I’ve already had one session of acupuncture up in Sheffield when I had my AFC scan a few weeks back, where the lady said I should be having at last two sessions a week from now til egg transfer and beyond.
Well, as that session cost a small fortune, I wasn’t keen to be forking that out every few days.
However, I took her advice and booked an appointment with a fertility acupuncturist in Windsor, who I met a couple of days ago on my fifth day of downregging.
He was brilliant. He saw me for an hour and a half, which included a thorough consultation of my current and previous cycle, and charged half what it cost in Sheffield (and this is Windsor – hardly a cheap place!).
Here’s what I learned:
- IVF in Sheffield really is cheap.
The acupuncturist started off saying that most clinics, no matter where they are, charge the same for IVF. What differs are the extras and the drugs, he said. I told him what we’re paying at Jessops – £3,750 + approx. £800 for drugs. He said this was roughly the same as what they change in local clinics. But when I said this included ICSI and all ‘extras’, he was impressed. It felt good knowing that even though it’s unusual to go so far away for treatment, financially it makes a lot of sense. Like £3K sense.
2. Acupuncture can make a difference to IVF success rates… but not as much as it used to.
I’m on the fence with this a bit. But the acupuncturist told me some interesting things. Like, 15 years ago, when clinics were offering say 15% success rates, his practice could improve that to 55%. He also told me some of the top clinics in London are now offering rates of up to 75%! (Although this is for younger women who perhaps have blocked tubes, but otherwise her and her partner and in good health.) And in those cases, the improvement his clinic can make is more like 5%. However, he says that where he finds he can add value is helping women avoid miscarriage through ongoing treatment following egg transfer. Interesting.
3. My potential issue may be around implantation.
Well, I know this is true given that we had a ‘perfect’ embryo last round that didn’t implant.
The acupuncturist said that, given I don’t have a lot of symptoms when I come on my period (I don’t really get sore boobs, many cramps – except after my HSG! – or symptoms) it may be that this suggests a lack of progesterone, which is important when it comes to implantation.
Last round, the clinic gave me shed-loads of progesterone pessaries, because my prolactin level was high, which can affect progesterone levels (I think). But that didn’t work…
The acupuncturist actually said that, out of all the drugs I was taking during the long protocol, it’s the progesterone pessaries that are the least effective. ‘Gonal F – brilliant, Burserelin – brilliant, pessaries – nearly useless,’ he said. ‘They pretty much have no impact.
I told him that, during the first round, the progesterone pessaries gave me side effects that included sore boobs – something I really hardly get. He said that this was a good sign for me, and showed me that it was working. So I suppose that’s a good thing.
4. Acupuncture needles typically only hurt 20% of people
After the consultation, he gave me some acupuncture. This involved putting around 10 needles in my skin, from feet to legs to belly to hands.
I really don’t like needles. Worst is blood tests. I’m pretty much OK with IVF injections now. So I guess acupuncture needles are at the easier end of the scale. But still.
I don’t like them. When he was putting them in, and said: ‘is it normal for people to find the needles uncomfortable?’.
He said most people didn’t even notice them going in, but around one in five are sensitive to it. I am one of those people.
The one that particularly hurt was the one in the hand. Apparently this is the one that goes into a pressure point – all the others don’t.
5. I found it quite emotional
Sure, the whole IVF experience is a rollercoaster – we all know this. But I found the process of speaking to someone – a stranger – about my IVF situation quite cathartic.
I mentioned above how I had a flick eye? Well I think that’s all the stress manifesting itself in my body, even though I feel fine.
And when he’d done putting the needles in my body, and I was lying there, vulnerable in a room with a man who I’d only just met, I felt emotional.
Physically, I couldn’t stop shaking. Like I was juddering, as if my emotions were bubbling to the surface. The acupuncturist said that was unusual, but that people often cry when they visit him. I guess it’s a bit like therapy.
So, that was my experience of acupuncture in Windsor. It was definitely worth it, although it’s a pity because – timing wise – I won’t be able to see him again until after egg transfer because I’ll be in Sheffield. That feels like a real shame, but I’m up for seeing him if I’m lucky enough to get pregnant, to help me through the initial pregnancy stages.