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AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Interview with Dr. Frederick Licciardi, Kathy Yocum

Aired April 18, 2002 - 07:49   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: The "Big Question" at this hour: Can acupuncture actually help women get pregnant? A just-released medical study found that introducing acupuncture to the reproductive regimen resulted in an almost 50 percent increase in pregnancies for women undergoing in vitro fertilization.

Joining us now to explain how and why this alternative treatment can work so well, Dr. Frederick Licciardi, a fertility expert from NYU, which is New York University, and acupuncturist, Kathy Yocum.

KATHY YOCUM, ACUPUNCTURIST: Hi.

DR. FREDERICK LICCIARDI, FERTILITY EXPERT: Good morning.

ZAHN: Good to have both of you with us.

YOCUM: Thank you.

LICCIARDI.: Thank you very much.

ZAHN: I saw this study yesterday, and I was just amazed that this study revealed what it revealed. What does this mean, Dr. Licciardi?

LICCIARDI.: Well, what it really means is that we need to look at the whole body, when we are doing our fertility treatments, and we have to look at studies like this from the positive side. This actually may turn into something that's very important. And NYU, actually, we are starting a study very similar to this, and we hope to look at it ourselves.

A little criticism of this study, the study showed that the pregnancy rate in women who didn't get acupuncture only had a 20 percent pregnancy rate. So that in a group of women that are 32 years of age on average, that's a little lower than we'd like to see. So our pregnancy rates are much higher than that. We'd like to do a similar study.

ZAHN: So, Kathy, how does this work? At what point would a woman have acupuncture during this process, or even those who aren't going through fertility treatments?

YOCUM: Well, you could start anywhere during your cycle. You could -- it would be good to start maybe before you start this kind of process, maybe a month or so before.

ZAHN: How often?

YOCUM: I do it once a week. Some people treat people twice a week.

ZAHN: And what is it that you are stimulating?

YOCUM: That's a good question.

ZAHN: Why is there any correlation between acupuncture and increased fertility?

YOCUM: Well, what you are stimulating is the flow of blood, lymph, energy, what we call Qi, that runs along the pathways of the body. And with the needles at different points, you can stimulate different systems of the body. But also, you are affecting the stress level, and you know, the tendonal muscular system. So if there is a blockage somewhere, like in that area, or if it's not getting enough blood flow, you can really open up the area by using this technique.

ZAHN: Dr. Licciardi, would you recommend this for women who aren't even going through in vitro programs?

LICCIARDI: I would recommend anything that's going to make them feel better. A lot of my patients ask me, Dr. Licciardi, if I reduce my stress, will my pregnancy rate go up? So the worst thing I can tell a patient is reduce your stress, because what that's going to do, it's going to make them more nervous, because they still have their jobs, they still have maybe their family and other circumstances. So if this will help them relax in some way, I am all for it.

ZAHN: Is there science there, though, involved? Or is it just the fact that your body works better when it's stress-free?

LICCIARDI: The science is what we're looking for. We are still looking for the science, but you know, 3,000 years of training maybe can't be wrong.

ZAHN: Have attitudes changed much? I am curious if some of the women that walk into you have these treatments. I am sure some of them are a little bit skeptical. But do they think it's worth a shot?

YOCUM: They definitely think it's worth a shot, and women that don't even come in for fertility reasons notice a difference in their cycle, a difference in their stress level, people who weren't having menstrual cycles at all start to get menstrual cycles. So it does do something to these systems of the body that are deeper than -- you know, it does work.

ZAHN: Well, there is something to be said for, like you said, several thousand years of history here. Final word of advice for women out there who know that you think the study may have some faults with it; nevertheless want to get pregnant, want to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. LICCIARDI: I think the big advice is what you led up to in that you can't wait. I mean, we didn't talk about it that much, but waiting can be detrimental if you really want to have a baby. It doesn't mean that you have to put yourself in the closet and not have a career or not do the things that you want to do, but you need to get the information. You can't make decisions, unless you have the information. And the information is it may be difficult for you to have a baby as you approach your late 30's and early 40's.

ZAHN: I hear that clock ticking all around the nation. I was one of the lucky ones that did well into my 40's, and I know that isn't the norm, but I feel incredibly blessed.

YOCUM: I think it's an individual thing. You know, I think we have to, you know, treat each other as individuals and listen to the numbers, but also know that there is a great possibility, you know, of achieving your goal.

ZAHN: Well, Kathy Yocum, Dr. Licciardi, thanks for shedding some light on this new study.

YOCUM: Thank you.

LICCIARDI: Thank you.

ZAHN: It's so interesting -- appreciate your time.

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