IVF and Acupuncture

I came across an interesting article in the Mail Online the other day (04/07/16) about the use of acupuncture during IVF treatment. Having used acupuncture for two of my cycles, one of which didn’t work, one of which did, I think I may sit on the fence about this particular claim.

Apparently the use of acupuncture can double the chances of getting pregnant. The results of the research were certainly quite impressive. Whether such difference was as a result of the acupuncture itself or more to do with the psychological effects and body relaxation during the sessions, from a future patient’s perspective it will be utterly irrelevant.

I’ve mentioned many, many times before how IVF has the propensity to take over your life, and neither your mind nor body seem to be your own anymore. It is entirely possible for a patient to believe that any ‘old wive’s tale’ treatment will increase your chances, hence my dalliance with Western herbalism (which I found was a complete waste of both time and money). Acupuncture though, did seem more plausible to me, and there is some scientific evidence to suggest it can be useful for some health conditions (The Cochrane Collaboration). Despite it not making any difference during my first sessions, it didn’t put me off trying again for my last IVF attempt. What I will say is that I felt completely different on both occasions – the first treatments were done in the hospital; not an optimal environment and I wouldn’t recommend anyone doing it in that setting. The other was in a private acupuncture clinic (The London Acupuncture Clinic), which felt homely, relaxed, calm and professional. My practitioner, and Clinical Director, Daniel Elliott, was softly spoken and clearly knew his stuff. The entire staff couldn’t have been more helpful.

Whether acupuncture made a difference in my case or not will never be known, but anything that can help the mind to relax during this most difficult time can only be a good thing. Choose your practitioner wisely and acupuncture can be one weapon in your arsenal against the stomach-churning upheaval that is IVF.


Newark Book Festival

Confirmed today, I will be at Newark Book Festival this coming Saturday 8th August. It’s the town’s very first festival, and will take place in the stunning setting of the 12th century castle alongside the River Trent. There’ll be many authors present, as well as activities and talks – see you there!


Daily Mail article

We’re in the Daily Mail today!

“Greatest gift of all from the bank of mum and dad: It’s a VERY modern trend – the parents who help fund the cost of their own IVF grandchildren

  • At 33, Tru Spencer wanted to start a family with her husband, James, 41 

  • Unfortunately they found out that James’ sperm count was too low

  • Tru’s parents, Pat and Alex, paid half of the £15,000 bill for Tru’s IVF”

Click on the photo below to read the article by Alice Smellie!



inviTRA Fertility Fair – Madrid, Spain

vectorial invitra logoIf you’re in the Madrid area and are thinking about or are embarking on fertility treatments, the inviTRA Fertility Fair might be for you. Open between 14 and 16 November at the Melia Hotel (avenida de América), you’ll find a wealth of information from many national and international providers. The perfect event for anyone considering treatment with all the objective information you need in one place, as well as access to stands and conferences in which specialists will illustrate the fertility treatments, and talk through all the options available for patients.

inviTRA post eng

Fertility Specialist Mr Paul Serhal on ITV’s This Morning

Here’s a link to an appearance by Mr Serhal of The Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health (formerly the Assisted Conception Unit at University College Hospital) on ITV’s This Morning programme on Thursday 16th October 2014.


Mr Serhal and the team feature in my book – if it wasn’t for them it wouldn’t exist!


Twin Stars reviewed by a medical professional

Twins and multiple births

A very short note to say I am thrilled to receive a fab review by Dr Carol Cooper – author of Twins & Multiple Births: The Essential Parenting Guide from Pregnancy to Adulthood, medical journalist, TV & radio medical expert. Here’s what she says:

“This lovely book spans nearly four years, during which Tru Spencer and her husband put normal life on hold in their quest for parenthood.

Most of their bumpy IVF journey is written as a diary, so it’s a detailed personal account of their ups and downs, some of which are frankly harrowing. While assisted fertility is routine for those providing it, it’s anything but to those going through treatment. If you read this book, you soon realise you’re not alone in having to cope with stress, hope, despair, spiralling expense, the effect on the rest of the family (including your own parents), the impact on your work, and above all the helplessness that comes with the process.

Making babies is a gamble for anyone, but especially for those having fertility treatment. By the time they get to IVF, most people are well-established in their careers and used to being in control. It’s hard to lose this and face the unknown, as the author explains so well.

This book would be most useful for anyone having fertility treatment. In fact they should probably know something about the emotional fallout before they embark on treatment. As a doctor, I think it would also be a useful resource for health care professionals and medical students.

It’s not a medical book but there are a few helpful references. Just one note of caution: don’t assume that everything Tru went through will happen to you (though it may, because life’s like that).

One minor quibble: Tru glosses over the difficulties of moving house at 15 weeks. I always found it an ordeal, even when not pregnant. Maybe I should use her removal company next time.

Like the rest of the book, the end is hair-raising but left me with a warm glow. I love a happy ending!”

So a huge thank you to Dr Cooper. Getting a review like that gives me a warm glow too!
Click to read this review on Amazon


Dove c’è musica – thank you Eros Ramazzotti

Now things have calmed down a bit since the book launch I need to make a start on some other IVF, pregnancy and twins posts. I might also throw in a few non-mummy observations if something comes up that takes my fancy, here on in referred to as the ‘other bits and bobs’.  So, to kick off, I wanted to say a little something about one of the things that is very important to me and which I found particularly comforting during my most difficult IVF moments. That something is music, and, in case you hadn’t noticed, Eros Ramazzotti in particular (who just happens to have a new single out, Io Prima Di Te, see):

Now, if you’ve read my book you’ll know that he’s mentioned in my acknowledgements page as a special appreciation of his sheer brilliance, and several times throughout the text. He’s on permanent play in my car, and even the twins sing at full volume morning and afternoon during the school runs – bless, they’re absolutely clueless as to what they’re singing about but their Italian accents are coming along nicely.  Per Me Per Sempre (For Me, Forever) is a particular favourite of theirs. It may seem a little weird as I don’t know the bloke – obviously and unfortunately 😉 – and although I do have a rough idea of the gist of his songs, I must admit that I too am clueless as to an exact translation. Must get round to learning Italian properly at some point. Whilst I’m very proud to be English I do believe I was born into the wrong nationality. Anyway, there’s something in the composition of his music and his voice that can calm me down when I’m stressed, lift my spirits when I’m sad, and make me sing at the top of my lungs and smile like an idiot when I’m happy. The fact that he’s absolutely gorgeous has nothing to do with it whatsoever. Honest.

Music has always played a large part in my life – I even learned the violin many, many years ago. And I did attempt karaoke at my 40th birthday party. Anyway, I digress. I first heard Eros back in 1993 when I was living in Geneva. This video came on MTV and as soon as I heard the guitar at the beginning it caught my attention. I was hooked and have been ever since. That video was to the song called Cose Della Vita (Things of Life) and the meaning in the message has been unbelievably appropriate to me on many levels. It also happens to be my absolute favourite, although with Eros’ songs it’s pretty difficult to choose. Stella Gemella (Twin Star) is another one, which did provide the inspiration for part of the title of my book – how fabulous is that? Here’s Cose Della Vita below – the original version mind, which will always beat the reworked one with Tina Turner (although that’s good too). And thank you Eros. For the music, as they say. You are a truly gifted and talented soul.

An A to Z of IVF, Part 7 (X to Z)

As it’s Sunday 3rd November and the last day of Infertility Awareness Week, and also that of The Fertility Show in London, here’s the last part of the A to Z of IVF feature. I hope the article has been informative. Look out for more posts in the future not only about IVF, but also on pregnancy and life with twins.

X     Xylitol
A sugar alternative – it looks and taste just like it, but is much, much healthier, not just for your teeth but for your hormones too. Found in small amounts naturally in our bodies, it is commercially available from plants, usually birch or more often corn cobs. A study in May 2013 showed that there may be a benefit in a lower sugar, higher protein diet for patients going through IVF[i]. It’s only one small change but it might be worth considering.

Y     Yourself
Not always easy, but do try to be extra kind to yourself. You are still a person, not just a baby-making machine, and with your mind so preoccupied with all thoughts of IVF and your eyes on the prize at the end, it is very easy to lose your sense of self. You still have all your other hopes and dreams, they’ve just taken a back seat for the time being.

Z     Zoo
You’ll probably feel as though you’re living in one, what with all the probing and poking by doctors and medical staff at what seems like countless hospital or clinic appointments. You may also feel as though your whole life is on display too, and that you’re being judged by people you don’t even know. Rest assured this is not the case – at least not from the medical professionals’ point of view. Whilst the IVF experience is highly personal to each couple going through it, it isn’t always conveyed that way by the doctors and nurses involved in the process. With regard to friends, family or even strangers, try not to take it personally, especially when you hear comments from others voicing their opinion on IVF when they have no knowledge or experience of the subject. Practically you could also give meditation a go: if you’re lucky enough that your head allows it, it’s the ultimate method of attaining a calm and peaceful mind. If it all sounds a bit too ‘New Age’ for you, do it anyway. If it works that’s a bonus, if it doesn’t you haven’t lost anything. Try to live in the moment as far as you can, and experience every aspect of your treatment as and when it happens. Keep optimistic, but stay realistic.

[i] Low-Carb Diet Improves In Vitro Fertilization. Medscape. May08, 2013

An A to Z of IVF, Part 6 (U to W)

U     Understanding
On your part, understanding the treatment cycle, what it involves and some of the technical and medical jargon and procedures behind it can help you to feel slightly more in control of your destiny than you would otherwise. On the part of your partner, family and friends, they need to understand that you’ll require as much support and consideration they can give, for as long as you need it. Don’t be afraid of telling them that – the onus is on them to be concerned about you, not the other way around.

V     Visualisation
As well as taking time to visualise yourself being pregnant, and ultimately holding and being with your baby, it also helps to envisage each step of the treatment cycle too. Think about what’s happening to your body when you take the hormonal suppression drugs, picture the follicles producing the eggs when you’re on the stimulation phase, and during the two week wait visualise the embryo implanting and growing inside your womb. There are special CDs that can facilitate this if you find it difficult to do. Try the cliché of visualising yourself on a desert island surrounded by gently lapping waves when you find yourself on the treatment table before egg collection and transfer. It’s cheesy, but it can work.

W     Waiting
You’ll feel as if your whole life has turned into one long wait. You seem to spend your time just waiting for this that or the other to happen, then when it does it’ll be replaced by another version of the same. Know and accept that it will be a part of your life for quite some time, especially the dreaded ‘two week wait’. Implement your plan for relaxation whenever you know there’s a defined period of waiting approaching – or make a point of keeping your mind occupied. It makes everything go by much, much quicker.

Last day tomorrow . . . X to Z