After I got married in July 2010 I came off the pill straight away. We weren’t in a huge rush but we were excited and would have been happy for me to get pregnant straight away. As the months passed there was no sign of a period and the following January I started to worry. My GP established that I was not ovulating and referred me to a fertility clinic.

After performing a number of tests and scans the clinic informed me that I had polycystic ovaries and that my husband had very low motility. They decided to put me on Clomid to try and induce ovulation and my husband gave up smoking. The Clomid ended up making me over-respond and when I went to get a day 21 progesterone test to determine if I had ovulated the results were about 150 when they should have been 30. So I was over-stimulated which can be quite dangerous.

At our next appointment they took me off the Clomid and gave us my husband’s results of his up to date semen analysis which showed no real improvement in motility. They advised us to go straight to IVF. We decided to take a bit of a break. This was about September 2011 and we decided to enjoy Christmas and look at doing the IVF afterwards.

I had, over the course of the year, tried a few different acupuncturists as I had heard it was great for regulating your cycle. I didn’t have any great experiences and found it all to be a lot of crap to be honest. I didn’t feel it was doing anything for me. I heard about Karen Costin through a number of friends. She has a name for being a bit of a babymaking guru and so I decided to try her.

My first appointment with Karen was different to my other acupuncture appointments. Her attitude and her knowledge made it clear that she knew what she was doing. I told her my full story and she was really annoyed that I had been put on Clomid.She thought that my body was just taking time to regulate after coming off the pill and that instead of giving it a chance that I had been prescribed more drugs to confuse and upset my system. This actually made sense to me. I was always dubious of the PCOS diagnosis as when you read up on it there are quite specific characteristics associated, none of which I had.

She also looked at my husband’s semen analysis results and said she thought they weren’t that bad, the sperm count was great and the quality was really good. So we decided on a plan. I would come for weekly acupuncture sessions with her to try and balance out the hormones in my body and bring back my cycle. My husband would come for monthly acupuncture sessions and stay off the cigarettes. She believed that we would get there.

I can’t say how comforting this first session was. I felt for the first time that I had someone on my side who was going to work with me and figure this out. It is quite confusing attending a fertility clinic, you have all this negative information thrown at you and then you’re told you need IVF. It just seems all or nothing. There was no suggestion of figuring out what was causing my period to stop.

So over the next 3 months I went to Karen every week. It was such a different experience to the other acupuncture sessions I had done. She was diagnosing my body and my personality type. We talked about my stress levels and where in my body I held stress. I felt so much better and so much more positive at a time when I was devastated.

My period came back and although it still wasn’t a totally normal 28 day period it started happening on an almost monthly basis. Despite the progress I still wasn’t pregnant and we attended another meeting with the fertility clinic. We decided to go ahead with IVF in February 2012. I’m an impatient person and I just hated having to wait for it to happen. I just wanted to go for it with the IVF and I was sure it would work.

Although I knew Karen didn’t agree with our decision, she never criticised it and was very accepting of it.

We went ahead that February and although I didn’t find the IVF process too difficult, I didn’t have a great response to the stimulation drugs and they only managed to harvest 4 eggs and only 1 of the fertilised embryos was good enough quality for transfer. This was a disappointing result. To make matters worse, the lining of my womb did not build up to sufficient thickness to implant a fertilised embryo so they had to freeze it.

This was a whole new problem…the lining of my womb.

So the following month we decided to try for a frozen embryo transfer where they give you drugs to mimic your natural cycle and when your womb lining is thick enough they transfer the embryo. Again the lining did not develop to a point where they could transfer. This was devastating as it meant that not only could we not get pregnant naturally it looked like IVF was not an option for us.

So back to the drawing board. Karen was amazing around this time. She never said I told you so and was just really practical. She knew my personality at this stage and she knew I needed to have a plan of action, so we made one.

No more drugs. The one common theme throughout all of this was that taking medication did not seem to work for me. She thinks I have a really sensitive system and that I just don’t respond well to them.

She recommended a clinic where I could inexpensively get follicle tracking done. This is where you go in for an internal scan on around Day 10 of your cycle and the largest follicles are measured along with the lining of your womb. You keep going back every few days until you see the largest follicle has ruptured which signifies ovulation.

For the summer of 2012 I went to Karen weekly, I brought my daily temperatures and I was also doing the follicle tracking. It was incredibly informative and felt great to be taking control of things. It meant we could pretty much time ovulation so we were having sex at the right time and it also showed that without any drugs it seemed that I was ovulating and the lining of my womb was getting up to a good thickness every month.

You do not get this kind of treatment at a fertility clinic. Karen is expensive if you compare her to other acupuncturists but what you get with her is so much knowledge and she will work with you to educate you and to naturally try and figure out the issues.

Despite all this progress I still wasn’t pregnant and it was almost 2 years now. There was still the fertilised embryo waiting for us in the clinic so myself and Karen decided that a good approach would be to ask the clinic to do a natural frozen transfer cycle. This would mean they would give me no drugs and simply monitor my natural cycle. When the time was right they would transfer the frozen embryo. The clinic was reluctant because they like to control it all with medication so they can time things more exactly but I kept pushing and finally they agreed.

We had our transfer in August 2012 and despite only a 20% chance of success I am now 12 weeks pregnant.

I think a number of things. Firstly I do not think I could have gotten through the last year without Karen. She kept me sane and positive. Secondly, I do not have polycystic ovaries (which the clinic now accept) and with Karen’s help we managed to restore a natural cycle. And thirdly, the reason that transfer worked was because we had done so much work on getting my body to a really good, natural, harmonious place. That sounds so hippyish but it really is true.

She is amazing and I would recommend anyone who is struggling to conceive go to her. She is so supportive, so knowledgeable and so good at what she does that she will get you there, whether it is naturally or working with you while you get treatment.

Sarah, 2012