Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Acupuncture (Oh yes, getting imaginative with my titles)

So if you saw my resolutions you’ll know I planned to try acupuncture to burst this bubble of infertility. (Do you see what I did there?!)

I chose the clinic for no other reason than it is near where I live. I didn’t know anyone else who had been and couldn’t find any reviews of it on the internet but just strolled in one day.

There was no one in reception, so I shouted “Hello” a few times and the acupuncturist popped out of the back room. I asked if there was anyone I could speak to about acupuncture.

Still standing in the doorway between the two rooms he asked briskly:
“What do you need to know?”
“Well, if it will help me, how much it costs, when I can have an appointment…”
“What’s wrong?”
“Yes. We can help. £55 for first session, £40 pounds after. Take this leaflet, call us to book an appointment”.

And he went back to the anteroom.

Not a great start. But the fee was about what I had expected (one of the reasons why it had taken me so long to book in the first place) and as I walked away I decided I would rather have a brusque acupuncturist who knew his stuff than a smarmy salesman who played the right Chinese whale music (no, I’ve no idea how it differs from other whales either).

So I had my first session on Monday and I realised it is just him who works there and, when he nipped out, he had a client in the back room hence the anxiety to get me away quick.

He didn’t speak very good English. But that added an air of authority. I had only had acupuncture once before, years ago before I started this ttc malarkey, and that was with a English bloke. I got it cheap cause he was a trainee – I know, of all the trainees you probably don’t want acupuncturists are way up there, but what can I say, I’m tight - anyway this time it felt like I was paying for the real thing.

He started off the consult by asking me a few questions. Here we go, time to repeat everything as I had done to so many other doctors. But no, his questions were quite different:

What colour is your blood when you have a period?
Oof, I try not too look, quite dark I think.

Are they painful?
Oh yes!

If I had two cups, one hot and one cold which would you drink?
Is this to test my yin and yang? Is he offering me a drink? I said cold, he didn't give me a drink.

Stick out your tongue.
I obliged.

He drew a picture of it and wrote a few things down, in Chinese, so my upside down reading didn’t help.

He explains a few things about Chinese medicine but with his heavy accent I didn’t get all of it. Something about 5 main organs and a happy womb and amount of energy that goes in compared to what goes out, I thought I heard him mention the word copulate but then he was banging on about my spleen so who knows.

He got me to hop onto the couch. Pinched my hands in a few places until I winced and yelped. “That hurts, ok, that will tell me where to place the pins” Duh! That hurts because you pinched me.

He rolled my trousers up.

I got a pin in each calf, and one lower down each leg. He stuck one in my forehead, one at the top of my head, and four in my stomach.

For those considering acupuncture and wondering if it hurts, it does and it doesn’t. He put them in really fast and they are very small so some pins stung a bit, but not like you’d imagine a pin sticking in you would feel. A few sent a twinge down a nerve, which at least makes you think he’s hit a sweet spot and knows what he is doing. Apparently if it hurts it shows there was a blockage, or something and that will subside as the acupuncture starts to fix you. I know! Look at my technical terms.

As he was putting them in I did panic a bit and the flight impulse kicked in, all I could think was “I’ve changed my mind I want to get out”. But as I always get this half way through a bikini wax, or extreme haircut, I knew how to get over the sensation and took some deep breaths until it subsided.

I then had to lie there for bloody ages, at least half an hour without doing anything. He was sitting at his desk at the end of the bed, I couldn’t see him but was very aware that he was just there which made it difficult to relax, occasionally he’d ask me a question. Whatever I answered would prompt a “hmmm” or a “hm”, what’s good, what’s bad?

Then he strolled over and started flicking and pushing the pins on my leg. The sensations were bizarre at one point the movement of the pin in my calf manifested itself as an electric shock in the sole of my foot. When he was fiddling with the pins he’d ask me questions if I flinched, “Did I feel a stabbing sensation or a throbbing?” I felt like I do at the optician when they ask if the black spot is clearer on the red or the green, like through my varying my answers they can tell I'm not really sure and just making up an answer. "Ha! There is no way that could throb twice and and then stab, don't lie to me bitch".

He got a bit chattier towards the end I had the nerve to ask him what he saw in my tongue, did it look healthy? It wasn’t bad but, he said, that it gives him an indication of what he should be concentrating on. Darn I thought I had a nice plump, red tongue and let’s face it, I was fishing for a compliment.

He told me that this year he had helped 5 couples conceive. Including one couple with the man having "poor" sperm and the woman had been told she had to undergo an operation, the doc had said she didn’t have a chance without the op. They came to him and she is now two months pregnant. But of course didn’t tell me how many had come to him is that 5 out of 5, or 5 out of 100?

He asked me to come back on a weekly basis and that I’ll know when it is working because my periods will become regular and I won’t get any pains.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


  1. Very interested to see how this develops, we are tempted to try this ourselves, given the 'unexplained' nature of stuff this end.

    Are you happy to go back?
    Confident, open, iffy?

    (Your writing is getting funnier and funnier btw)

  2. I had the WORST cramps for years until I started acupuncture. I got to a point where pain relievers didn't help anymore. Now my periods are much more regular, heavier but shorter, and the cramps are milder. Still not with child but I'll take what I can get.

    I go to a community acupuncture clinic which means that I am in a room w/ 3 other people. I think my gal is great and the treatments are pretty cheap ($20) because of the communial space. Again, I'm still not knocked up after 9 months of puncturing, but I'm hoping that it will make things like Clomid easier on me.

  3. I love your writing style. Being a Brit seems to help. You know how we Americans are suckers for British terms. ;)

    Anyway, I HATE that electric shock feeling. My acu (who is from China too) told me that very traditional doctors want to get that feeling but that research shows you don't HAVE to for it to help. Who knows. *shrug*

    I had very very similar needles to what you describe. Similar places. I LOVE the ones on the sides of the neck. My friend and I called them "Frankenstein needles." They really relaxed me every time. The one in the forehead eased something too, but I couldn't really explain it. The others.. eh.

    Isn't it cool how much they ask about your whole system? I LOVE that. It's like they really want your whole body to work well. Not like western medicine where they try to pinpoint one tiny problem and treat only that aspect. sigh.

  4. Xbox, Yes I'm definitely going to go back give it a chance to work/ drain my bank account. And I'm feeling cautiously optimistic.

    Because of the holistic nature of it my view is I've never heard of it doing anyone any harm so might be worth a punt for you guys. At least it will make you feel like you are doing something proactive rather than waiting for the magic two years of trying.

    (Thanks for the compliment btw, I thought I was loosing my touch cause the husband read this and only laughed out loud at my use of the word 'consult' rather than 'consultation, but then the only other time he's laughed at the blog was when I used the phrase "I really need a poo", sigh.)

    Lovecomesfirst, Good to hear from someone who has tried it, if all it does is regulate my periods and stops them hurting it'll be better than the limbo I am in at the moment. Sounds like you got a bargain too!

    Golly gosh, Barb, cheers! So I know you are still 'fertility challenged' but did you get any benefit from the acupuncture (Other than a great Halloween costume)?

  5. Good on you for giving the ole needle treatment a go! I find I am too superstitious to not have it, what with all the research pointing to its success when combined with IVF. Best wishes!

  6. I love the fact that you experience these things before me because you give me an idea of what to expect (suppositories spring to mind!)

    I have been considering acupunture for a while. I'm scared about the whole needle inserting, twiddling thing but, you attending has made me think that I can do it, so I will make an appointment once I have cleared my credit card!

  7. Sounds like a very interesting experience. I've heard so many good things about acupunture. Our insurance doesn't cover it, however, and I just can't see spending more money on something that may or may not help. Yes I am really CHEAP.

  8. Lifeslurper, yes, I'm planning on trying it all, the only problem is without a control I'll never know what works.

    Secret diary, I am here to be a guinea pig! (Sorta). That's why I put so much detail in 'cause I know I always like to know what to expect - although can backfire, i think the HSG post put a few people off that particular procedure. I'd be interested to compare acupuncture notes once you try it out.

    Deborah, The price put me off for a while too. I don't think you are being cheap, just sensible. Hopefully by seeing if it works for me you can make a more informed decision!

  9. I didn't stick with the acu long enough to see long term improvement. However, I don't really feel acu and herbs is enough to work well for hypothyroid, which I had. It did make me feel better on days than I had before, it still wasn't much of a change. Now that I am on synthroid, I feel like it might be a better trial to do it again since now we'd just be addressing the PCOS. According to my acu, I was, "severely imbalanced." Hopefully now I'm just "semi-severely imbalanced" and we'd have a chance to do something. She thought it would take at least 6 mos to make any changes. I only gave it 3. (money issues)

    However, after my endometrial biopsy, I had a LOT of bleeding and pain for a month. Exertion made it hurt more. I strongly suspected some kind of inflammation, nick or something, but the RE (first one) insisted I was fine other than that pesky bleeding til I got faint thing. After dealing with him for weeks, I went to my acu. She had the pain and bleeding reduced in a week with herbs. So I did have help with that.

    I'm considering going back now. We'll see.

    Hopefully some of that long-winded dissertation helped. :)

  10. I just found your blog and I'm glad I did. Too funny! Hope your tongue is getting redder...or rounder...or colder...or whatever.

  11. exciting!

    I've just begun this journey myself. I'm on my 4th session....1stmonth...and have about unloaded my life savings.

    the herbs are horrendous - i take about 40 pills a day. its nutty.

    i also get electro-acupuncture...which they hook up those ovary points to a machine and zap you for 30mins. feels very strange.

    at some point - ill be writing about this. but am 'weaning' my readership into this TTC hopes they all don't flock away!

    enjoyed your post - found it through a google search, and see you are a 'aquaintance' of Xboxs' - you are in good company!


  12. Hey, I just found your blog too and you're hilarious! I started acupuncture January this year and went from having my period anywhere from 40-60 days and no ovulation to about 33 days and ovulating on my own. It did take a few months before it "worked" but it has helped in that aspect (and helped the color, ewwwe). I'm still not preg but my acu dr thinks I will one of these months (wish I really believed her, I used to). Anyways I started out going weekly and went weekly and actually have to drive 1 hour to and from every Saturday. A couple of months ago I switched to going every other week which she said was probably fine for me since I had already seen imprvement and my cycles were pretty regular. I take herbs too which can taste pretty nasty. 3 times a day choking down that shit gets old. My acu dr works closely with a fertility dr over there also so once I'm done with this cycle of Clomid with my gyno I'll start going to him and driving 1 hr to those appointments, yay. Well I just wanted to say hi and I think you will see improvement. =)


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