Overcoming PCOS: Emma and Mike's story
Mike and Emma’s challenge
Emma (33) and Mike (35) came to see me after trying for a baby for 5 years. Mike’s sperm count was at the low end of the healthy range. From a Chinese medical perspective, Mike’s high stress levels and post-sex exhaustion meant that work could be done to improve his fertility.
Emma had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and was taking metformin. Emma’s PCOS symptoms included difficulty losing weight, PMT, and irregular periods that were very painful. Emma never had a positive result when she used ovulation sticks and her irregular cycle made it impossible to guess when she and Mike should be trying to get pregnant.
Time off from trying
At their first session, I advised Mike and Emma to give themselves 3 months off trying for a baby: It takes 74 days for a new batch of sperm to mature, and it would take about 3 months to bring Emma’s system into balance.
A team effort
Mike and Emma wanted getting pregnant to be a team effort, so Mike decided to have acupuncture even though his sperm were in the healthy range. During their 3 months off, Mike went to bed earlier, swapped his briefs for boxers, ate sperm-boosting foods, and had 6 acupuncture treatments. After 3 months he felt relaxed, had energy after sex, and a test showed a higher sperm count.
Emma and I talked in detail about her diet and chose a couple of small changes that would make the biggest difference for her. She also started cycling to work, learned how to recognise her ovulation symptoms, and came for weekly acupuncture treatments.
In the fourth month, Emma had her first clearly positive ovulation stick test result and her period arrived on time. Her PMT improved, and her period was almost painless. Emma did not seem to ovulate in her next cycle and her period was a couple of weeks late. The following month, however, she recognised her ovulation symptoms and her and Mike tried again to get pregnant.
Success at last!
A fortnight later, Emma was pleased that she had no PMT at all, but felt nauseous and tired. When I took her pulses, I recognised the tell-tale qualities associated with pregnancy. (It was difficult not to do a victory dance!) I advised Emma to take a pregnancy test. Emma and Mike couldn’t stop grinning when I saw them the next week.
What Emma said
Emma's acupuncture experience wasn’t what she expected: “I thought it would just be some needles, but it was really different. It was good to get advice that was actually relevant for me and Mike instead of trying to do everything we heard about…Seeing little signs that things were moving forward really helped with the frustration. The acupuncture definitely also helped with the emotional side of things.”