Thursday, 24 February 2011

Prickly Subject

OH and I took a trip to meet a fertility acupuncturist for the first time this morning at the crack of dawn (7am?! who starts work at this time?). I've heard a lot of good things about acupuncture for infertility and in the spirit of trying something new we thought we'd give it a go in preparation for our second IVF/ICSI cycle.

I thought it would be fun to get OH (aka "Sun", husband of Moon ;-)) to give his perspective, so I'm allowing him to be a guest blogger on this post, ha ha! Here it is-

As a methodical and logical type I purposely decided to go into this with an open mind and listened carefully to everything Dr Energyflow said and answered his questions honestly - I felt he could see inside my mind so no point in lying here.
A lot of the stuff he covered we already knew about: keep the boys cool and ventilated; organic food; cut down the alcohol; exercise (but not too much); brush twice a day; respect your elders. He also repeated that childhood mumps could be the cause (something our GP and Consultant said could be a contributing factor).

After the general chit-chat I was moved to the table and had the blood pressure and pulse taken. BP was good - 120/70 I pride myself on that; pulse he didn't say, though he wasn't really counting, more manipulating the veins in my wrist. Scary stuff.

Then it was tongue inspection time, from 4 angles no less. My tongue is red on the sides and very slightly bobbled, this means:

  • I may worry/think too much.
  • My body may be heaty (not as in temperature). I have other symptoms of heaty-ness such as feeling hot.
  • Something to do with 'Liver'. Not your physical liver but your Qi/Chi liver and circulation of energy. I get a bit lost at this point.
More tongue diagnosis click here.

Next the weapons came out, 1 under my belly button, 2 in my shins, 1 in each foot, 1 on each side of my neck. I can honestly say that only the left foot hurt momentarily. I was not aware that there were needles in my neck until he took them out. The needles are extremely thin, the stat Dr Energyflow gave was that 20 of these can fit inside a hypodermic needle.

So that was it. Not sure I feel any different. Though the process was rather relaxing, but I wouldn't say any more so than paying £60 to lay on a bed. Sorry the skeptic is coming out again.

The final part was herbs ('erbs for Moon's American friends) and remedies (potions). There are a few common Chinese remedies for male fertility, some of which share common ingredients with the Wellman tablets I'm taking at the moment which contain lot of science. Given my last tests these seem to be working but I'm open to trying anything that can help. Doing some research today I've narrowed the list down to:

Maca - 2000-3000mg/day! (250mg in Wellman). Also known as Peruvian Viagra ladies - the Incas had their priorities right. Supposedly helps with energy, stamina and libido and is 'presumed' to increase sperm count and motility. Wellman tabs have 250mg of this gear.
Ginseng - 500mg/day has shown some effect if taken daily for 2/3 weeks - though there are only 30mg in a Wellman tab. Not to be taken for long periods of time though according to Google. Dr Energyflow said that Chinese or American ginseng was better as it's slow growing. Siberian (the one in Wellman) is less effective and can contribute to a warmer (not temperature) liver (not the thing that cleans your blood).
Pine Bark - Yummy. 25mg/day has shown effects. 30mg in Wellman so covered there.

Here's the interesting one:
"According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a study showed that the level of human sperm motility was significantly higher in groups taking the herbs than in control groups". This is a Japanese herbal remedy containing 10 magic beans:
Astragalus root 
Atractylodes lancea rhizome 
Bupleurum root 
Cimicifuga rhizome 
Citrus unshiu peel 
Ginger rhizome 
Ginseng root 
Glycyrrhiza root 
Japanese angelica root 
Jujube fruit 

Some of these we know about (Ginseng, Ginger) the rest are as yet a mystery. I'm assuming that some of these break down into the compounds and vitamins found in the Wellman tabs. More reading Wikipedia research required here.
Well I hope you enjoyed this first guest blog. Take care and let's catch up again soon :-)

What did you think of the guest blogger? :-)

For my part of the session, I just had the consultation as there was not enough time left for Dr Energyflow to stab me.  
Here are the things that stuck out for me:

1. I need to eat breakfast.

2. My tongue is pale at the sides, I could be slightly anaemic.
3. Eat pâté (?) and iron rich foods.
4. My immune system is active at the moment, I might be coming down with something.
5. We should consider delaying our next treatment cycle for 3 months (whaaaat?)

Err number 5 almost had me in tears . . . we are not delaying our treatment based on the possible chance some 'erbs will make a difference to OH's sperm, I can't wait another 3 months!
On the topic of 'erbs, there were a couple mentioned for me to think about. I'm not keen on the chinese 'erbs at this stage, but I looked them up anyway, the Ying Yang House website was very helpful-

Xiao Yao Wan - Free and Easy Wanderer Pills
Uses: Stress, Depression, Anxiety, PMS. 
Well known ancient Chinese herbal medicine for liver Qi stagnation. 
Caution: Do not use if pregnant.

Ba Zhen Wan Nu Ke Ba Zhen Wan - Women's Eight Treasure Tea Pills

Uses: Anemia, Heavy Menstruation, Painful Cramps, Dizziness, Weakness.
Nourishes vital qi (energy) and benefits the blood. It is used for spontaneous deficiency of both qi and blood marked by pale or sallow complexion, palpitation, shortness of breath, laziness to talk, weakness of limbs, dizziness, loss of appetite, pale tongue with thin and whitish fur, and feeble pulse.
Caution: This formula has a tendency to cause some indigestion problems in certain people, if you have indigestion avoid this formula.  Use with caution if you are pregnant.

cary they both have caution remarks if you are pregnant, I think I'll just stick to the plain old acupuncture for now and stay away from the 'erbs.


  1. I did my research on the subject of herbs (after getting some good advice) and decided to stop using them. I love the acupuncture itself, but the herbs are really iffy territory and where I am, not well regulated. You don't want to be taking something that could be harming your future baby.

  2. Thank you Moon & Sun for the interesting post! I'm starting acupuncture in a couple of weeks and so it was a good insight into what to expect. My OH isn't coming as we're just starting our cycle and my acupunturist says it takes longer to have an affect on sperm (plus OH is very scared of needles!!)

    I've just had OH buy some garlic tables at lunchtime as someone told me they help with the morphology of sperm - I think we could have you poor blokes taking all the supplements under the sun if you're not careful! I agree to be careful with the herbal stuff though.

    Love the guest post idea! Enjoy your weekends :-)

  3. Firstly, welcome to Mr Sun and congrats on your first blog post. An informative and entertaining read :)

    Secondly, Kudos to you both for taking the leap to try acupuncture. I dont really know how much it helps in the big scheme of TTC, but I have been doing it for over a year now and find it relaxing and a nice way to get a nap in on those days when things can get a bit crazy.

    I also agree with eggs and sperm. After a month of herbs, my body went crazy and I gave them up immediately. They arent recommended to be taken whilst doing IVF and can interfere with the meds you are on.

  4. Great post by your guest blogger! What a wonderful idea to have Mr. Sun share his perspective!

    My acupuncturist is from China and has been practicing for 20 years, but she won't give me herbs. She says it's too risky to combine with IVF. I guess sometimes Eastern and Western medicine don't mix!