Brown, 2009), for her suggestions on finding an acupuncturist for fertility, and here's what she had to say:
- Find Someone Licensed By the State
Most states require acupuncturists to carry a license, and at the very least, whoever you find should possess a license to practice acupuncture.
Seek Out Someone Trained in Both Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs
While use of Chinese herbs during fertility treatment is controversial, and a topic you must speak to your doctor about, Blakeway suggests that for infertility, you should seek out an acupuncturist who is also an herbalist.
"In some states, [such as California], all acupuncturists have to be trained herbalists, and in others [such as New York], licensed acupuncturists [do not have to be certified] herbalists," explains Blakeway. "So it's worth noting that not all acupuncturists are trained and certified herbalists."
Choose Someone With a Specialty in Obstetrics and Gynecology, or a General Practitioner With Many Years of Fertility Experience
Not every acupuncturist is trained or experienced in fertility issues. Blakeway suggests that you ask what their training in fertility treatment is. Especially since some acupuncture points are contraindicated after embryo transfer and during pregnancy, because of the risk of miscarriage, it's vital your acupuncturist knows what he or she is doing.
Ask About Duration of Training
According to Blakeway, it should be at least 3 to 4 years.
- Ask About Extent of Treating Infertility Patients
Just as important as finding out what their training is, you should feel comfortable asking them how many years they have treated infertility patients with acupuncture.
- Ask If They Use Disposable Needles
Disposable needles are essential for safe, clean treatment.
Ask the Cost of a Session
While prices vary depending on the treatment plan and on the experience level of the acupuncturist, an initial consultation is typically between $75 and $150, and subsequent treatments average around $50 to $75 per treatment session. This price also varies if herbal remedies are also being prescribed.
Ask About Necessary Follow-ups
Acupuncturists generally suggest that treatment for infertility include at least three months of once-a-week treatments prior to beginning conventional fertility treatments. Once pregnancy is achieved, once a week treatments until the end of the first trimester -- when the risk of miscarriage has gone down -- are suggested. Ask what you'll need for your particular situation.
If you can't afford or would rather not get treatment for so long, one-time treatment on the day of the embryo transfer may be beneficial. (Read more about the research on infertility and acupuncture here.)
Ask Your Fertility Clinic for Recommendations
More and more fertility clinics are working along with acupuncturists. You should definitely ask your doctor or clinic if they recommend someone in particular. There may also be a discount if the acupuncturist and fertility clinic work together.
Use the AcuFinder.com Database to Find Potential Acupuncturists
Besides just looking in the phone book or asking your doctor, you may want to try searching the database at http://www.acufinder.com/. You'll also find lots of information on acupuncture.
What You Need
- Willingness to take the time to interview people