- Women's Health»
How to get Pregnant - my story & acupuncture
Struggling to get pregnant is something that only another person in the same situation can truely understand. Looking back, I know my 10 month battle was very short really in comparison to many people but at the same time, when you're in the middle of it not knowing how long it will go on for or whether it will ever happen for you at all, each monthly cycle is as much agony.
What happened for me was that I conceived first time of trying with my second child about a year ago. Unfortunately, at 6 weeks I miscarried. I was very sad but misguidedly thought that because it had happened very easily it would happen again the next month. How wrong I was!! Not only did it not happen the following month but it didn't happen the month after that or the month after that and so on. My cycle seemed to have gone back to normal pretty quickly and so I couldn't see any reason. After 3 months and at 36 (nearly 37) years of age it suddenly hit me that maybe my fertile life was coming to a close. As soon as that thought popped in to my head I had a panic attack. And that was the start of my biggest battle. From that point on I struggled to keep the panic under control and it started to affect my health and particularly my cycle. After 4 months had passed, I went to see my doctor about the difficulty in conceiving (and told her we'd been trying for 6 months because I knew she wouldn't pay any attention to me until 6 months had passed!). Just a quick note... if you're over 35 and having trouble then do that too! This is your fertility at stake here and believe me the NHS will try to have as little time for you as possible when it comes to infertility because as far as they're concerned it's not a life threatening condition so it's not urgent! Anyway, I told her about the problem and about the panic attacks too. She was sympathetic but just told me that she could do nothing for me. I said to her that I knew that everyone advises going to the doctor after 1 year of trying if you're under 35 and after 6 months of trying when you're over 35 and she said that that didn't really apply much and she wouldn't really take any notice until we'd been trying for 2 years. 2 years!!!!! I'll be nearly 39 then and with an even slimmer chance than I have now! Regardless, she stuck to that but said that she would at least get the ball rolling a little and give me some blood tests to check my hormone levels. Hurrah, at least something!
To try to cut this story shorter, I went for my blood tests which all came back within normal range. I'm not one to give up lightly so I kept turning up on my doctors appointment sheet for the following two months until she finally agreed to refer me to the Royal Surrey County Hospital. At the Royal Surrey, they scheduled me in for an ultrasound scan and a hysterosalpingogram which basically flushes iodine through your tubes to check that the fallopian tubes are open. I had both of these tests and although that eats up another 4 months of my story, I finally got the results back and all was fine. The only thing that had been noted was that the Sonographer who did my ultrasound scan on day 26 of my cycle had made a note that the lining was 6mm thick which she thought was quite thin for that stage of the month.
I had a follow up appointment at the hospital on 5th February 2010, 8 months after the miscarriage with one of the head gynaecologists team. She went through the results with me and I tried to give her some clues from my experience of my cycle since the miscarriage. I told her that for some bizarre reason my periods had been getting lighter and shorter and were now down to 1 day in length. To say she didn't really care was an understatement. She said that that was still fine and the most likely cause was my stress and panic attacks. I told her that that wasn't normal for me but she wasn't listening and just kept saying that everything was in normal range. I'm afraid I got quite cross that she wasn't prepared to listen to me ie. someone who knows my body far better than she does and she just kept spouting statistics at me of what is normal range! There was a student doctor in the appointment and he offered far more suggestions and solutions than she did by suggesting maybe they should weigh me as my weight seemed quite low and that maybe my periods would go back to normal if I could put some weight on. He took me out of her consulting room and weighed me and found that my BMI was 19 - I then discovered that that was the limit at which the NHS will even bother considering to help you! Ok, so maybe I can put some weight on, at least that was a suggestion of something we could try, although I doubt that's really it as I've always been that size and not had any trouble with my periods before or in conceiving and successfully carrying my first child. However, I'll go away and put some weight on. The gynaecologists lacky then proceeded to tell me that I was worrying about nothing and that there was absolutely no problem with my lining and that the sonographer didn't know what she was talking about. I tried to tell her that from research I'd done, I knew professionals considered that to be only just about acceptable for that time of the month but still fairly thin. I tried to tell her again that my light/short periods weren't normal for me and that even though my test results showed everything in normal range, this wasn't normal for me. She dismissed everything I said and told me to go away and carry on trying for another 2 years.
FINE! If they won't help me then I'll find someone who will at least listen when I say that this isn't normal for me.
I should backtrack slightly and let you know that during this time, I'd done my research and found out that a lot of people have found success with acupuncture and so I'd been going to acupuncture for the last 4 months. In that time, I'd seen my acupuncturist twice a month, she'd given me herbs, changed my supplements, made me eat loads of nuts and seeds and all health food with no unhealthy food AT ALL and basically done everything alternative that she could think of. Looking back, the health food thing makes me laugh as it was exactly what she lived on and she looked like a painfully thin ghost!! I tried it all though. What happened was that I lost a stone in weight which I couldn't afford to lose, the new supplements, which were SO high in beta-carotene it was unbelievable, had given me the permanent runs for 2 months until I decided myself to stop taking them. The vitamin B6 supplement did actually work to lengthen my cycle as I'd had a couple of scary months when they were only 24 days long (again, I know that's still normal range, but it's not for me!) so that one did do what it was supposed to. Quick note: don't take B6 for longer than 6 months, it's used to get your cycle back to normal but shouldn't be used long term. The nuts and seeds passed straight through undigested. The herbs had helped with the panic attacks slightly but I discovered that you can't take them if you're pregnant so if I had fallen pregnant mid month I'd have then taken them for 2 weeks when I shouldn't have. The acupuncture had done nothing to correct my light periods and my acupuncturist just kept telling me that it was still within normal range. In summary, I felt physically awful, mentally miserable and with not much success so far!!!
I have to say though that after all this I wasn't prepared to give up on acupuncture. I knew it did work for many people so I decided to find someone else. My first acupuncturist had called herself a specialist in infertility although she mainly concentrated on acupuncture for patients post IVF transfer. What I decided to try and find was a proper Chinese acupuncturist - they invented it so if anyone will know how it really works, the Chinese will. I was very nervous though as some of these Chinese herb and acupuncture places in town look really scary and I really didn't want to go to one of those. Back to the internet! I finally found a lady in Fleet, Hampshire who was a proper Chinese acupuncturist but with a very English sounding name and who worked in a very English looking clinic above a recruitment agency. Her name was Caroline Dai. I gave her a call and made an appointment - the best thing I ever did!!!
When I went to see Caroline, she asked me to fill in basic details about myself on one of her forms, just like you would at the doctors. She then called me through to her consulting room and asked me 2-3 questions - that was all. I thought it slightly odd that she didn't need to know more but went with it. She then said she was going to feel my pulse on both wrists. From that she proceeded to recite to me my entire medical history from the last year of my life - it was unbelievable!!! She told me I had light periods (I hadn't told her that), she described what the blood looked like and what the flow was like (I hadn't told her that), she told me that I had lower back pain (I hadn't told her that) and she even told me that I had a slight toothache at the moment (although unrelated... I still hadn't told her that). She told me that none of this was right and needed to be cleared to be able to successfully conceive. I burst in to tears! Finally, someone who really got it and understood.
I should also mention that Caroline told me that she had a 100% success rate for all women who had had children before. I think my tears flowed even stronger!!
From that point, I saw her once a week and I'm still seeing her today. What she did to start with was to work on my stress levels which were definitely hampering my chances (still having the panic attacks). She also flushed out lots of stagnant blood from previous cycles which hadn't been clearing itself properly each month. She worked on that for a few weeks and the first period after starting my appointments with her was much heavier although full of loads of brown gunk (clearly, the stuff which had been hanging around a while). Around this time, I had had my results back from the hospital and I told her that my lining was 6mm on day 26. She shook her head straight away and said that that was wrong. She told me that it was wrong because as much as 6mm is considered just about ok for a successful implantation, if it was only 6mm on day 26, it would have been thinner a week earlier at the point when implantation could be occurring. I knew it!!! In my heart of hearts I knew the consultant gynaecologists lacky was wrong and was just too arrogant to consider listening to her patients knowledge of their own body!
Anyway, the following few weeks she continued to do more of the same and to my amazement the next period was completely back to normal!! Bright red blood, no clots, no brown gunk and normal flow. It even lasted 5 days!!
For the first two weeks of the next cycle, she cleared my lower back pain with acupuncture and also used something called Moxibustion which channels heat directly in to the uterus. She said that the lower back pain was a sign of blood stagnation and that the blood flow to the uterus still wasn't good enough. Just one session on my lower back and she cleared most of the blood stagnation and was really pleased with my progress. On day 23 of that cycle I went for my normal weekly appointment with her and she checked my pulses. I could see her smiling out of the corner of my eye and she looked at me and grinned a very wide grin and said - it's good news! Needless to say, the waterworks came flooding back again, and the relief I felt was incredible.
On day 28, I did a test and of course, it was positive. :-)
Caroline has continued to treat me weekly and I'm now 7 weeks pregnant. My pulses are great and the pregnancy is strong. As much as I know I'm not out of the woods yet, I believe that with Caroline with me, everything is going to be ok. She's even told me what sex the baby is!
As much as my story is very long to read, I haven't actually covered everything... notably all the peeing on ovulation testing sticks, Pre-seed lubricant and so on. But there is one last thing which has been really significant to me which I wanted to mention. When I started seeing Caroline, apart from the treatment I had with her, she also referred me to her nutritionist, a wonderful lady called Rebecca Dorta who spoke complete sense! I had one appointment with her which was all I needed. She hooked me up to something called an Asyra machine which just consisted of me holding two electrodes, one in each hand, and it then scanned my body for nutritional deficiencies and intolerances. It was brilliant! The results started appearing on the screen which showed me that I was intolerant to chocolate, broccoli and demerera sugar to name a few. Very interesting because chocolate and broccoli are something I eat a lot of and demerera sugar was what I'd had on my breakfast cereal that very morning. There were loads of other things as well which completely rang true. On screen I could see my entire diet listed before me with most listed as a 'no problem' and just a handful as an intolerance. I was very impressed! Anyway, she talked me through what changes I needed to make... she cut me down to 2 encounters with chocolate a week, she gave me vitamin B5 to support and protect my body at the most stressful times (1 a day but up to 3 a day on the most panicky days) which has really worked to calm me down and balance my emotions. She also told me to take 3tsps of Linseed oil a day to boost the necessary Omega 3 which we should all be having. This tastes foul but I know is an essential nutrient. The important thing with this is that you take it alongside Lecithin which is an emulsifier so that you can digest it. You must also build this dose up gradually. It originally gave me a little bit of the runs and she told me that it was because my body wasn't used to it and I needed to build it up even more slowly than I was. I'm now up to my 3tsps a day with no side effects at all - I think that's what my first acupuncturist should have advised me with the Beta-Carotene!! Finally, and probably the biggest challenge of all, she's finally succeeded where everyone else has failed to get me to drink 4 pints of water a day! I hate drinking water. However, I can get tea down very nicely, thank you! She changed me over to some very mild teas which taste fine and now I can count every cup and I'm finally at my 4 pint quota without much difficulty. She and Caroline have been brilliant and it's down to both of them that we're now expecting our much wanted 2nd child.