A woman was told by doctors there was "virtually zero" chance of her falling pregnant - but then, she says, leeches changed her life.
Nina Evans, from London, was 45 years old when doctors said that her age, combined with the fact she had been diagnosed with pre-cancerous fibroids on her womb, made it very unlikely she would have a baby.
But after undergoing eight months of hirudotherapy treatment - including internal application of leeches - she fell pregnant with her son Noel, who is now 6.
"Leeches have been used since the time of the Egyptians and we are only now discovering the full extent of what they can do," Evans told Daily Mail.
"I know that without leeches I would not have been given the chance to have my son at 45, and that is just the start of what they can do. I even use them on my six-year-old to treat bumps and bruises."
Evans, who also has a 28-year-old son from her first marriage, said she and her second husband began trying for a baby in 2003.
When their attempts to conceive failed, the couple sought medical advice. It was then that Ms Evans was told about the fibroids.
"At that point I gave up on having a child. Instead I started having leech treatments to aid my recovery," she said.
"I chose leeches because I was born in Lithuania and leech therapy is used for a whole range of illnesses.
"They're considered a general cure for all, and I knew from experience, having had leech treatment before, that it gave you more energy and a more positive outlook."
Supporters of the treatment say the leeches attach to the body and release substances to reduce pain, improve blood supply and prevent clotting.
Ms Evans began having external treatment with leeches placed on her back and said she immediately felt healthier.
She then found a specialist in St Petersburg, Russia, who had a technique where leeches were inserted into the cervix.
Ms Evans said her first internal treatment, which involved inserting three leeches, felt just like getting a pap smear.
"I didn't feel it, the speculum was the most uncomfortable thing really. Then after half an hour the leeches drop out," she said.
"Within seven days I noticed a difference. I was feeling better, had more energy and over the next couple of months my periods became more accurate.
"I also noticed my orgasms were longer and more intense - some of the best I have ever had after each internal leech therapy."
After five treatments in Russia, Ms Evans got her own leeches and started treating herself at home each night.
Eight months later Ms Evans was surprised to discover she had fallen pregnant. An ultrasound during pregnancy revealed that her fibroids were also gone.
"I was thrilled. The leeches had helped me fall pregnant!
"I didn't want to change my routine, so as the baby grew in my belly I kept up with the leech treatment," she told the Daily Mail.
Ms Evans believes the leeches helped the fibroids disappear as they cut blood flow to the growths.
When Ms Evans gave birth to Noel in January 2010 she had leeches attached to her back to ease her pain during labour.
She also used leeches when breastfeeding and credits them with helping her to nurse Noel until he was 2 years and 7 months old.
"I discovered leeches had been used to help produce hormones to encourage the milk to flow," she said.
"So before a feed, I'd attach leeches to the top of my breasts. Having had one child before, I discovered my milk flowed more easily for Noel, thanks to the curative powers of leeches."
Ms Evans now uses the leeches on her son if she thinks they can help him.
"When he has a fall like toddlers and little boys do and he gets a bump, I immediately put a leech on and the bruising and swelling is much less than without the treatment," she said.
Ms Evans believes the treatment has "kickstarted" her fertility and she now hopes leeches will help her conceive another child in her 50s.
She is now the Director of the British Association of Hirudotherapy and helped the practice gain government recognition as a valid complimentary therapy.
The use of leeches is governed by rules in the UK. Only one leech can be used at a time and they must be killed humanely.
After using her leeches, Ms Evans places them in heavy alcohol, as she says this kills them without any suffering.