2009

“Following the birth of our beautiful son, on 13th June, we wanted to add to your amazing collection of testimonials which so encouraged us before and during our course of treatment with you.

When nearly six years ago we realised that we had a problem conceiving, we were referred by our GP to our local hospital’s Fertility Department which – after testing me exhaustively – finally ascertained that the problem was my husband’s poor sperm count, motility and morphology. No one was interested in why this might be the case in an otherwise fit and healthy 26-year-old, or whether it could be resolved. “There’s no point” seemed to be the attitude, and for male factor infertility the only treatment options was IVF with ICSI, to which we would be entitled two cycles on the NHS. Such was the length of the waiting list at the time that it was estimated we would be offered treatment sometime in the year 2012 – the year I will turn 42!

Right from the start, our experiences at the hospital were thoroughly depressing and disheartening. Almost unbelievably, at our very first appointment there, the senior fertility nurse asked “Have you considered adoption?” That summed up the professionals’ attitude to our case.

We went away to research IVF and ICSI and were horrified by the invasive nature of the treatment proposed. Despite having been given a clean bill of health myself, I was the one who would have to undergo the process of having my reproductive cycle artificially halted and jump-started again with all the risks that entails. When do you otherwise hear medical care ‘by proxy’ – a healthy individual having treatment in place of the injured or sick person?

Further, we had ethical concerns over human intervention in the delicate biological process of egg fertilisation. It seemed to use that when a single sperm from a poor semen sample is hand-selected and injected into an egg (as it is in ICSI) many of nature’s usual safeguards may be bypassed.

Apart from these practical considerations there were the many emotional impacts, such as realising that we never experience that moment of surprise and delight which most couples share when pregnancy is confirmed: with fertility treatment, all spontaneity and surprise is taken away, replaced by a sense of ‘going through the motions’ month by month and having your moments of potential conception timetabled according to the schedule of a clinic…

Despite our already healthy lifestyle, we decided to take the initiative and sought out information through books and the internet on how we might naturally increase our fertility. We followed the advice of various ‘experts’ who suggested improving our diet and fitness, supplementing with vitamins and minerals and a host of ‘tips’ on the optimum ways and times to conceive. As time passed our hopes waned further.

Then one day I came across a magazine article about TCM for infertility which triggered a memory of a TV interview I had seen years before with a woman doctor of Chinese Medicine who had the most extraordinary record of helping infertile couples. This was long before I had considered having children – and long before I knew I would need help in that regard – but it made a profound impression on me. That doctor was you. Despite some scepticism from family and friends, we made up our minds to see you out.

We had endured over five years of infertility before commencing treatment with you in February 2008. Right from the outset, your attitude towards us was positive and encouraging. You listened to our story, reviewed all our test results and concluded that our problems were minor and we had every chance of achieving a pregnancy. We were bowled over by your optimism and ‘can do’ attitude – such a contrast to the negativity we’d hitherto encountered from the medical profession.

You explained that both my husband and I would be treated – a surprise to us both as we had formerly been under the impression that our difficulties stemmed from him alone. However, as I kept a close daily record of my monthly cycles, it became apparent they were all over the place. In addition I was extremely stressed due to our personal and work circumstances and a recent bereavement.

A few months into the treatment my charts had shown a visible improvement, and I found myself able to relax so completely during acupuncture sessions that I regularly fell asleep! Simultaneously, the results of my husband’s semen analyses were revelatory: the very same fertility nurse who had dammed our chances all that time ago was moved to say to him: “Whatever it is you have been doing or taking – keep on with it!”

Oddly enough, during the summer we were told we had finally reached the top of the waiting list for IVF/ICSI, which presented us with a dilemma: what if the TCM didn’t work and we’d passed up our chances of two free cycles of treatment on the NHS? Sensing us wavering you counselled us to go ahead, saying that the TCM would help our chances of conception – naturally or otherwise. Against my better judgement I took a course of the contraceptive pill in preparation for the down-regulation of my reproductive cycle: the first stage of the egg-gathering process. After a great deal of soul-searching during that month, however, we concluded once and for all that we were not prepared to pursue a baby at any cost and so pulled out of the NHS treatment and agreed to give TCM until Christmas.

In September 2008 – my very first cycle after stopping the pill – I fell pregnant.

I enjoyed a wonderful, trouble-free pregnancy followed by a drug-free home birth which was all I could have hoped for. Our long-awaited son is perfect in every way. We cannot express our gratitude enough and continue to spread the word far and wide about your amazing work.

With very best wishes and heartfelt thanks.” (2009)