5 years of helping families – Alfie’s mum thought she would never have a baby

Alfie, aged 5, was born just as Bourn Hall’s new Essex clinic opened five years ago – his parents Amanda and Michael were treated at the Wickford satellite clinic whilst the new purpose-built clinic was under construction. Alfie was one of the IVF babies at a celebration of the clinic’s fifth birthday, where a Bourn Hall baby for each of the years that Bourn Hall’s Essex clinic has been open came to mark the occasion with the world’s first test-tube baby, Louise Brown.

Amanda has PCOS and only ever had two periods a year and thought she would never be able to have a baby. She says: “When Alfie arrived I couldn’t believe that this child was mine. It was magical.

“I didn’t have any close friends who had gone through fertility issues, so it had been quite isolating.

Amanda and Alfie meet Louise Brown
Amanda and Alfie meet Louise Brown

“From the start me and Michael had been very open about our fertility issues as we found it stopped people constantly asking questions. Friends and family would always ask ‘are you going to have a baby?’ or ‘do you not want a baby?’. We would close those initial questions down by telling them we were having trouble and then we were able to get on with our lives and our fertility journey.”

Amanda had all the classic symptoms of PCOS, including irregular periods, some facial hair and finding it difficult to lose weight. She initially had ovulation induction (OI) treatment at Basildon Hospital but was still unable to get pregnant.

“I was around 30 by this time and really felt as though the clock was ticking as so many of my friends had had children already or were currently pregnant,” she says.

“I just wanted to ‘get on with it’ and so we were told that our only option was IVF.

“We chose Bourn Hall because it was really handy; we were living in Wickford and I was travelling to London for work,” she explains. “I could do early morning appointments at the clinic which was helpful, and I saw the same consultant at Bourn Hall as I had seen at Basildon Hospital, Dr Jadhav, so he knew us and our background.

“Alfie was born in May 2018 when I was 32. By complete coincidence it was Dr Jadhav who helped to deliver him – he had been there through my whole fertility journey.”

Amanda with her son Alfie
Michael and Amanda with Alfie
Michael and Amanda with Alfie
Dr Arpita Ray, Regional Lead Clinician IVF in Suffolk
Dr Arpita Ray, Regional Lead Clinician

PCOS and infertility – the main symptoms to look out for

It is estimated that around one in ten women in the UK have PCOS and it has a wide variety of symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose and treat.

Dr Arpita Ray is Lead Clinician for Bourn Hall’s Essex clinics and has an extensive research background in PCOS and infertility. She says: “I often see patients who report having seen different specialists over a number of years for treatment of various symptoms without the realisation that the problems all have the same cause.”

Not everyone has the same symptoms for PCOS explains Dr Ray and they can range from mild (or even no symptoms at all) to severe.

Typical PCOS symptoms can include:

  • Irregular – or a complete lack of – periods
  • Irregular ovulation – or no ovulation at all
  • Reduced fertility
  • Excess facial or body hair
  • Olly skin/acne
  • Hair loss or thinning hair
  • Weight problems – including difficulty losing weight
  • Depression and mood changes

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