I have these professional designations after my name including R. Ac for Registered Acupuncturist and Dr. TCM for my doctorate in Traditional Chinese Medicine. However, I also carry the designation FABORM, which may be unfamiliar to many people, but also might be really important, especially if you’re trying to become pregnant.
FABORM indicates that I’m a Fellow of the Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Board of Reproductive Medicine (ABORM) in the USA it stands for Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. It also indicates that I, or anyone else with that designation, knows a lot about bridging the gap between Chinese medicine and Western allopathic medicine when it comes to reproductive health. And if you think that obtaining FABORM credentials happens during a weekend seminar, think again—it is hard work! ABORM Fellows must complete 45 hours of approved continuing education units (CEU’s) and sit for an exam, and only after you’ve been a licensed acupuncturist for over two years. The CEU’s have to be taken within two years prior to passing the exam (meaning they’re only good for two years). In addition, to maintain FABORM credentials, we need to obtain 10 CEU’s each year in ABORM-approved reproductive medicine courses.
Here’s a sampling of what an ABORM Fellow must know:
- Western anatomy and physiology for both males and females
- Western pathology and differential diagnosis of reproductive disorders
- Diagnostic methods; imaging, labs, surgery and indications for each
- Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), including indications, procedures, terminology and medications
- Early pregnancy, miscarriage, recurring pregnancy loss and gestational disorders
- From a TCM perspective: causes of infertility, disease patterns associated with infertility, treatment of infertility disease patterns with acupuncture and herbal medicine and treatment during early pregnancy
- When to treat a patient and when to refer them to another health care provider
In addition, we are familiar with the research on the effectiveness of acupuncture and evidence-based treatment strategies. This is important, as research studies have documented that acupuncture, when performed by a practitioner trained in reproductive health can:
- Increase your chances of a live birth
- Improve the male factor by increasing sperm count, motility and morphology
- Help regulate your hormones and menstrual cycle
- Decrease stress
- Improve the flow of blood to your ovaries and uterus
- Reduce the chance of miscarriage
- Improve the thickness of your uterine lining
- Reduce the side effects of fertility medications
- Enhance the function of your immune system
Practitioners with the FABORM designation can offer their patients comprehensive treatment options that may include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, dietary therapy, vitamins and supplements, manual therapies and specialized testing. While providing Chinese medicine, they are willing and able to collaborate with your Western health care provider. Because your FABORM certified practitioner is familiar with reproductive techniques and terminology, they can proficiently communicate with your doctor.
Having the FABORM certification has made me both knowledgeable and confident in my work with patients who are having fertility and reproductive issues. I sat for the FABORM exam in March of 2012 in Austin, Texas, and it was a beast! However, I took the test in tandem with the AOMA Southwest Symposium, which was right before the South by Southwest festival. So for the sake of balance, a friend and I rented bikes, rode all over the city, met lots of people and checked out the university. We had a really fun time visiting Austin!
The bottom line is if you’re seeking natural solutions in the area of reproductive medicine, look for a practitioner with the FABORM credential. It tells you they’ve put in the time for further study, have experience and knowhow in treating infertility, and they’re serious about helping people—both women and men—with their fertility and reproductive health. At the time of writing this article, there are 398 FABORM certified practitioners, and less than 45 in Canada. If you’re looking for a practitioner near you, use this directory tool on the ABORM website:
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.