NOTE: This article begins with a cis-gendered understanding of reproduction because of the practitioners experience with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and moves into gender inclusive language for the remainder of the article. It should also be noted that you will find the services are geared toward cis-gendered women on michellekapler.com, and cis-gendered men and women at The Toronto Reproductive Acupuncture Clinic, though services are available to folks across the spectrum. If you are looking for TCM or acupuncture services geared toward trans and non-binary clientele, please contact myself directly as I continue to compile a list for a future posting.
I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Michelle Kapler, owner of The Toronto Reproductive Acupuncture Clinic. Michelle uses acupuncture and traditional herbal remedies to help folks with fertility. Below are some questions I asked her to tell me more about what she does, who she does it for, and why she does it!
Why have you chosen to work with herbs and acupuncture?
It was actually a book that started me on this wonderful journey into Chinese Medicine. My mother suggested that I read “Reflections of the Moon on Water” by Xiaolan Zhao. Xiaolan in a Chinese Medicine Practitioner from China - though her practice is now in Toronto. Her book discusses the Chinese Medicine view of all stages of womanhood - from puberty to menopause, from fertility to pregnancy, sexuality and menstruation. They revere all of the various stages of life and have very different ways of dealing with unpleasant things that come up along the way. This was a new and refreshing perspective on physiology, as opposed to western culture, where we tend to pathologize and medicalize our periods, our pregnancies, our menopause and beyond. I knew instantly that I needed to learn more about this way of looking at the body and share it with other people.
In addition to this, my health issues have always been gynaecologically related. It has been such a powerful learning experience to be able to heal myself through the medicine that I practice. From painful periods to fertility issues, I have always been able to find answers with Chinese Medicine, when conventional medicine hasn't been able to help.
What kinds of people do you work with?
I work with many different kinds of people. Anyone who is in need of help with their reproductive issues, regardless of how they identify, is more than welcome in my clinic in Toronto. We will do our very best to help them find natural, non invasive, drug free solutions to their concerns.
Because we are focused on reproductive medicine, we most commonly see people who are looking to build families - in whatever way they need to. Whether they are a couple suffering with infertility or a single parent choosing to start a family through clinical conception or a same sex couple using in vitro or surrogacy options - we are committed to offering our support through natural medicine.
Why do they prefer going with an alternative or holistic route as opposed to the allopathic/western route?
To be honest, most of our patients use both. I truly believe that cutting edge medicine is being able to take different forms of medicine, understanding their differing perspectives and being able to apply them at the appropriate times. For example, if a couple wants to make a baby and they both have uterus's, they are going to need to go to a fertility clinic to achieve their reproductive goals. We can, however, offer complimentary treatments to increase their chances of success. Acupuncture has been shown in research to increase chances of conception in combination with IVF by up to 40%. We can also help to deal with the stress that comes along with working with a fertility clinic. It can be a very intense experience.
To answer your question more directly, many people are turning to alternative medicine for their reproductive health because western medicine does not have any answers for them. People with painful periods are told they can take painkiller or go on the oral contraceptive pill. Some believe that this isn’t truly solving the problem and they are in search of permanent, lasting solutions, as opposed to just masking the symptoms.
If people are diagnosed with unexplained infertility, it can be a frustrating experience. The fertility clinic will often say “We don’t know why you’re not getting pregnant. We can just try IVF and hope it works”. In Chinese medicine, we have a different way of looking at the body. We analyse everything in a person’s life, including the little everyday annoyances that we accept as normal (such as painful periods, indigestion or insomnia). We can see patterns when we add up all these symptoms and most of the time, it is very easy to determine why someone is having trouble conceiving. Then we make a plan to treat whatever is going on.
Any favourite success stories?
I have so many. However, I find that the most rewarding success stories are when people are told that they cannot get pregnant without IVF, then after a few months of working with us, they get pregnant without medical intervention. I remember one couple - and they had suffered multiple miscarriages and infertility due to sperm issues. They had been working with me, with acupuncture and herbs, for about four months to prepare for IVF. The month before they were going to begin their IVF cycle, they fell pregnant on their own. The baby is now due in a few weeks!
Michelle Kapler is the owner and clinical director of The Toronto Reproductive Acupuncture Clinic and a Registered Acupuncturist. Since her graduation in 2010, from the Institute of Traditional Medicine in Toronto, Michelle has focused her practice exclusively in fertility, pregnancy and reproductive health. She is passionate about helping women to achieve hormonal balance, pleasant periods, successful conception and healthy pregnancies, with acupuncture, herbal medicine and food.
She offers a complimentary consultation to all new patients. To read more about her and to book your free consult visit her website at www.michellekapler.com