A child starting school is a major milestone in family life and Ellen, who was helped by Bourn Hall to conceive naturally, recently celebrated her son Arthur taking this important step.
“Off he went without a backwards glance!” she says. “I thought that I would be more distraught, instead I am super proud of our scallywag! I never thought I could experience such special emotions when we were sitting in the waiting room at Bourn Hall Clinic more than five years ago. We are so grateful.”
Diagnosis of PCOS
Ellen had initially fallen pregnant naturally but sadly miscarried at 11 weeks. Ellen and her husband Mark, who live in Norfolk, tried to conceive again but after a year of trying with no success they went to their GP and were referred to Bourn Hall Clinic for testing.
It was at Bourn Hall that a scan revealed she had PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) which was causing her to have irregular periods. Other symptoms can include weight gain, excess hair and acne, but not everyone has these symptoms so it is difficult to diagnose without a scan.
Regular periods are a sign that you are ovulating – when a ripened egg ready to be fertilised is released from the ovaries – and this usually happens about 12-14 days before your next period (Tommy’s, a pregnancy charity, offer this useful calculator) so having a regular cycle also helps let you know when you are most fertile.
“It was hard to know when I was fertile,” says Ellen. “And my husband Mark worked at Heathrow Airport so the windows of opportunity to try to get pregnant were quite slim!”
Support to conceive naturally with Ovulation Induction (OI)
When a woman isn’t ovulating regularly fertility drugs can be prescribed to boost her natural fertility and increase the chances of natural conception. Bourn Hall put Ellen on a course of Clomid to induce her ovulation and monitored her regularly.
Clomid is an effective treatment which stimulates a woman’s ovaries to produce eggs. It is often the first course of treatment for women with polycystic ovaries but can also be used by women who have late or irregular periods.
During the Ovulation Induction (OI) cycle at Bourn Hall patients are carefully monitored with ultrasound scans and blood tests to ensure that just one egg is maturing – when one is ready for release the patient is given a time window when natural conception is most likely to occur.
“This meant that I could predict a lot better when I would be fertile,” says Ellen. “And on those days Mark made sure he was home nice and early….”
The monitored OI treatment was successful and Ellen fell pregnant naturally during her fertility ‘window’. Son Arthur was born in December 2016.
“Being a mum is absolutely fantastic,” says Ellen. “Arthur is a happy and healthy boy. His confidence, curiosity and wicked sense of humour will keep his teachers on their toes!”
There are a number of reasons why a woman may not be producing eggs but regular ovulation can often be restored using fertility drugs (pills or injections). About 70% of women will ovulate with this treatment, the majority within the first three months. Of those who ovulate, between 20% and 60% will become pregnant – the wide range is due to many other factors affecting fertility such as age, weight, sperm quality and lifestyle or other health issues.
Fertility drugs stimulate the development and ovulation of mature eggs to be released ready for natural fertilisation. During an OI cycle, a woman will have ultrasound scans and blood tests to ensure the treatment is resulting in eggs developing and ovulating correctly, and given a date when there is the greatest chance of natural conception.