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Top Six Fertility Questions, with Jeannie Bianchi, LAc, FABORM

For over 15 years, Jeannie has helped couples to obtain and maintain healthy pregnancies—naturally or alongside assisted technologies like IVF—as well as post-partum mothers, perimenopausal women, and those with other conditions. Jeannie has been “at home” with women’s reproductive health from a very early age, ever since she attended the home births of her siblings—a 9.9-pound sister and an 11.6-pound (!) brother.

From the beginning of her graduate studies, Jeannie pursued expertise in integrative reproductive health and gynecology, including studies with the renowned midwife and acupuncturist Raven Lang, as well as lectures and rotations in the gynecology department at an an integrative acupuncture-herbal-conventional medicine university hospital in Chengdu, China. She is a Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (FABORM), and member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM); she participates in professional conferences and follows current reproductive health research.
Jeannie is dedicated to the women and couples she sees and the lives they are nurturing.

We asked Jeannie to answer the top six fertility questions that patients ask her, and this is what she shared:

1. Can problems with my menstrual cycle prevent me from getting pregnant?

Yes, although we can also say that making improvements in menstruation can improve the chances of getting pregnant. In fact we view the menstrual cycle as a barometer of a woman’s health—something that can improve whether or not she is trying to get pregnant.

Patterns during any phase of a woman’s cycle can give valuable clues to how her reproductive system is functioning. For example, headaches that occur on the day the period starts vs. later in the cycle can indicate different issues. We create a treatment plan based on the particular symptoms of your cycle.

2. How many acupuncture visits will I need?

For fertility and women’s health issues, we usually measure treatments by cycle, aiming to make progress toward any menstrual symptoms (cramps, heavy/light flow etc.). Many women’s health conditions require about 3 cycles to make meaningful progress. For women not cycling regularly we set goals in other ways, tracking symptoms in other major area of imbalance, i.e. insomnia or poor digestion.

3. Are supplements and herbs incorporated with the acupuncture treatments?

Absolutely! Herbal medicine is one of our most valuable tools. Many female health conditions respond beautifully to herbs. When applied with skill herbs can fundamentally shift complicated conditions like PCOS and endometriosis. This study shows the powerful effect of herbs against the recurrence of endometriosis, as effective as the drugs typically given in conventional care. Supplements can also provide just the right medicine, again when the right ones are chosen for your body.

4. How does acupuncture work with fertility?

Women’s cycles are governed by a complicated orchestration of hormones. When we give acupuncture, it has the unique ability to promote the regulation of our hormones (endocrine system) and our nervous system (including the ability to relax). By repeating this stimulation, acupuncture helps the body’s systems to orchestrate the process of fertilization. Acupuncture can also be used to induce deep relaxation, and to reduce the effects of stress. For comprehensive reviews of studies related to acupuncture and Chinese medicine and fertility, click here.

5. Are there medicines that are bad for fertility?

Yes, and more than you might think, unfortunately. Studies have shown that many common over-the-counter medicines can hurt fertility. For example, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) pain relievers (ibuprofen, etc.) can interfere with ovulation. In one study, 39 women who took a basic dose of NSAIDS for 10 days in a row saw a marked decrease in ovulation frequency. Allergy medications and antihistamines can also interfere with the cervical fluids that promote conception. As fertility experts we can guide you around these common pitfalls and help you be in the best health possible to conceive.

6. We have been trying 6 months and I cannot get pregnant. Should I seek medical attention?

While it is not too soon to ask these questions, we will also reassure you that your body is probably working just fine! Each human menstrual cycle has only about a 20% conception rate for partners without fertility problems, so this could be a reflection of natural odds, or a reason to look deeper. A detailed intake will provide insights and allow us to formulate an action plan.  Basic labs can provide valuable information for such a case; often, we would suggest and OB/GYN or fertility physician to collaborate with: This is where integrative medicine shines, working together to achieve the most for the patient.

To make an appointment or learn more, call 415-445-9388 or send us a message.