If you are not eligible for NHS IVF treatment don’t wait for advice

Are you are struggling to get pregnant, worried about NHS waiting times and want some advice about next steps?

The current average waiting time from GP referral to treatment at the Addenbrookes Gynaecology department is 46 weeks for 9 out of 10 patients, although waiting times for individual treatments may vary. To be eligible for one cycle of NHS funded IVF in Cambridgeshire, you will need to be referred by a hospital consultant, but for the many people not eligible for funding it makes no sense to wait a year for fertility testing. 

There are strict criteria for NHS funding: if you or your partner already have a child, have had a vasectomy, are finding it difficult to lose weight, or have a low ovarian reserve it is probable that you won’t be able to access funding for treatment.

Leona Crookston, Lead Fertility Nurse at Bourn Hall Cambridge, says too many people are in limbo over their fertility health. “The criteria for NHS funded IVF is very stringent, and in Cambridgeshire even if you are eligible you are only able to get funding for one cycle. IVF is a course of treatment and the highest chance of a live birth comes within three cycles of treatment.

“Being younger is always a benefit for fertility treatment and few GPs have training in reproductive medicine, so it is best to get specialist advice sooner rather than later. For example, blood tests to check ovulation – the release of an egg – need to be done at a particular time in the cycle.”

Bourn Hall Cambridge is offering people concerned about their fertility a free consultation with a fertility nurse specialist to discuss next steps.

Leona Crookston, Lead Fertility Nurse at Bourn Hall Cambridge

Bourn Hall Cambridge is offering people who have been trying unsuccessfully for a baby for over a year a free discovery session with a fertility nurse specialist to discuss next steps.

We decided to speed things up ourselves after NHS delays

Frustrated at their lack of progress within the NHS, Lincolnshire couple Viktoria and Gabor went direct to Bourn Hall Clinic; twelve months later Viktoria gave birth to their son.

Viktoria had always wanted to be a mum and was 26 when she first sought fertility advice in her home country of Hungary but was told she was still young. “I had some blood tests and I felt that they pushed me away,” she says.

The couple moved to the UK and now live in Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire. When Viktoria registered with a new GP, she again asked for help with their infertility. “The GP warned me that the system was very slow,” says Viktoria. “I was sent for more blood tests and scans after three months and then we had to wait another three months for my husband Gabor to be sent for sperm tests.

Viktoria and Gabor with Dorian and Miana
Viktoria and Gabor with Dorian and Miana
Viktoria and Gabor with Dorian and Miana

“Then we were told the results had been lost. We had to wait another three months for another test. I was starting to get really impatient. I had just turned 30 and everyone around me was getting pregnant; all my sisters and wider family had children. Everywhere I looked I saw pregnant women. I just really wanted to have a baby of my own and I started to feel scared that I was running out of time.”

When Gabor’s sperm test results reported issues with motility and mobility, the couple knew that they would need fertility treatment.

“We had waited such a long time for testing on the NHS, we decided to speed things up and go private,” says Viktoria.

“I did my research and found that Bourn Hall had a clinic in King’s Lynn, which was literally just a 20-minute drive for us, and I gave them a call. We had our first appointment on my 31st birthday on the 17th September and everything happened really quickly with getting all the tests completed. We then moved straight on to self-funded IVF treatment and by that Christmas I was pregnant – it all happened so fast.

“It was really handy going to King’s Lynn; I was able to have some of my appointments there and then we drove to the Norwich clinic for the IVF procedure.

“I produced a lot of eggs and we found out just before Christmas that our IVF had worked first time – it was an early Christmas present!

“Our son Dorian was born in September 2018, a week before my 32nd birthday.”

The couple had an expected twist to their fertility story.

“When he was five months old I started to feel very unwell, I was being sick, I thought I must have something awful.

“I went to the GP, and he asked me to do a pregnancy test. I said, ‘I can’t be pregnant, I am breastfeeding and haven’t had any periods since giving birth and I had to have IVF to have my son.’

“The doctor did a test and said ‘this test is positive too – you are pregnant.’

“I gave birth to my daughter Miana two months after Dorian’s first birthday.

“Being a mum makes me so happy, I am so proud of my children. I always say to everyone that my son was a present from the doctors and that my daughter was a present from God!”

Dorian and Miana
Dorian and Miana

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