According to the CDC, one in eight couples
have trouble “getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy." Yet for such a common number, the conversation around infertility is still taboo, with a heavy stigma of shame and neglect surrounding words like miscarriage and infertile.
For Angela Le, this stigma of shame is what she works to remove along with the the fear, anger, defeat, confusion and stress she acknowledges as emotions accompanying a couple trying to conceive.
“It goes back to the Bible; a woman's sense of worth and value is her ability to reproduce," says Le on the subconscious patterns built into our society. “When you can't conceive, you think, 'Something must be fundamentally wrong with me.'"
Le has been a holistic acupuncturist and practitioner for more than 20 years. At her current clinic, Fifth Avenue Fertility Wellness
, Le carries patients through an immersive therapy session that examines all traits of a patient's lifestyle—including emotional history, physical routine, and mental support.
“A lot of women I see don't know much about their bodies, they don't know when they ovulate," says Le, adding that women don't always understand their wants. Le explains instances when women have come in grief stricken about their inability to conceive, yet after a few appointments, they realize a baby isn't what they truly desire.
In this way, Le uses the pause of infertility to help women reexamine their true desires, rather than rely on what they think they want, or what society tells them they want. "You want to make sure pregnancy is a choice coming from your soul, not, 'What if I regret not having kids?' or 'I don't want to be lonely as an older woman'," says Le on some of the questions posed to her throughout the process. "I help women navigate this, to educate them so they can make their own decisions; I think that's more important than me pushing my agenda on someone."
Le recognized the influence of her chosen career path after tending to her first patient in 1998; a time when the buzz around wellness and perception of eastern medicine wasn't necessarily as trendy as modern times. Le herself didn't enter the medical industry with a holistic background, however, she felt compelled to follow the niche of acupuncture in pregnancy.
“I felt like I was her only friend," says Le on her first patient struggling with infertility. “Imagine a woman that's been holding in pain and trauma and heartbreak for years and then she has someone to talk to finally; I felt like I was that person."
Le, as one of the youngest in her class, therefore chose to specialize in infertility as soon as she graduated her program. “It really cut me off from things like pain management and other things that people were more comfortable using acupuncture for, but I wanted to transform lives."
After spending her early days working in California, Le's decision moved her from coast-to-coast, where she opened Fifth Avenue Fertility Wellness
in New York City.
“I treat the most affluent, successful women on this planet and even they have these insecurities," says Le enforcing the reality of infertility as nondiscriminatory.
In connection to Le's process of evaluating external factors she shares how her patients come in seeking an answer. “They say, 'I'm looking for something and I can't put my finger on it.' It's usually these women that when you dig a little under the surface, you learn about their anxieties or sleep deprivation," says Le, emphasizing her clinic's mission to integrate physical, mental and spiritual health to create the ideal conditions for conception.
“Women just need to be acknowledged and heard; when we go through anything painful, we're not looking to be fixed or told what to do. We just want community support to say, 'I love you, I care about you and the pain is real. If you need anything I'm here.' It's that basic but we just don't know how to give that to each other."
Le continues to shift perceptions with her work at Fifth Avenue Fertility Wellness and promotes the conversation and realities of infertility. For more information on her work visit her work here.