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My acupuncture session for fertility seems so functional.

Q:  I am getting acupuncture for fertility reasons but I am a little worried.  My practitioner does not talk at all during the session which is probably normal. He begins with a very rough massage and then places needles in key areas. I am left to lie there for 20 mins until he returns to  the room and says you are finished now and that's it. I keep hearing how relaxing acupuncture is,  so I am now worried because my sessions seem so functional.  In saying that I am there to help me get pregnant so if it works I can live without the relaxation element. Please advise.

A: We are sorry to hear that your experience of treatment is not quite as you expected. Of course you are absolutely right - when you become pregnant the fact that the sessions were not as relaxing as you had hoped will fade into the background. As one of our old teachers once said, 'you're there to make people better, not to make friends'. That said, he was mainly warning about avoiding difficult treatments and hard questions, not about failing to make rapport -this was one of his great legacies, the need to establish a good rapport. While it is not an essential part of the treatment, many people do report going into states of deep relaxation when they are treated, and most practitioners will try to ensure that their patients find the experience enjoyable, whether because they drop into a restful and meditative state or talk about
their experiences and life in general.

Some practitioners, however, do not work in this way. It is not unknown for practitioners to work in the way you describe, and for some practitioners trained overseas this can often be the norm. Many Chinese practitioners, for example, are used to treating people in outpatient departments such as those where they initially trained, and this can involve working at great speed to move from patient to patient, with sometimes as many as 100 patients to see in a day. Working in the way you describe could simply be how they were trained.  This is not confined to Chinese practice; there are also a number of indigenous practitioners who prefer to let the needles do
the talking, and treat and leave. Indeed the majority of Chinese practitioner working in the West enjoy the greater amount of time available to build rapport and allow for relaxation.

Essentially, then, this is not abnormal, but not quite what you had hoped for. We suppose the choices are a little bit stark: carry on as is or drop this practitioner and go to another one. We would not be foolish enough to suggest you talk to the practitioner about changing the way he works. It might, though, he possible to address the fact that the massage is a little intense by asking for a more gentle version of the same; most responsible practitioners will be more than happy to adjust their treatments to suit the patient. This may help to make the treatment more relaxing.

We generally recommend that prospective patients shop around if they are in any doubt about what they are about to take on, and we always take the view that while rapport is not essential it helps to make the experience an enjoyable one. The same applies for length of treatment; if a very friendly practitioner works in 20 minute sessions that might not be as valuable to a prospective patient as treatment from someone with slightly less good rapport but who allows longer in the treatment room. People are perfectly free to change practitioners, and there is no reason for a subsequent practitioner to contact the previous one if the patient says that they should not. If you did choose to move, there would be no problem as long as you cancelled any outstanding treatments in good time.

Above all, though, we hope that the treatment works.

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