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…some of the babies we helped bring into the world

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In the initial stages of our fertility practice we tried treating everyone with only acupuncture and herbs. While we had many successes, there were subsets of difficult cases that did not respond to our usual modalities. We ultimately discovered that many of those patients needed an increase in treatment intensity. Rather than having them come in for acupuncture daily (which is what is often done in China), we began customizing yoga poses that worked on each patient’s individual condition. We immediately started seeing improvements in many of our difficult patients. Over time, and with a lot of tweaking, we narrowed the poses down to modifications that worked consistently in most people. We decided to standardize these and release a DVD set (now also available as a download through Vimeo) with the routines. Since the release of the DVD set, we have had hundreds of reports of pregnancies following their use. Interestingly, two of the three actors in the DVD set became pregnant within 3 months of filming. We have received many emails with many questions. In response we created this FAQ which can be viewed by clicking the plus sign below. If you are interested in using the routines, the DVD set can be purchased at our office, through Amazon, or through Vimeo as a download or for streaming (recommended).

Yes! You can purchase either a downloadable version on Vimeo or the DVD set on Amazon.

Contact the place where you purchased the DVD and ask them to resolve the issue according to their policies. If they are being unreasonable, then please contact us and we will try to get things resolved for you.

Unfortunately the DVDs were only shot in SD. We chose SD because the cost at the time of production for HD was prohibitive and the DVDs are meant to be instructional videos rather than cinematic visual experiences. We haven’t decided to reshoot the videos because many women have found them to be very effective as-is and we are spending our additional time and resources now on a prenatal yoga video to accompany the fertility DVDs.

 
  1. We have noticed significant improvements in our patients who use the DVD sets regularly. Interestingly, two of the three instructors in the DVD got pregnant for the first time shortly after recording the DVD (to our knowledge, the third was not trying). They had been practicing for a while to familiarize themselves with the routines before recording began. While it would require a large scale controlled study to make any definitive statements, anecdotally it is helping our patients and we see significant improvements in patients that use the DVD sets regularly. Also, keep in mind that the sets are based on Chinese medicine fertility principles and that the creators of the sets have extensive experience treating infertility. They were developed specifically to address some of the most problematic areas.
  2.  
 

First, get a pregnancy test. If that’s negative, then there are two methods we use: (Method 1) stick with either the follicular or ovulatory phases until you get your period. Then cycle normally. For many people the cycles will normalize within 6 cycles. (Method 2: cycle with the moon) Do 1 month of the ovulatory phase then 2 weeks of follicular phase and then start doing the phases according to the lunar cycle. New Moon is menstrual phase for 4 days, then switch to the follicular phase until a day or two before the full moon. At that time, switch to the ovulatory phase. 3 days after the full moon go to the luteal phase and then keep repeating this cycle. If your period doesn’t return within 6 months then you should see an acupuncturist (assuming you have already talked to your obgyn). Acupuncture is excellent at regulating cycles in most cases.

 

If a particular phase makes you feel really good afterward, there is something you particularly need in that set, so you should do it more often subject to the following: (i) If the follicular phase set feels particularly good, just keep doing the follicular phase until you would normally do the luteal phase (i.e., skip the ovulatory phase yoga). (ii) If the ovulatory phase feels particularly good, then substitute the follicular set with the ovulatory set (iii) If the luteal phase feels particularly good, you can add that set to the follicular and the ovulatory phases. In other words, you would do two different sets during your follicular and ovulatory phases. (iv) If the menstrual phase feels particularly good, then you can do that during your entire cycle, coupled with the phase appropriate set. During menses, no other sets or yoga should be done except for the menstrual set.

 

One time per day is sufficient for most people. For people with high stress, diabetes, PCOS or weight problems, it is preferable to do one set 2x/day (at different times of the day if possible). During your menses, limit your yoga sessions to one time per day. Some people do well with two sets in a row. Use how you feel as a gauge. When we were preparing for the shoot, the instructors were doing it multiple times throughout the day and that seemed to work for them.

 

During the follicular and ovulatory phases, it can be beneficial to add other yoga sets that you feel good doing. The areas we are working on are great for optimizing your fertility, but there are other aspects that are good to work on as well. These DVDs are not a substitute for a knowledgable teacher. During the luteal phase you should not engage in overly intense yogas and we do not recommend doing yoga during your menses at all (other than the menstrual phase yoga), unless you are receiving individualized instruction from a teacher who has a very thorough knowledge of the female reproductive tract and the problems that can be caused by improper poses at this time.

You should do everything on the normal schedule. In other words, you will be doing the ovulatory phase for a long time, and preferably you will be doing all phases 2x/day except for the menstrual phase.

 

Other than a towel, there is nothing you need. You may of course use blocks and so forth and we tried to demonstrate some of the potential uses for the blocks, but again they aren’t necessary.

The reason we didn’t do this is that infertility is a subspecialty in Chinese medicine. It is immensely complicated from a Chinese medicine meridian perspective and involves over 50 different meridians, each having their own technical characteristics and roles in fertility. We were, however, interviewed for an article in the New York Post that was published in the June edition of 2012, but they never provided us with a copy of it. However, we still have the explanation that was sent to the interviewer and we presume the article was based to some degree on that and so here it is:

Draft for NYPost re Fertility Yoga

The body is a delicate balance of structure and function. The structure is obvious because it is tangible, but the functional aspects aren’t visible to the naked eye. Over thousands of years, Eastern medicine has delineated networks of energy channels and how they deliver energy to the organs, and how the organs can communicate energy and signals to other parts of the body. While some aspects of the energetic communications were later discovered by Western medicine to include the nervous and endocrine systems, other aspects (namely the energy channels or “meridians” that deliver the energy) are still mysterious and the subject of thousands of high tech studies. The sets developed by the DVD address all of these aspects and are designed to prioritize what should be happening in the respective phase of the reproductive cycle.

Follicular phase:

In this phase, the follicles and uterine lining are growing. While there are other important factors happening from an energetic standpoint, from a biological standpoint this phase relies heavily on the so-called “HPO axis” (hypothalamus, pituitary ovarian). This axis controls the hormones that signal the follicles to grow properly, the uterine lining to thicken, cervical mucous to be secreted and many other functions.

A simple but powerful exercise to stimulate the HPO axis is the “forward fold” that is done within the follicular set. To do this (1) sit Japanese style (2) place the thumbs at the bottom of the ring fingers and make fists, (3) Put the fists over your ovaries and fold forward. (4) the forehead (around the level of the eyebrows) should be resting on something. If you can touch the floor, great. If not, then stack some books, or use a block to rest your forehead on. The forehead pressure activates acupuncture points that send energy into the area of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, while the fists stimulate the ovaries. The compression should be done no longer than 30 seconds, though you can do this pose several times throughout the day. The decompression is just as important as the compression, so do not hold the pose too long. It should be comfortable.

Ovulatory phase:

In the ovulatory phase, there needs to be a surge of energy to cause the follicles to rupture and an egg to be released. Hormonally this involves a shift to higher frequency pulsations from the hypothalamus which causes a surge of LH (Luteinizing Hormone). Therefore, more movement is helpful in this phase, but it should be targeted to help increase metabolic activity and to help deliver energy into the ovaries.

A simple but powerful exercise to facilitate ovulation can be done as follows: (1) Sit Japanese Style, (2) place a rolled towel in between your legs so there is some pressure on the perineum (the spot in between your vagina and anus), (3) bend elbows and place the hands on the shoulders, lifting the elbows creating a 90 degree angle between the arm and the torso and pulling the arms back as much as possible to open the chest, (4) rotate the body left and right relatively quickly. One cycle of twisting left and then right should take about a second.

The opening of the chest with that arm position stimulates the lungs, which in acupuncture theory controls the movement of energy, and simultaneously activates the ovaries through the twist to direct the energy into the ovaries. It also stimulates the small intestine, which provides the foundational energy to drive the LH surge and a channel around the waist that controls pulsation frequency. The pressure from the towel activates a point that controls cell receptors and begins preparing the uterus for implantation. Therefore, this pose is one in the series that can be very helpful to stimulate ovulation and begin preparation for the luteal phase.

Luteal Phase:

From an Eastern perspective, the luteal phase involves both the physical aspects of implantation, and the spiritual aspects of welcoming in that which animates us, which they call the “spirit”. The spirit is believed to enter in through the chest and the lungs bring it into the uterus. As a result, the chest and diaphragm should be open for this to happen. At the same time, the physical aspects of implantation are occurring which require strong enzymatic activity as well as immune regulation. Therefore, the poses in this phase focus on both of these aspects.

A simple pose that can help facilitate this process can be done as follows: (1) Sit on the ground with legs extended in front of you (2) Extend arms out to the sides with fingers pointing up, as if pushing agains a wall to your side, (3) bend knees slightly pulling the toes up.

The opening of the chest is different than in the ovulatory phase. This activates the lung, small intestine and pericardium channels. When combined with the position of the legs and feet it activates one of the “extraordinary” channels that governs the beginning of life and is considered to be analogous to governing the unfolding and expression of our DNA.

Menstrual Phase:

During the menstrual phase, we want to facilitate the discharge of the uterine lining and make sure we don’t cause reflux of menstrual blood. One pose that can help with this can be done as follows: (1) Sit in “butterfly” position with the soles of the feet touching.

(2) Wrap your index and middle fingers around the big toes and press on the big toenail.

(3) Bend forward.

This pose opens the uterus and the pressure created by the forward bend helps push out menstrual blood. The big toenail pressure activates acupuncture points that help to discharge pathology from the body, particularly those that cause poor circulation and clotting, and those that cause poor responses to cell signaling.

The menstrual phase is done while bleeding. After spotting has ceased, begin the follicular phase and continue through day 9. From day 10 until day 14 (or 2 days after getting positive ovulation predictor kit) use the ovulatory phase. The luteal phase set begins on day 15 and continues until your period. Note: You can use the ovulatory set a little earlier as well if it feels good to you or if you are not ovulating on time. In such cases, you can start around day 12.

 

If you are spotting in the luteal phase it could be “implantation spotting” or a period beginning. Our recommendations are to stop yoga until either full bleeding begins or you find out you are pregnant. If you are spotting after your period then continue menstrual yoga until your spotting stops or you are otherwise instructed by your health care provider.

 

Egg quality can take a little longer to correct due to the amount of time it takes and egg to mature and actually ovulate. Embryo problems also come from sperm issues in many cases, so make sure your partner is working on himself as well. One thing that can be very helpful for embryo quality is: at the end of the follicular and ovulatory phases, when you are resting, put the center of your palms over your ovaries (approximate position) and imagine a pleasant white light is going into them from the center of your palms. Then smile at your ovaries (don’t actually move your lips in a smile, but it should feel like you are smiling without actually smiling). It may sound a little silly, but it is very powerful. By the way you can do the same thing in the luteal phase but over the uterus instead. Don’t do it during the menstrual phase. The key to this is not to concentrate too hard, just put the intention in it and relax.

The fertility yoga sets were designed to support natural cycles. IVF is usually a process whereby the ovaries undergo controlled hyperstimulation (COH). While there are techniques of undergoing IVF without using pharmaceuticals, currently most clinics use COH. For these patients, our general guidelines are to use the menstrual phase when bleeding or spotting and use the follicular phase after that. Once you begin stimulation drugs (gonadotropins like Follistim, Gonal-F, etc.), we recommend discontinuing our yoga sets unless your doctor approves. There are multiple reasons for this, but the main reason is that COH tends to produce multiple large follicles. Under natural circumstances you will have only one or two dominant follicles. In COH we have seen numbers as high as 100 follicles. Obviously under these circumstances some of the poses could potentially create mechanical problems given the physical pressure put on the ovaries if there are large amounts of follicles. Your doctor will know if the sets are safe depending on how many follicles you have and their sizes. As a side note, these precautions hold true for any exercise other than walking or normal movements, so they are not specific to the fertility yoga sets.

 

The luteal phase yoga set is designed (clearly) to support the Luteal phase and can be used post IVF. However, you should ask your doctor about the specifics of your situation. Most doctors want a 24-48 hour resting period following ET. During the resting period (and thereafter) it is very beneficial to do the last pose of the luteal phase set, which is designed to facilitate implantation. You don’t need your doctor’s permission to do this particular pose. This is the pose that involves walking your hands up the centerline and back down to the uterine area. It is energy work that is done on the acupuncture channel called the “conception vessel”. You could do that 2-3x/day.

 

If you are healthy and feel good, usually the ovulatory set first until you get a period. If you are not healthy, use the menstrual phase. If you have any bleeding at all, then only use the menstrual phase while bleeding. This is typically the best way to help facilitate full expulsion and to prepare your uterus for a fresh start to the next cycle and hopefully to another pregnancy that will go to term!

 

The sets are designed to facilitate implantation, however, once you are pregnant, our generalized recommendation is to discontinue any exercise (including yoga) until week 17. Prior to that, the fetus is much more susceptible to improper exertion. You will likely find many yoga instructors that disagree, however, our position is supported by at least one clinical trial that showed increased miscarriage rates from exercise prior to week 17. Our patient population consists of people who have typically had a very difficult time getting pregnant and, as a result, we are more conservative about the potential for pregnancy loss. We do encourage our patients to move around regularly throughout the day to facilitate proper circulation, through walking and doing various activities that don’t involve a lot of exertion or certain kinds of stretching poses (too numerous to list here).

 

I had been trying to get pregnant for several years with no success and no one could figure out why. My friend recommended the Lotus Center and wow, I've been to acupuncturists before but not like these people. They figured out something my other doctors missed and I am holding my baby girl as I write this!

Ashley F.

After multiple rounds of IVF failures, my doctor said it was due to my uterus lining being too thin (it was 5mm). She referred me to the Lotus Center. Within 3 months my lining went from 5mm to 8mm! If you have a thin lining, this is the place to go. The acupuncturists here are amazing. 

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Phoebe C.

I was told that my eggs were bad and that I would need donor eggs to get pregnant because of my age (43 at the time). When I went to the Lotus Center, they told me my eggs were not working well because the environment in my body needed to be changed. After 6 months of acupuncture, taking herbs and making dietary changes I got pregnant on my own, but miscarried. Dr. Horn encouraged me that it was a good sign that my body was able to get pregnant and to keep going. 3 months later I was pregnant again with my baby girl! 

specialist-fertility

Shirley K.

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FAQ

  1. Is there a downloadable version?
    Yes! You can purchase either a downloadable version on Vimeo or the DVD set on Amazon.
  2. My DVD isn't working properly, what do I do?
    Contact the place where you purchased the DVD and ask them to resolve the issue according to their policies. If they are being unreasonable, then please contact us and we will try to get things resolved for you.
  3. Can I get the DVDs in HD? I prefer higher video quality
    Unfortunately the DVDs were only shot in SD. We chose SD because the cost at the time of production for HD was prohibitive and the DVDs are meant to be instructional videos rather than cinematic visual experiences. We haven't decided to reshoot the videos because many women have found them to be very effective as-is and we are spending our additional time and resources now on a prenatal yoga video to accompany the fertility DVDs.
  4. Have you seen improved pregnancy rates with the DVD set?
    We have noticed significant improvements in our patients who use the DVD sets regularly. Interestingly, two of the three instructors in the DVD got pregnant for the first time shortly after recording the DVD (to our knowledge, the third was not trying). They had been practicing for a while to familiarize themselves with the routines before recording began. While it would require a large scale controlled study to make any definitive statements, anecdotally it is helping our patients and we see significant improvements in patients that use the DVD sets regularly. Also, keep in mind that the sets are based on Chinese medicine fertility principles and that the creators of the sets have extensive experience treating infertility. They were developed specifically to address some of the most problematic areas.
  5. I haven't gotten my period in a long time, where do I start?
    First, get a pregnancy test. If that's negative, then there are two methods we use: (Method 1) stick with either the follicular or ovulatory phases until you get your period. Then cycle normally. For many people the cycles will normalize within 6 cycles. (Method 2: cycle with the moon) Do 1 month of the ovulatory phase then 2 weeks of follicular phase and then start doing the phases according to the lunar cycle. New Moon is menstrual phase for 4 days, then switch to the follicular phase until a day or two before the full moon. At that time, switch to the ovulatory phase. 3 days after the full moon go to the luteal phase and then keep repeating this cycle. If your period doesn't return within 6 months then you should see an acupuncturist (assuming you have already talked to your obgyn). Acupuncture is excellent at regulating cycles in most cases.
  6. I feel really good after doing the follicular phase, but I only get to do it a few days of the cycle. Can I do it more often?
    If a particular phase makes you feel really good afterward, there is something you particularly need in that set, so you should do it more often subject to the following: (i) If the follicular phase set feels particularly good, just keep doing the follicular phase until you would normally do the luteal phase (i.e., skip the ovulatory phase yoga). (ii) If the ovulatory phase feels particularly good, then substitute the follicular set with the ovulatory set (iii) If the luteal phase feels particularly good, you can add that set to the follicular and the ovulatory phases. In other words, you would do two different sets during your follicular and ovulatory phases. (iv) If the menstrual phase feels particularly good, then you can do that during your entire cycle, coupled with the phase appropriate set. During menses, no other sets or yoga should be done except for the menstrual set.
  7. What is the recommended frequency to do the sets?
    One time per day is sufficient for most people. For people with high stress, diabetes, PCOS or weight problems, it is preferable to do one set 2x/day (at different times of the day if possible). During your menses, limit your yoga sessions to one time per day. Some people do well with two sets in a row. Use how you feel as a gauge. When we were preparing for the shoot, the instructors were doing it multiple times throughout the day and that seemed to work for them.
  8. Can I do other yoga while doing these sets?
    During the follicular and ovulatory phases, it can be beneficial to add other yoga sets that you feel good doing. The areas we are working on are great for optimizing your fertility, but there are other aspects that are good to work on as well. These DVDs are not a substitute for a knowledgable teacher. During the luteal phase you should not engage in overly intense yogas and we do not recommend doing yoga during your menses at all (other than the menstrual phase yoga), unless you are receiving individualized instruction from a teacher who has a very thorough knowledge of the female reproductive tract and the problems that can be caused by improper poses at this time.
  9. I have PCOS and very long cycles (I don't ovulate until day 37), which phase should I do?
    You should do everything on the normal schedule. In other words, you will be doing the ovulatory phase for a long time, and preferably you will be doing all phases 2x/day except for the menstrual phase.
  10. Do you need props to do the sets?
    Other than a towel, there is nothing you need. You may of course use blocks and so forth and we tried to demonstrate some of the potential uses for the blocks, but again they aren't necessary.
  11. Could you explain the purpose of each of the poses in terms of fertility?
    The reason we didn't do this is that infertility is a subspecialty in Chinese medicine. It is immensely complicated from a Chinese medicine meridian perspective and involves over 50 different meridians, each having their own technical characteristics and roles in fertility. We were, however, interviewed for an article in the New York Post that was published in the June edition of 2012, but they never provided us with a copy of it. However, we still have the explanation that was sent to the interviewer and we presume the article was based to some degree on that. This article discusses some of the poses and you can access the draft here.
  12. Which sets do I do and when?
    The menstrual phase is done while bleeding. After spotting has ceased, begin the follicular phase and continue through day 9. From day 10 until day 14 (or 2 days after getting positive ovulation predictor kit) use the ovulatory phase. The luteal phase set begins on day 15 and continues until your period. Note: You can use the ovulatory set a little earlier as well if it feels good to you or if you are not ovulating on time. In such cases, you can start around day 12.
  13. What if I spot before I get my period, which phase should I do?
    If you are spotting in the luteal phase it could be "implantation spotting" or a period beginning. Our recommendations are to stop yoga until either full bleeding begins or you find out you are pregnant. If you are spotting after your period then continue menstrual yoga until your spotting stops or you are otherwise instructed by your health care provider.
  14. I got pregnant after using your video but the embryo itself had problems. Any recommendations?
    Egg quality can take a little longer to correct due to the amount of time it takes and egg to mature and actually ovulate. Embryo problems also come from sperm issues in many cases, so make sure your partner is working on himself as well. One thing that can be very helpful for embryo quality is: at the end of the follicular and ovulatory phases, when you are resting, put the center of your palms over your ovaries (approximate position) and imagine a pleasant white light is going into them from the center of your palms. Then smile at your ovaries (don't actually move your lips in a smile, but it should feel like you are smiling without actually smiling). It may sound a little silly, but it is very powerful. By the way you can do the same thing in the luteal phase but over the uterus instead. Don't do it during the menstrual phase. The key to this is not to concentrate too hard, just put the intention in it and relax.
  15. I'm about to undergo an IVF cycle, which phase should I do and when?
    The fertility yoga sets were designed to support natural cycles. IVF is usually a process whereby the ovaries undergo controlled hyperstimulation (COH). While there are techniques of undergoing IVF without using pharmaceuticals, currently most clinics use COH. For these patients, our general guidelines are to use the menstrual phase when bleeding or spotting and use the follicular phase after that. Once you begin stimulation drugs (gonadotropins like Follistim, Gonal-F, etc.), we recommend discontinuing our yoga sets unless your doctor approves. There are multiple reasons for this, but the main reason is that COH tends to produce multiple large follicles. Under natural circumstances you will have only one or two dominant follicles. In COH we have seen numbers as high as 100 follicles. Obviously under these circumstances some of the poses could potentially create mechanical problems given the physical pressure put on the ovaries if there are large amounts of follicles. Your doctor will know if the sets are safe depending on how many follicles you have and their sizes. As a side note, these precautions hold true for any exercise other than walking or normal movements, so they are not specific to the fertility yoga sets.
  16. I just had my embryo transfer (ET), is it safe to use the Luteal phase yoga?
    The luteal phase yoga set is designed (clearly) to support the Luteal phase and can be used post IVF. However, you should ask your doctor about the specifics of your situation. Most doctors want a 24-48 hour resting period following ET. During the resting period (and thereafter) it is very beneficial to do the last pose of the luteal phase set, which is designed to facilitate implantation. You don't need your doctor's permission to do this particular pose. This is the pose that involves walking your hands up the centerline and back down to the uterine area. It is energy work that is done on the acupuncture channel called the "conception vessel". You could do that 2-3x/day.
  17. I recently had a miscarriage and my husband bought me your DVD. Which set should I start with?
    If you are healthy and feel good, usually the ovulatory set first until you get a period. If you are not healthy, use the menstrual phase. If you have any bleeding at all, then only use the menstrual phase while bleeding. This is typically the best way to help facilitate full expulsion and to prepare your uterus for a fresh start to the next cycle and hopefully to another pregnancy that will go to term!
  18. Can I use the sets once I'm pregnant?
    The sets are designed to facilitate implantation, however, once you are pregnant, our generalized recommendation is to discontinue any exercise (including yoga) until week 17. Prior to that, the fetus is much more susceptible to improper exertion. You will likely find many yoga instructors that disagree, however, our position is supported by at least one clinical trial that showed increased miscarriage rates from exercise prior to week 17. Our patient population consists of people who have typically had a very difficult time getting pregnant and, as a result, we are more conservative about the potential for pregnancy loss. We do encourage our patients to move around regularly throughout the day to facilitate proper circulation, through walking and doing various activities that don't involve a lot of exertion or certain kinds of stretching poses (too numerous to list here).

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Mind/Body

Mind/Body area under construction

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is, in a very literal sense, magical. When the DNA from a sperm and egg combine it forms a cell called a “zygote”. This zygote then divides about 40 times producing over a trillion cells. This bundle of cells is then ready to enter the world as an infant. This infant, however, is not just a mass of molecules. It’s a highly organized and immensely complex network of organisms (cells) all working together in this thing we call a baby.

But how does one cell become a harmonious conglomerate of over a trillion cells? It does so through what we call in Chinese medicine Qi and Shen. Qi is often translated as “energy” which is what allows for change and development. But change and development need guidance for a successful pregnancy. There needs to be an organizing principle that tells a cell to become a heart cell or a brain cell. It also needs to let the cells know when to stop dividing to form the correct shape. This organizing principle is called the Shen. Some people believe the Shen is one’s spirit or soul and others don’t like a religious connotation and they call it the “mind” or “intelligence”. Regardless of your preferred label, we need to ensure that the instructions are correct.

When we evaluate a pregnant patient the first thing we do is make sure all of the organs are communicating properly with the fetus. Are blood and oxygen perfusion sufficient, are toxins being filtered out properly, is nutrient extraction sufficient and so forth. We do this same evaluation at regular intervals throughout the pregnancy because your body isn’t static. There are a variety of circumstances that can change how your body is functioning.

Some of the things we’ve treated during pregnancy include threatened miscarriages, recurrent pregnancy loss, infections during pregnancy, severe nausea and vomiting (hyperemesis gravidarum), gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, a variety of pains, premature labor and more. The idea is to monitor and try to catch and treat at the early stages to minimize the effects on both mother and child.

During the first trimester we see patients weekly or sometimes more often with certain acute conditions such as severe nausea or vomiting, which acupuncture is quite good at controlling. If there are no comorbidities, we tend to see people less frequently, particularly preceding some of the important milestones. A bit into the third trimester we often start seeing people weekly again to help prepare for and support a smooth delivery.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (IVF and IUI)

For almost 40 years now ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) has been available in the United States. While the technology can be a game-changer for many couples, it’s incomplete. According to the most recent SART reports (from the CDC), the best ART outcomes (using In-Vitro Fertilization or “IVF”) have a success rate below 50%. Why is that? Why can you take a perfect embryo, transfer it into a perfect uterus and still end up without a pregnancy?

The reason is that reproduction isn’t the act of an embryo meeting a uterus. That is only one step in a complex process that involves every biological system in the body. Because of this, it is impossible to control it through external processes.

Consequently, the way to maximize one’s chances of ART success (such as IVF) is, perhaps paradoxically, not to focus on the reproductive system. What we need to do is make sure the orchestra of physiological systems within the body is operating harmoniously. But how do we do that? This is where Chinese medicine comes in.

Chinese medicine has developed complex diagnostic and treatment systems to identify where an imbalance is coming from and to either help eliminate it, or help the body address the imbalance to restore reproductive physiology. Because we look at the whole body, we’re able to complement IVF by addressing the portions of IVF that are not controlled by medication such as implantation and subsequent fetal development.

At the Lotus Center, we have a division that specializes in reproductive medicine and obstetrics, and has been helping IVF patients get pregnant and deliver healthy babies for over 20 years. Our acupuncturists are internationally recognized authorities both in Chinese reproductive medicine and in Functional medicine: having multiple peer-reviewed publications, including authoring the reproductive medicine chapter in one of the most highly regarded medical textbooks on Functional Medicine.

Natural Conception

Reproduction is a biological imperative and our bodies have evolved to survive and reproduce. As a result, the successful treatment of reproductive issues often has more to do with removing impediments to reproduction than directly facilitating conception.

This can be seen, for example, by the fact that the average in-vitro fertilization success rate is less than 50%, even in women under 35 years old. By the time a woman is 41, the success rate has dropped to less than 8%. IVF places a viable embryo into a presumably viable uterus and even with that degree of facilitation it fails the majority of the time. This is because most cases of infertility come from impediments that have not been identified and/or addressed. So where do these impediments come from? There are many including structural, physiological, energetic and emotional causes (for a much more extensive and technical discussion, please see the reproductive chapter we wrote for a medical textbook).

In our clinic, the first step in identifying impediments is conducting a thorough evaluation which includes both a history and physical examination. In a typical case, during the initial consultation we are able to identify the issues that are most likely impeding conception or the ability to maintain a pregnancy. Depending on the findings, we may recommend following up with specific labs. For a complete assessment, we recommend some basic imaging studies as well, in order to rule out tubal blockage or other factors that would make natural conception physically challenging.

For natural conception (or really for any type of fertility treatment) it is also important to assess the health of the male. Male-factor is known to contribute to 50% of infertility cases, yet men are often de-emphasized. If the semen parameters look adequate, then nothing is done other than a standardized vitamin/supplement prescription. This is a mistake. Men’s overall health and habits can have profound effects on a pregnancy. For example, while genetically abnormal embryos are usually blamed on poor egg quality, they are in fact mostly due to paternal factors, the biggest one being paternal age. But why does age do this? It’s because of damage accumulation which can be due to a wide variety of modifiable factors. Yet these don’t show up in a normal semen analysis. Paternal habits can also affect fertility and pregnancy. For example, alcohol consumption in men increases miscarriage rates in their partners. There are many other reasons why men should be just as involved in the fertility journey as women. The difference is once the woman is pregnant, male habits (other than being a source of stress for a spouse) tend to have minimal impact.

While the first phase of treatments is to remove impediments, once these are significantly dealt with, we then turn to actively facilitating conception. This involves protecting and rejuvenating the ovaries, optimizing reproductive blood flow and working on a variety of “anti-aging” techniques to both preserve and optimize fertility.

Pre-Conception

Approaching pregnancy is conceptually no different than approaching any other major life event. If you want to maximize your chances for a good outcome, then preparation is essential. But what does preparation mean in the context of pregnancy? In Chinese medicine, we divide pregnancy preparation into 3 major categories: preparation of the body, preparation of the mind/spirit and preparation of the environment.

Preparation of the body involves first identifying where your strengths and weaknesses are. People are often hyper-focused on the reproductive system, but this is a wrong understanding of physiology. Of course part of preparation includes an evaluation of the reproductive system, but you need to evaluate all of the systems in the body. Chinese medicine has evolved diagnostic techniques that, when mastered, enable a doctor to quickly hone in on problematic areas. Labs and imaging are complementary, and can be useful, but are not an adequate substitute for a skilled Chinese medicine diagnostician. We have seen this over and over: patients with piles of labs and imaging that weren’t able to identify the real problems.

Once any issues have been identified, of course they need to be corrected. Some issues can correct immediately and others take time. For example, certain kinds of oocyte (egg) quality issues can take over a year to improve, whereas other kinds can be corrected within a few weeks. Some issues are persistent and are difficult to completely cure, but can be controlled with regular treatments. Some examples include severe endometriosis, adenomyosis and certain reproductive infections. But the reproductive system itself is often not the most important part of preparation, rather it’s identifying problems in other organs or systems, since ALL of them are involved in reproduction.

The second area is to prepare the mind/spirit. The subconscious is real and can have profound and tangible influences on your life as a whole, let alone your ability to reproduce. There are many ways to work with your subconscious, but in preparation for having children, we have found many people have subconscious blocks with having children. For example, some people paradoxically are not ok with the idea of being a parent, or being pregnant. They may have deeper fears of body image or fear of loss. Some people who have had abortions in the past feel guilt and that they deserve to be infertile. There are a wide variety of problems that we may or may not realize we have, and if your subconscious doesn’t want you to be pregnant, it has a wide variety of tools at its disposal to keep that from happening.

Finally, preparing the environment is essential. This in Chinese medicine is referred to as “feng shui” which is the art of how energy flows. But energy flow isn’t just about taking a compass and putting a statue of a turtle in the corner of your house, it’s about identifying things that disrupt a good flow of energy which can include many types of things in your environment; be it noise pollution, air pollution, EMF pollution … or even people around you that exude a lot of negativity, including spouses! While we don’t have to resolve everything, creating a safe and comfortable environment can greatly promote fertility and proper fetal development.

Keep in mind that perfection is not required, but over the last 20 years we have seen these factors play decisive roles in couples who had not been able to conceive prior to making these changes.

Stephanie Singleton

Stephanie Singleton, LMT comes to LCIM with over 15 years experience as a licensed massage therapist. She treats a wide range of conditions from stress induced symptoms, to sports injuries, to pregnancy discomforts. She has specialized training in both fertility massage and pregnancy/prenatal massage and incorporates many techniques.

“She has an excellent touch and also has a great sense of when to talk and when not to talk, her massages feel great, and her personality allows me the space to de-stress” – Pamela T.

“Stephanie has that uncanny ability to have just the right pressure in just the right places… she’s a keeper.” – Joan R.

“Stephanie is the first person I’ve been impressed enough with to see weekly. I come in on Tuesdays and it gives me something to look forward to at the beginning of every week… the only bad thing is that I’ve become a massage snob and can’t enjoy mediocre massages anymore ;-)” – Adam H.

Anne Albrecht

Anne Albrecht, MSOM, LAc Anne received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Colorado in Boulder and her master’s degree in Chinese medicine from Yo San University. She then began working as an acupuncturist and herbalist within a family medicine practice and found that she especially liked working with kids. Anne then began extensive training in pediatrics, studying under some of the top pediatric acupuncturists in the country. Since the birth of her son, Anne has focused her practice on working exclusively with children.

In addition to pediatrics, Anne is extremely knowledgable about organic gardening and teaches classes on growing medicinal herbs and creating natural, medicinal skin care products for kids. When not at work, Anne can be found camping, chasing her son and dog around and working in her garden.

Steve Gomberg

Steve Gomberg, LAc, MTOM, CCN, RH (AHG) is a practicing herbalist, acupuncturist and clinical nutritionist specializing in oncology (cancer) and internal medicine. A proponent of a multi-disciplinary approach to healing, he works closely with MDs and other health care practitioners, to maximize the potential for successful healing.

Steve comes to the practice of Chinese Medicine with a unique background and perspective. Having been a world-class chef at a fine French restaurant in Brentwood for fifteen years, he developed an uncanny interest in the medicinal properties of various foods. He began using this knowledge in his cooking, but his interest began reaching beyond the culinary realm and into the realm of herbal medicine. After many years as a chef, he left the restaurant business to pursue his interest in medicine.

Steve is a clinical nutritionist certified by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board and is registered as a practitioner of botanical medicine by the American Herbalists Guild. He is also a full professor at Alhambra Medical University where he teaches a wide variety of courses on Chinese medicine.

Steve is a recognized authority in Functional Medicine and authored a chapter entitled The Microenvironment of Chronic Disease in one of the top Functional Medicine textbooks (Springer Publications). He has been featured in Body and Soul Magazine and coauthored an article in a peer reviewed medical journal on the use of herbal medicine in the treatment and management of breast cancer. Steve is also listed as a resource for cancer expertise in Suzanne Somers’ book Knockout: Interviews with Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer — And How to Prevent Getting It in the First Place Paperback.

An ordained Buddhist monk in the Tibetan Tradition, Steve spends much of his spare time assisting others achieve fulfillment and happiness in their lives.

Irina Nikonova

Irina Nikonova, MS, LAc joined the Lotus Center after having worked at the Eastern Center for Complementary Medicine for over 10 years. Initially, Irina pursued an advanced degree in biochemistry. However, after years of working in both a research and clinical setting with Shinobu Kaneko, MD and Brandon Horn, PhD, she discovered her interests lie more in applying her research clinically, rather than spending years on a single project that may or may not ever make it into clinical practice. Under the advice of both Dr. Kaneko and Dr. Horn, Irina changed her career path and decided to pursue Chinese medicine.

While practicing general medicine, Irina has a special interest in pediatrics and gastrointestinal problems. When not seeing patients, she enjoys hiking, playing with her toddler, relaxing with family and friends or reading a good book (typically something involving the gut microbiome).

Rena Haley

Rena Haley, MSOM, LAc, FABORM comes to LCIM with extensive training in acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition and homeopathy. She received her bachelor’s degree in Holistic Health from the American University of Complementary Medicine and her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Samra University. Upon receiving her master’s degree, Rena did 2 additional years of post graduate training with some of the top doctors in the fields of infertility and reproductive medicine. She has also studied extensively with Jeffrey Yuen and Kiiko Matsumoto.

Rena is board certified in reproductive medicine as a fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. Along with fertility and reproductive medicine, Rena has special interests in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. She is a professor at Alhambra Medical University where she teaches Chinese Herbology to graduate students and is coauthoring a book on the treatment of fibromyalgia. When not seeing patients, researching or writing, Rena frequents her local farmer’s market and conducts culinary experiments for which her friends and coworkers are grateful (most of the time).

Wendy Yu

Dr. Wendy Yu, DTCM, LAc, FABORM is a lecturer, researcher and clinician in the fields of acupuncture, herbal medicine and functional medicine. She received her Bachelor of Science in physiology from Rutgers University and Doctorate in Traditional Chinese Medicine (includes both acupuncture and herbal medicine) from Five Branches University. She was one of the founding board members of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine and has been in practice for over 20 years.

Dr. Yu specializes in the fields of gynecology and reproductive medicine and has a special interest in epigenetic influences on fetal and childhood development. She is a recognized authority in reproductive medicine and, together with Dr. Horn, coauthored the reproductive chapter in one of the top Functional Medicine textbooks: Integrative and Functional Medical Nutrition Therapy (Springer Publications). Wendy also has publications in peer-reviewed medical journals such as Fertility & Sterility, Alternative Therapies in Women’s Health, and Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She lectures both in the United States and internationally on various topics related to the treatment of infertility and gynecological disorders.

Dr. Yu was the first acupuncturist to be awarded hospital privileges at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) where she was asked to head the pediatric acupuncture program in the department of Anesthesiology/Critical Care Medicine. She was also a clinical professor at Yosan University, where she helped set up an externship program with CHLA.

When not treating patients, she can be found hanging out with her kids, shopping at the farmers market, researching obscure and underground sources for local and sustainable food, cooking, composting, gardening and taking lots of photos.

Dr. Brandon Horn

Dr. Brandon Horn, PhD, JD, DTCM, LAc (FABORM) is a lecturer, researcher and clinician in the fields of acupuncture, herbal medicine and Functional Medicine. He received his bachelor’s degree and juris doctorate degree from the Ohio State University, his Doctorate in Traditional Chinese Medicine (includes both acupuncture and herbal medicine) from Five Branches University and his PhD in classical Chinese medicine from the American University of Complementary Medicine.

Dr. Horn is a recognized authority in the fields of Chinese medicine and Functional Medicine. He, along with Dr. Yu coauthored the reproductive chapter in one of the top Functional Medicine textbooks in the world: Integrative and Functional Medical Nutrition Therapy (Springer Publications). He also has publications in peer reviewed medical journals such as Fertility & Sterility, Alternative Therapies in Women’s Health, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the Journal of Chinese Medicine. He lectures both in the United States and internationally on topics such as the treatment of women with poor ovarian quality, the treatment of reproductive infections and integrative approaches to the treatment and management of autoimmune conditions. Venues have included Columbia University, UCLA, LAC + USC Medical Center (Grand Rounds) and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA - Grand Rounds).

Dr. Horn also spent 9 years working at CHLA as a clinical supervisor and the Deputy Director of the CHLA acupuncture program, where his focus was on treating autoimmune conditions working primarily in the rheumatology department. In addition to working at CHLA, Dr. Horn was on faculty at UCLA Medical School for 8 years where he taught third year medical students. In his private practice, he sees patients in our Los Angeles office. When not working, he can be found hanging out with his kids, fiddling with electronics, reading, hiking or sleeping.

Massage

When most people think of massage, they think of it as something they do as a treat for themselves or for fun. While it can be a relaxing treat, massage can also be a very powerful healing modality if it is done appropriately.

In the proper hands, massage can be particularly useful to improve immunity, stimulate detoxification, move lymph, improve adrenal function, improve memory, enhance fertility, reduce pregnancy-related symptoms and improve fetal blood flow.

Nutrition

Sound nutritional practices provide the foundation for optimal health and longevity and are a crucial component in the eradication of many diseases. Unfortunately, few medical practitioners recognize or emphasize its importance. At LCIM we take nutrition very seriously and our certified nutritionists provide a wide range of services that are customized to your needs.

Our nutritional assessments involve a combination of both ancient Chinese dietary principles and modern research. Our nutritionists have a very thorough understanding not only of dietary requirements, but of issues with the sourcing and labeling of foods as well. This can be just as important as knowing what to eat.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal Medicine has an incredible biochemical diversity and modern research has shown that herbs can have very powerful beneficial effects for many disease processes. This is not a surprise to Chinese medicine, which has used herbs for thousands of years to treat almost every ailment that afflicts humans, from epidemics to the common cold, to internal diseases like cardiovascular disease, gynecological conditions, cancers, autoimmune diseases and many more. In fact, many pharmaceuticals are derived from herbs and pharmaceutical companies are constantly studying herbs in their search for new drugs.

The safety and efficacy of herbs depends largely on two things. The first is that herbal sources must be of exceptional quality. They need proper identification and they need to be checked for heavy metals, pesticides, microbes and other contaminants. The second is that they should be prescribed by an appropriately trained herbalist. The Lotus Center uses pharmaceutical grade herbs that have been appropriately tested. All of our acupuncturists have extensive training in herbal medicine and are licensed by the State of California to prescribe it.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the most ancient and effective healing modalities and has been used for well over 4,000 years to successfully treat a wide variety of conditions. Clinical trials have shown acupuncture’s ability to affect a range of systems in the body including the nervous, cardiovascular, reproductive, endocrine, immune, detoxification, respiratory and digestive systems. In fact, there are over 35,000 peer reviewed journal publications listed on the National Institutes of Health’s website.

There are many different styles of acupuncture. Our clinic utilizes styles that produce very quick results (usually instantaneous). While noticeable improvements typically happen rapidly for pain conditions, it usually takes between 4-12 treatments to correct these problems. More serious conditions may require more treatments. Some examples include: autoimmune conditions (such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis), infertility, and other internal medicine diseases (such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, cardiovascular disease, dermatological diseases, etc.).

Rheumatology

Chinese medicine has a long history treating Rheumatological conditions. Many of these conditions have the potential to be devastating. Our practitioners have extensive experience working as an integrative team to manage the long term care of those suffering from autoimmune conditions. In particular, acupuncture and herbal medicine can often dramatically help to stabilize flare ups and to help reduce or eliminate dependence on pharmaceuticals. It can also be a very effective prevention tool.

Two of our practitioners spent several years working alongside some of the top pediatric rheumatologists in the country and witnessed how incredibly effective integrative care can be with very serious autoimmune conditions. At our clinic, we expect to see noticeable changes within 1-3 treatments.

Women's Health

LCIM is one of the leading centers in the treatment of women’s health. Several of our practitioners are internationally recognized experts in the field, and have a variety of peer reviewed publications on topics such as infertility, urinary tract infections, breast cancer, cervical cancer, dysmenorrhea and HPV.

A list of citations can be found in our publication section. In addition, the Lotus Center has developed programs for both the prevention and treatment of many obstetric and gynecological disorders including:

  • PMS control (mood swings, swelling, breast tenderness, headaches, pelvic pain, abdominal pain, back pain)
  • Female cancer risk reduction (breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer)
  • Perimenopause/menopause (hot flashes, vaginal dryness, low libido, insomnia, mood swings, fatigue)
  • Infections (urinary tract, HPV, herpes, other STD’s)
  • Pelvic Pain (Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), interstitial cystitis, dysmenorrhea (painful periods), adhesions, endometriosis
  • Menstrual diseases such as amenorrhea (lack of period) or menorrhagia (heavy bleeding)
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Infertility, including preconception, natural pregnancy, assisted reproduction support including IUI (insemination), and IVF (in-vitro fertilization)
  • Pregnancy (morning sickness, pain, threatened miscarriages, gestational diabetes, recurrent pregnancy loss)
  • Postpartum care (depression, insufficient lactation, surgical recovery)

These programs are designed to be seamlessly integrated into any care you may already be receiving from your OB/GYN or PCP.

General Medicine

Chinese medicine was the only medicine that existed in China for thousands of years. It has been developed by hundreds of generations of doctors that included some of the most brilliant minds in the history of the world. As such, Chinese medicine developed disease theories and techniques that effectively treated a wide range of conditions from infectious diseases, to dermatology, cardiology, rheumatology, obstetrics and gynecology and the list goes on.

This is not to imply that it is somehow “better” than or a substitute for Western medicine. Western medicine is excellent to treat a variety of serious conditions, particularly acute conditions. However, there are many chronic conditions where the treatment with Chinese medicine alone or in conjunction with Western medicine produces far superior results.
Some examples include:

  • Colds / flu’s
  • Asthma
  • Pain conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, Migraines and injuries (including post-op complications)
  • Rheumatological diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Neurological diseases such as Stroke, vertigo and multiple sclerosis
  • Obstetrical (pregnancy) diseases such as morning sickness, pain, threatened miscarriages, gestational diabetes, recurrent pregnancy loss and insufficient lactation
  • Gynecological diseases such as cervical dysplasia, breast lumps, cysts, polyps, pelvic pain, PMS, amenorrhea, painful periods and abnormal bleeding
  • Fertility related conditions such as PCOS, unexplained infertility, poor ovarian reserve, implantation failure and poor sperm or egg quality
  • Dermatological conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema, and
  • Insomnia

We have worked in Western medicine clinical settings for many years and are conversant in both Western and Chinese medicine. We have seen the strengths and weaknesses in each medicine and we use this knowledge to get the best possible outcomes for our patients.

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