Overcome recurrent failed IUIs and get your sex drive back by following the advice and guidance of fertility expert, Aimee Raupp MS, LAc.
Welcome to Stories of Hope: True tales of life, love, and perseverance from the Yes, You Can Get Pregnant community. Because we’re on the fertility journey together.
Melissa came to me at the age of 33 in hopes of managing her stress for her upcoming wedding and helping her prepare for pregnancy. She had read my first book, Chill Out and Get Healthy and wanted to do her best to incorporate many of the teachings from that book. She was also eager to have her body ready to get pregnant once her and her fiance were married.
Our First Appointment
At our first appointment, I conducted my usual lengthy and detailed new patient intake and discovered that Melissa had low energy, zero sex drive, a fairly light menstrual cycle (she used only 2 regular tampons on her heaviest day), luteal phase spotting, vaginal dryness, constipation and a lot of low back and neck tension. As well, it was revealed to me that she didn’t eat much at all. She admitted some of this was because she was afraid to gain weight and some of it was because she’s “just too busy to be bothered with food.”
Based on that first consult, I recommended that she double her daily protein content, take 2 liver pills and 1 tsp of cod liver oil daily as I knew those three things could really help her body get stronger and more supple. We also talked about the importance of her taking time for her. She told me the concept of self-care was extremely foreign to her.
The Importance of Eating
Upon our next visit, Melissa was doing her best to incorporate the supplements but was having a hard time eating more food, especially protein. This trend continued for the next several months; she just didn’t love the idea of eating more as she wanted to stay the same weight for her upcoming wedding. I understood where she was coming from but reminded her how she was compromising her body and her future fertility. Even still, we did start to see some changes with the acupuncture and supplements: her constipation got better, vaginal dryness improved and her premenstrual spotting went from several days before her period to only one day before.
After Melissa got married, her poor eating habits continued and her stress at work got more intense. She was now eager to start trying for a baby but her intense work schedule wasn’t allowing for it. And, with her still not eating regularly or nearly enough food- her sex drive and energy were super low. I encouraged her to begin carving out time for herself and her health, but that proved very challenging. Over the next 8 months, Melissa and her husband actively tried to conceive on the months their schedules allowed (about half of the time). But as her and her husband’s work stress levels hit an all-time high— there wasn’t much time for them to prioritize themselves.
Bacterial Infection and an Ultimatum
When Melissa still wasn’t pregnant 10 months after their wedding she started to get very concerned about her fertility. And although I continued to encourage her to make certain diet and lifestyle adjustments, her work schedule kept getting in the way of her own self-care. It was at this point she decided to see Dr. Sami David. Dr. David found that both Melissa and her husband had a bacterial infection called urea plasma and he felt this infection could be impacting their ability to get pregnant. Melissa and her husband did a month-long course of antibiotics to clear the infection. At a follow-up appointment, Dr David discovered a polyp in Melissa’s uterus and he urged surgery. Feeling overwhelmed by the idea of surgery, Melissa received another opinion from a reproductive endocrinologist at Columbia Presbyterian; he too recommended surgery as this polyp could likely be in the way of implantation. Melissa went ahead with the surgery. 3 months later she still wasn’t pregnant, still had luteal phase spotting and still wasn’t eating nearly enough protein or fat in her diet.
I continued to urge lifestyle and diet shifts but Melissa continued to be resistant. I again shared with her my Chinese medicine viewpoint of what was going on with her body and how to best support her health and fertility. I even went as far as to say that I didn’t feel comfortable continuing to treat her if she wasn’t willing to make the changes I had been recommending for over a year. Yes, she was coming every 3-4 weeks for acupuncture but not taking any of my additional advice seriously and we weren’t seeing the results I knew we could see if she prioritized herself and her health.
Are making minimal changes enough?
She finally agreed to start adding protein to her breakfast, to limit gluten and dairy and to take Chinese herbs. It was a great start! Getting her to incorporate more protein, reduce inflammatory foods and take Chinese herbs would definitely have an impact on her overall health and fertility. The next cycle Melissa also decided to start IUIs with Clomid. She went on to do two more IUIs without success. As she was nearing the two-year mark of TTC (however her and husband only actually got in 10 or so attempts in those 24 months) Melissa decided she should do IVF. I recommended she wait 2-3 cycles so that we could continue to build her blood, optimize egg quality and give her the best chance at IVF success. Melissa told me she didn’t want to wait any longer and she decided to go ahead with the IVF as planned.
She didn’t respond well to the meds and the first IVF never made it to transfer because of the three eggs retrieved none fertilized. At that point she had a total breakdown with me, crying hysterically and saying “I don’t think I’m ever going to get pregnant.” We had a real heart to heart where I continued to encourage her to prioritize herself and her health. I told her, you need to rest more and travel less. You need to eat more and be consistent with your vitamins and herbs. You need to take time for yourself and ideally find time to meditate or journal.
She finally heard me.
Committing to My Recommendations
Melissa decided to take the next 2 months off from trying and focus on herself. Over the course of those two months, she cut out gluten and dairy entirely, committed to her supplements and herbs daily, didn’t travel once, slept from 10-6 most nights and did a lot of emotional work. Even more, she and her husband had some fun- they had date nights and rekindled their relationship. She was admittedly still very sad about not having their child yet but she did also feel better taking care of herself and taking a break from the “fertility hamster wheel” as she called it.
IVF and a Happy Ending
When they were ready to try again, they decided to do another IVF and this time it worked! She got another 3 follicles, all of them fertilized and the doctor put all three of them back in (she did not genetically test any of the embryos). Melissa was now 35 and finally pregnant. She was also very aware that the lifestyle she and her husband had been living was not healthy for them on any level. The mental break before getting pregnant made Melissa and her husband really rethink their life and they both admitted they hated the lifestyle of New York City living. While she was pregnant they moved out of NYC, closer to their family on the west coast. She and I kept in touch and I got baby pictures when their little boy was born. Melissa stayed committed to her self care routine and two years after she gave birth to her first child, she found out she was naturally (and quite surprisingly) pregnant again, at 38 years old.
She texted me a picture of her positive pregnancy test and wrote “here I thought I had low ovarian reserve and fertility challenges! Absolutely floored!” She carried a healthy baby girl to term.
I learned a lot working with Melissa, mainly that committing to the lifestyle and diet shifts are of utmost importance. I learned that the fast-paced lifestyle that many of us live is not conducive to getting pregnant. I also learned that many women are like Melissa: they don’t know how to put themselves first. I am so glad Melissa finally made loving and respecting herself a top priority.
This Could Be YOUR Story Too
I have learned SO much over my 16 years of clinical practice helping thousands of women achieve their dreams of motherhood. If you are ready to take back your power over your health and make the diet & lifestyle changes to transform YOUR fertility, I can help you! In addition to my acupuncture & wellness services in my clinics, I offer private online coaching, so you can work with me from the comfort of your own home
You can also look around my website to learn more about my books, my online workshops and guides, my Ultimate Fertility Membership and my amazing Yes, You Can Get Pregnant Ecourse. I look forward to guiding you to reawakened health and thriving fertility!