Wednesday, April 30

Gift Ideas for Mother-to-Be this Mother's Day

At the end of the journey together, our hope for our patients is motherhood.  Many of our patient's share their story and thanks with us about their 'Berkley' baby and we celebrate them!  If you have a friend going through infertility treatment and acupuncture, here is a great idea to encourage and inspire her en route her journey to family. 

San Diego based Artist Marsha Anderson

This Fertility pendant pomegranate on black chain necklace will make you want to be fruitful and multiply!  Are you looking for a gift for someone who is trying to start a family? Are you searching for a little help to become pregnant? Would you like to show your appreciation to the woman who birthed you or is birthing your child?

Did you know that the pomegranate has been used throughout history and in almost every religion as a symbol of humanity's most fundamental beliefs and desires, including life and death, rebirth and eternal life, fertility and marriage, abundance and prosperity. Almost every aspect of the pomegranate has come to symbolize something . . . its shape, color, seeds, juice.
Because this fruit contains an enormous amount of Seeds, it is regarded as a symbol of fertility,
prosperity, abundance, and generosity. Not to mention, that they taste amazing!!!!

The glass dome on this necklace pendant measures 1" in diameter and has a height of 11mm and sits in a silver plated metal bezel.

Wednesday, April 16

Fill Your Space with Love and Art

If you are looking for something new to brighten up your home, bring fertility art into your space for good luck. This is the Sacred Fertility Goddess print of painting available by Portland based artist Tamara Adams. 

Monday, April 14

Nutritional Shakes to Support Fertility

Here is a relatively new product on the market that may be interesting to you and your partner.  They are from California and was created by Dan Frey, his naturopath fertility specialist and ABCO Labs in Fairfield California.

The Fertility Drinks LLC has created a healthy and delicious shake that is safe, effective and affordable. It comes in Vanilla and Chocolate and has no artificial dyes, colors or preservatives. 

All you have to do is mix it with milk, juice or water. You can add fruit, ice and other ingredients to make a great tasting smoothie. 

It is specifically designed to provide optimum reproductive healthy benefits with a woman's and man's unique nutritional requirements in mind.

It is more potent and easier to take than a pill. 

FertiliShake and ViriliShake

Friday, April 11

Miscarriage Prevention: New Protocol Developed by Mike Berkley to Help Prevent Miscarriage

For many years I never needled the abdomen of a pregnant woman for fear of causing miscarriage. This method of behavior stems in part from fear of over-stimulating blood flow to the embryo or placenta. This thinking, as I have recently discovered, is incorrect. It has taken me ten years of study and research to enable me to fully understand what is happening in the uterus after a successful pregnancy and why abdominal acupuncture for the first three months of pregnancy is not only safe but serves significantly to prevent miscarriage.

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At the luteal phase or secretory phase of the menstrual cycle the predominant hormone is progesterone. Progesterone is created from the follicle that has ovulated the mature egg. This follicle is now known as the 'yellow body' or corpus lutuem. The corpus luteum, under the influence of luteinizing hormone which emanates from the anterior pituitary in the brain secretes progesterone. This action is done to enable the uterine lining to be amenable to a successful embryo implantation and pregnancy. If pregnancy is not successful, the corpus luteum becomes atretic (dies) and progesterone levels diminish and menstruation starts.

When a woman does successfully become pregnant, the LH which is required to maintain high levels of progesterone (P) no longer comes from the anterior pituitary gland in the brain. It comes in fact, from the developing blastocyst itself. The blastocyst (developing baby), secretes HCG or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin which has a very similar molecular structure to LH. The HCG causes the corpus luteum to continue to secrete P (this is called corpus luteum- rescue), until the placenta is fully formed at which point the placenta itself secretes appropriate amounts of P to help maintain pregnancy.

So, if the developing blastocyst is responsible for secreting HCG to keep itself alive it made sense to me to use very few and well placed needles in the abdomen to gently stimulate blood flow to the blastocyst so that P would continue to be secreted from the corpus luteum. 

This, in my opinion is one of the major ways that miscarriage prevention can be achieved with acupuncture. I am the first one to arrive at this idea and have been using it with great success.  My protocol consists of using acupuncture twice weekly for 13 weeks after IUI, IVF or donor-egg or after a natural pregnancy is confirmed. The majority of miscarriages occur within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Our goal is to take the patient one week outside of the danger zone; this is why we treat for 13 weeks and not 12.

After 6 or 7 weeks the placenta is formed and it secretes P. The corpus luteum is no longer necessary. But, one of the major causes of miscarriage is inappropriate blood flow to the placenta. One of the causes of this is due to thrombophilic disorders (The tendency to form blood clots).  But clinically what does this mean? Blood carries oxygen, hormones and nutrients to the placenta and excretes dead cells from it.

These dead cells are called 'debris'. By continuing to use abdominal acupuncture, we continue to gently stimulate  blood flow to the placenta (reducing the effects of poor hemodynamics which can occur due to thrombophilic disorder or just poor circulation), maintaining its ability to secrete P, estrogen, human placental-lactogen, relaxin and other hormones necessary for the maintenance of a healthy pregnancy.

I am constantly studying Western reproductive medicine and translating my findings into a Chinese medical model which serves to increase a useful knowledge-base to help couples achieve pregnancy. However, achieving pregnancy is only half the battle. The other half is maintaining a healthy pregnancy.  The focus of many acupuncturists is to help their patients become pregnant. This too is my first goal, but only my first. My second goal is to maintain a viable pregnancy and this is where my research and studies are now taking me. 

This new Berkley Center protocol is working wonders for those suffering with repeated pregnancy loss, as well as those who have had difficulty in conceiving.

Acupuncture treatment for the infertile patient as well as the patient suffering with repeated pregnancy loss must be continued after pregnancy is achieved to increase the odds of a successful, full-term pregnancy.  Treatment should be continued for thirteen weeks, as 90% of miscarriages occur within the first trimester.

Mike Berkley, L.Ac., FABORM

Wednesday, April 9

In your Forties and Trying-to-Conceive?

Advanced Maternal Age + Pregnancy

Many women are trying-to-conceive while in their forties. Chances for success are limited and
even if conception is achieved, the rate of miscarriage is high. The reason it is difficult to
conceive is because the woman in her forties has (generally speaking) diminished ovarian
reserve and a reduction in egg quality.

After several failed IVF cycles the usual next step is donor egg. Donor egg has between a 60 and
70 percent success rate.

Rate limiting factors may include but are not limited to poor uterine lining, poor sperm quality,
and disease (autoimmune attack of the embryo – or poor patency of blood flow not nourishing
the embryo or placenta).

Acupuncture and herbal medicine cannot increase ovarian reserve, but it can improve egg,
lining and sperm quality in many instances. The mechanism-of-action is improved blood flow-
to the ovaries and testes. A “perfect” 10 millimeter lining is not necessarily “perfect”. Many 10
millimeter linings do not have proper blood flow within the lining and this compromises the
ability of the lining to maintain an implantation. The eggs of a woman in her forties can always
stand to be improved. The sperm in a man in his mid to late forties is often sub-par and may
often be improved with acupuncture and herbs.

I don’t, for example, believe that acupuncture and herbal medicine can get one pregnant
The desired and often obtained end result of the inclusion of acupuncture and herbal medicine
when trying-to-conceive is an improvement in egg, lining and sperm quality. An IVF-embryo
transfer is a ‘mechanical’ procedure: eggs are retrieved, mixed with sperm, embryos develop,
and are placed in the uterus and the rest is pure luck.

IVF or IUI has no bearing on improving the chances of conception and an ongoing pregnancy via
the mechanism of improving the constituent components of an embryo – egg and sperm.
Acupuncture and herbs often fill in this gap. If egg and sperm and lining quality can be improved
even a little bit, this may significantly enhance pregnancy outcomes.

Our expectations are not unrealistic. I don’t, for example, believe that acupuncture and herbal
medicine can get one pregnant any more than an IVF can get one pregnant, even though
pregnancies do occur as a result of both interventions occasionally. Pregnancy occurs as a
result of the relative health of the woman who is housing the embryo in addition to the quality
of the embryo and uterine lining. Many things can go wrong resulting in failed cycles.

So, at the end of the day IUI, IVF, acupuncture and herbal medicine can help a woman conceive
but cannot guarantee success. The key is this: you have the power to use additive means which
today, more than ever, are at your disposal to help increase the odds of a healthy, ongoing
pregnancy. Acupuncture and herbs are just but two. Psychotherapy, diet, exercise, biofeedback,
yoga, taichi, and meditation can also be helpful.

Did you know that pregnant women who are highly stressed are more likely to give birth
prematurely? This is a fact. Acupuncture, besides it action on the testes and ovaries and lining

is also known to help reduce stress.

Monday, April 7

Acupuncture Could Play A Useful Role In The Treatment Of Female Infertility

Doctors at the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at Cornell’s Weill Medical College have investigated the potential usefulness of acupuncture in enhancing female fertility.

photo via

Traditional Chinese medicine would attribute a disease state, such as infertility, to energy disturbances or imbalances, or organ deficiencies and excesses. Acupuncture is used in this system as a way to correct disruptions in the flow of Qi (energy) and bring the body back to good health. Doctors Chang, Chung, and Rosenwaks examined the current literature on acupuncture from the perspective of Western medicine seeking to determine its impact on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and the pelvic organs, and its potential for easing stress and anxiety.

Connections were found between acupuncture and the production of endorphins, which affect hormones playing a part in the menstrual cycle. In addition, studies were identified indicating that acupuncture can have an impact on ovulation.

Stress and anxiety, which too often accompany infertility, and possibly exacerbate the condition, can be relieved by acupuncture. Studies have been done, as well, on its use in relieving depression. As the impact of anxiolytic drugs and anti-depressants on infertility treatment is unknown, acupuncture presents an alternative for infertility patients.

Based on the preliminary clinical data showing acupuncture’s neuroendocrine effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and peripheral impact on improving uterine blood flow and endometrial thickness, the authors feel that clinical trials are warranted to investigate systematically the efficacy of acupuncture in treating various conditions related to female infertility. As the physiologic mechanisms underlying acupuncture are becoming better understood, the technique has been shown in trials to relieve pain, alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea, and to treat for substance abuse. If trials show that it has a positive effect on the physiology affecting fertility, it could become a useful adjunct to established treatments.

Friday, April 4

Acupuncture in IVF Linked to Lower Miscarriage and Ectopic Rates

PHILADELPHIA — Women who receive acupuncture during the stimulation phase of an in vitro fertilization cycle and again immediately after embryo transfer have a higher live-birth rate than do controls, according to the first acupuncture study with this end point.

“Other studies have looked at pregnancy rates, but what is really important is whether or not there is a baby,” said Paul C. Magarelli, M.D., who reported his findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

The retrospective study included 131 women who were undergoing standard in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). All of these women were considered good prognosis candidates for IVF/ICSI and were given the choice of having acupuncture.

A total of 83 women declined (controls) and 48 accepted.
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There were no significant differences between the two groups in terms of infertility diagnoses, demographics, and treatment protocols, except that sperm morphology was slightly better in the partners of women receiving acupuncture (7.3% vs. 5.9 % normal forms with strict criteria evaluation), and the average uterine artery pulsatility index was lower in the acupuncture group (1.57 vs. 1.72), said Dr. Magarelli of the department of ob.gyn. at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

The study found that pregnancy rates per embryo transfer were not significantly different between the two groups (50% in the acupuncture group and 45% in controls).

The miscarriage rate was almost halved in the acupuncture group (8% vs. 14%).

In addition, the rate of ectopic pregnancies was significantly lower in the acupuncture group—0 of 24 pregnancies (0%) vs. 2 of 37 pregnancies (9%), said Dr. Magarelli, who is also in private practice in Colorado Springs and Albuquerque.

Thus, the live-birth rate per IVF/ICSI cycle was significantly higher in the acupuncture group than in controls (21% vs. 16%).

“The live-birth rate per pregnancy is an even more telling number, since some cycles get cancelled. There was a 42% live-birth rate per pregnancy in the acupuncture group, compared to a 35% rate in the nonacupuncture group,” Dr. Magarelli said in an interview with this newspaper.

“We believe that what we are doing is improving the uterine environment such that implantation is improved,” he added.

The study used two acupuncture protocols.

The Stener-Victorin electrostimulation protocol—which has been shown to reduce high uterine artery blood flow impedence, or pulsatility index (Hum. Reprod. 1996;11:1314-7)—was used for eight treatments during ovarian stimulation.

The second acupuncture technique—the Paulus protocol, which has been associated with improved pregnancy rates (Fertil. Steril. 2002;77:721-4)—was used within 24 hours before the embryo transfer and 1 hour after.
“This protocol has demonstrated reductions in uterine contractility, so by relaxing the uterus before the embryo transfer and immediately after, we felt we were setting up a better environment for implantation,” Dr. Magarelli said.

For more information on IVF and acupuncture, visit