Alex Orr
15 Sep 2014

It took me many years to conceive. At 45 I am the happy mother of two healthy boys (aged nearly 2 and 4) and without question I have Dr Zhai and her team to thank for this. Dr Zhai has been described as a miracle worker by many of her clients and it certainly does seem this way to me. She is an absolute expert in her field and has a deep knowledge of fertility not only from a TCM perspective but also from a western one. It is this amazing combination of knowledge that enabled me to conceive under her care and using IVF after highly experienced western doctors had said it was close to impossible.

At the age of 38 I was told by western doctors that my chances of conceiving either naturally or through IVF were almost non existant after hormone tests showed my fertility to be so low it was graded as ‘undetectable’. They recommended I try donor eggs. This was devastating news. Somehow I was sure it couldn’t be true but didn’t know where to look for help.

I came across Dr Zhai when a friend (who had been trying to conceive for 2 years) read a magazine article about her clinic, went to see her and became pregnant naturally after just 2 months. It was all the persuasion I needed to try it too.

At my first appointment Dr Zhai asked me to take further blood tests to give her as much information as possible. They all pointed to the same thing, which was that my fertility and egg reserves were certainly extremely low but this didn’t seem to put her off. She said they were a reference point, filed them away and instead concentrated on asking me questions about my cycle and my eating and lifestyle habits. She also looked at my tongue and took my pulse. She asked me to keep a daily record of my cycle and base temperature, and gave me all the information I needed to make necessary changes in my diet and lifestyle. Then she wrote out a tailored prescription for acupuncture (which I had immediately following my appointment) and Chinese herbs which I took home and brewed into tea twice a day.

It all seemed highly mysterious but somehow I felt confident I was in very experienced hands and that she was someone who could help me. Instead of dismissing me as a hopeless case she told me, whilst there were no guarantees, she could help rebalance my body but in my particular circumstance it would most likely take a long time and I would need to follow her instructions and be patient. I went to see her every fortnight and was given a different acupuncture and herbal tea prescription each time. She was listening to my body and tailoring the treatment on each visit. Over time I could see my cycles start to lengthen and normalize and I also started to feel much better, with more energy.

Due to some severe cervical surgery I had had in the past and my low egg reserve I knew it would probably be tricky to conceive naturally and I would most likely need to have IVF. After a year of treatment with Dr Zhai I became impatient and wanted to try an IVF cycle. Dr Zhai advised that my body wasn’t yet ready and it wasn’t the right time to try but she would support me if I did. I ignored her advice and went for it. IVF is a gruelling treatment with daily injections and regular internal examinations. After 18 days of injections my body had failed to respond to any of the follicle stimulation drugs.

Dr Zhai was ever positive and reassuring and said the cycle was not wasted as it had given us information. She recommended that I continue to be patient and to stick to her programme but if I had further IVF she recommended I ask for a different stimulation drug which she felt I would respond better to.

Some months later I decided to try IVF again. As before Dr Zhai advised I wasn’t quite ready but my impatience to conceive once again got the better of me. I did however request my stimulation drug was changed to the one she suggested. This time I responded much better but ovulated before egg collection. Again Dr Zhai thought this was due to a choice of ovulation suppression drug that didn’t suit my body and advised me to request another particular drug.

Dr Zhai understood how much I wanted to do another round of IVF and reassured me my body was almost ready but that not all cycles were equal. She asked if she could guide me as to which cycle I should do IVF. After that I took hormone tests on the first day of each cycle, which she reviewed. For the first two cycles she said I wasn’t ready but on the third that my hormone profile was good and that I should start IVF treatment right away. I did and the treatment went like clockwork. At 41 I had four grade A eggs (from 4 follicles) which all fertilized and grew into grade A embryos, two of which were put back and one of which is now my 4 year old son. To say my IVF doctors were surprised that I had produced healthy eggs resulting in pregnancy is a huge understatement – they were amazed.

I continued with acupuncture throughout my first trimester to help ensure a healthy pregnancy.

I went back to see Dr Zhai to conceive our second son. It took much less time as she had already prepared my body the first time. I let Dr Zhai guide me again as to which cycle I should start IVF. Once again the cycle was almost textbook perfect and although I only produced 2 follicles, I had 2 Grade A eggs which both fertilized into grade A embryos. I remember the doctors clearly advising on the risks of putting both embryos back and having a twin pregnancy. Then one of them said “Actually it probably doesn’t matter as you will be lucky to get pregnant at all” and then she paused and added “although having said that you do have an extraordinary knack of producing very healthy embryos from very few eggs – ladies much younger than you struggle to do that, even though they can produce lots of eggs”.

That is the magic of Dr Zhai – she helped my body produce really healthy eggs and also prepared it to withstand the trauma of IVF, and to receive, grow and nurture an embryo. This was something modern medicine couldn’t do. As she said to me “It only takes one healthy egg”.

We shall be forever grateful to her for helping us have the children we so wanted and adore. She is a brilliant practitioner and lovely lady who has touched our lives and changed them forever.