From the time I first visited a Gynecologist and he suspected I had endometriosis to undergoing a laparoscopy was a total of ten days. I had a pap smear result come back as abnormal (on the serious side/pre-cancer) a few days after my initial visit and four days later I was going under anesthetic for the surgery to not only determine if I had endometriosis, but if I was in fact in the pre-cancer stage or early cervical cancer. Six weeks post surgery, I was still experiencing a lot of pain. I was told this was normal. That everyone heals differently. That the surgery may not improve any of the endometriosis symptoms. I was also told that we would struggle to conceive. But go and try for six months then come back and we’ll start fertility treatments. I was devastated. My sister had suggested months before that I try acupuncture. I’d always had an excuse or was too busy. Post-surgery, however, I wanted to find a natural way to help deal with the pain, improve my cycle and my chances of conceiving. Now I’m not sure why I ever put it off.
There is a definite difference between the way a traditional medical practitioner/specialist deals with patients and a holistic healer deals with patients. Angela knows more about me (and my bodily fluid/bowel movements) than she’d probably like too!! Treatments with natural healers tend to be a lot less awkward than appointments with medical practitioners… for starters natural healers tend to listen. They work with you to heal you at every layer and they work with traditional medical practices to try and provide you with overall well-being and health, as well as targeting specific health issues.
Recently I had a chat with Angela about Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and how it can help with fertility and general well-being, as well as her journey into a health field that isn’t regarded as “traditional” in the Western world.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a proud mumma bear of 4 children, Luke 19, Ethan 16, Samuel 13 and Kaleya 2. In my spare time I’m an acupuncturist. I grew up in Byron Bay, love the water (it calms me), I can’t cook, love eating, enjoy reading and loathe exercise!
What was it that drew you to Acupuncture/Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?
I had a background of allied health and at the age of 30 decided to go back and follow my passion of helping people heal themselves. I adore the way TCM uses poetry to describe the body’s natural function to bring balance.
How does Acupuncture/Traditional Chinese Medicine work?
I describe the practice of acupuncture as your body turning on a light bulb that has been turned off. There are specific mechanisms the body needs to have in order for you to remain healthy and sometimes we as a modern society eat the wrong foods, work too hard, or don’t sleep enough. So with some diet changes, relaxation and treatment, your body can return to its balanced stated again.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of sterile needles into specific points along the body’s meridians to clear energy blockages. It is a natural form of healing and can treat a wide range of illnesses, chronic health problems and maintain general well-being.
How does Acupuncture work when treating fertility issues?
The main aim when accessing acupuncture for fertility reasons, is to regulate your cycle.
There is a misconception in society among women that it’s ok to have painful, heavy periods. Young women as young as 14-15 years experience the onset of their periods and they go to their GP and start on the pill. Our diet heavily based on diary and bread also affect the reproductive system. So with that in mind, my treatments are based on resolving these problems that can arise from a diet and medications that react with the reproductive system.
A regular cycle can be 28 days, bleed for 5 and no pain, and good sound blood quality. Acupuncture helps influence the mechanism to help the body self regulate and enhancing ovulation or helping to clear out the period and regulate your cycle. If a patient has a medically diagnosed condition such as PCOS or endometriosis, supplements and certain acupuncture points help that condition. When trying to conceive ensuring your cycle is working correctly, addressing your diet, reducing stress and getting sleep is important. Acupuncture calms your nervous system, improves your digestion and quality of sleep.
What has been a highlight of your work with acupuncture as a treatment for fertility issues?
The most joy I have in my career is helping women conceive. We meet regularly (once a week) working in the cycle, they fall pregnant and then return for birthing prep at 36 weeks and sometimes seek induction at 40weeks.
One particular patient comes to mind, she was seeing me for fertility help. She had a severe medical condition which limited her chances of conceiving naturally and was told she needed IVF. We discussed her options and I advised 3 months to try and regulate her cycle. Two treatments in and I felt a change in her pulse (pregnancy pulse can be detected in TCM), 2 weeks later it was confirmed she was pregnant. I had since moved practices and this patient came into my new clinic to have a massage with out massage therapist. She burst into tears of joy having found me, and was so happy to reconnect. This patient credits me for helping her conceive naturally and helping in her journey to parenthood. She now knew where I was working and returned for pregnancy care at 35 weeks. A beautiful healthy baby was born at 39 weeks by natural birth and the assistance of acupuncture. We did induction at her last appointment which help bring her baby into the world.
This is my world, my vocation is helping women to become mothers!
Has there ever been a time where chasing your dream has seemed too difficult? What helped to keep you on your path, rather than returning to the security of your previous job/way of life?
My degree took 5 years with a two year break during which I got divorced and re-partnered. I had 3 boys to raise on my own, I worked as a massage therapist through my degree and at times questioned my ability to be a good mother, friend and could I even do this once I had finished.
It was the most challenging but rewarding pursuits I have ever done.
It would have been so easy to go back to my ‘job’, earn money and just live but I wanted to create a life where I was living and loving what I do. I had always been whimsical and never really stuck to anything I was passionate about. For me, acupuncture is a my dao – my way, my path. I observe nature, try to eat what is in season, such as eating root veggies and going to bed early in winter. Observe the moon and planets and the effects on people.
I can honestly say, hand on heart I love acupuncture and have found my true passion.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far on your journey?
Always trust your gut (literally), your gut or instinct, feelings and functional workings don’t lie.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My beautiful and beloved father told me to always have faith in my ability, as a mother, practitioner and person.
Without my tribe I would not have the blessed life I have! This year I was able to travel to Hawaii for my 40th and Bali later in the year. My tribe give me the hard honest truth, love me for who I am and tell me when I’m being less than authentic. My children are blessed with a tribe to balance me, support me and teach them knowledge I may not have and support me to share these ideals, beliefs and manners that are important to me with my children.