Baby at 50 after 5 failed egg donor cycles.
How Sally had her baby.
Age: 50 at time of birth.
Trying to get pregnant: 7 years
Western Medicine + General Diagnosis Before Treatment:
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) – and on medication
High FSH of 51.5 pmol/L
Vegetarian for 15+ years
Low energy levels
Low vitamin B12 levels – due to long term vegetarian diet
No previous pregnancies with years of unprotected intercourse.
Western Medicine Diagnosis of Partner:
Good sperm health: 56% Motility, 18% Normal Morphology, 172 Million sperm.
Sperm DNA health: unknown
Western Medicine Suggested Treatment:
IVF as soon as possible.
Clinic agreed to one IVF cycle with her own eggs, if the FSH could be reduced to under 20 pmol.
If IVF with own eggs is not successful then egg donation in the future.
What They Tried Before My Help:
I first met Sally and her husband when she was 47, and they had been trying to conceive for 5 years. Before working with me she had been following a vegetarian lifestyle for 15 years. She supplemented, supported her mindset, and also had acupuncture weekly.
She felt that her physical health was okay but she was regularly really tired and felt that she lacked the ability to function properly. She had discovered that her thyroid was out of balance, and she needed to medicate it.
Her thyroid diagnosis made her question her lifestyle and diet but also whether her energy may have had an impact on her fertility health, and her lack of getting pregnant so far.
After 5 years of trying naturally she hadn’t seen any real progress with her health, and so she decided to get some help.
At 47 she was stressed about not having a regular cycle, and about her very high FSH of 51.5 – and she desperately wanted to try IVF with her own eggs.
This is when she found me online and decided to work with me.
Our First Meeting:
As always, we started with a 30-minute free online chat to discuss their fertility journey, and see whether I could help.
During the chat we talked through their past experiences and future plans as they were planning an IVF cycle with her own eggs.
We agreed that Sally’s first step was to try to get the FSH down to under 20 to satisfy the clinic.
We put together a provisional plan to focus on this for up to 3-months, and if that didn’t work then she would consider egg donation.
Next, we needed to fully assess Sally and her husband.
They joined me for a 3-hour online fertility health assessment to establish their Chinese Medicine Fertility Diagnosis.
The Chinese medicine diagnosis formed the foundation for everything that would be applied later in their journey.
Diet, lifestyle, herbal medicine, supplements, IVF decisions, mindset, and more should all be applied individually to each person – based on your underlying health balance.
We all have our own unique health balance and only when this is identified can we find the right actions and solution – to speed up the journey.
What We Discovered – Their Chinese Medicine Diagnosis:
With low energy levels, very high FSH, irregular cycles and low thyroid function it was clear there was a deeper issue that needed addressing with Sally.
But first we had to review the health for both of them.
During the online health assessment we covered the following 3 areas:
1. Reviewed their medical test results – to see what was presenting physically.
We discovered that Sally had an FSH of 51.5, and a low Estradiol level.
We also discovered that her B12 was low, which affected her blood quality and energy levels. With her previous thyroid diagnosis and her history of low energy we knew her thyroid had likely been out of balance for years, but we could also attribute some of it to a lack of nutrients.
This energy issue was significant enough on its own to cause problems with blood quality, egg quality, hormone balance and cycle regularity.
Increasing her energy was a critical area to address, to give her the best chance of getting pregnant in the future.
Sally’s husband had good test results, and so there was no concern with his sperm count of 172 million, along with all other parameters being healthy too.
2. Assessed their health with Classical Chinese Medicine – to find the underlying health balance for each of them.
A Classical Chinese Medicine diagnosis is about assessing your body from a natural perspective, that is different to the western medical approach – but the two work really well together for fertility support.
This is where I identify the underlying patterns of imbalance in your body – to find the root cause of why pregnancy isn’t happening.
This is how we discovered Sally’s root health balance, which gave us the foundation to know what the underlying issue was.
This also showed us what we needed to work on to fully support her fertility health to optimise her chances of having her baby.
Her husband’s health:
This was good, apart from some very mild signs of tiredness and poorer circulation.
As he was generally well and his semen analysis was good, we decided that he did not need any Chinese medicine treatment. We agreed that he would review his diet and go to sleep earlier to optimise his energy a little more.
We confirmed the root cause of her health issues that presented in the following 3 patterns of Chinese Medicine imbalance:
- Qi deficiency – a lack of energy and metabolism
- Qi stagnation – poor circulation of Qi – irregular cycles
- Blood deficiency – poor quality of blood and nutrients
These patterns existed together, but the Qi deficiency was really at the root of all of her issues.
Here’s a bit more detail on each pattern, and what it means:
Sally’s Qi deficiency (lack of energy) was displayed in her tiredness, which made it hard for her body to function at its optimum level.
A Qi deficiency meant that her metabolic rate was slower and her body was unable to properly break down food, absorb nutrients, and create new Qi – resulting in years of tiredness, even with the regular acupuncture.
I explained to her that acupuncture is unable to support energy production on it’s own, as it does not provide the body with energy through nutrients.
For this we need to use Herbal Medicine, which should also be supported with a correct diet – as both provide nutrients for energy.
Her thyroid issue also reflected her Qi deficiency, as the thyroid is part of the endocrine system and is involved in making energy.
If it doesn’t work properly, energy production will be low and this can lead to hormonal irregularity and balance too – along with tiredness of course.
When we find the root cause we can see how it connects to all of the issues that are presenting. Once you know this, it’s not too difficult to work on this root area and support it.
When Qi is weak it also reduces our healthy blood cell production, and Sally’s blood quality had decreased – called Blood deficiency in Chinese medicine.
This was seen in the lack of menstruation, poor blood B12 levels, and some other symptoms including dry skin, and a pale tongue.
Once her blood quality was reduced it was also unable to circulate properly, which affected her ability to menstruate regularly.
Blood deficiency also negatively affects hormone balance, which often presents itself with elevated FSH levels.
Blood cells are responsible for carrying hormones and nutrients around the body to cells, and when the Blood is poor it can’t do that well – causing imbalance of hormones and cellular health.
Blood quality is therefore strongly linked to egg health in Chinese medicine, which is why I put a strong focus on Blood health with my clients.
The final part of the picture was that due to the Qi being weak, it couldn’t circulate well.
This causes a pattern that we call Qi Stagnation, which just means that the Qi doesn’t flow well and gets stuck.
This causes an irregularity of systems in the body, and so we see things stopping and starting (menstruation and blood flow), sometimes appearing and sometimes disappearing with no proper regularity.
When your body is balanced there is a regularity to everything it does.
Sally’s irregular cycles were a big sign that the Qi was stagnant, and it was all based on the Qi being too weak to circulate properly.
She was basically pretty exhausted and just needed a big Qi and Blood boost!
3. Created a 2 part action plan – based on what we discovered:
Action Plan Part 1: was to work on Sally’s health with Classical Chinese Medicine – to balance her health and thereby regulate her hormones and cycle.
She would then progress to IVF with her own eggs, as soon as she could.
We also agreed to work alongside her Dr, who was interested to see what we might be able to do naturally.
We chose the following 3 of my 5 Fertility Foundations to work with:
1. Treatment: Herbal Medicine – a herbal medicine prescription was created to support the above health patterns. This was to strengthen her Qi and Blood quality and increase Qi and blood circulation – to balance her hormones.
2. Diet: As Sally had been vegetarian for some years we agreed that it had not been supporting her sufficiently, as her Qi and Blood were weak.
She did not want to eat meat, but agreed to eat fish and drink bone broth daily. Her diet was adjusted to support the herbal medicine treatment and gradually move her towards a stronger energy rich diet. We also removed most processed and flour based foods along with sugar, caffeine and dairy. We increased her green vegetable intake too. Gradually we rebuilt her energy reserves and blood quality, and worked to increase circulation.
3. Lifestyle: We worked through key areas of activity versus rest and rejuvenation, that could support her Qi and strengthen it. This helped her greatly alongside the herbal medicine and diet. Sally had a stressful job, but along the way decided on self-employment to gain more freedom. This had a hugely positive effect on her although she worked even harder!
Action Plan Part 2: was our back-up plan that would be activated if an IVF pregnancy didn’t happen with her own eggs.
If they reached this stage they would progress to an IVF cycle with donor eggs.
After having spent at least 4-months optimising her health and preparing for pregnancy, she would then have a much better health foundation for a possible donor cycle.
Creating this 2 part action plan allowed us to balance Sally’s health naturally, in advance of two types of IVF options.
Having an IVF preparation time would help with egg quality and embryo development – and optimise health for implantation of a healthy IVF embryo for either the natural or donor option.
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED:
We got to work using the above treatments and changes and Sally started to feel well quite quickly.
After 4-months of treatment, we saw the FSH level down to 16.8.
A huge reduction from the 51.5 that we started with!
What we hadn’t achieved yet was an increase in Estrogen, which her Dr also wanted to see.
They decided between them that they would attempt an IVF cycle regardless, and that the Dr would support her Estrogen to optimise the cycle.
Sally had herbal medicine support through the IVF cycle to support her more deeply.
Things started well, but by mid-cycle the response wasn’t sufficient and the womb lining was still very thin. The Estrogen support was increased further, but nothing changed sufficiently. The IVF cycle with her own eggs was abandoned as there was poor endometrial, hormone, and follicular development. This was a surprise to us all, but a starting point for Sally and I as you’ll read shortly.
The disappointment was huge, but it wasn’t all bad as we had seen really positive changes in Sally’s health and her FSH level, which was much lower.
Part 2 of the action plan was put into place for an egg donation cycle.
We continued to treat and support Sally’s Qi, and she progressed really well.
A donor was found and the cycle was started.
Herbal medicine was used throughout the donor treatment cycle, along with specific dietary, lifestyle and mindset support.
Her Dr supported her with Estrogen, but again her response was poor and her endometrium didn’t thicken.
This was interesting, as Sally’s endometrium pre IVF was around 8mm whilst being on herbal medicine.
So why the dramatic change – 2 cycles in a row?
The Dr’s approach was to keep increasing Estrogen, which should technically work as it’s vital for the endometrium to thicken – but the result was the opposite.
This continued through multiple attempted cycles that kept getting cancelled due to poor response.
The medicated cycles were getting more medicated with Estrogen, and the results were getting worse. The lining was thinner each time and Sally wasn’t responding to anything.
By the 4th failed cycle she had enough, and took a break from everything.
I felt frustrated as the focus on Estrogen was bothering me – but there had to be a way around this to optimise the lining.
Sally changed direction and went back to her acupuncturist who persuaded her to use her herbal medicine – because she had just taken a short course in it!
Needless to say, 6-months later Sally was back on my herbal medicine program.
She hadn’t felt well on the acupuncturists herbal medicine, and was disappointed with her lack of experience and another failed cycle.
We were now starting egg donor cycle attempt number 5 – with no transfers so far.
And again, half way through the cycle the lining did not thicken!
A different type of estrogen was used, and at even higher doses, and this time the lining got thinner. We were now going backwards – and I was tired of following the concepts of western medicine and putting the herbal medicine in second place.
The cycle was cancelled and a new one planned.
As I was writing the new herbal prescriptions for the 6th donor attempt, I realised the missing piece of the puzzle:
Too much of any one thing can have the opposite effect of what we are trying to achieve. The Estrogen was being increased, but to such a high degree that it was having an opposing effect!
I realised that I had to counterbalance this effect, and so I created a series of new herbal medicine prescriptions for this 6th cycle attempt.
The first scan immediately showed that everything looked really good!
By the second scan we were at 4+mm of lining.
Scan 3 revealed a more than 8mm lining.
And guess what?
Sally finally got to do an embryo transfer!
Herbal medicine was switched to support Sally’s Qi and Blood post embryo transfer, and now she just had to follow my lifestyle and dietary guidance and wait it out.
9 days after transfer Sally wrote to tell me that it hadn’t worked.
I asked her if she had tested and she said no, she just ‘knew’ she wasn’t pregnant.
I explained how this may not be the case, as many people have no symptoms in early pregnancy and that we just had to wait it out.
She wasn’t convinced but had to wait anyway.
4 days later, she confirmed she was pregnant!!
She was now 49+ years old and pregnant for the first time in her life!
We continued herbal medicine, dietary and lifestyle support until the middle of the second trimester.
After that Sally just focused on continuing her pregnancy diet, and took care of herself with regular updates to me.
She gave birth at full term, at 50 years old, to a healthy and beautiful baby boy.
Everyone is well and he’s growing up a healthy and happy boy, with wonderful loving parents that gave everything they could to bring him to this world!
It was a tough long and roller-coaster journey, but together we all made it there and a new life was created.
Here are some words from Sally herself:
“ I feel such gratitude for Andrew and the life he helped bring to me.
I found Andrew 5 years into my 7 year journey of trying to have a baby. When I found him I knew that he would be an integral part of my success. Even after I began working with Andrew I did not have an easy time becoming pregnant, but he stayed with me and was an irreplaceable source of wisdom, knowledge and support.
He helped my body become healthier and my mind to have faith and be strong.
The herbs helped regulate my hormones and his positivity and belief that conception was possible carried me through the rough times.
What he did for me was a miracle and now in addition to having my amazing son I also have a lifelong friend in Andrew.”
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