The Integrated Fertility and Wellness Team at RMACT
It's spring time, time for something new, to let something unfold. I'd like to introduce you to a remarkable team of women with whom I'm lucky enough to colloborate. If you have not met us, maybe that's a way to bring something new into your life. And please remember that on April 11, Thursday, we will be holding the Fertility Seminar for Couples - a great chance to meet some of our Integrated and Fertility Wellness Team.
Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut's (RMACT), Integrated Fertility and Wellness Team. Wow, that's a mouthful. At RMACT, we simply call it our IFW team.
Our Integrated Fertility and Wellness team includes, Lisa Tuttle, PhD (read her blog that was published yesterday!); Jing Jang, one of our beloved fertility accupuncturists; Carolyn Gundell, MS, fertility nutritionist; Lisa Rosenthal, MA (me); and last but not least, our gentle, wise leader, Amy Matton, fertility accupuncturist.
Read more about each of us below.
Clinical psychologist Lisa Tuttle, PhD, is a valuable member of our Complementary Care Team at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut. She specializes in fertility consulting and is available to all RMACT patients for individual and couples counseling. She also facilitates a support group that is offered free of charge at our Norwalk clinic.
Dr. Tuttle completed her undergraduate work at Duke University and received her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from the New School for Social Research. She completed her internship at Columbia-Presbyterian. She has been practicing for 17 years and is a long-standing member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, RESOLVE, and the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Tuttle specializes in the area of fertility counseling and maternal mental health, seeing patients in her private practice and at RMACT. She is a regular speaker for RESOLVE and supervises other clinicians who are entering the field of fertility counseling.
Our Fertility Acupuncture Team
Amy Matton is a graduate of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine with a master’s degree. Amy is a licensed acupuncturist and certified herbalist. While attending the four year master’s degree program at Pacific, she was awarded the prestigious Kamwo Award for academic excellence. Her clinical internships included Fortune Society and the Hospital for Joint Diseases. At the hospital her worked focused on disabled women and issues of pain management, sleeplessness, medication side-effects and depression. Her extensive study includes training at the distinguished China Beijing International Acupuncture Centre.
Ms. Matton’s areas of expertise include women’s health and fertility issues, pain management, stress, and adjunctive cancer care. In addition to a decade in private practice she has been working with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut for the past six years providing traditional and laser acupuncture to women undergoing treatment for infertility.
Amy has been treating RMACT patients for many years, and was instrumental in bringing laser acupuncture to our patients. She has been a leading force for acupuncture sessions before and after IVF retrievals and is a strong advocate for fertility patients.
Amy is also the leader of IFW, guiding us all with a strong, but gentle hand. She is always willing to listen to new ideas and help support them getting off the ground.
Jing Zhang joined our infertility treatment center in August 2006. Jing holds a M.D. degree from Capital University in Beijing, China, and has fifteen years of experience in acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
While in the United States, Jing completed a three year postgraduate acupuncture program at the AIA Institute in New York. Besides her work at RMACT and her private office in Stamford, she is an instructor at the Acupuncture Institute of the University of Bridgeport.
Her areas of interest include infertility, anxiety, menstruation disorders, weight control and gastrointestinal problems.
Jing uses her vast expertise to bring relief to patients through accupuncture, accupressure and specific massage. Jing's patients report feelings of relief and calm following sessions with her, as well as a clearer mind.
Our Fertility Nutrition Program Leader
Carolyn Gundell, M.S., leads RMACT’s Fertility Nutrition Program, a service available to all patients. Carolyn has a great passion for nutrition and its link to fertility, which she shares with her patients to empower them with food and lifestyle behaviors that optimize their health for conception, successful fertility treatment, and healthy pregnancy.
After a nutrition assessment, patients benefit from individualized meal plans, advice on how to develop positive relationships with food, and on going motivational counseling sessions with Carolyn. She works closely with her patients and their team of fertility specialists to personalize their nutrition plans to reflect each patient’s own food preferences, concerns, and experiences – all influenced by their culture, religion, values, health, and emotions. In addition, Carolyn encourages her patients to embrace comprehensive wellness through acupuncture and relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, and tai chi to reduce stress. The goal is to support their fertility treatment while improving blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and insulin control, and weight management.
Under Carolyn’s direction, RMACT has implemented a Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)Clinic, one of the few of its kind in Connecticut. With Carolyn’s help, patients address this frustrating metabolic condition that causes hormonal imbalances, preventing women from ovulating and leading to infertility. It is a common condition, affecting 5 – 10% of women of reproductive age, and is best managed through lifestyle changes such as healthy eating habits, exercise and weight management.
Beyond patient care, Carolyn co-conducts health and nutrition seminars with Monica Moore, Nurse Manager, as part of an RMACT patient’s standard of care. Topics include Pre-conception Considerations, Nutrition Tools for Fertility Success, Heart Disease Risk Factors, Diabetes Risk Factors, Health and Nutrition for Pregnancy, Exercise, Fitness & Fertility and more.
With over 20 years of nutrition experience, Carolyn has a special interest in helping women with conditions that affect fertility, including insulin resistance, diabetes Type1/Type 2, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), lipid disorders, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, underweight and overweight concerns. Carolyn earned her M.S. in Nutrition from Columbia University and completed her undergraduate studies in Biology/Nutrition at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven. She is trained as a Research Associate in Clinical Skills Training, and is certified in HIPAA, CPR, First Aid and Food Safety & Sanitation. Previously, Carolyn worked at Pediatric Endocrine & Diabetes Specialists, The Center for Advanced Pediatrics, both in Norwalk and at Yale University Medical Center’s Obesity, Diabetes, PCOS Clinic and The Yale Fertility Center.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa Rosenthal, MA had a six-year struggle to conceive, she was amazed by misconceptions about fertility and how reluctant and ashamed women were to share their stories – even with their mothers and friends.
Seeking meaning from her fertility challenge and unsatisfied with the information available, Lisa began volunteering with RESOLVE: the National Infertility Association. She lent her help with hands-on roles such as the telephone support helpline, leading peer support groups, and organizing fundraising efforts. Her impact on the association grew as she took on new positions, including Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.
In 1999, Lisa was part of the team that founded The American Fertilty Association, a nationwide patient advocacy, support and educational non-profit organization. Twenty-five years later she continues to encourage women to share their experience and speak up about their fertility challenges.
Working with Reproductive Medical Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) as Coordinator of Professional and Patient Communication gives Lisa an opportunity to continue to educate patients, doctors and the general public about infertility and the impact and availability of responsible fertility treatment.
Currently Lisa channels her passion for fertility education and the importance of women breaking infertility stigmas by creating and teaching Fertile Yoga, a program and class designed to support, comfort and enhance men and women’s sense of self. “Yoga is affirmative. My students are reconnecting with their bodies – even when they are angry with themselves, even when they are wishing they could disconnect. I work with students to heal and forgive their bodies. After all, infertility is not a label we need to use to define our identities,” says Lisa, who is a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200). Fertile Yoga is offered by RMACT, free of charge, to the general public. Fertile Yoga is a restorative style class; gentle movement, guided meditation; positive affirmations, relaxation and breathing techniques are all offered as ways to make the journey towards fertility as supportive as possible.
Writing the blog, PathtoFertility, Lisa’s objective is to further women’s and men’s understanding of their fertility challenges and to provide a compassionate forum for telling and hearing experiences. Ultimately, her hope is that readers will feel supported as they move along their personalpaths of fertility. Sometimes, simply knowing that one is not alone nor the first person to have experienced these challenges can relieve stress and provide a sense of comfort.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
Reconnecting with the Universe
from Fertility Acupuncturist Amy Matton
I think we have gotten away from the natural order of things. With the advent of modern technology many of us are less in touch with nature than ever before. Days can go by without our feet ever touching the earth. Notice how long it has been since you have walked in the woods, stood by the ocean, or marveled at the full moon. Temperature controlled climates, fluorescent lighting and our laptops allow us to work whenever and wherever we please. No longer are we bound to the rhythms of the day and season. And yet we are not separate from our environment; there is a relationship between us and our surroundings. The laws of the universe apply to all; I have always found comfort in this.
Fall is a time of turning inward. We gather in the harvest and reap the rewards of our work. Like the sap in the tree moving inwards towards the root, we consolidate and store. The expansive outward energy of summer wanes as yang is moving into yin. The organ associated with fall is the Lung. This is a time we may be susceptible to fall allergies or colds and care should be paid to support our defensive (wei) qi. The emotion associated with the season is sorrow or grief. With the withering of leaves on the trees and energy withdrawing inward, some of us will experience feelings of grief and loss during the transition of the seasons, as we experience a shift in energy and weather. Like the function of the Lung, autumn is a time of both taking in and letting go.
I am one of those people. I always feel a little sad in the fall as the warm long days of summer are over and the colder days of winter loom ahead. This year instead of ignoring fall and pushing through the transition, I plan to take time to be a part of it, and revel in the parts I do like: long walks with my dog through the fallen leaves, the beauty of the fall foliage, the crisp snap in the air as I leave for work in the morning, smart wool socks, building a fire and cozying up with a good book, the bounty of apples, squash and root vegetables. All these things help me connect with the season.
As the energy of the season turns inward so does my own. For me this means taking care of the interiors in my life, both in my home and my being. As I will be spending more time in doors, I have a renewed interest in making the space harmonious and tackling some projects I have let go over the summer. For instance, I might finally get around to hanging those pictures in the living room that have been stacked in the corner for ages.
I also feel the pull to do those things that matter most for my emotional interior, like meditation, reading, dancing, cooking and time with family and friends. All these small things help me ease the transition into a new season and reconnect with the universe with which I am a part.
About Fertility Acupuncturist Amy Matton:
A graduate of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine with a master’s degree, Amy is a licensed acupuncturist and certified herbalist. Acupuncturist Amy Matton’s areas of expertise include women’s health and fertility issues, pain management, stress, and adjunctive cancer care. In addition to a decade in private practice, she has been working with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut for the past six years providing traditional and laser acupuncture to women undergoing treatment for infertility.
For more information or an appointment, please call Amy at 203-858-6286.
Acupuncture for Pain Relief, even Headaches
Sometimes we get so used to something that we think it's normal.
I've had headaches almost all my life. Since I was a young teenager. Which was a very long time ago. My headaches are mainly from allergies and nothing has worked in decades without such mind-numbing side effects as to render me useless for anything productive during the time that I am on it. So I don't take medication, not because I'm a martyr, but because I like to be able to talk, walk and operate heavy machinery during the waking hours of the day.
I got used to the pain. Sort of.
I got used to it keeping me company during the day. When it was gone, I noticed more than I did when it was present.
I discovered that if I drink a glass of water an hour, I feel some relief. This was a blessing that I discovered about 15 years ago. So I drink a lot of water. And when I don't, I'm reminded because my head hurts.
As a yogi, I'm prone to going upside down. (Sorry for the bad joke, it's hard to be prone and upside down at the same time!) Inversions are a part of yoga, whether it's downward facing dog or headstand and handstand. It's simply getting your head below your heart.
Headstands, done every day, will quiet and relieve my headaches. The pressure on my head, along with fresh blood, oxygen and prana (life force flow) relieves my headache, sinus pressure and even nasal congestion. I try to remember to do them every day. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes my head will feel okay for a few days and I think I'm okay without them. Usually the reminder is a roaring return to head pain.
Going Wheat-Free: Motivations and Results
Going wheat free for a while to support someone else in my family who needed to opened new doors for me. It was a little like training a dog. When I ate wheat, hello headache. When I stayed away from wheat, no headache. I kept trying it. It kept working. No wheat, no headache. Eat wheat, hello headache. I mainly didn't eat wheat for about ten years. I did eat bread when it was handmade in Italy; I knew the headache would come and decided the tradeoff was worth it. Given the utter melt-in-your-mouth taste of that bread, it was the right decision. Recently I haven't had wheat in over a year.
Okay, so I drink a ton of water, don't eat wheat, do headstands and still get headaches. For those of you who read my blog regularly, this realization really brought on the urge for a very loud F-bomb.
Discovering Acupuncture and Two Wonderful CT Acupuncturists
Then I discovered Jing. Jing Zhang, along with Amy Matton, our two acupuncturists at RMACT. They have been doing acupuncture for fertility for over six years. (They are easily found, by clicking here. They provide accupuncture before, during and after treatment, including pre- and post-transfer with IVF patients.)
My apologies to all of you out there that I love. I still love you all, very very much.
I may love her more.
Sorry, but it's true.
Funny part is that she sticks needles into me. Ever since fertility treatment, I have despised needles. Really and truly despised them. Her gentle sense of humor and the fact that she radiates calm releases a lot of stress even before she places a single needle near me. That helps, cause I still don't like needles.
But Jing works magic with them. She places them in strategic places, makes sure I am warm and comfortable and allows acupuncture to heal, soothe and comfort.
Sometimes it's easy to drift into a meditative state.
There have been occasions that make me feel lit up like a Christmas tree. Feeling energy sparking from one needle point to another. Bright lights flying around, watching the fireworks just past my closed eyelids.
Oh, yeah, I totally love Jing.
Did I mention that she does accupressure afterwards? The best ever.
Yep, I really love Jing.
Thanks for the lack of headache this morning!
Fertility Acupuncture: Fear and Discovery
Ever since I experienced infertility and underwent fertility treatment, I've dreaded needles. I did many injections while I was in treatment and have avoided needles like the plague ever since.
That was quite a few years ago.
Since then, coming to work with Reproductive Medicine Associates of CT (RMACT), I've been meaning to try acupuncture. We have two experienced acupuncturists, Amy Matton and Jing Zhang, specializing in fertility acupuncture, who have been with the practice for six years. I've been here for four and a half.
For four and a half years, I've heard rave reviews about them. Patients and Fertile Yoga students talk about how relaxing, refreshing and revitalizing the acupuncuture treatment is that they receive from Amy and Jing.
All I can think about is that there are needles involved.
Laser Acupuncture in CT
At RMACT, we also are the only fertility program in Connecticut to offer laser acupuncuture. In well-researched, clinical studies, laser acupuncture has increased pregnancy rates.
Hmmm . . . not needles, but laser as in lights? Okay, I like that a lot more.
Only, I'm not really a chicken; in fact, I'm pretty brave--if you can consider it brave that I've made several appointments over the last four years and then cancelled each one. Maybe not so brave. Not when it comes to needles. Just don't like them.
When I was in the Stamford office recently, I bumped into Jing, who noticed my allergy suffering. It was pretty hard to miss.
Jing suggested that, since no other treatment in decades had worked without so many considerable side effects as to render the treatment useless, I try acupuncture.
I was miserable enough to say yes. Although, five minutes after I made an appointment, I wanted to cancel it! Wow. Maybe I am a chicken. At least when it comes to needles.
The Acupuncture Experience
Two days later, I entered Jing and Amy's sanctuary. Warm and softly lit, lovely music playing in the background, clean white sheets on a massage table. So far so good.
Given my fear of the needles, Jing had me lay on my stomach. It was a great idea. I couldn't see the needles and it helped my breathing regulate. Thank goodness for yogic breathing!
Jing's soft, calm voice continued to set the tone.
I could barely feel the needles go in.
If I hadn't known that something was happening, I'm not quite sure what I would have thought the incredibly mild sensation was on my skin. There was the slightest of sensations, followed by a feeling of energy flowing.
One or two did hurt, just the slightest, and Jing removed them immediately and repositioned them. When I say hurt, it was about a tenth of the feeling of getting bitten by a mosquito.
Jing put 28 needles in, including into my scalp. My scalp! With needles? You're kidding me.
When they were all in, Jing asked me about my comfort, made sure I was okay, wrapped me up, and sweetly and comfortably and allowed me to have the experience for about twenty minutes or so.
The best way that I can describe the experience is to relate it to twinkling lights. Or maybe the stars. There was a definite feeling of energy moving around, lighting up here, and then there, and then over there. It was a lovely, subtle feeling.
The removal of the needles was simple and easy, very smooth.
After acupuncture, with a huge thank you to Jing, I was on my way. With advice to drink lots of water and stay warm and perhaps avoid very strenuous exercise.
The entire rest of the day I felt relaxed, calm and as serene as I feel after a restorative style yoga class. My body felt as peaceful as my mind. My breathing was even and without any constrictions.
Allergies have been far less of a problem than they have been in over twenty years. No sneezing, no red eyes, no inability to be outside near grass. I've tried everything under the sun before acupuncture and none of it worked particularly well, without exhausting side effects.
No red eyes, no sneezing and lying out on the grass on a sunny day.
So glad I found enough courage to face my needles. I mean, my demons.
And now, I can speak intellegently about fertility acupuncture with Jing and Amy.
My sage words of advice?
Try it! It was truly a wonderful experience.
I taught a mixed level yoga class last night. Not Fertile Yoga, not to people struggling with infertility. Just the general public.
It’s a class that I have taken for years; last night my teacher was sick and asked me to fill in. How lovely to teach a group of people that I have practiced with and know. I know which one has tender shoulders, which one can’t stand balance poses, which one gets excited by headstand.
My intention for class was balance. Not balancing poses for the physical body, but balance for the heart and the breath. What makes a yoga class a yoga class and not a stretching or aerobic class is the breath. Yoga means yoke, unite. Uniting the breath and the movement. Uniting the effort and ease.
I have noticed over and over again how easy it is to find the effort in a pose. Watching students last night, I saw them find the effort in the poses; written all over their faces, audible in their breath. It was a vigorous class, Vinyasa style, on the breath. Inhale, move, exhale, move. I keep asking them to breathe. I kept asking them to soften. I kept asking them to expand the heart and the breath, becoming more vulnerable and open.
And I asked them to find the ease in the pose. That even within the effort, find the softening. Create a softening. Melt their hearts or their fingertips or their calves. Find the ease.
I invite you to do the same. I know, you know, your doctors and nurses, we know about the effort of infertility and trying to conceive when it’s not working. Finding the ease is so much more of a challenge. I’ve created lists on this blog of things that you can do to create ease. Things like movies, walks, books, time with friends and more. This time my suggestion is more specific.
RMACT is one of the few infertility programs who offer the types of services and service providers that help support you, the patient, as a whole person. In this season of abundance and excess, put yourself first. See someone who can make a difference in how you live your life while in fertility treatment.
Make an appointment and try acupuncture, Amy Matton, MS and Jing Zhang, MS are experienced, compassionate and extremely good at what they do. Acupuncture for fertility. They’ve been treating patients at RMACT for over four years. Give them a call.
Call Lisa Tuttle and set up an appointment with a psychologist who has spent years speaking to patients about infertility and understands the particular intensity of feelings that come along with it. Dr. Tuttle can help you understand things in a different way and sigh a breath of relief about weight lifted off your shoulders.
Speaking of weight, Carolyn Gundell, MS, RMACT’s nutritionist is more than just about losing weight. She’s there to help you understand your choices and make sure that as you come into balance about food that deprivation is not present. Understanding how powerful food is in your fertility quest is a powerful thing.
Peer support groups. For almost two years, we’ve offered “Ladies Night In” in our Danbury office .Jane Elisofon, MSW, leads her groups with an experienced hand and a compassionate heart. Carrie Van Steen leads the peer support groups, able to create an atmosphere of relief and safety. A place to talk, vent, find comfort. (We will be starting another peer support group on Norwalk in February.)
Fertile Yoga is free, open to the public and offered on Saturday’s in both the Norwalk and Danbury/Brookfield areas. I teach it. After over 6 and half years as a patient, 20 years as a patient advocate and educator in the fertility field, and as a RYT200 (Registered Yoga Teacher) Fertile Yoga is my offering to patients.
Find the ease in your journey to create your family. This is the time to try a service that you haven’t tried before or to come back to services that can create a sense of comfort in your life. If these options haven’t worked for you before, talk to us, try them again; let us find a way to modify them for you.
We know the effort that it takes to be in fertility treatment. I know the effort. You know the effort. Come find the ease.
At Reproductive Medicine Associates of CT (RMACT), we are looking past the end of the summer, into the fall. There are some programs that are continuing, som programs that will restart and some programs that will be brand new.
Our goal is to support our patients as whole people, not just diagnoses, not just as infertility patients. To that end, we offer the following programs:
- Carolyn Gundell, MS, is available, by appointment, to discuss healthy eating strategies, nutrition and their impact on fertility. Carolyn has her M.S. in Nutrition from Columbia University and has over twenty years of experience, with a specialty working with patients with insulin resistance, Diabetes Type1/Type 2, and metabolic disorders including Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
- LisaTuttle, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, will be leading groups that provide a forum for participants to learn about and discuss the emotional aspects of infertility; provide an opportunity to share their experience and benefit from the support and eperience of others, and to develop constructive ways of coping with the emotional challenges of infertility.
- Support groups are incredibly helpful because they give you an opportunity to meet with others who are facing fertility challenges, and to learn coping skills that will help you through the process. In Danbury, we have Jane Elisofon, LCSW leading our groups.
- Acupuncture- What is acupuncture and how does it work? Acupuncture is the insertion of thin, sterile needles at specific points (acupuncture points) along the surface of the body to regulate the flow of qi or life force energy. The ancient Chinese postulated that there were meridians of qi that flowed throughout the body linking all the internal organs and body structures. If the flow of qi became disordered or blocked various symptoms and pathologies would arise. Acupuncture was used to redirect the flow of qi thereby restoring balance and health. Make an apppointment with either Amy Matton or Jing Zhang.
- Ladies Night In- Peer Support Groups- A different version, not professionally led, all of us who have faced the infertility challenges. Peer led by RMACT staff with experience with infertility and running peer support groups.
- Fertile Yoga will continue at 20 Glover Avenue in Norwalk from 9:30-11am on Saturdays. The first half hour is just to chat, from 10-11, we practice gentle, restorative style yoga. Fertile Yoga meets in Brookfield CT (very close to the Danbury office) at YogaSpace, from 4:15-5:30 pm, also on Saturdays.
Is there a program that you are interested in but we do not offer? Post here, tell us about it, let's see if we can make it happen.