• The Other Half: Male Factor Infertility

    By Christine Davis LAc, MSOM

    At Pulling Down the Moon, we primarily treat women’s fertility concerns. Sure, we can treat just about everything: allergies, digestive problems, pain, stress … you name it. Mostly, though, we see women who want to get pregnant and have a baby. We help reduce the impact of stress on her life, we work on regulating her cycle or combating the side effects of IVF meds, and even women who are trying to conceive still have headaches and back pain and allergies. We help her body be in it’s very best condition to be able to grow new life in her belly. But there’s one thing we don’t see very often, a critical missing element, an equally important part of the equation to creating that new life: Men!

    Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is a 5,000 year old tradition. Embedded within this long history is a strong theory and framework for treatment of fertility concerns. We are fantastic at helping to resolve known fertility concerns for both men and women. So, why are only women coming in to see us? This problem goes deep and it’s one that may continue to grow based on recent assessment of global infertility rates. A recent study of sperm analysis from 1973-2011 showed 50-60% decline in male fertility rates suggesting that by 2060, most men in the US and Europe could be infertile. And here’s the scariest part: scientists don’t know why (or at least they can’t agree on it).

    Much has been written about why there is such a dearth of information and focus on male infertility. Many men see even the suggestion that there may be something “wrong” with their side of the court as an attack on their manhood. They see it as an insinuation that they are somehow less virile, less capable, less manly. Just think of the language we use to describe a man who we consider manly: “He’s got big balls!” “Balls of Steel” or unmanly: “Don’t be a girl.” This isn’t just a generational thing. Historically, much of the research and treatment of infertility has focused squarely on the female.

    So, what can we do? Let’s start talking about it! Ladies, bring research to your partners/husbands. Get evaluated by a Urologist who focuses on fertility or a Reproductive Endocrinologist. If there are identifiable issues, consider an appropriate course of action. If you are in the “unexplained” camp, there are other things you can do to support male fertility including taking CoQ10, a multi vitamin, and possibly additional selenium (ask your doctor first before beginning a new supplement). Come experience Fertility Enhancing Massage at Pulling Down the Moon.

    Acupuncture has been shown to be more effective than Western medicine in improving sperm quality and quantity. Regular acupuncture treatment (once per week, generally), helps to reduce stress, eliminate pain throughout the body, and achieve wellness by balancing the body. It has been my experience that couples who both receive regular acupuncture see so much benefit and often achieve pregnancy sooner. The needles are teeny tiny and are placed mainly on the arms and legs, never in sensitive areas (none near the genitalia). The first visit takes about an hour or so because we go through a very thorough consultation of medical history and questions about symptoms. Follow ups can be performed in 45 min or less.

    We have to open this conversation up if we are going to find a way to resolve it. Women are currently doing so much to become pregnant – thousands of shots, thousands of doctor visits, emotional stress, fielding the comments about why you’re not pregnant yet. Men, please get involved (if you are not already!). Talk with each other about your goals, fears, desires, and plans about growing your family. Seek the help if you need it. We must keep the doors open to conversation to finding solutions to this growing problem.

    Learn more about Acupuncture and schedule your consultation today!

  • Is it Hot in Here?!

    By Dr Helena Para LAc, DACM, MSTOM

    With the quickly approaching summer, and Chicago’s humid tendencies already underway, some people may be getting concerned about staying cool. One such population would be women with a tendency towards hot flashes. While we most often associate hot flashes with menopause and ladies over 45, there are other reasons for this bothersome temperature dysregulation. Pregnancy, menstruation, premature menopause and anxiety can all be causes of hot flashes, and some individuals are just heat intolerant overall. Interestingly, Traditional Chinese Medicine pays particular attention to your body’s internal and external temperature, and you may find that your acupuncturist often asks about temperature even when you don’t have any complaints associated with it.

    The best way to balance temperature and clear heat is the integration of acupuncture into your health care routine. Your acupuncturist can determine the root cause of the fluctuations you are experiencing and bring your body back into balance. If you want to carry on the heat clearing outside of the treatment room- you can also eat foods that are “cooling” in nature.

    Alfalfa sprouts Apple

    Artichoke Apricot

    Asparagus Avocado

    Bamboo Shoots Banana

    Beets Blueberry

    Bok Choy Cantaloupe

    Broccoli Cranberry

    Cabbage Fig

    Carrots Grapefruit

    Cauliflower Lemon

    Cilantro Lime

    Collards Orange

    Cucumber Peach

    Daikon Pear

    Dandelion Persimmon

    Mushroom Strawberry

    Potato Tomato

    Seaweed Watermelon

    Snow Pea Barley

    Spinach Kamut

    Squash Millet

    Watercress Rice

    Try a Nutrition Consultation in June AND a follow-up session for only $99!  It is great for general health, your fertility treatment plan, during pregnancy, and postpartum. Learn more here.

    Don’t miss the opportunity to meet Helena in Sept for our FREE Points to Ponder:  Acupuncture, Community, and Stress Reduction session in Chicago! Have more questions about how acupuncture can help you or want to schedule an initial consultation?  Call us today at: 312-321-0004.

  • Better Egg Quality and Follicular Development: Acupuncture Can Help

    by Dr. Amie Shimmel

    In honor of National Infertility Awareness month we at Pulling Down the Moon like to remind patients how acupuncture can help with better eggs and follicles.

    Here’s how it works:

    Medical research shows that acupuncture can influence hormone secretion from the pituitary hypothalamus and ovaries, collectively called the (HPO) axis. One of the most recent studies was conducted at Georgetown University Medical Center, July 2015; they found that acupuncture balances this HPO axis.

    When an acupuncture needle is inserted into a specific acupuncture point this triggers the release of prostaglandins and opioid peptides into the bloodstream which lead to the production of a substance that transmits messages to the hypothalamus and pituitary and then transmits to the ovaries.

    The acupuncture normalizes the secretion of the hormones such as (GrRH), (FSH), and (LH). This improves ovarian function creating more follicles and better egg quality.

    The (HPO) Hypothalamus pituitary ovarian axis can be disrupted by stress, poor diet, age, etc. However this (HPO) axis can be positively influenced by many things, especially acupuncture.

    The bottom line; women’s follicles and egg development can be enhanced by the balance of the endocrine system. Acupuncture balances the endocrine system.

    We, at PDtM, recommend weekly acupuncture sessions to get the hormones in better balance and to help get the body as relaxed as possible. Acupuncture is accumulative therefore regular sessions can help shift the body in the direction the patient is looking for.

  • Feng Shui for Loving Relationships

    With Valentine’s Day coming up, we are surrounded by hearts, lace, and thoughts of love and romance. However, when you are in a long-term relationship, and especially when you have struggled with fertility, you may feel that the Loving Feeling may need a little of Cupid’s help!

    Feng Shui, or Chinese Geomancy, is a traditional form of correcting the flow of energy with proper placement of furniture, decor, and structure in your home, office, or other living space to create balance, health, and harmony. Many techniques focus on health and wealth, but creating and maintaining loving relationships are also a big part of the picture! Here are a few tips to creating a home environment that is conducive to bring love into … or back into … your life.

    First, find your Love Corner! According to Feng Shui principles, different areas of your body correspond to different aspects of your life. This is known as the Ba Gua (8 Principles). The Love Corner of your home is in the far right.

    Wealth and Prosperity

    Colors: Purples, Blues, Reds

    Fame and Reputation

    Colors: Reds, Oranges

    Fire Element

    Love and Relationships

    Colors:

    Pinks, Reds, Whites

    Family and Physical Health

    Colors: Greens, Florals, Stripes

    Wood Element

    Spiritual Health and Well Being

    Yellows, Earth Tones

    Earth Element

    Children and Creativity

    Colors: Whites, Pastels

    Metal Element

    Knowledge and Wisdom

    Colors: Blues, Greens

    Career

    Color: Black

    Water Element

    Travel and Helpful People

    Colors: Greys, Silver

    Go to the main entrance of your home. Even if you enter through a side door or garage frequently, you should still go to the main entrance of the home. Point your hand to the far right corner of the house. That is your Love Corner!

    Next, remove objects, colors, and other elements which would harm the flow of energy to this area:

    • Any representations of things that are alone. Images/statues of a lone figure, etc

    • Anything that reminds you of an old relationship, lost love, or other relationships that make you feel hurt or would rather not think about

    • Anything in 3’s

    • Sharp objects, prickly cactuses, unwelcoming or unsafe objects

    • Piles of stuff, clutter, storage, old boxes, “baggage” – literally or figuratively!

    • Computers, TVs, and other “distractions”

    • Games of any kind (you never want to play games in your relationships!)

    • Dead plants, dirt, dust, garbage cans

    • Anything broken or in need of repair

    Once you have removed all of these objects, give the area a good cleaning. Then, consider adding some of the following elements to welcome good Love energy to the space:

    • Paint the space or bring in accents of red, pink, and/or white. It can be as simple as a throw pillow, vase, or picture frame.

    • Symbols of love. This can be through pictures, sculptures, murals, etc:

      • Fireworks

      • Animal print material

      • Wedding cake

      • Two figures together

      • Bowl of Hershey’s kisses

    • Mirrors and candles (see more on mirrors below)

    • Fresh flowers

    • Silky, sexy items

    • Romantic music (radio, guitar, piano)

    • Clean the area regularly! Don’t allow clutter to build up.

    You can also look at other rooms in your house or office and apply the same principles! When you stand in the entrance of any space, the far right corner is the Love Corner, so you can use the same techniques in all of your spaces to promote love there, too!

    Some special notes about the bedroom:

    • Avoid mirrors in your bedroom. Mirrors are always reflecting things, so they are considered an active item. If you have built-in mirrors, consider removing them or covering them up (especially at night with a folding screen or other decorative item.

    • Do not have water elements (fountains, images of water, reflective surfaces, etc) in the bedroom.

    • Do not place pictures of your family or religious images in the bedroom. Having these images near your bed will make you feel like you are being watched and not allow you to fully enjoy your partner.

    • No work or fitness in the bedroom. Working and love do not mix! Keep computers, papers, other things that remind you of stressful situations or work, along with any workout equipment out of the bedroom.

    Have fun! Make your Love Corner a place that stimulates happy, warm, loving relationships in your life!

    Christine Davis, LAc is the Director of Acupuncture at Pulling Down the Moon. She sees patients in the Highland Park office on Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat. Call 312-321-0004 or go to www.pullingdownthemoon.com to book your appointment today with Christine or any practitioner on the team at the location that works best for you!

  • Qigong for Fertility

    Qigong (pron. “chee gawng”) is a 5,000 year old tradition of self-healing exercises that is used achieve wellness within the body, mind, and spirit. The word qigong means “energy work” or “life force work.” It is the practice of connecting with the energy around you and utilizing it to balance the internal functioning of the body.

    5 Qigong Exercises for Fertility:

    Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Try to find a space that you can consistently practice in each morning. Outside in nature is ideal, but if you are inside, try listening to nature sounds or putting nature imagery around you (even on TV!). You should have space to move around a bit, at least arms’ breadth. Barefoot is preferable, but if you are outside, wear comfortable shoes.

    Bring to mind a sense of purpose, clarity of vision, and sincerity of focus. Take a few minutes to do this. Try to focus on big picture hopes and dreams rather than specific details.

    Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Feet should be flat on the ground with a firm position, but not tight. Relax shoulders away from ears. Gently roll head side to side a few times to relax neck.

    Bring your attention to your breath. Breathe in through the nose and gently out through the mouth. Try to use deep, diaphragmatic breathing rather than keeping the breath all in the chest.

    1. Swing arms front to back, loosening the shoulders, relaxing the arms. Aim for 100x, stop or make smaller movements if you feel discomfort. You should feel the arms and upper body warming up. You may feel your heart beat a little faster. Now, shake your hands as if you had water on them. Start with small movements and progress to more vigorous movement for about 2-3 minutes. Your hands will begin to pulse and feel warm, perhaps even with a vibrating sensation.

    2. Take your hands and place them over your kidneys (about the middle of your back on each side). Kidneys have a special connection to reproductive function, growth and development, and aging in Chinese medicine theory. By warming this area, you are supporting that function.

    3. Bring the attention back to the breath. Imagine good energy coming in through your nose, down your front to your belly button and then between belly button and pelvic floor. Bend the knees and scoop upward with both hands the air around you. Then, rest the hands one over the other on the area just below your belly button for about 10-15 seconds. Do this 9 times.

    4. With the next breath, tighten the pelvic floor muscles (as you would when stopping the flow of urine). As you exhale, release the pelvic floor muscles. As you breathe, imagine energy going downward toward tailbone, then traveling back up through the spine, and finally through the head and into the nose. Do this 5 times. After the 5th time, begin to imagine your breath entering the other organs involved with reproduction: the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. Imagine them doing their jobs to regulate the hormones effectively. Repeat 5 more times.

    5. Gently bend the knees again. Bring your arms into a circle shape in front of you as if you were holding a large beach ball, about the height of your belly button. Fingers should just be touching at the tips. Close your eyes and take 9 slow, deep (but with very minimal effort) breaths. In through the nose, out the mouth. After the last exhale, bring the palms of the hands, one over the other, back to the area below the belly button and hold for 10-15 seconds.

    These exercises will bring warmth and movement all throughout the body. They are great to support fertility, but also to help with longevity for anyone! Teach them to your parents!

    Christine Davis, LAc is a Licensed Acupuncturist and the Director of Acupuncture at Pulling Down the Moon.

    Make an appointment with Christine or any of our therapists by calling 312-321-0004 or booking online at www.pullingdownthemoon.com.

    Schedule your appointment!

  • Help for Secondary Infertility with Acupuncture

    Help for Secondary Infertility with Acupuncture

    by Christine Davis, L.Ac., MSOM

    You have your perfect baby or toddler or big kid! You are so happy! It was pretty easy getting pregnant the first time. You took great care of yourself during pregnancy and had an uncomplicated birth. The first year was pretty difficult (sleep is soooo over-rated!), but you made it through ok. You decide it’s time to try for another baby! You start your prenatals, pull out the pregnancy clothes and get busy. One month goes by … and your period comes. Oh well, you must have missed the window. You were traveling, he was traveling, you had that event and were too tired the day you probably were supposed to try…. Three months go by… still nothing. Oh well, you were just unlucky. This time you’ll get an ovulation predictor kit and make sure you hit the window. Another couple of months with negative pregnancy tests….

    Or maybe while trying for your second (or third, or fourth…), you become pregnant, only to suffer loss early on. You know your body is capable of this! You’ve done it once, so easily, and so perfectly before….

    You decide it’s time to see the gynecologist. She runs all the basic tests – well, your AMH is a little off, but not worrisome. Your FSH is a little high, but that’s normal for your age. According to your Gyne, that shouldn’t be a problem. Or maybe everything is “perfect!” What gives?? Why is this happening and what can you do about it? Your Gyne just says “keep trying” and “come back if nothing happens in 6 months.”

    What can you do to just get pregnant?!?

    Secondary Infertility, the inability to become pregnant or maintain pregnancy in women who have previously carried to full term one or more pregnancies without using IVF or other assisted therapies, is much more common than is often thought. While there may be measurable issues (thyroid problems, endometriosis / painful periods, etc) that could contribute, many women find themselves in the “unexplained” category. But guess what? According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM, including acupuncture, herbs and associated modalities), there is no such thing as unexplained!

    In TCM, there are many ways to evaluate and explain what is going on to cause difficulty conceiving. We go through your whole history – your pregnancy/pregnancies, periods before/after pregnancy, all other physical, mental or emotional symptoms you may be experiencing. We also look at your tongue and feel your pulse as primary diagnostic tools. All of this information together determines your TCM diagnosis. We categorize imbalances in terms of excess (inflammation, pain, swelling, etc) or deficiency (slow/low function, anemia, fatigue, etc). Treatment with acupuncture can help to balance the body and create health by strengthening areas that may be weak or clearing areas that may be stuck.

    Acupuncture is also has a kind of “adaptogenic” effect, meaning that it can help to reduce the effects of stress on the body. Regular treatment can help you to cope with anxiety, worry, and most other emotional challenges, especially while struggling to become pregnant.

    Things in your body can change (A LOT!) during and after pregnancy. Sometimes so much that it could be affecting your ability to conceive. You may have shorter or longer periods and cycles, you may have gained weight or struggle with a sluggish metabolism, and many other changes. Acupuncture therapy can help to get you back on track and find your healthiest self to not just become pregnant, but to sustain a healthy pregnancy and you!

    And don’t forget about your partner/husband! Of those couples who struggle with fertility, there is almost a 50/50 split between male and female areas of concern. If he is resistant to trying acupuncture, remind him that it’s also great for that knee pain / back pain / allergies / heartburn / headaches / etc he has! We will do a full assessment and treatment for him, too.

    Try Acupuncture with us at www.pullingdownthemoon.com

  • Acupuncture for Fertility, The Method Behind the Madness

    Acupuncture for Fertility, The Method Behind the Madness

    By Meghan Gibson, MSOM, L.Ac.

    Close your eyes. Picture this, you’re lying on a soft table, there’s a warm feeling of heat above your feet, the sounds of ocean waves and Tibetan drums playing in the background and – there’s needles all over your body!? Wait, what? Yup, that’s what an acupuncture session is like! Once you get over the initial strangeness that is having needles in your body one can find an overwhelming sense of relaxation during and after treatments. But, have you ever thought while laying down for your treatment, is there a method to this madness or am I just a pin cushion? There IS a method to the madness and it all started thousands of years ago.

    The first text books referencing acupuncture are 2,000 years old. Think about this, Western Medicine is changing and evolving every day. Text books are constantly being updated and changed with medical advancements and the use of better or new technology. Acupuncture books are the same, the points are the same, they have not changed. This medicine works and hasn’t needed updating because the points and their functions have been tried and proven for thousands of years.

    Did you know there are 365 acupuncture points along 12 meridians all over the body? Each point has a different function and is connected to a different organ. Each practitioner uses varying sets of points depending in their “style” or preference but, for example, there are heat clearing points on the arms and on the legs so depending on the practitioner you could get a seemingly different treatment but the goal was the same in both. That’s one of the things that makes this medicine so amazing, is there are so many point combinations you can use but the purpose is the same.

    The ancient Chinese gave some great names to some of the key points used for fertility. Did you know there were acupuncture points called, “Door of Infants” and one called ”Beautiful Baby”? There are so many amazing acupuncture points that aid in not only fertility but pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. Has your husband been complaining about his frozen shoulder? Yup – we’ve got points for that too. Now is a great time to check out our services and get back to feeling your best.

    Don’t worry, you’re not just a pin cushion. There’s a method to the madness and just because one treatment didn’t “feel” like the other the goal of the session was same. Any questions visit www.pullingdownthemoon.com for more information.

    Click here to schedule an initial consultation

  • Male Factor Infertility, The Needles Go Where?!

    Male Factor Infertility, The Needles Go Where?!

    by Meghan Gibson, L.Ac., MSOM

    I recently had the privilege of speaking at one of the workshops during the Midwest Reproductive Symposium International (MRSi), the topic was, “Acupuncture and IVF, Ways to Improve Patient Care”. During the first session a male attended, the only one among our female group. He listened quietly and as the topic of male factor infertility came up his interest seemed to peak. As we were discussing treatments for men and how effective acupuncture can be for motility, sperm count, and even morphology we quickly realized there was one question he really needed answered….

    “Where do the needles go?”, was his question. All of gals from the Pulling Down the Moon team quickly began chuckling as we realized, this may be a BIG question for men. Fellas, have NO fear! There are not any acupuncture points, there . Most of the points are similar to those that we would use on our female patients, including the lower abdomen, head, ears and your extremities. It certainly varies depending on your diagnosis, but you will be able to keep your shorts on.

    According to RESOLVE (the National Infertility Association) 30% of infertility is due to male factor, 30% female factor, 20% unexplained and 10% a combination of the two. Male factor infertility is just as prevalent as female factor. It’s true, women are way more complex than men when it comes to fertility, but men also need to seek treatment. I see it all the time in our office, when a couple receives the diagnosis “unexplained infertility” often it’s only the women who comes in for treatment.

    Over the years there have been several studies published suggesting a decline in the average man’s sperm count. Environmental toxins, pollution, hormones in our food supply, pesticides, and even tighter underwear are thought to be the problem. Men also typically carry their cell phones in their pockets and mobile cell phone radiation is thought to decrease sperm counts. Men are also more active than ever, staying active and leading a healthy life style is important, but like anything else in moderation. Heat decreases sperm count so also try to take it easy on your super intense workouts, avoid saunas, hot tubs, and resting your laptop in your lap. You may also want to trade in those tighty whities for some boxer shorts.

    With our ½ off initial consultations July 1 st -15 th this is the time to come in and get treatment. Our staff can address your specific issue and may also recommend supplements, or herbs that are helpful for male factor issues. And don’t worry, we don’t put any needles, there !

    Click here to schedule

  • GET SOME SLEEP!

    by Stacy Dunn, ND, LAc, FABNO

    My patients are well accustomed to inquiries about their sleep – What time are you going to bed? Do you fall asleep easily? Do you wake frequently? What time do you wake in the morning? Do you feel rested? I ask about sleep at every appointment because good quality sleep has a profound impact on their overall health, helping to reduce their risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, anxiety, and depression. But I am also asking about sleep because of its impact on fertility.

    A variety of hormones are regulated by our circadian and sleep-wake cycles, and poor quality sleep, keeping late hours, and irregular bedtimes can interfere with their production. These hormones include melatonin, leptin, cortisol, thyroid stimulating hormone, and prolactin, and changes in these hormone impact ovulation, menstrual regularity, and even egg quality. Lack of sleep also increases inflammatory processes which may further compromise fertility.

    It can be challenging in our fast-paced world to unwind and sleep. Added stress and exogenous hormones from fertility treatments don’t exactly help. But there are many ways to support healthy sleep; these are my favorite tips:

    • Get outside! Natural sunlight helps to regulate our internal clock, while artificial light may disrupt it.

    • Keep bedtime consistent – go to bed around the same time and wake up around the same time, ideally every night of the week.

    • Nutritional supplements such as Magnesium and Melatonin, herbs such as Chamomile and Passion Flower, and essential oils such as Lavender can be very supportive. Discuss with your health care provider which recommendations and dosages that would be most supportive for you.

    • Acupuncture is well known for supporting restful sleep – it is a side-benefit many realize after trying acupuncture for pain or fertility.

    • Yoga – research studies have shown yoga to markedly reduces stress and reduce insomnia. Our yoga students can attest to its benefits!

    • Sleep in a cool and dark environment. The National Sleep Foundation recommends bedroom temperatures around 65 degrees – and research backs this up. Lamps, televisions, and cell phones should all be turned off, and if you live in the city, blackout curtains can be a great investment. Electronics and digital devices should also be avoided before sleep.

  • Let Acupuncture Put a Spring in Your Step!

    Let Acupuncture Put a Spring in Your Step!

    By Anna Pyne LAc MSOM FABORM

    Acupuncture is a great remedy for alleviating depression due to any cause. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) every organ is paired with a season. Springtime can bring with it a seasonal sense of melancholy. According to TCM spring is the time of the Liver (not to be confused with the Western medical organ). The Chinese medical Liver is responsible for the smooth even flow of the energy in the body. When the energy flows unobstructedly the emotions are then enabled to flow evenly and smoothly, keeping depression at bay. Springtime can be a trigger for people with a tendency towards Liver problems such as depression as it is the season of the Liver. I have helped many patients successfully who suffered with depression whether it was seasonally caused, a result from undergoing a medicated fertility treatment cycle, or even postpartum depression. Fertility treatment cycles can be quite stressful for example hearing the results of monitoring, not knowing exactly what an optimal response is to the medications, keeping all of the medications in order and administrating them correctly, let alone the physical and emotional side effects felt as a direct result of taking the hormones. Acupuncture can help mitigate or eliminate emotional stress while going through a fertility journey, if its seasonally related, or when dealing with postpartum depression.

    Click to learn more about Anna

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