Kristi Stoddard L.Ac.
How does acupuncture impact fertility?
Research has shown that acupuncture affects the central nervous system by the release of opiods and other peptides. As a result, the sympathetic nervous system is inhibited, improving blood flow to the uterus and reducing anxiety and stress. This effect can be measured by desirable changes in blood pressure, skin temperature, norepinephrine levels, and pain tolerance threshold.

Research has also shown that acupuncture has a neuroendocrine effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, which is of vital importance in governing the menstrual cycle and fertility. Acupuncture impacts the release of beta endorphins, which affects the secretion of Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) by the hypothalamus, and in turn stimulates the synthesis of luteinizing and follicle stimulating hormone (LH & FSH) by the pituitary. The ability of acupuncture to modulate the release of these hormones helps explain how it can influence ovarian function and the menstrual cycle, thereby improving fertility.

Researchers from Weill-Cornell Medical Center found that acupuncture can:

  •   Reduce stress hormones that may prevent ovulation
•   Normalize the hormones that regulate ovulation so that an egg is released
•   Increase blood flow to the uterus, thickening the endometrium and improving chances that a fertilized egg will implant
•   Improve ovulation cycles in women with polycystic ovary syndrome
•   Improve pregnancy rates in women undergoing in vitro fertilization

Some conditions that Chinese medicine can help address:

  •   Amenorrhea
•   Anovulation
•   Thin endometrium (uterine lining)
•   Hormonal imbalances of LH, TSH, progesterone, estradiol, and elevated FSH
•   Partially blocked tubes
•   Ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids
•   Male factor infertility
•   Advanced maternal age
•   Endometriosis
•   Polycystic ovarian syndrome
•   Poor egg quality
•   Recurrent miscarriage
•   ART support (IUI, IVF, Clomid, etc.)
  

Treatment Protocol
Folliculogenesis encompasses primordial follicle recruitment, formation of a large antral follicle, and then egg ovulation. This process takes several months. Providing optimal hormone levels and nourishment for that follicle throughout its growth is desirable. Hence, a commitment of at least three months to treatment is prudent. The effects of treatment can sometimes be seen in fewer than three months in improved hormone levels, endometrial thickness, and more regular and comfortable menstrual cycles with sufficient follicular and luteal phases. Ideally, a patient receives weekly acupuncture treatment. If weekly treatment isn't possible, then Kristi with work with the patient to optimally time the scheduling of possible treatments.

 

Chinese Herbs
Almost always, a Chinese herbal formula is recommended, either custom-made in a granule powder that makes a tea, or in the form of a pill. The herbs in this formula will likely vary between the follicular and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. For those undergoing in vitro fertility treatment, there will be specific times of usage and non-usage, or herbs may not be used at all. As with acupuncture, the intended effect of a particular formula will vary depending on a woman’s particular diagnosis. Chinese herbs can have the following effects:
 
• Lower FSH
• Increase cervical mucus
• Increase hemoglobin production
• Stimulate estrogen production
• Inhibit fibroids and endometriosis
• Stimulate production of progesterone, thyroid hormones, and testosterone
• Lower elevated prolactin levels
• Reduce inflammatory processes
• Increase sperm count, motility, and morphology; liquefy seminal fluid

 

Is Chinese medicine right for me?
Women at all phases in the process of trying to conceive come in for treatment. Some are planning on trying to conceive soon, while others have been trying for a number of years. Some come in already well down the path of assisted reproductive technology, preparing for upcoming IUI, IVF, or embryo transfer procedures. Some are on Clomid or other ovulation-enhancing medications, while others prefer to keep trying without pharmaceutical drugs or medical intervention. Some have luteal phase defect, abnormal hormonal levels, ovarian cysts, are not ovulating, or have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility. Others simply want to optimize their chances of conception. Kristi's intention is to support the patient wherever she is on her path, and with whatever decisions she makes, utilizing acupuncture; Chinese herbs (if desired); counsel on nutrition, lifestyle, and nutritional supplements; and referrals to other practitioners, if thought to be helpful. If it takes a village to raise a child, it can also take a village to bring one into the world.

 

Can I really hope to get pregnant?
The majority of Kristi's patients do get pregnant. The length of time it takes, and the means employed vary tremendously. Some patients have conceived in less than three months, for others it has taken more than a year. During the time of treatment, some patients begin IUI or IVF, utilizing acupuncture and Chinese herbs in conjunction with those procedures. Kristi understands the language and processes of Western fertility treatment, and knows how to complement and support Western interventions. As with Western fertility treatments, there is no guarantee of success with Chinese medicine. Kristi tries to balance realistic pragmatism with hope, and understands that her role in the process is just one of many.

 

Male Factor Infertility
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been found to be helpful in treating male factor infertility. Studies have found that sperm motility, morphology, viability, and count can all be improved with Chinese medicine. Since it takes about three months for sperm to mature, it is recommended to receive treatment for at least that long.

 

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FERTILITY TESTIMONIALS
 

"After enduring three years of expensive fertility treatments, resulting in failure, including a few miscarriages, I am now the mother of adorable, boy-girl twins. I thank Kristi Stoddard for this. I was told by the fertility clinic that they had over a 90% success rate with my particular situation: IVF with donor eggs after successful natural pregnancies. While going through that process, I was also receiving acupuncture and Chinese herb treatment from another fertility acupuncturist, well known in the Seattle area. But nothing was working, so I decided to go to Kristi. She has a solid base of knowledge, due to her extensive training, and kept trying to look beyond the obvious. She didn’t just continue with a “cookie cutter” approach that wasn’t working. One cycle later, both embryos implanted, resulting in a successful twin pregnancy. We could not be happier. I wish I’d gone to her sooner and I recommend her to everyone I know struggling with similar issues. She is smart, skilled and personable – not just fantastic at her job, but a good, kind person. Kristi is just what you need when dealing with an emotional medical issue. There is no way to possibly thank her enough." -Lisa
 

"After 6 months of trying to conceive with no luck, I decided to have some fertility testing done. I found out my FSH level was almost 16. At 35 years old, it seemed my chances of getting pregnant were extremely low. I started researching my options and came across Kristi's website. During my first visit, Kristi and I spent over an hour talking about my history and my expectations. I never felt so 'listened to' by a medical professional before. I felt very comfortable in her care, and confident that if I was able to conceive, Kristi's treatments would help make it happen. After just a few sessions, I knew we would be successful, as I was also charting my cycles and could 'see' my cycle regulate. Sure enough, after less than two months of treatments with acupuncture and Chinese herbs I found out I was pregnant! I now have a healthy and beautiful 3 month old son!" - Melissa M.
 

"I came to Kristi feeling discouraged and hopeless after failing to sustain early pregnancies. At the time I believed I just needed to maintain a pregnancy, but what I also needed was a self-care routine for myself. Kristi provided a safe and nurturing environment coupled with skillful clinical care. She normalized my anxiety and maintained a hopeful stance. Again, I became pregnant but this time the outcome was different. Throughout my pregnancy, Kristi masterfully partnered with me to provide excellent care. I looked forward to our visits which also served as reassuring focal points throughout my 41 weeks of pregnancy. At approximately 37 weeks, Kristi's treatment enabled my breech baby to move into the correct position. This transition allowed me to have a successful vaginal delivery with no medical intervention. Today, our son charms and delights. We are so grateful for Kristi's dedication and compassion." " - Abigail.
 

"Prior to finding Kristi, I had been seeing an acupuncturist downtown for over a year, initially to aid in the healing of an abdominal myomectomy and later to enhance my fertility. I was 38 years old and my husband and I had started trying to conceive. While I hadn't been diagnosed with fertility problems, the myomectomy was cause for alarm in my mind. When we moved up to north Seattle, I did a search online for an acupuncturist closer to our home. I found Kristi's website and after reading her biography, felt she was a good fit for me. I was right. Kristi was so thoughtful and calming and brought a wonderful knowledge and depth to each session. I learned so much from her and found myself really looking forward to my treatments. After just two months of working with Kristi, I became pregnant. I continued treatments with her throughout my pregnancy right up until our baby was born. I am happy to say that we had a healthy baby boy just two days after his due date with no delivery complications. I attribute the success of our conception and timely birth to Kristi. She's a wonderful acupuncturist and I am so grateful to have found her." - N.E.
 

" I saw Kristi for about 9 months on my journey to get pregnant for the second time. I figured acupuncture could enhance my fertility treatment (IUI) that I was undergoing at a local clinic. I was a little apprehensive at first as I had never had never participated in any Chinese medicine. Kristi has a wonderful bedside manner and is extremely down to earth. She is very current on the recent developments in infertility. She immediately put me at ease. I am 21 weeks pregnant and I believe the acupuncture and herbal therapy I received from Kristi, made a difference. I have continued to see Kristi during my pregnancy as I continue to see the health benefits. I always feel better after I receive treatments, plus Kristi's office is new and very calm and relaxing. She is as good as it gets! " - Michelle
 

" At 39, my partner and I had been trying to conceive for a year and a half and were tired and discouraged. I had been taking Clomid and timing artificial inseminations (IUI) with my gynecologist for many months, but had not yet had any success. My body had always behaved well before - I am healthy, take good care of myself, and had been generally worry free - and did not want to go to the next level of "interventions" that a fertility specialist might recommend. When a friend told me that she had had some success with acupuncture, I called Kristi. I found her to be smart, professional, straightforward, accommodating and warm. Eager to try something that would give me a sense that I was improving my chances of conception, but wary that I would have to choose between Eastern and Western medicines, Kristi assured me that acupuncture and Chinese herbs could be used to support my other fertility treatments. She listened thoughtfully, answered my questions carefully and provided additional research when I requested it. Kristi's thoroughness inspired confidence and our sessions were brief periods of calm and hope in an otherwise challenging time. Happily, after 5 months of our work together, I am now pregnant and looking forward to the next chapter in my life." - J.R.
 

"When I started working with Kristi, I had been told my my doctor and a fertility expert that I had a very low chance of being able to conceive using my own eggs. I was in my late 30s and my hormonal profile indicated that I was heading straight into early menopause. My period was irregular and I had a short luteal phase. My husband and I had read about the great advantages of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, especially in combination with stress-relieving activities (e.g., meditation, yoga) and wanted to give it a try. Despite my depressing diagnosis, Kristi took me on as a patient. She was very realistic about it, but managed to still give me some hope. Over the course of four months, working with Kristi on a regular basis, I watched my period and ovulation become more regular and predictable and my luteal phase getting longer. At the end of those four months, I got pregnant! Even more fantastic was that the pregnancy proceeded without any troubles, as I continued to work with Kristi. Our healthy and beautiful son was born without any complications a day after his due date. I cannot thank Kristi enough for her help with bringing me back to reproductive health, and for helping me through the pregnancy. She is a fantastic acupuncturist, and a great listener too. I highly recommend her!" - Caroline
 

READ MORE FERTILITY TESTIMONIALS