How To Choose a Good Fertility Acupuncturist

With so many different practitioners out there how do you really know if your Acupuncturist knows what they are doing when it comes to fertility?

How to know if your Acupuncturist knows what they are doing regarding fertility:

  • They have no idea or no interest about fertility in general
  • Don’t fall for just seeing the one closest to you, and waste your time only to find out they aren’t a good choice.
  • Research before hand, and word of mouth is often helpful.
  • They should be interested in whereabouts you are on your cycle.
  • They should have a clear understanding of IUI/IVF/ISCI, such as what happens at different parts of the cycle or at least be interested to learn more about how.
  • Don’t seem to understand what happens in a normal menstrual cycle.
  • Cannot explain clearly what the Chinese Medicine diagnosis is, or the rationale behind the treatment plan especially if English is their first language.
  • Seem to be trying to treat so many things in one session such as using loads of needles.
  • Isn’t officially trained in acupuncture (or even calls it dry needling or needle therapy).
  • Note than most physios in NZ say they do acupuncture, as acupuncture is not a protected title here. Dry needling is not acupuncture and many practitioners can do a course of it in a weekend or two then start advertising that they offer acupuncture.
  • In Australian, the word acupuncture is protected but it’s other descriptions are not. There is no regulation or registration to date in New Zealand.

Acupuncture Qualifications and Credentials

The New Zealand Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Society has a list of Acupuncturists who undergo strict requirements to be a member. In Australia, you can look up your Acupuncturist in the AHPRA Register of Practitioners List. If someone is NOT a member of NZCMAS or NZRA nor any another relevant professional association, you should certainly raise an eyebrow. Be aware, the fact that someone is a member of one of these NZ ‘registers’ is NO guarantee of quality. Some long-time members of NZRA appear to have been “grandfathered” into the association early on and not subject to these requirements.

 

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What should I ask a prospective Acupuncturist before agreeing to work with them?

Whether or not a prospective Acupuncturist is on the above list, it’s always a good idea to ask them a few questions before you agree to work with them.

Where did you train?

What acupuncture or Chinese Medicine qualifications do you have?

Have you done any advanced training or courses since then?

Are you a member of the New Zealand Register of Acupuncturists or some other professional association?

The ‘gold standard’ would be a bachelor’s degree in acupuncture from a reputable school in New Zealand or Australia PLUS some further advanced training (master’s degree or other), preferably specifically in acupuncture and experience in fertility. Note that being “registered in New Zealand” simply means being a paid member of a professional association and is no guarantee of competence.
What is my Chinese Medicine diagnosis?

 

This is important, comprehension and communication are key in diagnosis and treatment in Chinese medicine. Hopefully, they will explain it to you in layman terms, how and what it is and their treatment approach.
How would my treatment differ before vs. after ovulation in my cycle? This is dependent, some acupuncturists will tonify yin in the follicular phase and tonify yang in the luteal. But this is considered as Chinese medicine being administered in a medical way where parts of the body are isolated. For example if a patient presents with a phlegm-damp pattern, tonifying the yin will make the condition worse. The underlying pattern always needs to be treated with focus and attention to the reproductive area.
How would my treatment differ during an IVF/IUI cycle vs. during a natural cycle? Personally I tend to stick to treating the main pattern and then will check with the patient any extra signs or symptoms they may be experiencing due to treatment.
What successes/opinions have you had with women/couples of a similar age and with a similar infertility medical diagnosis to mine/ours?  This gives the practitioner the opportunity to discuss and demonstrate their understanding of similar conditions they have supported.
What professional associations are you a member of? Which Chinese Medicine-related conferences and seminars do you regularly attend? How else do you keep up your skills? You want to make sure you are working with someone who understands Chinese Medicine as not just an ancient tradition that you get trained for once and that’s it, but as a growing discipline that creates new knowledge all the time. Ideally your Acupuncturist is open to learning new techniques, teaching and speaking.
How long will I need to have treatment for? Sometimes treating women for infertility is a short stint and they soon become pregnant. But for most women who seek my services, it is a longer road, perhaps because they do have serious infertility issues that need rectifying. Most women are very compliant and most men are not, and the truth is that it takes a good sperm and a good egg to make that beautiful healthy baby you are seeking. Standard pre-conception care for couples with no issues is 3 months, and realistically for those with issues 6 months plus. It is a long journey but all will say when it took them so long to have their child absolutely worth it.

Please note, some Acupuncturists may not specialise in fertility, however they are brilliant practitioners. They can read your pulse like a book and no exactly what your body needs. This is true acupuncture.

Ji ze zhi biao; han ze zhi ben.

Treat the cause and symptoms simulatneously.

Ultimately you need to have a good feeling about the practitioner you are seeing, that they care about you and think that they are able to help you achieve what you want.

At Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Murrays Bay, North Shore, Auckland, expect the best holistic health consultation, tailored treatment and advice with 8 years experience supporting natural fertility with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

Call Ilana on 020 4159 8393 or send her an email to info@ilanasowter.com for more information.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture, Murrays Bay, North Shore, Auckland, New Zealand 2018