If you want to learn more about your fertility then getting good personalised advice is vital. A consultation with a Fertility Nurse Specialist to talk about your concerns and medical history will put you on the right path.
Research by Bourn Hall showed that many people found it difficult to discuss infertility with their GP and were often told that nothing could be done until they had been trying for three years.
With fertility issues every month counts. After all, there are only 12 chances to become pregnant each year.
Before the consultation you will need to complete a questionnaire, which asks about your health, family medical history, lifestyle etc. This helps to make the 30-minute consultation with the Fertility Nurse Specialist more productive.
The tailored advice will include ways to boost your natural fertility, recommendations for tests and explanation of what the results will tell you and discussion of the treatment options that are relevant to you.
From this consultation, you will be in a stronger position to decide on your next steps. This might be to improve your fertility fitness and try naturally for longer. Or it might be to have tests to check sperm count and ovulation (egg production) – common reasons for infertility. Or perhaps it may be to gain a second opinion on a medical issue, for example if there is a family history of a genetic disorder.
The advice will be appropriate to you and your circumstances. You don’t have to be trying to get pregnant or need fertility treatment to have a consultation.
Some questions we are often asked
Q. I am 24 and we have had unprotected sex for 3 years and I am still not pregnant. We have been told that we are young and should keep trying.
A. Out of every 100 couples trying for a baby, 80 to 90 will get pregnant within one year. If there is an underlying issue such as blocked tubes, low sperm count or not releasing eggs regularly then waiting won’t help. Get some advice about tests that might reveal the cause of the infertility.
Q. I am a diabetic and was told this might affect my sperm. We don’t want a baby just yet but I would like to know if my sperm are healthy.
A. NHS fertility testing is only done where there is a known problem, i.e. you have been trying to get pregnant without success. It is possible to have a semen analysis on request without a GP referral. There is a small charge for this but it may give early warning of a problem or give you peace of mind.
Q. Since I came off the pill to get pregnant my weight has increased rapidly. I have been told to lose weight before I can get fertility advice.
A. Being over or underweight affects the fertility hormones in both men and women, so having a healthy body weight for your height does improve your chances of pregnancy. It is also better for the future health of the mother and child.
However, some conditions such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), which disrupts the release of eggs, can make it more difficult to lose weight. An ovulation test and scan of your ovaries can help diagnose this condition, and lifestyle advice tailored to you can improve your health and make it easier to lose weight. These measures can restore natural fertility in some people, and if not there is medication that can help.
Being overweight and infertile can make you feel miserable about yourself and life in general. Getting good advice from a friendly and non-judgemental nurse will help you to create an action plan and start feeling more positive.
Q. I am thinking of waiting a few years to have a baby – are you able to tell me if I will be able to do this?
A. We can test for your current level of fertility health, which could help you in your decision making. We can also advise on other options you may be considering, such as egg freezing.
Q. My partner and I are both healthy and just need a sperm donor to have a baby. How do we decide who should carry the pregnancy and will we need IVF?
A. Fertility testing is always advised to ensure there are no hidden issues such as blocked tubes which have no symptoms. Then you would be in a good position to decide. Everyone receiving donated sperm is given implications counselling and this can be an opportunity to talk through how you feel.
For treatment, IUI (inter uterine injection) is less invasive. This is when the sperm is introduced high into the uterus at the right time of the month to maximise the chance of conception. This is often tried first but if not appropriate for some reason then IVF is an option.
IVF involves egg stimulation, collection of eggs and then fertilising them before the embryos are transferred to the woman who will carry the pregnancy. However, this doesn’t need to be the same woman that produced the eggs and this might be an option to consider.
Q. I am embarrassed to ask but wonder if we are doing it properly. We both work shifts and don’t have much time together. I am getting really stressed at work and want a baby so much. I think it might be my fault by putting too much pressure on us. Other people find it easy, so what are we doing wrong?
A. Fertility is complex and feeling secure and supported is an important element for success. Our nurses are specialists and talk about fertility issues of all sorts so you will get a calm, professional response to your questions. Lifestyle changes can help but if you are still not pregnant it is also important to rule out underlying health problems and to have all the information that you need and the advice that is right for you.