40-year old L had her first baby, a boy, at 35. Although she had no problems conceiving, she did what many first-time mothers do and put the health of her newborn baby before her own.
“I was overdoing it and was generally exhausted. I wasn’t drinking enough water, I wasn’t going to the toilet when I needed to and I was rocking him to sleep,” she explains. “As a result, he picked up bad sleeping habits and I had daily headaches, stomach acidity at night and a kidney stone when he was nine months old. My GP prescribed mild anti-depressants to help me sleep and I became quite reliant on them.”
L and her husband decided to try for another baby but after eight months without success, their GP referred them to a Fertility expert. “The Consultant informed me that because we already had a child, any investigations or treatment that I needed would not be covered under the NHS,” she says. “So I saw him as a private patient at his Harley Street fertility clinic and all the investigations he carried out came back normal.”
“Because the fertility clinic investigations didn’t reveal anything was wrong, I was getting quite stressed, I was having trouble sleeping and was suffering from mild depression,” she continues. “We had now been trying for almost two years without success. I had heard that acupuncture could be helpful and as luck would have it, the sonographer at the fertility clinic knew about Naava and recommended her to me.
Although the Consultant had told her that she did not need any treatment, he had recommended that she take Clomid as her periods had become irregular. She had been taking it for two months when she first saw Naava. It was making her feel ill and had had no effect on conception and since it was easier for Naava to treat her if she wasn’t taking it, she stopped.
“I realised very quickly that in Western medical terms, L’s follicular (pre-ovulatory) phase was too short and I felt that this was a contributing factor to her failure to conceive,” explains Naava. “Each month, the egg was potentially too immature to be fertilised, or indeed fertilised properly. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view, her symptoms were very clear cut. I diagnosed her with underlying Kidney and Blood Deficiency. She was low on all the vital elements, or in TCM terms – the Three Treasures – and these were not only key to her own health and well being, but they also needed to be strong in order for her to have enough spare Qi to be able to make a baby.”
“Naava had a ‘can do’ attitude. She was very thorough and positive and she seemed to genuinely care and want to get to the root of the problem,” explains L. “I have always been open to complimentary medicine, so when Naava asked me how much I wanted her to explain to me, I told her that I was happy for her to keep her explanations to a minimum – I trusted her to just treat me! Having said that, I did learn a lot about my own body and my cycle as I had to monitor my daily temperature and keep a chart for her.”
Naava believed that in order to help change the timing of ovulation, she needed to make L feel better in her day to day life: “As I treated L, and she began to see improvements in her sleeping, her acid reflux and her headaches, her follicular phase lengthened to normal, and I realised that her luteal or post-ovulatory phase was too short. This was initially masked by the short follicular phase, and any Doctor hearing that she had a 28-day cycle would quite naturally have assumed that she was ovulating normally. I therefore recommended that she do a progesterone test to make sure that not only was she ovulating, but that the resulting progesterone levels were actually high enough to sustain a pregnancy. When we received the results, we discovered that the levels were far below clinically normal and so I referred her to a doctor I work with who uses natural progesterone cream.”
L followed all of Naava’s advice, keeping a diet diary, having hypnotherapy alongside her acupuncture and seeing a practitioner who prescribed progesterone cream to treat the hormonal imbalance Naava had discovered. “Naava seemed to know more about conventional medicine than even my GP did,” says L. “I think it’s essential to have a knowledge of both to get to the bottom of things and I gained confidence as I followed Naava’s instructions and started seeing the results. I began to sleep better, feel less stressed and saw the changes as my body temperature lowered and my follicular and luteal phases began to lengthen.”
L fell pregnant within the first month of using the progesterone cream. “By the time she used the cream, all the work we had been doing to improve her health had laid the foundation well – she was a very healthy woman both physically, and mentally,” explains Naava. “So, the use of the cream was the final element she needed to allow her body to do what it had been trying to do after all, conceive.”
L continued to see Naava for treatment during the first three months of pregnancy: “I’m pretty convinced the herbs at the start of the pregnancy made me a more healthy and relaxed person,” she says. “My baby girl was born on time (unlike my son who was three weeks early) and she is extremely healthy and a much more placid baby.
“Now that she is four months old, I’ve started seeing Naava again for treatment. I’ve done very well so far, managing with the interrupted nights, feeding my baby and taking care of a five year old. But some of my old symptoms have emerged again – headaches and stomach aches, although no depression – so I wanted to nip them in the bud!”
“It’s not uncommon for me to support new mothers for a few months after they give birth,” says Naava. “There are a lot of demands on them, and in L’s case breastfeeding had been a crucial factor in bringing her back to me. Her default position is to be Blood Deficient – in TCM breast milk is made from Blood – so when she depleted her reserves by breastfeeding her body slid back slightly to where she had been. But, unlike previously, it was an easy and straightforward issue to treat.”
“Like many, I have also come to the realisation that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is very beneficial for the treatment of fertility issues and I would advise anyone having problems conceiving to start with TCM before considering IVF,” comments L. “My problem ended up being a very straightforward and common one and yet the fertility clinic did not diagnose it. I could have ended up paying for very costly IVF treatments and suffering a lot of physical and emotional turmoil!”