Sunday, May 23

The Male Contribution to Viable Embryos

Centriole definition: a structure found in the cell cytoplasm (cytoplasm: all of the contents outside of the nucleus and enclosed within the cell membrane of a cell) that plays a role in embryo development.

Sperm centrioles were traced from fertilization to the hatching blastocyst stage. The sperm centriole is introduced into the egg at fertilization.

As the male and female aspects of the developing embryo (called pro nuclei) fuse (called syngamy) to become a shared environment of both male and female DNA, centrioles play a pivotal role in cell division (cleavage) of the embryo.

This division, when the embryo goes from a single cell organism to a two cell organism to a four cell organism to an eight cell organism to a sixteen cell organism is called mitosis or cleavage.

Sperm centrioles were detected at all stages of embryonic cleavage from the 1-cell through 8-cell stages, right up to the hatching blastocyst stage.

It is evident that the sperm centrosome ( formed from centrioles and having to do with cell division) is the functional active centrosome in humans, while the female is inactive.

Did you know? Embryos having 7-9 cells on day 3 have an increased chance of developing to the blastocyst stage. A blastocyst is a 5 day embryo and is considered to be of significant quality.

Embryos with <7 cells or >9 cells are less likely to make it to the blastocyst stage.1

My question is this: if a woman consistently produces 4 or 6 cell embryos during a stimulated IVF cycle is it not possible that the male partner’s sperm has some ultra structural defect whereupon centriole quality is subfunctional?

Since we know that the male contribution of healthy centrioles is necessary to facilitate cleavage of embryos to the blastocyst stage, it is my ardent recommendation that male partners of all women who are trying to conceive should also be treated with acupuncture and herbs.

Even when the male partner presents within the normal range for volume, count, morphology and motility, centriole health cannot be easily determined.

Case: A female patient has 15 eggs retrieved during an IVF cycle; 10 fertilize, and 7 survive. She has 7, day 3 embryos ranging in size from 6 to 10 cells with zero fragmentation and a healthy10mm endometrial lining. The reproductive endocrinologist transfers three of these beautiful embryos and the cycle fails.

Why? We do not know for sure: it could be that the embryos were chromosomally abnormal. This can be due to chromosomally abnormal eggs or sperm. It can also be due to the fact that the male centriole health and function were not optimal. This may be considered a ‘hidden’ cause of infertility.

The use of acupuncture and certain herbal medicines can vigorously stimulate blood flow to the testicles carrying oxygen and nutrients, as well as hormones from the brain, as well as electrolytes, while simultaneously carrying debris or dead cells away from the testicles.

This increased delivery of the ‘good’ and increased excretion of the ‘bad’ may improve ultra structural properties of the sperm including centriole quality and function and thereby improve embryo quality and help facilitate cleavage to the blastocyst stage and thereby potentiate take home baby rates.

Summary: It is my opinion, based on clinical experience, that both partners should be treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine when wishing to start or grow a family and is having difficulty doing so.

1. Alikani M, Caulderon G, Tomkin G, et al. Cleavage anomalies in early human embryos for transfer after in vitro fertilization. Human Reprod 1997; 12(7): 1545-1549

Tuesday, May 18

Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine and How it Helps in the Treatment of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a very painful condition that affects women; the condition can lead to multiple health related issues. Instead of using traditional forms of medicine some women prefer treating the condition with acupuncture and herbal medicine. The treatments offered vary upon the level of severity as well as a woman’s future plans to have children.

Typically women between the ages of 25 to 35 are diagnosed with endometriosis, but it can occur at different stages of a women’s life. Once a month the ovaries produce hormones that cause the cells of the uterine lining to increase in number and plan for a fertilized egg. The specific cells that cause this are called endometrial cells. They should only grow inside the uterus, when they begin to grow outside of the uterus the condition is referred to as endometriosis.

This condition causes a woman a great deal of pain and can also produce scars on the ovaries, tubes, and area surrounding the pelvis. It can also lead to chronic pelvic pain, development of large cysts in the pelvis, and infertility. A doctor may provide many options for treatment such as: surgery, hysterectomy, and medication. Not all women wish to take drugs or have an invasive operation such as a surgical procedure. For women that wish to have children at some point a hysterectomy is not an option, so they search for possible alternatives such as herbal medicine and acupuncture.

Herbal medicines and acupuncture are often used collectively to not only treat the physical conditions but the mental, emotional, and spiritual conditions as well. Acupuncture has been practiced in China for thousands of years, its use in America started around the 1970s. One of the most common uses for acupuncture in America is for pain treatment.

An acupuncturist inserts small sterile needles into specific points of the body based on the purpose for the treatment. Common locations where the needles are inserted for the treatment of endometriosis are the back, legs, feet, ears, wrists, and abdomen. The amount of time that the needles will be inserted vary on the severity of the condition, typically they remain in place for 20 to 40 minutes. It is believed that acupuncture treats endometriosis by balancing hormone levels, increasing circulation, and reducing pain by boosting the amount of endorphins produced by the body.

Herbal medicine is one of the premier forms of medicine. Typically medicinal plants are used internally and externally to treat a patient and restore their health. Herbalists base their methods on the traditional use of a specific plant as well breakthroughs in modern science. There are many different plants that may be used for the treatment of endometriosis such as: horsetail, cramp bark, burdock, wild yam, motherwort, and dandelion. These plants as well as others are used to help rebalance hormones and increase the strength of the immune system so the body can naturally fight endometriosis.

Like most medicines and treatments the use of acupuncture and herbs may take some time to produce results. When a woman chooses acupuncture or herbal medicine they should only be performed under the careful watch of an acupuncturist or herbalist. For women that suffer from endometriosis, acupuncture and herbal medicine offer an alternative to surgical procedures and drugs produced in a lab.

Thursday, May 13

New Mind Body Approach at The Berkley Center

The Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness Announces a Complete Mind Body approach to Fertile Wellness

Extend the benefits of acupuncture using advanced mind-body visualizations.

Only 15 Minutes a Day to Improved Fertility, Health and a Relaxed Pregnancy.

For all stages of trying-to-conceive as well as conception, Circle + Bloom has created an enjoyable and simple-to-use relaxation and mind-body program that gives back your control over your fertility, health and pregnancy.

We have decided to integrate the Circle + Bloom Meditations as part of your acupuncture experience.

Like a hand in a glove....acupuncture and mind-body guided visualizations go together so perfectly well!

Circle+Bloom have created an exciting product line that leverages your innate powers of self-healing using visualizations in a method that is both enjoyable and easy to use.

So the next time you come in for a visit, you will be handed an Apple iPod pre-filled with all of Circle + Bloom's programming, including their newly released IVF / IUI Mind-Body Program.

You select which session to listen to according to where you are in your cycle and while you are being treated, go on a wonderful enjoyable journey inside your mind and body to be further grounded, more relaxed and improve your probability for success.

Another innovative experience brought to you by
The Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness.

Saturday, May 1

The Berkley Method

At The Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness all patients are treated twice weekly with acupuncture until pregnancy is achieved. Once pregnancy is confirmed we treat with acupuncture twice weekly for thirteen weeks as 90% of miscarriages occur within the first twelve weeks. Acupuncture can help to reduce the occurrence of miscarriage.

It is best to have ongoing treatment with acupuncture and herbs for a period of three to four months before your IVF-embryo transfer, or IUI, but we see patients at various times in their IVF cycle.

Of course we also treat patients who seek support on their journey to family with an all natural approach.

We do recommend taking our proprietary herbal formulas even when you are taking reproductive medicine. We have seen good outcomes by combining both types of medicine without any deleterious effect.

The purpose of gonadotropins and other medications used during an IVF cycle are to stimulate the development of multiple follicles. The success or failure of your IVF cycle depends in great measure on the quality of sperm, egg and lining. It is the purpose of acupuncture and herbal medicine, when treating the patient who is trying to conceive, to improve egg, sperm and lining quality when necessary. Therefore, one can see that acupuncture and herbal medicine fill a significant gap which, to date, has not been addressed by Western reproductive medicine.

If you have a history of second or third trimester miscarriage we will continue to treat you throughout your entire pregnancy to help prevent miscarriage. The treatment will consist of a combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine.

We recommend that all of our patients take DHEA 75mg/day for three months prior to IVF as pregnancy rates seem to be higher in patients who follow this protocol.

We do not give pregnant patients herbal medicine unless they have a history of miscarriage. If they do, we recommend herbal medicine as herbs can sometimes be effective in preventing miscarriages. There have been no studies to date which show any harmful side-effects from herbs to either the mother or the baby.

We also recommend massage at the frequency of one session per week. Massage helps to stimulate blood flow to the pelvic environment and significantly reduces stress. All of our licensed massage therapists are fully trained in pre and post natal massage.

The Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness does an excellent job in seamlessly coordinating your care with acupuncture, herbs, massage and the protocol of treating with acupuncture pre and post embryo transfer. We are open seven days per week to accommodate those patients seeking acupuncture pre and post embryo transfer.

Receiving acupuncture pre and post embryo transfer, according to several studies, increases pregnancy rates.

Mike Berkley, Licensed Acupuncturist and Board Certified Herbalist is the Founder and Director of The Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness, established in 1997. Mike is the first practitioner in the United States to devote a complementary medicine practice to the care and treatment of those faced with the difficult challenge of infertility.

Continuity of practice, continued study and thirteen years of clinical experience: strictly in the field of reproductive medicine, is the foundation for the successes that many of Mike’s patients frequently experience.

Mike spends some of his time lecturing to other acupuncturists throughout the nation on how to best utilize acupuncture and herbal medicine to treat those faced with fertility challenges.

Mike works with patients of any age and with any FSH level. He believes that every woman deserves a chance.