TAMPA, Fla. - When getting pregnant isn't easy, families can choose to spend thousands of dollars on fertility treatments but results aren't guaranteed. Some families are now taking a step back from expensive medicines to embrace a thousands-year-old practice.
"I didn't know it was going to be this hard," said Kari Powell about getting pregnant.
She and her husband were devastated after they endured three consecutive miscarriages.
"We decided to see a fertility specialist and find out what was going on," she said.
Powell wasn't ready for expensive and invasive treatments just yet, so she went to see Carolyn Huffman, an Acupuncturist in Tampa who specializes in fertility enhancement.
"It opens up the blood flow to the particular region, it helps to regulate the hormones, it helps them to relax," explained Carolyn.
Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, and now more doctors are referring their patients to use the ancient Chinese practice in conjunction with traditional fertility treatments.
"Some women are not ready to take the step in using medications so they want to take the step in doing something they perceive as more natural," said Dr. Sandy Goodman a reproductive endocrinologist. "Other women want to use it in combination with fertility treatments."
Dr. Goodman says she often discusses acupuncture with her patients as a way to enhance the outcome of fertility treatments.
"That's the nice thing about Eastern and Western medicine, they don't have to be separated," she said.
Huffman encourages patients to adhere to a regimen of acupuncture sessions once to twice a week for three months. She says that's when patients usually start seeing changes.
"They have more normal menstrual cycles, their periods are less painful.... All those things are key signs of improvements and then I know baby will be next," she explained.
"My husband was actually overseas doing some work for the military over in Iraq and I came for three months," said Kari Powell.
When her husband came home, the couple became pregnant right away. Along came little Hanna!
"I think that acupuncture helped a lot. I changed my diet, maybe I had less stress, but I don't know. I don't know exactly what happened," said Kari.
But whatever it was, happened again.
"We are 5 months pregnant. We're expecting in March," announced the Powells.
Kari didn't use acupuncture for her current pregnancy. Huffman says its not unusual for clients to become pregnant on their own after using acupuncture because it helped bring their body back into balance.
While both doctor and acupuncturist in our story are based in Tampa, they say they've seen clients from Southwest Florida make the drive for treatments.