Health Pointe Jacksonville | Acupuncture for Fertility | Birth Worker Spotlight
I’m excited to announce a new little project of mine! We have so many excellent birth workers here in Jacksonville, from midwives and doulas to chiropractors and acupuncturists, and I think it is important to shine some light on the many services that they can provide to pregnant and newly postpartum women.
I am starting this little project with Julee Miller, an acupuncturist and the owner of Health Pointe Jacksonville. She welcomed me to her beautiful clinic to photograph one of her acupuncture sessions!
Tell us a little bit about your practice! How long have you been in business and what services do you provide?
“I am a board certified licensed acupuncture physician and have owned Health Pointe Jacksonville Acupuncture Wellness clinic for 10 years. We are located in the Southside area, just down the street from St. Vincent's Hospital. Health Pointe Jacksonville is an acupuncture wellness clinic using a holistic approach to both the healing and prevention of disease using acupuncture, medical massage therapies, infrared sauna detox treatments, cold laser treatments, LED light therapy and homeopathic trigger point injections.”
“Our practice specializes in pain management and Women's Health (which includes fertility assistance, infertility, menstruation regulation, painful periods, hormone balancing and menopausal syndrome). With the recent staff addition we now also now specialize in Pediatric care.”
Why are you passionate about helping women, particularly those who are trying to conceive?
“While my first love is sports medicine and treatment of pain syndromes, I became more interested in Women's Health about 10 years ago as more of my friends, colleagues and family began struggling with fertility. This stress of this struggle was palpable! During my research and further coursework for certification I learned just how rampant infertility has become. And that it's not just limited to fertility struggles. Women's health care as a whole is limited to just an annual pap exam with an OBGYN and if there is any irregularity of menstruation AT ALL, the one and only suggestion from the physician is birth control pills. There is minimal investigation as to causation as the hormone driven birth control pill can blanket most complaints including painful periods to irregular periods, annovulation, mid cycle spotting. Many teenagers are placed on BCP to ‘regulate periods’ as well as a form of actual birth control as they become sexually active. Cut to 10 or even 20 years later when this woman would like to consider having a family, but cannot because the the BCP did not actually treat anything. It only masked the problem associated with irregular menstruations.”
“Once I began to learn the functional patterns (rather dysfunction of hormones) I learned there are naturopathic ways of balancing things. Balancing hormones, balancing menstruation which balances the ability to conceive. Sometimes some women will still require the efforts of Artificial Reproductive Technologies (ART/IVF) to conceive, but with the use of acupuncture, TCM, nutrition and lifestyle changes, she can boost her fertility factor that much more going into those treatments, which boosts chances of successful implantation.”
“I also treat prenatal women during pregnancy to help mitigate some negative side effects such as nausea/vomiting, fatigue, insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, and sciatica as well as prep them for a more natural delivery. There are ups and downs to treating fertility patients, for sure. But the feeling not only when a patients conceives but carries to term and gives birth to a healthy baby is simply the BEST FEELING ever. It is such a joy to be a part of the entire process. To not only provide corrective treatment but to also be able to give care and support during this most stressful time is priceless.”
What can you tell people who might be nervous about giving acupuncture a try?
“It doesn't hurt! Acupuncture is intended to be a pain-free, stress-free experience. Once all acupuncture needles are in place, we make certain you are completely comfortable on our treatment table with the addition of heat lamps and a cozy eye pillow. Treatment times are roughly 30 minutes and most patients nap during this time. These treatments become a welcomed reprieve from daily and life stress.”
What does acupuncture feel like? What sensations can you expect during and after a treatment?
“Some sensations associated with acupuncture treatments include tingling sensations of increased circulation, to a weighted heaviness while laying on the treatment table. Some people are tired after the treatment as the needles stimulate the central nervous system to switch off the ‘fight or flight mode' and switch on the ‘rest and digest mode.’ We suggest going straight home after treatments, if possible, have a nutritious meal, and go to bed early. Even though the needles are no longer in place, your body is still responding to the treatment for several hours after. If you cannot go straight home, that’s not a problem. But certainly avoid going to the gym or other high intensity activity directly afterwards.”
Tell us about the treatment you did with the patient I photographed.
“Her treatment is not necessarily one of TTC, but more of regulating menstruation cycles, ovulation regulation, and hormone balancing. Truth be told, because she is forward planning she's my favorite kind of Women's Health patient. It takes time to regulate the menstrual cycle. On average this can take twelve weeks or more depending on medical history. While she is not actively currently pursuing fertility, once her cycle is regulated it will stay regulated barring any health stumbling block that may disrupt it in the future. Having a regulated menstrual cycle is the very basis of fertility as well is the main foundation of a woman's health status. Once she decides to actively pursue pregnancy, it will be that much easier and less stressful when she does.”
“My treatment approach is always and individualized protocol designed after combining intake questions, physical exam (which includes looking at the patient's tongue, taking the pulse, looking at skin texture, palpating affected areas). Once a differential diagnosis is made, points are given. Nutrition, and lifestyles are discussed and if deemed appropriate we will prescribe herbal formulations for the patient to take between treatment sessions to help maintain treatment progress.”
What are the benefits of acupuncture for women who are trying to conceive?
“For starters, our fertility program is a whole systems treatment. We encompass all aspects of conception including lifestyle factors and nutrition, not just menstruation patterns and certainly not just limited to times of conception. Our program for natural conception is 3 months, for the main reason that it takes a minimum of 90 days to regulate hormones (and menstruation cycles). In some cases it may take longer. Other considerations include medical history (metabolic syndromes require longer treatment), age of patient and current status of health all play a major role in the care. We also evaluate the partner and suggest a semen analysis at onset of treatment for natural conception. Male factor infertility is on the rise, with a harrowing statistic of over 40% of all infertility cases being affected by the male partner. It takes two to tango, and we commonly treat both partners trying to conceive if necessary.”
What does acupuncture feel like? What sensations can you expect during and after a treatment?
“Some sensations associated with acupuncture treatments include tingling sensations of increased circulation, to a weighted heaviness while laying on the treatment table. Some people are tired after the treatment as the needles stimulate the central nervous system to switch off the ‘fight or flight mode' and switch on the ‘rest and digest mode.’ We suggest going straight home after treatments, have a nutritious meal and go to bed early. Even though the needles are no longer in place, your body is still responding to the treatment for several hours after.”
Can you receive acupuncture while going through fertility treatments? How do they go hand in hand?
“Absolutely! And we highly suggest having it! In addition to providing natural conception treatments (see above), we also specialize in IVF assisted treatments. Several landmark studies have shown that by combining acupuncture to the pre/post IVF transfer dramatically increases chances of conception by 20-50%. And that just day-of-transfer treatments. We offer guidance through the IVF/IUI process with each patient, help explain what to expect next during the IVF journey and prepare them for the embryo transfer. Adding acupuncture treatments during the pre-transfer and retrieval time can help improve follicular growth, improve lining thickness as well as provide stress relief.
Post transfer we provide a couple of treatments during the 2 week wait time to help boost progesterone and testosterone levels naturally while again providing stress relief. That two week wait period is the ‘longest wait ever’ to every single fertility patient! The ‘am I pregnant?’ question looms non-stop. We can help to greatly reduce anxiety and fear associated with this stressful time naturally and safely.”
What are some of the benefits of acupuncture beyond the TTC time period?
“Oh gosh. So many! The first and foremost consideration I have for my fertility and Women's Health patients is for them to fully understand what happens during their menstrual cycles and why it is so necessary to regulate it (naturally) . I fully believe the health of any woman is a direct correlation to the health of her menstrual cycle. There are so many health stumbling blocks that women experience but have no idea are related actually to hormone imbalances and menstrual irregularities. For example, many people don't know that anxiety, panic attacks, migraine headaches, insomnia and fatigue are all related to hormone imbalances. And all of these things can be treated effectively using acupuncture!
If we can ‘normalize’ the cycle, then you can be assured the hormones are balanced effectively. And it will stay balanced until something happens to cause an imbalance. And this can happen for a variety of reasons, but by and large once the cycle is balanced the patient's overall health is greatly improved and stays that way. We provide such in depth education during these treatments that once a patient has completed the program they are equipped with better decision making skills that can help them maintain their newly found good health.”
I learned so much by watching Julee at work! Heath Pointe offers such an array of holistic treatments at their office, and their staff goes above and beyond to make sure their patients reach their health goals. I would recommend their services to anyone, but especially to those who are wanting to regulate their menstrual cycles or are trying to conceive!