A MUM who spent four years and £14,000 on failed IVF trying to conceive a second child fell pregnant twice after going for fertility MASSAGES.
Catherine Perks, from Wadhurst, East Sussex, was diagnosed with secondary infertility – the inability to become pregnant, or carry a pregnancy to term following the birth of one or more biological children – and had lost hope of ever having another baby.
But after six fertility massage treatments, which cost her £240, the 36-year-old discovered she was expecting.
A year after giving birth to her second child, Oliver, Catherine had another massage to help ease the symptoms of her endometriosis – and within weeks fell pregnant again.
Now the mum-of-three jokes that she won’t be having any more massages, as three children is “quite enough”.
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Catherine, a former teacher, now a stay-at-home mum, told how she and husband Andrew, 39, wanted to start a family from when they met, but they knew it wouldn’t be easy.
She explained: “I suffer from endometriosis, a common gynae problem where cells from the lining of the womb grow on other internal organs. It can make it difficult to conceive.
“When I came off the pill, we tried for a baby for two years before getting pregnant with our daughter Amelia, who was born on July 31, 2010.
“So later, when we wanted to add to our family, we knew it might not happen easily for us.”
By Amelia’s third birthday the couple still hadn’t conceived, after nearly three years of trying, and decided to consult their GP.
Investigations revealed Catherine’s endometriosis was back – and worse than ever.
She had two further laser surgeries but still her period came every month and she was diagnosed with secondary infertility.
By 2014 the couple were becoming anxious and Catherine’s consultant suggested IVF as their next step.
However they were ineligible for NHS treatment because they already had a child of their own.
They went private, using savings and borrowing from their parents to fund the treatment.
After more investigations at a private clinic and a course of fertility drugs, Catherine’s eggs were harvested and fertilised in a laboratory, using Andy’s sperm.
Catherine said: “We knew IVF might not work straight away, but we were convinced it was what we needed to do to extend our family.
“But after 15 months of IVF, three cycles and nine implantations, it still hadn’t worked for us.
“We’d been on an emotional rollercoaster, enduring months of invasive treatment and daily drugs that sent my hormones haywire.
“We spent all our money and got nowhere. I was devastated. I wanted so much for Amelia to have a sibling, not to grow up as an only child.
“She must have picked up on it, because one day I saw her standing on the sofa, staring from a window.
“When I asked what she was doing, she replied, ‘I’m waiting for my baby brother or sister to come.’
“That just broke my heart.”
Then Catherine’s friend, Lorna, suggested she try something called fertility massage.
She recalled: “I was very sceptical. Expert doctors using the latest technology were unable to help us. Surely something as simple as rubbing my tummy would never work! But even so, I decided to find out more.”
Catherine contacted fertility massage therapist Kerry Barden, 32, from Kent, and decided to give it a go.
Kerry, who runs Elm Wood Massage Clinic, studied massage and nutrition for 14 years before getting involved with fertility massages five years ago.
Catherine explained: “Within minutes of walking through Kerry’s door, I knew I’d made a good decision.
“Without raising my hopes or promising too much, she agreed to treat my endometriosis, leaving me hopeful again, after months when I’d been very low.”
Over the coming weeks, Catherine had a once-weekly massage on her tummy and abdomen, which she described as “a lot of gentle pulling – but not uncomfortable”.
In August 2014, after just six treatments, Catherine noticed that her boobs felt different and did a pregnancy test – which turned out positive.
Their son Oliver was born on May 15, 2015.
How do fertility massages work?
Kerry Barden told how she uses a combination of therapies including abdominal massage, nutrition changes, exercise, mindfulness and acupressure to create her Lifestyle Fertility Therapy.
She explained: “Fertility massage works in a similar but gentler way to sports massage. It is a slow, deep abdominal massage that realigns the uterus, reproductive and abdominal organs.
“It can bring increased blood flow to the abdomen, break down scar tissue and improve gut health, all of which can help to boost fertility.
“The techniques encourages many important factors such as general well being and relaxation but most of all decreasing scarring, pelvic adhesions and increasing the function of the reproductive organs.
“My approach is a combination of treatments based in science. But I believe the single most important factor in modern infertility is diet – so I always start with a new client by asking about their food choices. The type and amounts of food we eat can have a tangible impact on fertility.
“Changing what client eats can profoundly affect conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovaries, which have been linked to diets high in refined sugar.
“So far I’ve helped over 125 couples conceive, often when other medical treatments like IVF have failed.
“So far this year, 37 of my clients have conceived.
“The majority of my clients have conceived with less than six sessions with me, and this year an average of two clients per week have conceived.
“I believe almost any infertility situation can be improved by following my LFT process.
“Of course infertility isn’t solely the preserve of women – I do treat men, too. Abdominal massage and nutrition advice can help improve the quality and quantity of sperm.
“One man who had treatment with me saw his sperm motility increase from 30 to 59 per cent, and increased the amount of sperm from 250,000 to five million, per sample.”
Catherine said: “Holding him in my arms, I truly believed we’d had him thanks to Kerry’s healing hands.”
A year after giving birth, Catherine began to feel her endometriosis returning and visited Kerry for a one-off massage treatment to resolve the problem.
She recalled: “Kerry joked how this had worked for me before and warned me to be careful when making love.
“I just laughed and thought no more about it.
“But within weeks I was pregnant again! It came as a complete shock, but it was the most wonderful surprise.”
The couple’s son Edward arrived on February 19, 2017.
Catherine said: “I’m convinced that today Andy and I only have the family we always wanted, thanks to Kerry.
“I know from experience that her treatment works.”