QUESTION: My problems are infertility, painful periods and fibroid tumor (1 small one). How do I find a good acupuncturist?
Acupuncturist #1 Have been going for 15 sessions, during first session she asked me a set of questions; she checked my pulse and my tongue; unfortunately, after 15 session I didn’t see any improvements, not even in the cycle pains. Acupuncturist gave me some Chinese herbs. The acupuncturist was very sweet too but I stopped going as no improvement was noticed.
Acupuncturist #2 has tons of great reviews for infertility, on first appointment she showed me a binder with pages and pages of success stories (which I found a little arrogant, I don’t need to see the fact in paper, I wan to see result on myself), she also made me listen to audio testimonials (again a little arrogant on her side).
She was not personable or polite like the first one but she seemed to know what she was doing although I felt like she was trying to push her services and products to make a sale.
She uses almost all the same points the acupuncturist used(although she doesn’t wipe alcohol before starting) with some changes, like 1 ear instead of both, no wrists, she added the point on the big toe. She told me what I should avoid to eat, she asked me questions about my cycle but she didn’t check my pulse or tongue like the first one had done.
Overall I felt she was professional although pretty nasty, but it’s also true that I don’t have to be friends with her as long as she solves my issues.
Acupuncturist #3 had only 1 review on line by a woman who had her fibroid shrink. This was a very old Chinese man who practiced in a very old and apparently dirty office. He didn’t ask me any health questions, not even at what point of my cycle I am. When I stepped in he simply asked me what my problem was, I mentioned infertility and fibroid and he told me to lay on the bed and he started sticking needles in me.
The session was extremely cheap $30, but also pretty short, maybe 25 minutes. I decided to show him my medical test results but he didn’t ask for them. Once done I told him I also have painful periods and at that point he told me (in his hard to understand, broken English) that next time the session is gonna be a little different (couldn’t he have asked me a few questions before starting the first session?). Anyway, this Dr. doesn’t believe in electro-acupuncture so he is not gonna use it although the previous two do.
I feel that being an old Chinese man he should know what he is doing but on the other hand I dont feel 100% comfortable being poked by him beause he didn’t ask any medical or history questions before starting the treatment.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?!?!?
ANSWER: Well, first of all, Kiko I’d like to commend you for not giving up on acupuncture and Chinese medicine! It is worth spending the time to find the right acupuncturist for you.
Here are some thoughts to aid you in your search:
1)Find an acupuncturist who practices Tung style acupuncture and/or the Balance Method. These are more effective forms of acupuncture from Taiwan and you will see superior results compared to other acupuncture techniques. Living in NYC, you will have no problem finding someone who practices in this way, thought people from other areas may not be able to find someone. Here in the Washington DC area I think I’m only one of two practitioners in the whole DC-VA-MD area!
2)You don’t need electro-acupuncture and are probably better off without it. I only use it in rare cases to treat pain that doesn’t respond to other approaches.
3)With your specific issues, you should consider taking Chinese herbs in addition to acupuncture. Chinese herbs are much better than wasting money on nutritional supplements that are not individualized to your metabolic type.
4)For infertility issues you need to receive regular treatment for four-six months at a minimum. This is not a quick fix, but it will change your health and your life for the better in the long run. When you do get pregnant, you will feel better and have a healthier pregnancy usually.
5)Most patient notice positive changes in their menstrual cycle within two months, even with acupuncture alone (i.e. no herbs).
6)Pulse and tongue diagnosis are most necessary for diagnosis in Chinese herbal medicine, not necessarily for acupuncture. Sometimes I take my patient’s pulses and sometimes I don’t. It all depends on the person and their symptoms. In your case, I would know I am doing a treatment targeting the area of the uterus, so I might not need to take pulses or look at your tongue.
7)Chinese medicine has its own system of diagnosis and treatment that is based on patterns. So your medical records from your doctor will not necessarily help your acupuncturist diagnose or treat you more effectively. Having a complete health history is also not necessary. What’s most important is knowing what your signs and symptoms right now are.
8)For effective treatment, the needles need to stay in a minimum of 30 minutes.
9)There’s no excuse for a dirty office! We are trained to keep everything clean, and use universal precautions to avoid the spread of infectious disease. Needles are pre-sterilized and used only once before being disposed of as medical waste.
10) The relationship with your acupuncturist can be a very special, healing relationship. Often our patients find a real “harbor in the storm” in our offices. That said, I’m not particularly close to my current practitioner. I chose him because after going through many Chinese herbalists I felt he was the one who understood my condition the best and was the most effective. So, I think you have to find a balance between someone you can have a good relationship with and someone who is being effective.
I hope this has been helpful. Feel free to write again to share your experience or ask more questions.
Lisa Marie Price, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.