This year four-year-old Alex will be able to write his first Mother’s Day card, making it extra special for his mum Victoria, who had IVF success after endometriosis.
Many causes of infertility have no symptoms; Victoria’s infertility was caused by a condition called endometriosis, which was only uncovered when she had to have emergency surgery to remove a large cyst on her ovary.
Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue (the lining of the uterus that sheds with each monthly period) grows outside the womb. It affects around one in ten women in the UK and it is estimated that up to 50 per cent of infertile women have the condition.
Endometriosis UK says that a diagnosis can take an average of 7.5 years, and the charity is running an awareness week from 3-11 March to highlight the condition.
Victoria and her husband Neal had already been trying to conceive for two years with no success when Victoria had her emergency surgery to remove the cyst – so her endometriosis diagnosis was a blow.
“I always had painful, heavy periods and just thought it was normal,” says Victoria, “until I discovered it was due to endometriosis and bits of my womb lining were growing outside my womb.
“At this point we thought the odds were stacked against us ever having a child,” she admits.
“Our consultant told us we could try IVF, which at that time was available on the NHS, and we chose to be treated at Bourn Hall in Colchester as it was only half an hour down the road.”
IVF success after endometriosis
The couple were treated at Bourn Hall Clinic using a procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), where a single sperm is injected into an egg to fertilise it. Two weeks later Victoria discovered she was pregnant.
Alexander was born at Colchester General Hospital in August 2013 after a very quick labour of an hour and a half.
Four years later Victoria still has to pinch herself that she is a mum and says that everything she and Neal went through was worth it to have Alex in their lives. “Being parents means everything to us,” she smiles. “Alex’s first day at school was definitely a milestone reached and seeing him in his first school Christmas play was pretty special. His rendition of ‘Away in a Manger’ complete with actions was magical!”
According to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority over 90 per cent of couples conceive naturally within two years. If you haven’t conceived within a year however, or you know you have a condition which affects your fertility, you should seek expert advice.
Only a small number of people require IVF and there are many ways that natural fertility can be boosted, and other assisted conception treatments are an option.
As well as its clinic in Colchester, Bourn Hall is opening a brand-new purpose-built fertility and IVF centre in Wickford town centre. The new centre opens later this month, and will provide a full range of fertility treatments on-site as well as a range of wellbeing services aimed at helping women and couples improve their chances of becoming pregnant naturally.
Victoria is especially looking forward to Mother’s Day this year: “I know that, after all the writing practice he has done at school, Alex will have written my card all by himself,” she laughs.