In 2017, healthy and settled in their lives and careers, Elizabeth and James Greene were ready to start their family. Elizabeth, 34, set aside her successful dance career and casually looked forward to pregnancy. But when a full year passed without success, frustrated and disappointed, the couple turned to medical expertise. In 2018, when normal lab, imaging and exam findings resulted in a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility,” they pursued medical intervention. Hormone treatments and three intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedures were unsuccessful. By 2019, two years had passed without conception, the hormones were making Elizabeth feel terrible and she had become extremely stressed. So they chose a different health care system and physician, hoping to find success. That doctor, a specialist in in vitro fertilization (IVF), started Elizabeth on a new regimen of basal body temperature charting along with hormone treatments and continuing IUI procedures. Initially the temperature charts were “all over the place.”
Meanwhile, desperate, Elizabeth had continued researching on her own for answers. She had learned that acupuncture might help with fertility as well as stress relief. So, in August 2019, at the recommendation of Michael Peterson, PA-C, physician assistant in the office of her primary care physician, she began seeing Lake Health’s naturopathic provider Jacob Wolf, ND, for acupuncture treatments and additional naturopathic support. The 30- to 45-minute acupuncture visits were scheduled every week or two.
“Acupuncture is a great addition to infertility treatments, not just for known, but also unknown causes of infertility,” says Jacob. “Elizabeth’s treatments and their timing were adjusted based on what we were working on and where she was in her cycle.”
“Initially I didn’t see any sense in my temperature charts, but he saw where I needed to be tweaked,” says Elizabeth. “In addition to providing acupuncture treatments, he understood the goals of the reproductive specialist and supported those with herbal therapies, natural supplements and dietary advice. And, although my husband wasn’t being treated with acupuncture, he was following Jacob’s vitamin and supplement suggestions to optimize his health too.
“I came to Jacob very broken, emotional and stressed, and he had homeopathic remedies for that as well,” she continued. “I did whatever he said and I could feel myself start to calm down. Even though I was still taking added hormones, his treatments helped my body receive them, stay balanced and return to a more natural state. The biggest difference I saw was that in two to three cycles my temperature charts were making sense! Right away I knew the evidence was there that acupuncture was working.”
In March 2020, all IUI procedures and hormone treatments through Elizabeth’s reproductive specialist were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jacob took over her complete care. Without added hormones, in April and May 2020 Elizabeth had natural cycles. In May she became pregnant! She had undergone 23 acupuncture visits with Jacob before she conceived and continued acupuncture with “happy baby” needling every three to four weeks during the pregnancy to sustain it. Very near the end of her pregnancy she had back-to-back visits to support labor.
On February 6, 2021, she went into labor at 3 am, was at the hospital at 6 am and delivered Dean James, 7 pounds, 7 ounces, with ease at 7:07 am. The hospital staff remarked that monitoring showed the baby was “happy,” with no physical spikes or crises throughout labor and delivery.
“Jacob was always focused on me, answered all my questions and never gave up, even when I had doubts. He was the big puzzle piece that helped me conceive,” Elizabeth says. “And I developed a close bond with his nurse, Donna Havas. There was such a connection between us that I asked her to help me with Dean’s first sponge bath at home.”
“It has been an honor to be part of this wonderful journey with her,” says Donna. “This experience has been the highlight of my 40 year nursing career. Jacob has a special gift and his patients are lucky to have him.”
“Acupuncture is a safe and effective tool to help in the pre-conception, pregnancy and post-delivery phases of a fertility journey. It can help bring physical and emotional balance into a time that can be stressful,” says Jacob. “It can be used in tandem with conventional therapies and there are good studies showing that acupuncture can help improve success rates from IVF and IUI. I do see patients who are following that path. It’s also effective for male factor infertility. It’s not painful and most patients end up falling asleep during the treatment sessions. Acupuncture doesn’t have to be a treatment of last resort.”
You should know
About one in eight couples deals with infertility.
Jacob Wolf, ND, LAc, Dipl. OM, provides acupuncture treatments in the Integrative Medicine suite at the Brunner Sanden Deitrick Wellness Campus in Mentor.
Meet the providers
Jacob Wolf, ND, LAc, Dipl. OM
Specialty: naturopathic provider
Office: Mentor, 440-255-5508
Michael Peterson, PA-C
Office: Mentor, 440-255-7938
Donna Havas, LPN
Office: Mentor, 440-255-5508