Gynecological Conditions

Acupuncture for Breech Baby

By Mary Vincent L.Ac.

Breech baby occurs when the presentation of the fetus is buttocks or feet pointing first toward the mother’s pelvis. Between 29-32 weeks gestation, 15 percent of all babies will be in a breech position, but by the time the pregnancy reaches full term (37 weeks or later), only 3 percent of babies remain breech. This bottom-first presentation can lead to increased risks for the fetus and mother during vaginal birth, particularly umbilical cord prolapse and head entrapment, both of which can lead to oxygen deprivation and possible neurological damage or death of the fetus. Though vaginal birth is still possible, it is a controversial topic in midwifery and obstetrics.The risks involved are substantial enough that U.S. hospital policies do not allow for it, and the vast majority of obstetricians are no longer trained to safely perform these types of births.

A TCM treatment known as moxabustion (moxa) has been shown to be around 70 percent effective in turning a breech baby (http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=188144). This technique includes using moxa sticks, which are cigar-shaped sticks comprised of tightly rolled mugwort leaves, burned close to the outside of the acupuncture point UB 67 (at the outside corners of the little toes). The heat on this point causes the baby to become restless in the uterus and increases the chances of it flipping into a head down position. Ideally, the best time to attempt to turn the baby with moxa is between 32 and 35 weeks. Once the baby is big enough to be snug in the womb the odds of turning are low, and if baby has already engaged into the pelvis it will not turn. Many women prefer to try and turn the baby [...]

Acupuncture for Menopause

by Mary Vincent, L.Ac.
At Beach Community Acupuncture we frequently treat symptoms related to menopause, as most women are affected with some level of discomfort during this transitional phase. Several recent studies have shown acupuncture to be a viable option, especially in the treatment of hot flashes (by far the most prominent symptom we treat in menopausal women). Depending on the severity of one’s symptoms, we typically recommend treatment 1-3 times week for 1-2 months to start. Some women require regular, follow up treatments to keep symptoms at bay, while others may only need an occasional treatment (or none at all if symptoms do not return).
Menopause occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop functioning due to age and is defined by the absence of menstruation for a full 12 months. It typically begins between the ages of 45 and 50, but can occur anywhere from 30 to 60. It is usually a gradual process, known as perimenopause, the length of which can be months to years. Menopause can also occur immediately after hysterectomy, or due to chemotherapy or radiation.
Symptoms and severity vary for woman to woman, most of which are due to declining estrogen levels. They can include:
▪ Irregular menstrual cycles: Ovulation becomes intermittent leading up to menopause, and most women will experience shorter or longer cycles during this transitional phase. When ovulation does not occur, progesterone will not be produced and estrogen levels may continue, causing a think buildup of uterine lining and a heavy flow for that cycle. As one gets close to true menopause, both progesterone and estrogen levels decline, causing less and less frequent periods with light flow. We often suggest herbs that help with heavy cycles.

▪ Hot [...]

Infertility and Acupuncture

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac.
    Infertility is the inability to conceive a child or to carry a pregnancy to full term. The time frame when a couple is considered infertile varies based on where you live in the world. In general, and according to the World Health Organization, a couple is assumed to be infertile if, after two years of regular, contraceptive-free intercourse, the woman has not become pregnant. Primary infertility refers to a couple who has never been able to have a child, while secondary infertility refers to a couple who has not been able to conceive following a prior pregnancy. Subfertility is a term that often overlaps with secondary infertility, meaning the couple does have a chance at conceiving, but the odds are much lower than average (often due to things such as low sperm count, ovarian or uterine issues, hormonal imbalances, etc.).
    Here in the US, the guidelines in defining when a couple is considered infertile takes into account the option for specialized fertility treatments that may increase their odds at conceiving. In the US a couple is considered infertile if:

The woman is under 35 and the couple has not conceived after 12 months of regular intercourse without contraceptives

The woman is over 35 and the couple has not conceived after 6 months of regular intercourse without contraceptives

    We see many people at BCA for infertility. A great number of these people come on the referral of their OB/GYN or fertility specialist. Some are using acupuncture as their only source of treatment, and some are combining with western fertility treatments. We are happy to support you in whatever methods you are choosing. Acupuncture has been shown to be successful at complementing [...]

Acupuncture for PMS

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac.
    Most women experience at least some form of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) at some point in their lives. It is estimated that 3 out of 4 women experience symptoms of PMS with each menstrual cycle. This means that the majority of women are all too familiar with a variety of uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms occurring before every single menstrual cycle we have. The symptoms of PMS typically take place in a predictable fashion, presenting at about the same time (7-10 days) before each menstrual cycle, and then disappearing with the onset of or shortly thereafter the onset of menstruation. Signs and symptoms can vary from month to month in intensity, and typically include a handful of the following emotional or physical presentations:

Mood swings (especially irritability and/or anger)
Depression and/or increased bouts of crying
Anxiety
Insomnia
Increased appetite and/or food cravings
Acne
Breast tenderness/pain
Fatigue
Headaches
Weight gain/bloating (usually due to water retention)
Diarrhea or constipation (sometime alternating)

    There is no clear understanding of what causes PMS to occur. Some of symptoms are thought to be caused by:

Cyclical hormonal changes–Changes in the balance of estrogen and progesterone lead to mood changes,     anxiety, and irritability. PMS symptoms disappear during pregnancy and with menopause.

Stress–Signs and symptoms are intensified during times of stress.

Poor nutrition–Inadequate levels of vitamins and minerals are thought to lead to some PMS symptoms. In addition, poor diets that include high intakes of sat contribute to water retention.

Cyclical changes in brain chemistry–a cyclical decrease in the neurotransmitter serotonin is thought to contribute to premenstrual depression, fatigue, and insomnia.

    If you are one that experiences PMS symptoms every single month (particularly if they are severe enough to negatively impact your [...]

Labor Induction…

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac., MSTOM

…(otherwise known as “Get this baby out of me!!!)

While we see a great many women at BCA for a wide variety of fertility concerns and help with conceiving, we often see these same women (and MANY others as well) at the end of their pregnancies when they are ready, or way more than ready, to get that baby OUT! Women that want to help prepare their bodies for labor or to induce their labor with acupuncture are encouraged to start coming in for treatments ideally starting around the 39th week of their pregnancy. We do see our fair share of women earlier than the 39th week in which it had been deemed medically necessary or advisable to labor earlier than the 39th week (and have been cleared by their OB/GYN or midwife), and we definitely see a huge number of women well past their due dates.

While it’s fine to wait until past your due date to come in, please try not to wait until the day before you are scheduled to be induced to come in. There definitely are women who do go into labor after one treatment, but more commonly it takes an average of 4-6 treatments in a row for most women to progress into fully active labor. In order to keep costs low and affordable for patients, BCA offers labor induction patients the option to come in twice in one day (on the days we have two shifts) for the price of one treatment. Yep, that’s right! That means Monday-Thursday you can come in once in the morning and once in the afternoon/evening for $20

Does it really work?
From personal experience as a mother who used acupuncture [...]

Acupuncture and Menstrual Pain (Dysmenorrhea)

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac

We see a variety of complaints related to menstrual problems at BCA.

We see a variety of complaints related to menstrual problems here at BCA, but by far the most common (and one that almost every woman has experienced at some time in her life) is due to pain occurring before or during the period (otherwise known as dysmenorrhea). Pain severity ranges from mild to debilitating, and while it most often manifests as cramps affecting the lower abdomen, it can also present as pain or pressure in the lower back or hips, groin, and inner thighs. This pain can be dull, aching, sharp, and/or radiating, sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. In a study published in 2008 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a randomized controlled trial that included 201 women with dysmenorrhea showed that the women who received acupuncture had lower pain intensity and concluded that “Additional acupuncture in patients with dysmenorrhea was associated with improvements in pain and quality of life as compared to treatment with usual care alone and was cost-effective within usual thresholds.”

What Causes Dysmenorrhea?

During the menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) thickens to prepare for a possible pregnancy. If a fertilized egg does not implant into this lining, it will begin to break down in order to be passed out of the body in preparation for a new cycle. As the endometrium deteriorates, the cells release prostaglandins, a specific type of lipid (fat) molecule that can have a strong physical effect on smooth muscle tissues of the body. Specifically in the uterus, this can cause painful contractions as the lining is preparing to or being shed during menstruation.

Types of Dysmenorrhea

Primary Dysmenorrhea

Primary [...]

Acupuncture for Women’s Health

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

Acupuncture works to treat a wide range of conditions specific to women. While helping to balance the body so it can regain physiological function, acupuncture also reduces stress and restores a sense of calm. This gentle, natural medicine focuses on treating the whole person rather than the disease.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have proven effective in treating the following conditions relating to women’s health:
* PMS
* Menstrual cramps and irregularities
* Breast tenderness and fibrocystic breasts
* Endometriosis
* Uterine fibroids
* Fertility-related conditions
* Pregnancy-related conditions
* Menopause-related conditions
* Fertility

For women with fertility challenges, the use of acupuncture as a natural approach to pregnancy is well documented. A recent review of seven research trials of women undergoing in-vitro fertilization found evidence of improved rates of pregnancy and live births among groups using acupuncture (University of Maryland School of Medicine, 2008).

Acupuncture helps to restore the body’s balance. From a Western perspective, studies show that acupuncture might:
* Increase blood flow to the uterus to promote implantation.
* Improve ovarian function, which might help produce better-quality eggs and a larger number of follicles.
* Reduce side effects of drugs used in assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures.
* Decrease uterine contractions, intended to encourage implantation, and prevent early miscarriage.
* Reduce stress hormones and anxiety.
* Strengthen the immune system and support general health, possibly helping prevent miscarriage.

Pregnancy
Acupuncture is a safe, natural, effective treatment for many common problems that occur during pregnancy. Unlike many pharmaceutical products, it is not contraindicated, and will not cause harm to the mother or baby.

However, there are certain acupuncture points that need to be avoided during pregnancy because they are considered too strong. If there is [...]