About RTÉ Television
The Afternoon Show
The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Acupuncture Fertility Treatment

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Norma Sheehan
Dr. Beizheng Liu - Acupuncturist

Norma Sheehan - Actress

Norma found she was having fertility difficulties when she started trying to get pregnant three years ago. Although she managed to conceive on two occasions, she miscarried both times at an early stage in the pregnancy.

Norma then turned to Acupuncture for a solution. She had gone to an acupuncturist a few years before, as her periods were non existent. It cured her then and when she went back, she began treatment that lasted over a year, but then she became pregnant with twins! They are now two and a half years old, Isabel and Jessica, and she's three and a half weeks away from having her third!

Everyone would recognize you from The Clinic - what was that show like to work on?
It was great working on the The Clinic, I was there at the beginning and for three years after that. When I look back on it now we were treated so well. Actors have a bad reputation for being unpredictable, so they make sure we're fed and looked after, meaning we get treated very well!

What was your reaction when you heard it was cancelled?
I wasn't too surprised. I think it had run its course but by the last series I didn't watch it because I didn't have time! My mother watched it religiously and almost didn't speak to me after I left it. However by the end she wasn't even watching it so I knew at that stage if they weren't keeping the audience it probably wouldn't last too long more.

Did you decide to leave the show?
At the time I had no kids so I really wanted to try new things and I felt invincible. I had a feeling at that stage that the show wouldn't last too long, but it actually went to seven series and I was brought back for a few episodes in the sixth series. I enjoyed the time that I was back for but there are elements of long shoots that I don't miss, especially being out in a studio all day, with grotty toilets! Although I would miss the people.

Do you keep in touch with any of the old gang from The Clinic?
Yes I am friends with Amy Huberman (Daisy) and Rachel Pilkington so we keep in touch.

You are well known for your theatre work - which do you prefer TV or Theatre?
My accountant told me when I was pregnant that my theatre days were over. It just doesn't pay enough to keep a family on, and although one day I may go back to it, I actually prefer TV work. It's more practical.

How have you found combining motherhood and acting?
In some ways acting is the perfect job for motherhood because you can be flexible, but there's no security, and it's hard to find work when you're pregnant! I kept my income coming in by doing voiceovers, and since I've had the girls I've been busy on Ondine (starring Colin Farrell, directed by Neil Jordan), a programme 'School Run' on TV3 and a programme for TG4.

I also go to go to the Oscars last year! The short film I was in 'New Boy' was nominated for best short film (Zanzibar films). The film didn't win but it was an unbelievable experience. My husband had surprised me with tickets for a holiday in LA and when I was there I was offered the tickets the night before! However before the flight I was in Temple Street all night as my daughter was sick, so I wasn't very glamorous getting on the plane!

What made you turn to acupuncture?
When I was younger I came off the pill and didn't have a period for a year and a half, so that worried me. I started the treatment with Dr. Beizhing Lui and after a year I was back to normal. However I didn't continue the treatment once I was better, which looking back was a bad idea, as I didn't continue having regular periods once I stopped.

How long were you trying to conceive before you turned to acupuncture?
I had two very early miscarriages before I went back to Dr. Beizhing Lui (8 weeks). I had been trying to get pregnant for around 3 months, and then decided it wasn't working.

Where did you hear about it?
I had heard off various people for a long time that acupuncture was the best treatment for infertility, I thought it was common knowledge. Some people may prefer to use conventional medicine but as much effort as acupuncture may be, I can imagine IVF to be a much tougher process.

What treatment did you undergo?
When I went to her she initially gave me herbs, which were unpleasant. Then she started using the needles. She said to abstain from trying for a baby for three months until my periods were regular, because she said it would be hard for me to keep the baby if I wasn't regular.

Is it painful?
No it's not painful at all. You do feel something when she puts the needle in, but only in certain places and this is generally the area that needs work. It's lovely to be told to lie down for half and hour, although you have to be careful not to move!!

Did you use it after you conceived?
When I was pregnant with the twins I was unable to eat because I would always be sick after. I had no appetite. After a session with Dr. Beizheng Liu, I would feel better for hours after and I'd eat like it was Christmas Day.

Did you use it to get pregnant this time?
This time was a surprise, so I was delighted that in this case I was able to conceive without any help.

Do you use it as part of a healthy regime?
Well I would love to do it to keep up my immune system and health, however health insurance only covers acupuncture if there is something wrong with you, as opposed to it being a lifestyle regime.

Dr. Beizheng Liu

How does acupuncture work?
The principle is that it works to stimulate the nerves. There may be a problem in the body that modern medicine won't pick up on i.e if there is no physical problem that they can see, then there is nothing to treat.

Acupuncture deals with problems that may be harder to diagnose, but it's about treating the whole problem. I.e. someone may go to the doctor because they feel tired all time. If the doctor doesn't see a problem in the body, it won't be treated. However acupuncture works on the balance of the body, and if someone does feel tired for most of their day, it means they are off balance.

Acupuncture treats the patient, it diagnoses the patient overall, as there is something wrong with the system. If the system is working correctly everything else falls into place.

Ying and Yang

The body works, like everything else in Chinese medicine, on the Ying Yang philosophy. This is applied to absolutely everything and person in the world, and it is the balance between the two that needs to be equal. For example day is Yang and night is Yin, Top is Yang, bottom is Ying, and so on. This applies to the body also. The Ying is when the body is relaxed and tired, while the Yang is the adrenaline and energy, mainly experienced in the morning, while the Ying is experienced at night, however you can't have one without the other.

Who does it help?
Acupuncture is a proven form of health treatment and will help everyone who goes for treatment. It's not about believing or having faith in it, if you take the proper herbs advised, show up for treatments and be patient with your care, there are always results.
(With all treatment however success isn't guaranteed and some conditions will not be cured by acupuncture.)

How does it help fertility?
There is over a hundred reasons why a women can have problems conceiving. For example, someone who suffers from PMS may have trouble because clearly their hormone balance is incorrect. There is either too much oestrogen or too much progesterone, an imbalance caused by the endocrine system. Acupuncture, based on its Ying Yang philosophy, treats the imbalance by stimulating the nervous system.

Irregular periods:

The most common reason is when a woman's period isn't regular. If her system is not regular then she will have problems carrying a baby. Recently a lady had come to her that had been trying for a baby for seven years. Her cycle was irregular, and after 3 months working with Dr. Liu she was pregnant. In fact in a lot of her cases 3 months of treatment is generally when women see results.

Norma visited Dr. Liu in 2003 because when she had come off the pill, she didn't have a period for a year and a half. After treatment with Dr. Liu she was like clockwork, but once she started getting her periods back, she stopped her treatment.
By the time she was trying to have a baby her period would arrive every three months. Norma had two miscarriages by the time she went back to Dr. Liu.

What treatment would someone going for fertility treatment need?
Most of the time she will tell women to abstain from trying for a baby for three months. This is to ensure that they wait until their system is regular and ready to carry a baby. (although she says that some women don't last that long).

She initially started Norma with herbs (which Norma wasn't too pleased about because they don't taste great), but some women are treated only with herbs for infertility, and it can work. NOTE:- Medical insurance doesn't cover herbs

A month later she started acupuncture and asked her to abstain until her third cycle was regular. Norma got pregnant before her fourth cycle, so it worked almost immediately.

How often should you go for treatment?
Someone should go for treatment once a week, although ideally as frequent as possible. However medical insurance doesn't cover women going to acupuncture for fertility issues. They will however cover PMS (although PMS causes infertility so there is a slight loophole). The most important thing is to be patient and give the treatment a chance to work before giving up.

Acupuncture and Health Insurance
All acupuncturists (over 400) that are members of the Acupuncture Council of Ireland are covered under health insurance.

Date for your Diary - Acupuncture Awareness Week 2010 - January 18th - 22nd

The Inaugural Acupuncture Awareness Week takes place around Ireland between January 18th and 22nd 2010 in association with the Acupuncture Council of Ireland. Throughout the week, members of the public will be invited to attend free information evenings, seminars, trial acupuncture sessions and open days in various venues across the country.

The aim of Acupuncture Awareness Week 2010 is to provide people with more in-depth information about acupuncture. Although this therapy is growing in popularity, many people in Ireland are still unaware of just how effective this therapy is in treating many common conditions. It has been scientifically established and recognized by the World Health Organisation that acupuncture is effective in treating almost 200 common medical complaints.

Acupuncture is a complex medical system that is used to diagnose and treat illness, prevent disease and improve well being. It can focus on physical, psychological, and emotional problems. Acupuncture is at least 3,000 years old and due to it's proven effectiveness, has been embraced throughout the world. It involves the insertion of extremely fine pre-sterilised needles at predetermined points on the body to restore health.

Dermot O'Connor, the Chairman of the Acupuncture Council of Ireland said, "Acupuncture can help to treat common conditions including; Cold, Flu Viral infections, Sinusitis, Hay fever, Eczema, Depression, Arthritis, Asthma, Fertility issues and Bowel problems to name a few".

The Acupuncture Council of Ireland is the largest association set up to regulate and promote acupuncture in Ireland. In consultation with the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health the Acupuncture Council of Ireland was formed in 2006 and was an amalgamation of three long established acupuncture associations. The council has almost 500 members nationwide and is responsible for the regulation and maintenance of a Register of Acupuncturists. Only fully qualified and insured practitioners can become members of the council. All members are bound by a Code of Ethics and Code of Practice, which is strictly enforced by the Executive Committee of the Acupuncture Council of Ireland thus offering a guarantee of confidence to any patient seeking treatment. Members of The Acupuncture Council of Ireland are approved by Hibernian Aviva Health, VHI, Quinn Healthcare and HSE for Out-Patient insurance purposes.

For further information on Acupuncture Awareness Week, to arrange interviews and trial acupuncture sessions please contact:

Aislinn O'Toole - Presence PR
T: 01-6761062
Gemma Kenny - Presence PR
T: 01 - 6761062