I was diagnosed with premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) in July 2014. I was 33 and had a very high FSH of 25 and AMH of 6.4. Basically, I was heading into premature menopause. I saw an endocrinologist & fertility specialist Dr Mary Birdsall at Fertility Associates. She told me I had a 5-10% chance of ever conceiving with my own eggs. And there was a 1 % chance of conceiving on our own each cycle. I was told that donor egg was our best option to have a child, but that I could try a few IUI’s to see how I respond to the drugs etc. IVF was not an option.
Although I felt that time was ticking (and fast!) I knew that I had to prepare my body before I started any form of fertility treatment. I did a lot of research! And acupuncture kept coming up. This seemed to be the one consistent thing that increased fertility success for women with my diagnosis.
I found Vitalis acupuncture mentioned on a number of NZ fertility forums and Dr Vitalis was always highly regarded. I started weekly acupuncture in Sept 2014 with the plan to prepare my body for 6 months before trying our first IUI. Dr Vitalis was realistic about my numbers, diagnosis and success rates. He didn’t make any promises but he had lots of success stories to share and I knew I was in the right hands.
I made many other changes during this time, including diet, lifestyle, exercise, and self-care.
My lifestyle at the time was very busy. Both work & social. I was always on the go and would often feel wired, stressed and unable to fall asleep. The acupuncture sessions helped my stress levels immensely, I felt much calmer in general and my sleep quality improved. I found my weekly acupuncture sessions extremely relaxing and would use this time to zone out, meditate, visualize or just fall asleep!
In Feb 2015 we had our first IUI. This involved drugs, injections and a lot of daily monitoring. Acupuncture helped me stay calm throughout the process. I didn’t feel any side effects from the drugs. I had an acupuncture session right before the actual IUI and continued during the torturous 2WW. After the long-awaited blood test, we received the phone call I’d been waiting for all day. I was told the IUI hadn’t worked. My HCG (pregnancy hormone) was at a level of 7 and it should’ve been well over 50 or ideally in the 100’s by now.
Something “had tried to happen, but failed”. I would probably get my cycle again soon. I was heartbroken. The clinic wanted to continue monitoring my levels over the next few days to make sure they decreased to 0 and then I could start another IUI. I continued with my weekly acupuncture sessions and much to my surprise my levels continued to double & triple. The nurses were as shocked as I was and an early scan showed a little bean with a heartbeat. Dr. Birdsall called it “a miracle”. We were overjoyed and Dr Vitalis shared in our excitement.
I continued with acupuncture throughout my first trimester and the last month of my pregnancy and had a healthy pregnancy & labour & delivered a beautiful baby boy in Nov 2015.
We wanted 2 children, Dr Birdsall advised me to start trying to conceive again as soon as possible. When our baby was 6 months old we started TTC again via IUI. I was 35 by this time and my FSH was still in the 20’s and my AMH had dropped to 2.6, so our chances of conceiving were even lower this time around. I raced into another IUI without the preparation I did last time. Not surprisingly, this failed.
I continued with irregular acupuncture sessions as I found it hard to fit in with a baby and being back at work. I tried 3x more IUI’s, all of which failed.
By this stage, I was 36 and thought maybe we were just lucky enough to have 1 child. I decided to do 1 more IUI, but this time prepare my body to the same extent I did last time. I committed to weekly acupuncture sessions again. I would give myself another 6 months before we would do another IUI. I made all of the same lifestyle changes as last time.
Our son’s 2nd birthday arrived 3 months ahead of our next IUI. My period was 10 days late. I’d tested at 4 days late and it was negative, so I just assumed it was a late period, which was happening more often. This is a symptom of POI.
I woke early on the morning of my son’s birthday and took the final pregnancy test in our bathroom. Two very strong lines appeared. I was in complete shock & woke my partner to show him and make sure I wasn’t dreaming! I conceived naturally.
We couldn’t have asked for a more special gift on our son’s 2nd birthday. I am now 22 weeks pregnant and everything is going smoothly. I will continue with acupuncture throughout my entire pregnancy. I’m 37 this time around and have a busy life with a toddler and work, so I want to enjoy these relaxing sessions and give my baby & body as much support as possible throughout the pregnancy.
I know that acupuncture has played a huge part in helping me conceive. My stress levels needed to reduce in order for my body to conceive and the acupuncture was a key part of doing this.
My advice to any other couples trying to conceive and received a poor “diagnosis” is don’t buy into the statistics. If you still have some eggs left, you can get pregnant! Don’t rush into treatment, give yourself time for acupuncture and lifestyle changes to have beneficial effects on your body. And don’t underestimate the connection between mind & body.