Infertility can dominate your every waking thought: will it ever happen? How can I increase my chances? The editor Annie Ridout writes about how using alternative therapies – acupuncture, hypnotherapy, CBT – helped her to conceive…
In my late 20s, when I started thinking about having a baby, I feared I might be infertile. Bar an earlier diagnosis of polycystic ovaries – a treatable condition that often goes unnoticed – there was no evidence for my concern. It was just a feeling.
I felt if I were going to fall pregnant, I’d need some extra support to make it happen.
I visited an acupuncturist who used her mysterious needling technique to bring my 30/32-day cycle into a strict 28-day cycle. This meant I could track ovulation more easily, without the fluctuating cycle length.
Acupuncture works by relieving any blockages, so your body’s energy can flow freely. It leaves you rebalanced and in the optimum state for conception.
Infertility is partly in the mind…
I also needed to work on my mind. If you’re trying to conceive, you’ll probably have been told to “just relax and it will happen.” There is some truth in this, but it is difficult to distract your thoughts from pregnancy once you’ve started the journey. So I signed up for a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy.
During our first appointment, the hypnotherapist suggested I go for a private check to make sure my reproductive organs were tiptop. Once that was confirmed, she worked to calm my mind, giving me tools to adjust my thought process from: “this is never going to happen,” to: “there’s no reason this won’t happen.” It required me finding where the negative thoughts originated so I could challenge and then obliterate them.
She then asked me to lie down and close my eyes while she talked me through some visualisations.
“Imagine gold light flowing in through your head, down your chest and over your womb, ovaries, fallopian tubes. They are shining; illuminated,” she said.
I liked this image. Another time, she asked me to close my eyes and softly guided my focus to my womb: “it’s light pink, fertile, soft…”.
At the beginning of each hypnotherapy session, she would take me inside my own brain. She asked me to imagine it was like a machine, with lots of buttons and switches controlling my fertility. She suggested when I pressed them, a light came on – so I would press each one and the room (my brain) would light up. When everything was cranked up to full power, I was 100% fertile.
Knowing I was physically able to conceive, using meditation to remind my mind that I could conceive, I found myself – the following month – staring at two lines on the pregnancy stick.
Whether it was timing, acupuncture, hormones, hypnotherapy or something else – who knows? But in June 2014 I gave birth to our daughter. And when I wanted to conceive our second baby, I opted for alternative therapies again. He was born earlier this year.