R and her husband C tried to conceive for a year before they decided to find out if there was a reason for their lack of success. They consulted with a private practitioner and were both tested. C’s sperm motility was below average but everything else appeared to be normal.
Although, conceiving naturally was not considered to be impossible, R and her husband decided to try a round of IVF and visited a specialist in Harley Street. Unfortunately, R did not respond to the IVF drugs and the specialist recommended Naava who was working with the practice at that time. “The specialist agreed that there wasn’t actually anything significantly wrong with either of us,” explains C. “However, he felt that alternative methods, such as the treatment offered by Naava, might help to improve my sperm motility and therefore increase our chances of conceiving.
“When we met Naava, she seemed very friendly and professional. I felt comfortable discussing our circumstances with her and her diagnosis made sense so I was happy to be the focus of the treatment and changed my diet according to her recommendations,” he continues. “I started to feel better as a result of the acupuncture treatments and we were both happier trying Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) rather than looking into other options such as egg donation.”
C had previously practised Kung Fu and learnt acupressure as part of his training. He therefore found it easier to understand and accept Naava’s TCM approach, although he was slightly unsure how effective it would be for fertility issues. “I was also skeptical to begin with,” comments his wife, R. “But in hindsight, it was clear that I was upset that we needed help to get pregnant when we were both so young and fit. But as the focus was on C at this stage, I really didn’t interact with Naava beyond the initial consultation.”
Naava’s TCM diagnosis was Liver Qi Stagnation; something that is simple to treat with Chinese Medicine: “C was in good shape physically – he ate well and exercised regularly – and it was quickly apparent that a simple case of Liver Qi Stagnation was causing his slow motility,” she explains. “His Qi was getting stuck partly because there was an existing physical tendency and partly due to the emotional strain he was under at the time. Getting his Qi moving allowed his sperm to flow as quickly and freely as it needed to in order to facilitate conception.”
“Although we didn’t have many other options, Naava’s diagnosis and treatment plan was helpful to us,” comments C. “She took extra care to translate the technicalities and impact the treatment would have in both TCM and Westerns terms and was very clear that changes wouldn’t take place overnight. Planning milestones to assess sperm characteristics and to measure improvements made a big difference.”
R and her husband conceived their baby girl three months after first consulting Naava and she was born in 2008.
The couple’s first experience with Naava was so successful that when, after six months of trying, they were unable to conceive again, they returned to Naava for assistance.
“I was surprised to discover that it was me that needed treatment this time, rather than C,” says R. “C’s sperm test results were no different but this time, because of my seriously low AMH levels, it was my turn in the hot seat. Once we’d talked things through I felt less skeptical and, in fact, we wondered whether this could have been a contributing problem first time around as well.
“Naava was always honest with us and I think she was very careful to ensure that I understood that there were no guarantees – none of her clients had ever conceived naturally with an AMH (of .013) as low as mine,” continues R. “She always said that if I didn’t conceive naturally, it was still helpful to get the ‘environment’ as receptive as possible should we have to consider egg donation.
“As long as I can rationalise something I’m happy to go with it. Anything I didn’t understand or wanted reiterated I just had to ask. And I asked a lot! Naava was always willing and able to answer and once I had the answers I was able to weigh up the odds. So even though the chance of conception was extremely low, I just focused on the fact there was a chance.”
Naava treated R with acupuncture and powdered Chinese herbal medicine to ensure that her body would be receptive. She also worked on changing her ovulation date slightly so that an egg was released at the optimum time rather than slightly too early, which meant that the eggs could be immature.
“I was willing to work with R to help her conceive as although she had failed to respond at all to an IVF cycle before her husband came to see me, she nevertheless conceived their daughter quite quickly. These two things appeared to me to be at odds with each other, so I wondered whether it was not so much egg quality that was the issue, but the environment the egg was matured in and the timing of its release,” Naava explains.
“R was ovulating extremely early, so I felt that the egg was being released prematurely and therefore in its immaturity had less chance of being fertilised and developing normally. I worked with her on her diet, which was quite poor when we started – my mantra was ‘eat green vegetables!’ – and steadily increased her ovulation until it reached a point in her cycle that I was happy with. And this was the month she conceived her baby.”
R and C conceived their second child, a boy, after three months of treatment. He was born in 2011. “Our advice to anyone in our situation is that if you’re not having any luck with conception, get the basic tests done and consider TCM as a treatment that you can have alongside the more conventional methods, to support or boost your chances of conception. Don’t wait until you have run out of other options!”