First time success with IVF after diagnosis of unexplained infertility

Suffolk couple Stephanie and Gordon finally became parents five years after first starting to try for a baby, and they say that their son Drew is their ‘greatest achievement’.

Baby Drew arrived after NHS-funded IVF treatment at Bourn Hall, just as Stephanie and her partner Gordon were beginning to give up hope. Stephanie, now 32, was in her early twenties when she met her partner at Writtle Agricultural College. They became friends working on the pig farm and romance flourished.

“Gordon was very career focused and didn’t think he’d settle down and have a family,” says Stephanie. “I came along like a high speed rollercoaster and he says his life changed for the better.”

The couple moved back to Suffolk to start a family but sadly nothing happened. After a couple of years they were referred to James Paget Hospital for further testing.

Stephanie and Gordon with Drew

HyCoSy to check tubes

“We had blood tests, I had a HyCoSy (Hysterosalpingo Contrast Sonography) to check my tubes, and lots of ultrasounds, but they couldn’t find anything,” explains Stephanie. “We were diagnosed with unexplained infertility and I was put on Clomid to stimulate ovulation. The consultant was convinced that was going to work. I did that for six months but unfortunately still nothing happened.

“It had been four years at this point and having ‘unexplained’ as a diagnosis was devastating. We were fortunate that we got referred for IVF, but we needed loads more tests to meet the requirements of NHS funding.”

HyCoSy stands for Hysterosalpingo Contrast Sonography and it is used to investigate the fallopian tubes. As it is not possible to see the fallopian tubes with normal x-rays or ultrasound, a dye is introduced into the tubes to increase the contrast so it is easier to see the tubes in the scan. The dye is safe and will not affect future fertility or have any effect on the fallopian tubes.

Bourn Hall provides NHS funded IVF for patients in Suffolk with a choice of Cambridge, Colchester or Norwich for appointments. See more about NHS funded IVF.

Stephanie and Gordon had just received agreement for funding when Covid struck and treatment was put on hold for another year.

“It was a really upsetting and challenging time for us both,” says Stephanie. “We didn’t know how long the wait was going to be, the uncertainty of whether treatment would be successful and what our future looked like.”

Finally, when restrictions lifted, the couple went for IVF treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic. Ten eggs were collected but only two embryos survived, which were then transferred to Stephanie at three days instead of five as they were not thriving.

Stephanie, Gordon and Drew

Stephanie did the pregnancy test after the requisite two weeks and was delighted to see a positive result. She remembers: “On that particular morning, Gordon was at work at 2am so I had to do the test on my own at home. I remember ringing him and he was in the middle of… well, he was pig farming – and he was absolutely elated. I did tell my immediate family that day too, so they all got phone calls at 7am! Everyone cried!

“We always say that Drew is our greatest achievement. I got my PhD in 2020, but none of that equates to having Drew – he is everything to both of us. And we don’t remember life before him. He is a very easy-going, happy little chap.

“We will always be eternally grateful for everything Bourn Hall has given us – it gets me all emotional. Everyone was so clear and positive; I’d love to remember the name of the nurse who was with me during egg collection, because she was so reassuring; it just made me feel so warm and looked after.”

Dr Paloma Perez-Clemente

Dr Paloma Perez-Clemente is based at our Colchester clinic

Fertility Testing

Bourn Hall Colchester provides comprehensive fertility testing, with options for home testing, to assist diagnosis. It is highly recommended that both partners are checked at the same time, as this may reveal a male infertility issue or influence the decision of which person in a same-sex relationship should be provided with sperm or carry the baby.

Testing includes:

  • Screening for infection
  • Blood tests for hormone levels and ovarian reserve
  • Ultrasound scans of the womb to rule out fibroids and other potential issues
  • Tubal patency assessment – to check the fallopian tubes are clear (these tubes carry the egg to the womb)
  • Semen analysis to test mobility, quality and quantity of sperm

A complete assessment can be completed within six weeks and includes a consultation with a fertility specialist.

Unexplained infertility, where the reason is not clear and might be caused by sub-fertility on both sides, is also common and is frustrating for patients.  You can still be referred for IVF if you have a diagnosis of unexplained infertility.

More information

Bourn Hall provides NHS and self-funded fertility testing with ‘at home’ options.

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