The most important thing is understanding the delays to fertility and looking back with no regrets

One of the most common questions I get asked is: ‘How long I have got before it will be too late for me to ever have a child of my own.’

Different couples have different challenges when it comes to thinking about planning to have a baby, and questions like this one are difficult to answer, as fertility isn’t black and white: there are so many shades of grey.  

Having said this, planning as much of your fertility journey as you can is something I recommend highly. And as we end the year, I want to talk about the importance of having no regrets.

One of the most painful set of circumstances I see at the clinic is when women sit in front of me thinking of what they should have done differently. Normally – and I say this from having helped thousands of couples – they wish they had started trying sooner or had sought help sooner. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard couples say that to me.

In helping women with their fertility, I spend a lot of time trying make them aware of the possible delays in the process and the consequences of delay, and how they need to be strategic in their decisions. The reason? To ensure that they don’t feel this regret.

Quite often, women will come and see me at the age of 35 and say that they’re going to wait a year or two before they start trying. I always encourage them to start as soon as they can, because you can see at 35 how you can get to 37 or 38 before you’ve even had a baby.

So instead it’s about making a rational decision about how many children you want, but also understanding the delays and the pitfalls that can happen along the way. Although there are a lot of tests now that can help you gage your fertility, the hard thing about it is there are so many shades of grey and no guarantees.

Women are great at managing so many aspects of their lives, but often not when it comes to managing fertility.

Then they feel under huge pressure – after a couple of months of not conceiving, it’s easy become obsessed about measurements, timings and gadgets, especially around ovulation.  It can affect relationships badly: I see men on a daily basis with nothing wrong with them other than they can’t perform because they feel under pressure to do so.  

The good news is couples increasingly want to do all they can to help themselves. They want to feel proactive, even against a backdrop of having to manage uncertainty.

At the end of the day, I think it’s about looking ahead and thinking how many children you want and then factoring in all the delays in fertility and making a plan accordingly.


9 Questions About |Fertility That Every Twenty-something Should Know The Answer To

Whether you want to start a family in your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s it is important to be knowledgeable about what is going on in your body as early as possible. Experts say the average woman’s fertility peaks in her early 20s but more and more women are choosing to have babies later in life. So here are 9 questions about fertility that I think every twenty somethings should know the answer to help them keep an eye on their fertility and spot any fertility issues as soon as possible…

1.  Should you care about your fertility, even if you don’t want to have a baby any time soon?

Yes every women should care about their fertility.  Whether they are trying for a baby now or in the future. Today many women wait to have their perfect career, partner etc. and it doesn’t always follow in the order that you expect it to. Quite often, women will come and see me at the age of 30 and say that they’re going to wait a year or two before they start trying. I always encourage them to start as soon as they can, because it can take a while to conceive and a miscarriage is really common when you first get pregnant, which means you have to pick yourself up and try again.


2. Does your fertility drop off a cliff when you hit 30?

No, it doesn’t. Don’t believe the hype. Everyone is different some women will have better fertility than others for their age


3. How long is a normal amount of time to try for a baby?

On average it can take 8-12 months to conceive, so often a lot of my time is spent managing the expectations of a woman on how long it might take, because many expect it to happen sooner.

4. Should you be worried if you miss a period?

There’s a myriad of reasons why you might miss a period, this can be anything from weight gain, to being underweight, a bad diet, new medication and even stress. If you’re having heavy or irregular cycles often and you feel you have any hormonal issues, it’s worth getting a check from your GP. Also so many women are now on the pill from 15-16 into there 30 and you can have cycle disturbances following coming off the pill.


5. Is it normal to bleed between periods? The menstrual cycle starts on the first day of a woman’s period, but this does not mean the first time you get slight blood spotting. The first day of the cycle is the first day of the fresh, red bleed. Any bleeding between periods should be checked by your GP.


6. Are apps like Natural Cycles 100% correct when it comes to monitoring your period?Apps can be helpful but too many women rely entirely on them. It’s more important to learn to read your body and understand its natural rhythms.


7. Does endometriosis affect your chances of having a baby? The link between endometriosis and fertility problems is not clearly understood and the cause is unknown. However, depending on the severity of your endometriosis, the chance of natural conception can decrease. It’s important to note that even with severe endometriosis, natural conception is still possible.


8. Should I be worried about polycystic ovaries? At the Zita West Clinic, up to 15 per cent of the women we see have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The problem is that PCOS, particularly when is very severe, affects natural ovulation. PCOS can also affect how regular cycles are, meaning there may be fewer cycles in a year and it is harder for a woman to detect her fertile phase. Many women with PCOS worry they will never be able to conceive because of it but PCOS is a treatable condition, but many women with PCOS do get pregnant.


9. What is the biggest fertility mistake a lot of young women make? The biggest mistake a lot of women make is not using contraception and becoming vulnerable to chlamydia. This is a silent STI but one which can have implications for your fertility further down the lines. 

For weekly tips, advice and wisdom on natural fertility and IVF, subscribe to our Fertility Show on YouTube.

Book now

Consultations are available at our Clinic in London, or our visiting clinics in Dublin and Cork or via Video Conferencing from the comfort of your own home.

Connect with us

Call us on 0207 224 0017 or email us at

How To Have Acupuncture With The Zita West Clinic If You Don’t Live In London

One of the things that we’re really known for at the Zita West Clinic is acupuncture. We use acupuncture and treat thousands of women every year who are trying naturally and also going through IVF.

I’m often asked by my patients who don’t live in London, ‘How can I access Acupuncture at the Zita West clinic around the UK and Ireland.’

So this week in the Fertility Show, I want to tell you how…

I’ve been an acupuncturist for 25 years now, and so I’ve always been a huge believer in its benefits for fertility and IVF, because I see how it helps so many women that are going through a very stressful time.

We have a lot of women that say they would like acupuncture, but they can’t do it in London. And this is where our affiliated network of accredited acupuncturists comes into play. We have affiliates up and down the UK and in Ireland who we have trained, and we do annual trainings every year to keep them abreast with best practise.

All acupuncturist members of the network have received training in our unique holistic approach to achieving optimum reproductive health as well as the diagnostic processes and treatment protocols followed at our London clinic. Members also have access to the Clinic and other members of the network for consultation and general advice.

We get great feedback from women who have visited our affiliates. They get a greater sense of well being, they really feel supported through natural fertility and when they’re undergoing IVF, they have a better feel of well being.

Our national network of Zita West affiliated acupuncturists specialise in all aspects of male and female reproductive health.

To find your nearest Zita West accredited acupuncturist, click here.


5 Ways We Optimise Your Cycle For IVF Success

I’m asked every day how we optimise IVF cycles at the Zita West Clinic to ensure the best success rates.

So in this week’s The Fertility Show,  I’m discussing the 5 ways we optimise your cycle for IVF success.

And as usual, here is your cheat sheet summed up in 5 bite sized points!

  1. Preparation: Preparation on every level, mentally, physically, and emotionally is key to IVF success. At the Zita West clinic we look at your diet, nutrition, lifestyle, work/life balance, stresses, and emotional wellbeing.
  2. Optimising egg and sperm quality: We really believe that there’s a lot that you can do to improve the quality of your eggs and sperm. We think one major key to success to nurture the environment in which these embryos will will grow in order to help get mature, healthy eggs and sperm.
  3. Individualising your cycle: You can never compare like for like with any couple or woman that comes through the door. Each IVF plan needs to be tailor-made for you because everybody is unique and different. One person might have low egg reserve, another might be younger, somebody else might be older, there may be male factor issues going on, as well. The drugs that are used, the protocol that you’ll put on, the way you’re monitored, the egg collection transfer, the lab work, are all very key to IVF success.
  4. Micromanaging your cycle: Micromanaging is part of our individualised approach. It’s not a one-fits-all policy at our clinic. It’s really important to monitor each patient frequently, which we do. Through micromanaging your cycle, we’re able to find out how you’re progressing, what needs to be done. Do you need extra blood tests? Do you need extra scans? We’re able to see issues or problems before they arise and we can correct them along the way.
  5. Intensive care: Lastly we give all our patients intensive care. A lot of hand-holding goes into having IVF at Zita West Clinic. The nursing staff and the rest of the team are there for you throughout your cycle and you’ve got access to them by email or phone.  

All of these form part of what we call our ‘holistic care approach’. If we concentrate on the medical side of your cycle, your diet, nutrition, lifestyle, optimising egg and sperm quality and micromanaging your cycle, we really believe you will have a better chance of IVF success.

For weekly tips, advice and wisdom on natural fertility and IVF, subscribe to our Fertility Show on YouTube.

Book now

Consultations are available at our Clinic in London, or our visiting clinics in Dublin and Cork or via Video Conferencing from the comfort of your own home.

Connect with us

Call us on 0207 224 0017 or email us at


Can acupuncture help you fall pregnant?

There’s a lot of mystery and scepticism surrounding acupuncture as a type of treatment, and whether or not it can help you conceive.

Research suggests that acupuncture may help in various areas relating to assisted conception, including during the lead-up to a cycle and immediately before and after embryo transfer (though, as with most research related to complementary treatments, this can’t be considered proven).

We believe that it contributes to our high levels of IVF success, so this week on The Fertility Show, I’m sitting down with Valeria, one of the acupuncturists in the clinic who has been with us for seven years, to ask explain what patients can expect when they come to The Zita West Clinic for acupuncture.

Zita: What can patients expect when they come to see you?

Valeria: Well, first of all, we try to establish relationship, and try to get to know where they are at in the path, and journey. That’s very important, because not everybody has the same root, some people have never had any treatments, whereas others have been trying to conceive for many years and have had a variety of treatments. So it Is important to know what each patient has been through, what their expectations are, and then once we know this, try to establish which areas of well-bring we need to concentrate on.

Zita: What is unique about the acupuncture treatments we do here?

Valeria: Here at the Zita West Clinic, acupuncture is always carried out in conjunction with mainstream Western medicine to ensure the best possible level of reproductive health. Our team carries out over 3000 sessions of fertility-focused treatments each year and we consistently update our methods by consulting the latest research as part of fertility treatment.

Zita: What is the feedback you get from patients who come to see you?

Valeria: The feedback we get from patients is that they trust that acupuncture is a really important part of their treatment and they feel supported by the clinic in helping them access it. And we know, certainly with embryo transfer, the treatment before embryo transfer is really important to calm the uterus down. The least, sort of, movement spasm there is in the uterus, the easier the work for the doctor and patients really feel acupuncture helps in calming them down,

If you want to book an acupuncture appointment at our clinic, please call our reception team and although on the day availability cannot be guaranteed we will do everything possible to accommodate you.


Can hypnotherapy work for fertility? Zita meets Maureen Kiely, our senior clinical hypnotherapist 


Getting pregnant is not just about having sex at the ‘right’ time or going through the motions of IVF. The mind can have a very powerful influence on the whole process of conception.

Negative thoughts, emotions and behaviours can all lead to increased anxiety and sometimes depression, getting in the way of your goal of conceiving. The hardest thing to hear when you are trying to address fertility issues is, ‘you must remain positive, try not to think about it too much.’

As true as this advice may be, many people need support in reaching a relaxed and optimistic mind-set during what can be one of the most important and stressful times of your life.

Today I’m sitting down with Maureen Kiely, our senior clinical hypnotherapist with over 15 years of experience for a quick Q&A session.

One of the things that we see at the clinic constantly is how a woman can deal with uncertainty ’cause trying to get pregnant, not knowing when it’s going to happen, it’s really, really hard and it really affects your mindset. How do work with those women? What can hypnotherapy do to help? 

That’s what I asked Maureen to tell us!

And as usual, your cheatsheet is below…

Zita: What can hypnotherapy do to help?

Maureen: The first thing is that when people come here they also walk in and have a bit of hope. They think, maybe this is going to be the place where I’m going to find the answers. I like to maximise the potential of that hope. One of things I do is I draw an analogy between having a passport, if you like, a passport that tells you who you are, where you’ve been, what’s happened to you and it’s true and it’s full of their experience. That isn’t always easy, experience, and that isn’t always, it can be very, very difficult, some of the things that people come to us with that passport. And I say, we can’t say that that no longer exists. We can’t get rid of it but what we can do is acknowledge it, put it to one side and get a day pass. Every day I’m going to help you get a day pass every day into a place which has a language of optimism, positivity, is flourishing, it’s benevolent and I’m going to help you manage that language through my strategies and through hypnosis.

Zita: How does what you do tie into fertility?

Maureen: It ties in because I give them very specific places to take their thoughts and their feelings to. A much more positive use of the energy. If you think about energy coming in, it’s neutral but it’s what we do with the energy. Because we worry about fertility, because we worry about what’s happened in the past, that energy then becomes anxiety and upset. I help them to make that energy that comes in, detour it, if you like, into this more positive place with visualisations, with strategies to make those sorts more positive and optimistic, more flourishing. It ties into fertility because I give them a more positive outlook, they are genuinely feeling more positive and more optimistic because they have a genuine positive and optimistic place to take their thoughts to.

Zita: Do women leave you with a way to help themselves at home?

Maureen: Absolutely. One of the things I encourage, I say actually, that when they’re here they get it all. I’m a director, I don’t let people sit around in a wishy washy place. I direct them. I know exactly what they need, I’ve been doing it a long time. But I also teach them self hypnosis and therefore if it’s three o’clock in the morning and you wake up, no matter all these thoughts and mindfulness and all those things, I say, then, go to your fertility garden. Go to your control room. Go into your balloon that’s going to take you away, it’s going to help you detach from that worry and that negativity. Find that place that I help them to get where you can genuinely help yourself fall back to sleep. Help yourself feel genuinely calm.

Zita: What about if I’m feeling a bit frightened by the thought of hypnotherapy? I know before I had hypnotherapy I was worried about going under or what was going to happen to me, thinking about the swinging of watches, but it’s a very easy process, isn’t it?

Maureen: Absolutely. That’s the point is that I only use my voice and you go into a deep relaxed state and then I teach you how to do that too. There’s no watches. I don’t turn you into a chicken but you’re going to walk away feeling comfortable, serene and relaxed, at the very least.

We have enough results in this clinic to show that people can genuinely access a flourishing, benevolent space and that has impact, mind over matter, where the mind goes the body follows. We do good work.