“I have suffered from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) since I was about 18 years old,” explains 29-year old K. “My periods had been regular since they started when I was 13 years old but when I was 18 they became very irregular and I started to develop spots which were extremely distressing.”
“I went to the doctor about my irregular periods, but wasn’t told that I had PCOS. I was put on the contraceptive pill, Dianette, and stayed on it for years. When I came to live in London five years ago, I decided to get a proper diagnosis. I had an ultrasound done of my ovaries which revealed ‘pearl necklaces’ – a symptom of PCOS – but when the doctor carried out blood tests to confirm his diagnosis and the tests came back as normal, the doctor decided that the tests had been inconclusive and so nothing further was done.”
When K and her husband got married, they decided to try for a family immediately. “I thought that it would either be very easy or very difficult to conceive. I hoped that having been on the pill for such a long time would trigger a few normal cycles but five months after stopping the pill my cycle had become totally erratic again,” she explains.
“It wasn’t that I expected to fall pregnant straight away – I realise that it can take up to a year to become pregnant even when a couple has no fertility issues; but I was frustrated by the fact that I was only ovulating every six to eight weeks – I just wanted one chance a month like everyone else.”
K’s first step was to go to her GP whose response was that since PCOS had not been diagnosed, she had to wait for her period and then have an x-ray to confirm it before she could be refer to a gynaecologist. “I knew that it could be another three months before I had a period so I decided to see a private doctor. He referred me straight to a gynaecologist who did an ultrasound and blood test and confirmed the PCOS. The inconclusive test five years previously had been due to the contraceptive pill masking the results.”
K was prescribed a three-month course of Clomid by the gynaecologist to treat the PCOS and to trigger ovulation to help her become pregnant. She was told to wait for her period and then take it from the first day. She was to go back for a higher dose of the drug if it hadn’t worked after three months and she was advised to keep trying for a baby.
“In the end, I never took the Clomid,” she says. “Soon after the Doctor gave me the prescription I was reading the members’ newsletter at my health club and there was an article in it about Naava. Since I was still waiting for my period, I decided to ring her. I explained the situation and she told me that she specialised in PCOS and encouraged me to go and see her for a consultation.
“Naava was very honest with me and she told me the downsides of taking Clomid. She also told me that it would take her three months to get my periods regular again. I decided that rather than take Clomid and risk the side effects, I would give her three months of my life to see what happened. I had never done anything like this before – it was my first foray into complementary medicine and by far and away the most unusual thing I had ever done!
“It was really refreshing seeing Naava. Her thoroughness and the depth of her consultation really appealed to the organised lawyer in me. She seemed to really know what she was talking about and I was happy to entrust three months of my life to her to see where it got me. In fact, I found it a bit distressing when I had to go back to the un-holistic approach to see my GP to tell him I was pregnant. I enjoyed the 20 minutes of chat and 40 minutes of nice treatment time that I had with Naava!
“I took my husband with me to my second consultation. He tends to be less proactive than me and was a bit sceptical about Chinese medicine as he had never experienced it. He didn’t mind me checking it out as he knew that I was keen to avoid the Clomid and IVF if I could.
“When he met Naava, he thought she was very assertive and thought she explained herself very well. She was so confident and forthright and not nearly as old as he had expected her to be but he did think she presented herself very impressively.
“I began to see Naava frequently and as I reported back, my husband’s faith in Naava increased. When my temperature chart began to change we could see that there might be something happening and he decided that her experience and knowledge, along with the ability to integrate with Western medicine diagnosis and techniques, belied her age.
“As a lawyer, I follow instructions from clients for a living. Naava’s technique is to give you an awful lot of instructions and so I simply followed them as best I could. I didn’t have complete faith that what Naava was telling me to do was going to work – I was just happy to be given instructions that I could follow. I could relate to this because there are occasions in my work when I don’t agree with the instructions being given to me by my clients, but I carry out those instructions nonetheless (provided they are within the realms of professional practice, of course).
“Within three to four weeks of commencing treatment my temperature chart showed evidence of the changes taking place in my body. It went from being all over the place with no discernible pattern whatsoever to being much smoother. I had acupuncture weekly, took Chinese herbs, made dietary changes and took vitamin and mineral supplements. So many instructions to follow at once!
“The first thing I had to do was a 40-day detox diet. It was horrible and no one could understand why I was putting myself through it. But I was following instructions and part of me wanted to follow them to the letter so that if the treatment didn’t work Naava wouldn’t be able to point the finger at me by way of an excuse as to why it had not worked.
“The interesting thing about the detox and then the GI diet that I went on after the 40 days was over was the effect it had on my body. I wasn’t really overweight but I lost two stone quickly and effortlessly – something I had never been able to do before. I had always been a bit confused about why I was the weight that I was, because I didn’t feel that I was someone who overate or ate badly. However, it became clear that I had been eating the wrong things for my body – sugary foods, wheat, dairy and bananas are all ‘damp’ in Chinese medicine terms and they don’t work for me. During the two months leading up to my wedding, I ate sugary wheat cereal with bananas and milk twice a day in an attempt to lose weight quickly. I didn’t really lose weight and as a result of eating foods that were wrong for my body, my face looks bloated in all my wedding photos. Until I saw Naava, I had no idea that there was a dietary formula for my body, but this diet seemed to suit my body so much better.”
Naava asked K not to try for a baby until she had had three proper menstrual cycles and although her husband felt this was counter-productive, he had enough faith in Naava to go along with her request. Naava’s reasoning behind this request was to seek to deal with the emotional issues attached to wanting to become pregnant, and to separate these from the issue of the irregular periods. In addition, secure in the knowledge that there was no way the patient could be pregnant during this time; Naava was free to treat as she needed to throughout the cycle; not just for the first few weeks, until the possibility of being pregnant became real. “By putting this restriction on my patients, I can ensure that they see results much faster,” Naava explains. “Also, it moves the patient away from the rollercoaster of emotions associated with trying to conceive and gives them time to re-affirm their relationship with their partner without worrying about the issue of having children.”
K’s periods became regular within the next three months and further regular periods followed so Naava gave her the green light to begin trying again.
“It’s ironic really, having spent three months hoping my period was going to turn up; I then began to hope that it didn’t! Various things seemed to happen to make it even more frustrating – I was really ill and the fever sent my cycle all over the place. Once a regular cycle had returned, it did seem to be quite fragile and I still wasn’t able to fall pregnant.
“Finally, over Christmas I became pregnant. I tested positive at the end of January the next year. I thought I had had a period because I had been bleeding and only took the test when it didn’t become a proper period. When I took the test I was pretty sure that the result would be positive as on my basal temperature chart, my temperature had been up for a protracted time (body temperature normally drops when you are about to get a period) and because the bleeding had not amounted to a proper period.
“My husband and I both went along to see Naava and to tell her the great news, although we were obviously worried about the fact that I was bleeding. Naava was delighted and prescribed herbs which stopped the bleeding.”
K gave birth to a healthy baby boy. “Naava promised me that she would either help me to get pregnant or that she would get my body into the best possible shape to be able to fall pregnant through Western medicine methods, so it was a win-win situation for me.
“My job in the City is stressful and I can easily clock up a 12-hour day. When I went to see Naava I was ready to jack in my job but I really wanted to be able to take advantage of maternity leave. Naava didn’t encourage me to leave my job, which would probably have made her task easier, but instead helped me to work round the situation. We set boundaries and time limits together. Before handing in my notice I had decided to wait until Christmas to see whether or not I became pregnant and then I extended this deadline until February the next year. If I hadn’t have fallen pregnant by then, I would have changed jobs.
“Naava was also very good at managing our expectations and being realistic – it’s not an easy process to go through, you have to work with her, but it does get results. My sister has just started training to be a GP and has being doing OBS and Gynae training. When I told her I was pregnant, she was very relieved because she didn’t realise there was any alternative to the Clomid / IVF route used in Western medicine. She sees so many women suffering from the side effects of Clomid and was delighted to learn that there is another way.”