Trying to conceive can be such a uniquely stressful time in life. You live your life in two-week increments. Two long weeks…. “Woohoo, I ovulated! Let’s go!” then two more long weeks…. “Is that a twinge? Nope. Period. Dang it. ” Repeat and repeat and repeat.
Some months you want to throw in the towel, some months you feel like this will be THE ONE.
Along with the roller coaster, you are also struggling to make sense of so many conflicting emotions at the same time – you see a baby bump and you feel happiness for your friend, anger that it looks so easy, guilty that you don’t want to go their baby shower, and sadness that you haven’t conceived.
What’s worse is that no one, not one single person – friend, partner, fertility specialist, acupuncturist – no one can promise you that this month will be it.
When you read these first paragraphs it can seem so disheartening, like… why am I pointing out all the rough stuff – aren’t I supposed to be a fountain of positivity? Fertility struggles are real, and I want to be real with my patients, to give them a safe space where they can vent all their frustrations.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get support for stress during this time. For people who don’t understand or have never gone through it themselves, this analogy might make it more clear… women and men going through infertility can have stress levels as high as a person diagnosed with cancer. It’s a very real, mentally & physically draining, and stressful diagnosis.
But there is something really awesome about the women that I work with…
Resilience – many will say they aren’t resilient, that they can’t handle it anymore, but then after a little acupuncture, a good cry, and some sleep, they pick their hopes back up and carry them a little farther.
Body awareness – women trying to conceive learn so much more about their body’s signals than most anyone else I know – it may not seem amazing to you, but it is to me because so many people go through life completely out of touch with the messages from their body.
Capacity for love – there is a certain kind of love that is already present for this child even before conception. I don’t know what to call it but I feel like it needs its own special name. The readiness to give your heart over to this child. It’s a beautiful thing.
Treatment Focus for Women
While the nuances of treatment vary, my treatments focus on three things no matter whether you are coming in for a boost or looking for additional support while going through ART:
Making sure your cycles are within the range of normal
…because this is your foundation of fertility.
Checking in on any other symptoms
…because the health of your whole body matters.
Helping you cope with stress and any stuck emotions*
…because they create physical responses in the body.
*Note that emotions aren’t “bad.” Feeling a wave of anger until you punch a pillow. Feeling frustrated until you go for a walk and move your body. Feeling sadness until you cry it out. All normal. What I am looking for is if any of these get stuck, meaning that it’s hard to move past them or you bottle them down and they keep sneaking up on you.
While there are no hard and fast rules of treatment, I typically recommend for women to start with a base of 3 months of weekly acupuncture because of how the different parts of the cycle work.
If you have a period, then you know all about the month – flow, then not much that you’re aware of, then ovulation, then not much again until you feel a little cranky or crampy. But what many people don’t know is that the egg you are ovulating this month started its active journey 3 months ago (and if you want to get completely technical, the very first stages were actually about 12 months ago).
So in every treatment, we are focusing both on where you are right now in the month but also the overall health of your body to prepare for coming months just in case you’re not pregnant this month. Make sense?
Now before you think I’m neglecting the male partner in all of this… watch for the next post where we’ll talk about the guys.
A lot of couples want to meet with me for a free 15-minute Q&A consult first. Usually they are grappling with a bunch of health and financial decisions and have questions about treatment. If you are wondering how acupuncture might help, please call to set up your Q&A consult at 815-942-2580 or submit a request here.