After Kim and Adam got married in 2014 they were keen to start a family. Kim admits that she might have been a bit optimistic to think that it would be easy.
“I came off the pill and, I suppose, bearing in mind the issues I had always had with my periods, I was a bit naïve really about how difficult it might be for me to get pregnant,” says Kim.
For as long as she can remember Kim has kept a diary detailing when her periods start and end.
“I could literally go for four months without a period and then have a short period followed by a longer, heavier one a few weeks later,” she says. “Then I could go for months without another one. Having regular monthly periods is something which a lot of women take for granted but mine were all over the place and completely random.”
Kim got so fed up with the disruption that when she was in her early twenties she went to her GP who put her on the pill: “At the time that was fine because all I wanted was to make my periods regular,” she says.
Irregular periods are a sign that a woman is not ovulating (releasing a ripe egg in to her fallopian tubes) every month. For natural conception to take place the eggs and sperm must meet in the fallopian tube and if a woman is not ovulating regularly the likelihood of her conceiving is greatly reduced.
“Once I had come off the pill my periods became irregular again and so while we were trying to conceive I had to regularly take pregnancy tests to determine if my lack of a period was because of my irregular cycles or because I was pregnant.”
Fertility diagnosis in 6 weeks at Bourn Hall
GPs are now able to refer patients directly to Bourn Hall for fertility testing after they have been trying for a year to conceive.
NHS fertility diagnosis and treatment service includes:
1: Review with fertility specialist – lifestyle factors and medical history are assessed and advice given on ways to improve chances of natural conception for example.
2: Female testing – a number of blood tests to confirm that hormone levels are normal and that eggs are being produced and released regularly and scans to check that the fallopian tubes (transfer the eggs from the ovaries to the womb), are clear and the pelvic area is healthy and clear of obstructions caused by conditions such as endometriosis.
3: Male tests to check quality and quantity of sperm and their movement
4: Fertility diagnosis in 6 weeks – results from both sets of testing are reviewed by a fertility consultant and advice given on the next steps.
Recommendations might include:-
- Ovulation induction with fertility medication to boost egg production and increase the chances of natural conception
- Onward referral for surgery or for assisted conception treatment.
- Counselling – we offer support throughout your journey with us.
Patients receive a diagnosis within six weeks and if ovulation induction is appropriate this treatment can start immediately.
Kim and Adam among first to benefit from the new service
After a year of trying and not getting pregnant, Kim went to see her GP who referred her and Adam for fertility testing.
Kim explains that after an initial appointment at the hospital she received a letter to say that Bourn Hall now provided the fertility diagnostics and also Ovulation Induction for natural pregnancy. “So all of my subsequent appointments were at Bourn Hall’s clinic in King’s Lynn,“ says Kim.
One of the first steps which Bourn Hall took with the couple was to test Adam’s sperm and to undertake a Hycosy diagnostic test on Kim which involved inserting a dye into her fallopian tubes followed by an ultrasound scan to see if there were any blockages in the tubes.
“Adam’s sperm tests came back all fine and the Hycosy showed that my tubes were not blocked,” says Kim.
Monitored OI Treatment
There are a number of reasons why a woman may not be producing eggs but regular ovulation can often be restored using fertility drugs. 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 and during an ovulation induction (OI) cycle, a woman will have ultrasound scans and blood tests to ensure the treatment is resulting in eggs developing and ovulating correctly.
Kim was recommended OI treatment and was put on a course of Gonadotrophin injections – which can be used by women who do not respond to Clomid and are not ovulating. The Follicle Stimulating hormone get the ovaries to mature an egg (ideally only one or two follicles).
At Bourn Hall OI treatment is carefully monitored with ultra-sound scanning. The first as a base-line, after 6 days of injections and then every 3-4 days.
On the first injection treatment after about five visits Kim had two follicles that were mature; for the last scan – about 22 days from her period – the couple rushed back from a five day break in Devon so that the fertility nurse Carol Steel could do a scan on the Friday afternoon.
“Carol gave us the news that she could see two follicles which had developed to maturity, we had to give a trigger injection that evening to get the eggs to release and she started smiling and told us to go away, enjoy ourselves and have lots of sex for the next week. At last we had our window of opportunity,” says Kim. “We didn’t feel under pressure because Carol was always so calm about everything and we just went away and did as we were told!”
Two weeks later Kim did a pregnancy test and it was positive. “I just stood holding the test in the bathroom and I was sobbing,” says Kim. “Adam and I just clung to each other and kept looking at the test it was surreal.
On 28 June 2017 son Callum was born and recently the couple took him in to meet Carol. “We wanted Callum to meet the woman without whom we wouldn’t be where we are now were it not for her guidance, care and kindness. We told Carol that it takes a very special person to do her job.