Bourn Hall Wickford is celebrating the third birthday of Bear McCaughren, the first baby born after IVF at the new purpose-built clinic. Since treatments started at the clinic it has welcomed 133 babies and awaits the birth of many more. With fertility, every month counts and fertility specialists are concerned that Covid is still putting dreams on hold.
Leonie and her husband Chris were among the first patients to be treated at Bourn Hall Wickford and their son Bear has just celebrated his third birthday. After years of trying to conceive the couple were told they would be eligible for NHS-funded treatment, which was successful the first time.
Leonie says: “It’s hard to put into words how I felt when Bear was born. It was something that we’d wanted for so long, that to actually have him arrive was just surreal. I think it took a couple of days for me to actually believe that he was here and not keep thinking it was a dream!”
First of 133 Essex IVF babies and counting
Bourn Hall has an excellent reputation for IVF treatment, and the success rates are pleasing to Lead Embryologist Anne O’Leary, who says: “The birth rate is well above the national average and we are hoping to announce our 200th baby in the Autumn.”
Since the clinic started procedures in August 2018, 517 women have had IVF, resulting in 194 pregnancies and 133 babies born so far.
Anne continues: “Covid continues to put extra pressure on infertile couples, who have had treatment put on hold or delayed. We are now operating at full strength and we have no waiting lists for testing or treatment and urge couples to make up for lost time by gaining specialist fertility advice.”
Don’t wait too long
Fertility declines with age and delays in fertility testing at hospitals have put further pressure on couples. A report, ‘Left too Long’, by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has raised concerns that waiting lists for NHS gynaecology appointments have risen by 60% since before the beginning of the pandemic – more sharply than any other speciality.
There is also still a postcode lottery for fertility treatment in Essex, which may mean waiting for testing will not offer any benefit. Bourn Hall provides NHS funded IVF in the areas of Essex where it is available and self-funded treatment across the whole region.
However, Lead Clinician Dr Arpita Ray says that many couples can benefit from specialist fertility advice and simple medical treatments, and may not need IVF. “It is worth getting fertility fit. A healthy BMI of between 19 and 30 will improve your chances of conception or successful treatment.
“Also, 30 percent of women who are irregularly ovulating (releasing an egg) can get pregnant naturally with timed intercourse if their ovaries are stimulated with medication – we can give advice on the suitability of this treatment, which is also available on the NHS.”