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My Beginnings in Fertility Acupuncture

In about 1999, I had been doing general practice acupuncture for about 15 years when I got a call from a lady who was having trouble getting and staying pregnant. She was a patient at an IVF clinic in Colorado, had been diagnosed with thin endometrium, and she said that the IVF doctors there wanted her to have acupuncture as part of her IVF. She asked if I could treat her according to their guidelines, and I told her I would be happy to give it a try. 

Fast forward 3 months, and that same lady was standing in my waiting room, hugging me and sobbing with tears of overwhelming joy. She was pregnant! After years of trying, extreme expense, agonizing heartbreak, and failure after failure, she was pregnant! And, according to her, she owed it all to acupuncture! She went on to have a beautiful baby boy, and a couple more kids thereafter. 

I, of course, was pretty much blown away. It wasn’t that I underestimated the power of acupuncture, which I hadn’t, or that I wasn’t confident in success, which I was. It was that, while I had years of clinical experience and success, I had never had a patient so happy, so grateful, so thrilled. Tears of joy ran down both of our faces that day. 

Shortly thereafter, I started getting referrals from the IVF clinics in our area, mostly for treatment of thin endometrium or for endometriosis, both of which respond nicely to acupuncture treatment. After some time, I convinced the fertility doctors in the area to start sending other IVF patients to me. We developed treatments for diminished ovarian reserve, poor egg quality, and some general health and stress management treatments to enhance IVF success. In about 2006, a protocol was published in Fertility and Sterility known as the Paulus protocol. Paulus was clearly shown in a number of clinical trials to improve IVF success rates by somewhere between 17 and 21 percent, when done on the day of embryo transfer. Some studies, although maybe they were aberrant, showed as much as a 50 percent improvement. So, my staff and I started doing day of embryo transfer acupuncture. This, too, proved very successful. 

In my opinion, there is no more gratifying feeling in the world than when you can help a family grow. Think of it: the work we do in fertility acupuncture not only immediately affects our patients and their spouses or partners, but it affects their children, and their children, and their children for all generations of that family. It is profound. And it is profoundly, movingly, astoundingly gratifying. There’s no feeling better than when one of those patients brings her newborn in for the first time, and you hold it gently in your arms and see the little fingers and the little toes and smell that sweet new baby smell. There’s nothing in the world like seeing the look of love and satisfaction on the face of that new Mom or Dad. Nothing.

David D. Cherry, O.M.D., L.Ac.