Pugliese, a registered nurse and licensed acupuncturist, runs Conception Wellness in Pacific Beach. The clinic, which specializes in women’s health and fertility, focuses on nutritional counseling, lab work analysis, vitamin supplement plans and acupuncture. In a nutshell, Pugliese said, Conception Wellness patients are treated with a “comprehensive wellness approach that covers everything.”
“Because we focus on women’s health, with that comes a huge population of women with fertility difficulties,” Pugliese said. “We see everything from a difficulty getting pregnant to pregnancy loss. We try to look at the full picture and help them get into good health. We find that for a lot of women who correct those imbalances in their health, those difficulties go away.”
The range of services offered at Conception Wellness can, indeed, improve a woman’s chances of conceiving, even without treatments like invitro fertilization, Pugliese said. Others who may already be undergoing invitro find the treatment to be much more effective with additional measures like fertility acupuncture. Pugliese said she works closely with patients’ medical doctors to devise a wellness plan that will optimize success for each individual. Working with doctors who focus almost solely on Western medicine seems like it might generate resistance, but Pugliese said she has fostered cooperative relationships and has found nearly all the doctors she works with to be open to additional treatment plans.
“A study came out that showed women who did acupuncture had higher chances [of getting pregnant] than just through IVF,” she said. “After that, a lot of doctors started opening their doors, and they want to work with acupuncturists like us who understand the fertility process.
“Time and time again, we have seen patients who have done only IVF and were unsuccessful,” she continued. “Then they come in and follow our conception wellness treatment, in addition to their Western treatments, and have success.”
Pugliese wasn’t always a champion of combining Eastern medicine with Western techniques. She worked for years as an RN, until one day in 1995, when she crossed paths with an acupuncturist at a seminar. Pugliese said she had suffered from severe sinus problems her entire life. The acupuncturist — Loisanne Keller, who Pugliese eventually went into business with at the Keller Clinic, which eventually became Conception Wellness after Keller retired — explained that her problems were probably related to imbalances in her body, which were probably fueled by her diet.
“I thought my diet was healthy. I was a vegetarian,” Pugliese said. “But we changed my diet and she gave me acupuncture, and I have never had another sinus infection since then. I was just blown away that something I was dealing with for so long could be fixed like that. It inspired me to start studying Chinese medicine.”
Pugliese didn’t abandon her roots in Western medicine, but rather combined her new knowledge of wellness with her previous training. The concept, she said, is that people will benefit more from focusing on their health in a complete, holistic way rather than only looking to solve problems once they arise.
“What we try to emphasize is whole wellness, as opposed to a disease-based approach with a regular doctor,” Pugliese said. “Many Western doctors take the stance that if you’re not sick, you’re fine. We’re different. We don’t wait for that disease to develop to help you achieve wellness. You might not have a disease, but you might not be well either.”
Pugliese is careful to make sure her patients know that optimal health doesn’t come instantaneously.
“Working with us is team approach,” she said. “There’s no magic pill, no magic needle. It comes from people working together on a plan of health and wellness, and that’s how we get the best results. We have had some cases where a patient comes in and gets two treatments and gets pregnant, but that’s not usually the case. It’s usually a matter of making changes at home and in life and that’s where we’ll get big results.”
For more information about Conception Wellness or to schedule a consultation, visit conceptionwellness.com.