Baby joy after struggle with severe endometriosis symptoms

Heavy painful periods

“I had suffered with painful and heavy periods ever since my periods first started,” says Natalie, aged 34, from Bedfordshire. “Some months I could be in agonising pain for three days, I would have to take so many painkillers just to get through the day. I had to be prescribed medication to slow the bleed down because otherwise I literally wouldn’t be able to leave the house because it was so heavy.  

“I was put on the pill for a few years to ease my endometriosis symptoms, but it didn’t always agree with me. So, when I was in my twenties, I came off the pill to try and manage it naturally. It was then that I realised that my symptoms had got even worse, but I still didn’t know what was causing them. 

“My other major symptom was bloating. My stomach was so inflamed that I looked six months pregnant on some days. Leading up to our wedding day I dieted and exercised but couldn’t get rid of it.” 

Natalie and Alex started trying for a baby as soon as they got married. 

“I was 29 and conscious of time ticking,” she says. “I had an inkling we might struggle but I didn’t think it would take us so long. I got to the point when I thought it may never happen. 

“I would take the dog out for a walk and go past people with pushchairs and think ‘why is it happening for other people?’ and feel so sad.” 

Endometriosis symptoms not taken seriously

Natalie tried everything to alleviate her ongoing symptoms as well as improve her fertility chances. 

“I tried a gluten, dairy-free, sugar-free diet,” she says. “I also tried complementary therapies such as acupuncture, reflexology and massage, gave up alcohol and caffeine, took various supplements and exercised.” 

Natalie had done her own research and suspected that she had endometriosis but feels that she was fobbed off by a succession of doctors who didn’t seem to think that she had ‘all the symptoms’. She was even told to get pregnant as that would relieve the pain.  

So, she decided to pay for a consultation with a specialist – two hour’s drive away from her home. 

“The doctor said to me ‘it sounds to me like you’ve got all the symptoms of endometriosis, I can send you for an MRI.’ And the MRI showed that I had endometrial tissue growing in several different places, on my pelvis, uterus, and Pouch of Douglas; my uterus had become tethered to one of my ovaries, so I had surgery to remove the tissue and tidy things up.” 

In the meantime, Natalie and Alex had also undergone fertility tests at their local NHS hospital which had concluded that they had ‘unexplained infertility’ after a raft of tests, including to check that Natalie’s fallopian tubes were clear. 

IUI treatment with less medication

The couple were referred for NHS-funded IVF treatment to Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge but shortly after Natalie started her first round of medication, she experienced a rare reaction to the surge in hormones and their treatment had to be put on hold. 

“Bourn Hall tested me for all kinds of different things such as blood clotting disorders, antiphospholipid syndrome, and things like that to see why it might have happened. Our doctor at Bourn Hall had successfully lobbied our CCG for us to have another go at IVF on the NHS but in the end, it was agreed we would try IUI treatment which although it has a lower success rate than IVF is much more natural and involves far less medication,” says Natalie. 

IUI an alternative as Natalie’s periods were regular

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves placing the prepared sperm into the uterus shortly after ovulation using a thin, flexible tube called a catheter. Depending on the individual patients they may be offered a natural (unstimulated) cycle or a stimulated cycle. 

“Whilst I had always had problems with heavy and painful periods, they had always been regular,” says Natalie.

“So, we decided on the natural protocol for the IUI where basically it was all in line with my own natural period and Bourn Hall would scan my ovaries every few days to see when I was going to ovulate. 

Natalie and Arthur
Natalie and Arthur

“I just had to have one injection to mature the egg, called a trigger injection, and then two days later Alex’s sperm was inserted using the catheter so that hopefully the sperm and egg would meet at the right time. 

“Unfortunately, the first time the IUI didn’t work, and I really felt as though it just wasn’t going to happen for us. We had been trying for a baby for years by this point and so we did make some exploratory calls looking in to adopting. But then a few months later I thought maybe we should give IUI another try…

Shocked to finally be pregnant! 

“Our first IUI attempt was covered by the NHS, but for the second try, we funded it ourselves. It comes at a considerably lower cost compared to IVF, amounting to approximately £1,300. 

“I came out of Bourn Hall after the second IUI attempt convinced it hadn’t worked, I was thinking ‘why did we bother?’.  

“I spent the whole of the two weeks wait to feel very depressed and so when I took the pregnancy test, and it was positive I was just so shocked that I had to take another four just to check! I was so happy I cried and cried! 

“I had an incredible pregnancy, I was one of these lucky ones, I barely had any sickness, I actually felt better pregnant than I do normally!  

“Arthur arrived in December so this is my first Mother’s Day with him, I am so excited, it is something that I thought would never happen for me.  

“He’s just a total gift, he’s so precious and I love him so much. I finally feel as though I have got to where I wanted to be. 

“Thinking back, I wish I had been more insistent. As now I have a definitive endometriosis diagnosis I can get help from the NHS should I need any further surgery, which is really good.  

“To other women who suspect that they have endometriosis symptoms I would say ‘keep pushing your GP for answers.’ Just say ‘this isn’t normal, and I really need to have further testing, ask for an MRI scan and further investigations.’ You know your own body.”  

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More information

Find out more about endometriosis and its impact on fertility on our blog.

Since Natalie and Alex had their treatment Bourn Hall has opened a specialist Endometriosis and Fertility service


IVF baby joy after endometriosis ‘agony’

Pill masked the symptoms of endometriosis

Carlene was put on the pill as a teenager to ease painful periods and it masked the symptoms of endometriosis, a condition where tissue, similar to that of the lining of the womb, grows in other parts of the body such as around the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

“When I came off the pill to try to get pregnant the painful periods returned and slowly got worse and worse,” she says. “The pain would be so bad sometimes that I almost couldn’t function. It was terrible; I would wake up in the night, throwing up with the pain, my heart would be racing and I would be having hot sweats. I knew something was wrong.

“I was told that I would have to go back on the pill to ease the pain, but me and my husband Lewis really wanted a baby, so I had four years of agony.”

The couple, who live in Suffolk, went to their GP for advice and the initial tests came back normal, so they were told to try for longer before they were referred to hospital.

I would need to have a hydrosalpinx removed before fertility treatment

CS236 hydrosalpinx was removed before successful IVF“I had an internal scan and was referred to a surgeon for an exploratory laparoscopy, which identified that I had a hydrosalpinx (fluid) on my left fallopian tube as well as endometriosis. The tube needed to be removed, and I would need fertility treatment, it was like starting again.

“I was referred for another laparoscopy which revealed that the damage caused by the endometriosis was so bad that it had caused adhesions on my bowel and bladder and both of my ovaries were stuck to my uterus. They couldn’t remove the tube completely because I had so many adhesions from the endometriosis, so they clipped it.

“We were referred to Bourn Hall Norwich for NHS-funded IVF treatment, 12 weeks after my operation. I only had one egg collected during our first round of IVF and we had a day two transfer which was unsuccessful. I was gutted.

“For our second round it was suggested that I had egg collection under general anaesthetic to make it easier to retrieve my eggs. This would be done at the Cambridge clinic. <

“For me it was a much better experience and when I woke up, I had the number ‘8’ written on my hand and I was absolutely over the moon. Seven of the eight eggs fertilised and went to blastocyst; we couldn’t believe it, we felt like we had a chance.

I felt ecstatic on the drive home after embryo transfer because I just knew I had that hope and I hadn’t felt like that for such a long time; I went for a really long walk the next day. I didn’t quite wait the ten days to take the pregnancy test – and it was positive.

We didn’t dare believe we were pregnant

Lewis with Leo“Even when we went to the scan and saw the heartbeat we still couldn’t say that we were pregnant, it just wouldn’t come out of our mouths. We just didn’t dare believe it; we were guarding ourselves so much just in case. It had been such a long journey and we just didn’t dare say it.

“Leo arrived three weeks early, on 27 January 2022 at the James Paget, and when he arrived we absolutely loved and adored him straight away; we couldn’t believe he was ours – we still can’t sometimes!

“It is hard to put into words what IVF means to me. It has given me my life back to be honest. My whole life was consumed with worrying about whether I’d have a child and IVF was the only way I’d be able to have one.”


Struggling to conceive? Hit the gym and carry on

Kate remembers clearly the years of heartbreak and disappointment at being unable to get pregnant – as many of her friends completed their families.

“I met my husband Nick when we were still teenagers and we both knew that we wanted children one day,” she says. “A few years later we got to a stage when we were secure and settled with a house and running our own businesses and decided the time was right to start a family.

“We didn’t know how long it would take to conceive because you don’t know until you start trying and so it was the unknown.

“I was given lots of advice from people about how long it should be taking us to get pregnant and I tried not to worry too much about it but as time went on and nothing was happening I started to think ‘why us’?”

Now mum to Amber, following fertility treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge, Kate, aged 31, says her advice to other people struggling to conceive is to “focus on looking after your mind and body and try not to stress.”

Kate is a keen advocate of regular exercise and mindfulness. A regular gym-goer, she feels sure that this helped to take her mind of things and keep her positive when she couldn’t get pregnant.

“I just focused on keeping myself fit and active,” she says.

Struggling to conceive? Hit the gym and carry on

When Kate and Nick had been trying to conceive for over a year they went to see their GP. “We were sent for tests but they all came back fine so we really didn’t know why I wasn’t getting pregnant,” she says. “It is frustrating when there doesn’t seem to be a reason and we weren’t given any advice by our GP on what steps we might be able to take to improve our chances. We were told to go away and carry on trying for another two years so it was a case of playing the waiting game.”

Only a small number of people require IVF and there are many ways that natural fertility can be boosted and other assisted conception treatments can be offered at Bourn Hall’s fertility clinics.

After two further years the couple went back to their GP, who referred them for more hospital tests. They were told that they had ‘unexplained infertility’ which is the reason given when tests can detect no underlying cause. Kate and Nick were told that they were eligible at that time for one cycle of NHS-funded treatment and were referred for fertility treatment.

“The fact that people in Cambridgeshire are not entitled to any NHS-funded fertility treatment now is absolutely heart-breaking,” says Kate. “We were so lucky to even be entitled to one cycle and I feel so sorry for anyone needing IVF who just can’t afford it.”

Kate and Nick chose to have their fertility treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic which was only a short drive from home. “Bourn Hall is one of the best in the country and is literally on our doorstep,” says Kate.

Kate and Nick had their IVF treatment in September 2016 and were delighted when it worked first time. “The first scan when we saw our baby’s heartbeat was just amazing, I burst in to tears,” remembers Kate. “I had a really good pregnancy. We had waited so long to have a baby that I wanted to savour the pregnancy and enjoy every minute.”

Kate carried on going to the gym throughout her pregnancy and also went to pregnancy yoga which she found really helpful to focus on her breathing. Daughter Amber was born in May 2017 and Kate and Nick are besotted with her.

“Motherhood is everything I hoped it would be,” reveals Kate. “Life is just incredible. I cannot thank Bourn Hall enough. I have already been in to take the staff chocolates and a thank you card and introduce them to Amber. The people who work there are amazing.”

Struggling to conceive? Hit the gym and carry on


Bourn Hall consultant Dr Sharleen Hapuarachi will be discussing the importance of ‘Keeping Fertility Fit’ as the guest speaker for the first meeting of a new East of England Fertility Support Group hosted by Fertility Network UKon 6th September 2023. Find out more.

Shanna given choice of hysterectomy or motherhood at 21

Throughout her teenage years and twenties Shanna was blighted by excruciatingly painful periods – needing regular surgery to rectify the damage wreaked by endometriosis and ovarian cysts. “It got so bad that I was offered a hysterectomy when I was 21,” she says. “But I had always known that I wanted children and I remember saying ‘absolutely no way.’

It was a hard decision because I was miserable and constantly in pain but I wanted to be a mum and decided I would have to deal with the pain to get what I wanted.”

Endometriosis causes damage

Endometriosis is a debilitating gynaecological condition affecting around one in ten women in the UK and can damage the reproductive organs, as tissue similar to that lining the womb starts to grow around the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Symptoms include: painful, heavy or irregular periods; pain during or after sex; painful bowel movements; fatigue; and infertility. More than half of sufferers will have been to A&E with excruciating pain.

“After one of my operations the doctors said that it looked as though someone had poured a load of concrete down there,” says Shanna who lives in Essex.

“I had first been to see a gynaecologist when I was 13 but my endometriosis wasn’t actually diagnosed until I was 21 after an operation to remove an ovarian cyst. I had a number of operations, averaging around one a year, to remove scar tissue and I was in such terrible pain all the time. I was regularly in A&E screaming with pain and had to wear morphine patches.

“I knew if I wanted to have children,  I would need IVF as both of my fallopian tubes were blocked. The doctors had basically told me that the next time they operated on me they would have to remove everything.”

IVF treatment at Bourn Hall Wickford

In 2014 Shanna married Dean and the couple decided to try to complete their family with treatment at Bourn Hall Wickford.

“I had successful IVF treatment in London with my previous partner, but we opted to go to Bourn Hall as it was closer to home and felt more convenient,” she says.

Shanna and Dean had their treatment shortly before Bourn Hall opened its state-of-the-art Wickford clinic and so split their treatment between the Wickford satellite clinic which existed at the time and the Colchester clinic where she had her egg collections and embryo transfers. “I just missed out on being treated at the new clinic,” she laughs.

“When we arrived at Bourn Hall I was 33. I didn’t feel that old but became aware that I was a bit older ‘in egg years’ than when I had my first treatment and that might affect my chances.”

By an amazing coincidence, as Shanna walked in the door she was recognised by Bourn Hall Fertility Nurse Angela who had previously worked at the London clinic where Shanna had her first treatment.

“The nurses at Bourn Hall were fantastic, they were always so kind and answered all my emails, nothing was too much trouble,” says Shanna.

Sadly, the  couple’s first IVF cycle was unsuccessful but, undeterred, Shanna was keen to embark on a further round as soon as she and Dean were able.

Hysterectomy or motherhood choice 

“It was hard when I didn’t get pregnant, in fact my period came on my birthday,” she says. “Also I found it difficult because I knew that my body could do it because I had succeeded in having my son, Henry, but equally already having a child gave me comfort and made me feel lucky and grateful.

“My son was involved every step of the way with my treatment for a little brother or sister and used to watch me doing my injections and I used to tell him that it was to ‘help mummy’s eggs work’. When my first treatment didn’t work I explained to him that ‘mummy’s eggs hadn’t hatched,’ it was the only way I could think of to explain it to him.”

Shanna and Dean’s second cycle of treatment at Bourn Hall was successful and on 26 January 2018 they welcomed daughter Arabella. “I felt a rush of love for her straightaway,” says Shanna.

Shanna doesn’t regret her choice between hysterectomy or motherhood.

“When I found out I was having a daughter I did worry a bit that she might develop endometriosis when she is older, as it can be hereditary, but hopefully things might have moved on in a few years in terms of treatment. And at least if she experiences symptoms when she is a teenager I will know what it is and we won’t have to wait seven years for a diagnosis like I had to.”

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Shanna and Arabella


Baby joy after years of surgery for painful endometriosis

“I had suffered with painful periods since my teens,” says Charlotte from Essex. “I just assumed that it was perfectly normal for women to want to pass out and throw up every month. I then started getting other symptoms which my doctor thought was irritable bowel syndrome and gradually over the years it got worse and worse until it was really interfering with my life”.

Charlotte’s symptoms became so severe that initially doctors thought she had bowel cancer.

“My first surgery was for a blocked bowel and inflamed kidney,” she says.

It took ten years for Charlotte to get a diagnosis for her symptoms – endometriosis – a condition which recent research has shown takes an average of seven and a half years for a woman to get a firm diagnosis from first seeing a doctor.

Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue (the lining of the uterus which sheds with each monthly period) grows outside the womb and it is estimated that up to 50% of infertile women have the condition.

The option to freeze eggs before surgery

When Charlotte and her partner Mark moved into their first home together in 2016 they started planning for the future.

“I am five years older than Mark and we wanted to have children so agreed that we would start trying for a baby that Christmas,” says Charlotte, aged 33.

Unfortunately the baby plans had to be put on hold, as Charlotte needed major surgery due to complications with her bowels, kidneys and fallopian tubes.

“My fallopian tubes had filled with fluid and I was told that I would need an operation to either flush them out or remove them. I knew that without my fallopian tubes which carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus I would not be able to conceive naturally and would need IVF,” she says.

Half an hour before Charlotte went in to theatre for surgery she was given the devastating news that the surgeon might also need to remove her left ovary if it got in the way of the procedure. The ovaries produce and release a woman’s eggs and the removal of one ovary would have dramatically reduced Charlotte’s egg supply.

“I faced the prospect of having one of my ovaries taken out without having had the chance to harvest any of my eggs,” she says.

“I was asked by the doctors if anyone had discussed with me the option of freezing my eggs,” says Charlotte. The conversation came just thirty minutes before a major operation to resolve problems caused by endometriosis. Charlotte was given a consent form for the removal of her fallopian tubes and, if necessary, one of her ovaries. “I said ‘isn’t it a bit late now?’

Fortunately, when Charlotte came around from the operation the surgeon had been able to save her ovaries, but the experience is still shocking to her as at the time she was desperate to have a baby.

“I was enormously relieved that it hadn’t been necessary to remove either of my ovaries but I am still surprised that throughout my many visits to hospital I was never given the option to freeze my eggs as an ‘insurance policy’ in advance of surgery,” she says.

Cryopreservation at Wickford

In February 2018 after she had recovered from her latest surgery Charlotte was keen to start a family and went to see her GP. “I felt like I was running out of time so I decided to get the ball rolling,” she says.

Baby joy after years of surgery for painful endometriosisCharlotte and Mark were referred to the new Bourn Hall Clinic in Wickford which has a cryopreservation service that allows people to freeze and store eggs or sperm ahead of medical treatment.

“Bourn Hall made it really easy for me,” says Charlotte. “Everyone there was lovely and made everything very clear and easy for me to understand. I even didn’t mind the hormone injections to stimulate my egg production. I got Mark to do them for me. I know it sounds crazy but having spent so much of my life in hospitals having IVF was easier than anything I had done before!”

The couple were delighted when their treatment worked first time and they found out they were pregnant in November 2018. “I had a feeling the IVF had worked because I felt different,” says Charlotte. I took the test and couldn’t bear to look at it and so I put it on the side and told Mark to look at it. When he told me the test was positive I just burst in to tears, it was the best day ever. We were so excited.”

Charlotte and Mark’s daughter Eloise was born in July 2019.

“Being a mum is truly amazing,” says Charlotte. “I’m loving every minute, even the sleepless nights! I miss being pregnant too.”

Charlotte urges anyone with her condition to not give up hope of having a family.

“What I would say to anyone else with endometriosis is that even when you are at rock bottom and think you are never going to recover and get pregnant I am proof that it is possible”.

To help you preserve your opportunity of having a child in the future, egg freezing treatment is available at our IVF fertility clinics in Cambridge, Colchester, Norwich and Wickford. For further information go to our egg freezing page here

Baby joy after years of surgery for painful endometriosis


Triple delight for Cambridgeshire mum debilitated with endometriosis

Endometriosis affects around 1.5 million women in the UK and is a painful and debilitating condition which is a common cause of infertility. Amy from Ramsey in Cambridgeshire suffered with it particularly badly whilst at the same time trying to conceive with husband James. Eventually surgery and IVF treatment enabled the couple to have children together.

Secondary infertility 

“I came off the contraceptive pill when I was in my late twenties so that we could try for a baby,” says Amy, aged 35. “I already had a daughter from a previous relationship so I hadn’t anticipated for one minute that we would struggle to conceive.”

After a couple of years of trying to get pregnant Amy noticed that she was starting to experience crippling pain at certain times of the month.

“It literally felt as though I was being stabbed in the stomach,” she says. “I was hospitalised twice and initially the doctors thought I might have appendicitis or an ectopic pregnancy.”

Endometriosis everywhere 

Fertility testing proved inconclusive and Amy still didn’t have a diagnosis for her pain.

“I was told it might be irritable bowel syndrome so we kicked up a bit of a fuss because it was so bad I would faint and just need to lie on the settee. James was having to take time off work to look after me,” she says.

Finally Amy got a definitive diagnosis of endometriosis, a common cause of infertility, following an exploratory operation.

“The surgeon found a blood cyst on one of my ovaries and the endometriosis was everywhere,” says Amy. “My fallopian tubes had become attached to my bowels and the endometriosis was all over my ovaries”.

After being advised that their best chance of a pregnancy was having IVF the couple initially went to Cambridge IVF but sadly after two rounds they were unsuccessful.

“We were devastated after our second treatment hadn’t worked and we thought, what are we going to do?” says Amy. “The treatment had taken its toll on my body and I felt really drained and my hair had started to fall out.”

Personalised care at Bourn Hall 

“Finding out that Bourn Hall Clinic was so close to us we decided that we wanted to give it a try because we wanted to ensure that we had tried everything before we gave up.

“As soon as we walked through the door at Bourn Hall we felt relaxed, the building feels quite homely, not at all like a hospital. It was lovely and quiet and we felt really happy with our decision to go there.”

Amy and James were given a personal treatment plan.

“With our two IVF previous treatments I had started bleeding a few days after embryo transfer,” says Amy. “At Bourn Hall our treatment was adjusted for us and I was given a low dose of aspirin and blood thinning injections as well as an endometrial scratch.”

Endometrial scratching is a relatively simple procedure which makes a small scratch in the lining of the uterus to improve the implantation rate when embryos are transferred to the uterus. Although there is little scientific evidence to support this technique many clinicians have observed improved implantation rates.

Another difference in the couple’s third treatment was that Bourn Hall transferred blastocyst embryos after five days developing in the embryology laboratory instead of the three day transfer they had at their previous clinic.

Successful IVF with endometriosis

Two weeks after embryo transfer and the day before Amy’s 35th birthday she took a pregnancy test. “The test was positive but I felt deflated and couldn’t trust it because of my two previous bleeds,” she says. “I didn’t want to get too excited and be let down again.”

Thankfully this time Amy’s pregnancy was viable – but the couple had a very big surprise in store.

At the couple’s six-week scan at Bourn Hall they found out that not only had both embryos taken but one of them had divided and that Amy was expecting triplets – a singleton and identical twins.

“It is just one of those things that you don’t expect to hear when you go for a scan,” says Amy.

“I don’t think we spoke all the way home in the car we were in complete shock! I was thinking ‘oh my god what am I going to do, where are they going to go? My house isn’t big enough, my car isn’t big enough but then I slept on it and thought ‘it is going to be okay, our house is big enough we just need to get a new car, it will be fine!’”

On 15 June 2018 Amy gave birth to her three baby girls: Roni and Lola who are identical and their sister Isla.

Life now is “hectic” laughs Amy but she wouldn’t change it for the world.

Work as a tag team

“James has taken a year off work to help me and we work as a ‘tag team’,” she says. “He wants to enjoy it as the girls were a long time coming and he wanted to take time out and help me with the three of them. The girls are pretty good sleepers and we take it in turns to get up early with them.”

As for Bourn Hall, Amy says: “We are just so grateful. The staff were all so lovely, every step of the way, and we are so glad that we went there for our last try, not just because we got our three babies but because it was such a nice place to go.”

successful IVF with endometriosis

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More information about Successful IVF with endometriosis

Mum overcomes secondary infertility

Secondary infertility is a term used when someone has conceived and had a child without difficulty but is then unable to get pregnant or carry a baby to full term again.

“It never occurred to me that I would have problems conceiving in my twenties after having an unplanned pregnancy in my teens,” says Joanne.

Joanne, now aged 39, encourages others to get advice as early as possible if they are struggling to conceive.

“I met my husband 20 years ago when we were both 19 and I already had a young daughter, Chanelle, after falling pregnant when I was 16 and still at school,” reveals Joanne.

“We saved up to buy our first house together. I had lots of family support with childcare for Chanelle and I worked my way up to a management role in a bank.”

When Joanne was 26 she stopped taking the contraceptive pill.

“We thought we would see if I got pregnant but we were quite relaxed about it at that point.  Our lives were really busy.

Felt guilty 

“After I turned 30 however we started actively trying for a baby and I was surprised that I just wasn’t getting pregnant. I felt really guilty for Ian in case the problem was with me and I had already had a child. I was worried it would put pressure on our relationship.”

Joanne had suffered with painful and heavy periods since she was a teenager. The contraceptive pill had eased her symptoms, which returned when she stopped taking it.

“I wondered if I might have endometriosis but it can take years to diagnose,” she says.

She eventually went to see her GP for advice.

“My GP was really good and when I told him how long we had been trying to conceive he referred us to our local hospital for tests. I hadn’t been expecting that and it finally felt like we might be getting somewhere.”

Specialists at her local hospital put Joanne on an ovulation induction drug, clomid, for 10 months and conducted a series of tests on both her and Ian.

“Ian’s sperm tests came back as all fine and it was found that I did have mild endometriosis but it was not considered bad enough to affect my fertility,” says Joanne.

Unexplained secondary infertility 

The couple were told that they had ‘unexplained infertility’ and that their best chance of having a baby would be to have IVF treatment.

“As I already had a daughter we were not eligible for treatment on the NHS,” says Joanne. “We started saving up.”

A check-up with her GP a few months later for ovulation pain however brought with it some news she was not expecting.

“My GP told me that the criteria for NHS funding had changed in our area and that if a couple were in a relationship in which they could not conceive, even if one of the partners already had a child from a previous relationship, they were eligible for NHS-funded IVF treatment.

“It was brilliant news.”

Joanne and Ian had IVF treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic in Wymondham, near Norwich, and were delighted when Joanne fell pregnant after their third cycle of treatment.

“It was so strange because when I had Chanelle I was a teenage mum but when I fell pregnant for the second time I was classed as a geriatric mother. I didn’t feel any different in myself and it made me feel really old,” she laughs.

Daughter Edie was born in October 2017.

“It was surreal when she arrived; she was finally here and she was alright,” says Joanne.

Big sister Chanelle is now 22 and studying for a degree at university. “She is like a second mum to Edie,” says Joanne.

Chanelle, Edie and Joanne

“We feel very blessed as a family to have Edie but are acutely aware that for others the struggle goes on.”

Joanne urges anyone worried about their fertility, whether they already have a child or not, to seek advice sooner rather than later.

“Go to your doctor if you have concerns.  Be quite persistent. Don’t put it off and think ‘maybe something will happen’ because time can fly by.

“If you feel that there might be issues with your own health make sure you mention it and don’t be fobbed off.

“There is so much that can be done to help people struggling to get pregnant and I would advise anyone struggling to conceive not to be embarrassed and to seek help.

“For a lot of people some help with lifestyle changes or simple medical intervention could help them conceive naturally and if it turns out that you do need fertility treatment as I did then the younger you are the better your chances.”

Bourn Hall provides free consultations with a fertility nurse specialist – do take this opportunity to get good advice.

Mum with ‘invisible’ condition offers hope to others

Paula remembers only too clearly the pain she felt every time she heard that yet another friend or family member was expecting a baby. After suffering an early miscarriage as a newlywed she had been unable to get pregnant again naturally.

“I had always suspected that I might have problems conceiving,” says Paula, “as I had really irregular periods. So when I had a miscarriage five weeks after I married my husband Mark it was a real surprise as I hadn’t even known I was pregnant. Things hit me really hard, I was devastated.”

After the miscarriage Paula and Mark carried on trying for a baby but nothing happened.

“Slowly, one by one, lots of my friends started getting pregnant,” says Paula. “I wanted to shut it out. I would put on a brave face and smile and then go back home and think ‘when is it going to be my turn?’

Paula and Mark went to see their GP, who sent them for tests.

“Mark’s tests all came back fine but my blood tests showed up some abnormalities,” says Paula.

A laparoscopy revealed that Paula had severe endometriosis as well as polycystic ovary syndrome.

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.

Paula had been completely unaware that she had endometriosis. “I hear of women who are in terrible pain with it and yet I was diagnosed with the most severe stage and I had no pain,” she says.

Paula and Mark were told that they were eligible for NHS-funded IVF treatment and they opted to go to Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridgeshire.

“I work with statistics in my day job so I had read up on the success rates of IVF and all the facts and figures!” she laughs.

In March 2013 Paula was put on a course of drugs to regulate her ovulation cycle and in July of the same year she had her first IVF treatment.

“Two weeks later I took the pregnancy test and it was positive but because I had had the miscarriage previously I basically didn’t stop worrying throughout the entire pregnancy,” admits Paula.

Son Ethan was born in April 2014, two weeks after his due date, and Paula was completely overcome with emotion. “I just burst in to tears,” she says.

Paula and Mark knew that if they wanted to have more IVF treatment they would have to pay for it themselves so they saved up enough to pay for two more cycles if they needed it.

“We had always said that we wanted two children and it was really important to us that Ethan had a little brother or sister,” she says.

Second time around at Bourn Hall Paula was devastated to be told that despite the scans showing up more than 20 follicles there had only been three eggs collected. “I started to cry and one of the nurses said to me ‘all it takes is one’. At the time I didn’t feel comforted by that but I realised shortly afterwards that she was right”.

Paula was called back to Bourn Hall just two days later for embryo transfer and the statistician in her took over. “I was thinking, what are the chances?” says Paula. “I didn’t think it would work, but it did and I got pregnant again.”

Nine months later Ethan had a little baby brother, Oscar, who is now four months old.

“We have got the family of four we always wanted. It is just brilliant,” beams Paula.

“I am really proud that my boys are IVF babies and I talk about it quite a lot. I am very open about it and get talking to lots of people who have either had IVF themselves or know people who have. I am over the moon with my two boys.”

Read more about endometriosis and PCOS.

Mum with ‘invisible’ condition offers hope to others


(Photo credit: Lorna Tew Moonbeams Photography)

Mum beats endometriosis to have longed-for baby

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.

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.”

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!”

Mum beats endometriosis to have longed-for baby


More information about endometriosis and other causes for female infertility. 


Endometriosis and infertility and a couple of surprises

Natasha and husband Chris were keen to start a family as soon as they got married but after five years of trying she still hadn’t got pregnant.

Natasha admits that being unable to conceive was a real emotional rollercoaster. “One day I was working in the bakery and cafe we run and it just felt as though everyone who came through the door was a mum with a baby,” she says. “I suddenly realised that I was finding that really difficult and I had to take myself off and have a good cry.”

Little did Natasha know that her life was going to change dramatically over the next few years and that she was in for a couple of massive surprises along the way.

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 get advice.

Endometriosis and infertility

Many of the causes of infertility have no symptoms and so it was only when Natasha and Chris went for hospital tests that they found that Natasha had a catalogue of conditions affecting her fertility of which she had been completely unaware.

One of the conditions she was diagnosed with was endometriosis, 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.

Natasha was also told she had polycystic ovaries, fibroids, a damaged right ovary and that she was not ovulating. The couple were told that they were eligible for funded IVF treatment and chose to have it at the world-famous Bourn Hall Clinic.

Fertility treatment at Bourn Hall resulted in Natasha becoming pregnant with daughter Isabella and the couple were overjoyed after such a long wait. But the story didn’t end there because when Isabella was 18 months old Natasha discovered that she had fallen pregnant naturally.

Thought fibroids were coming back

“I had booked a doctor’s appointment because I thought my fibroids and endometriosis were coming back. It turned out I was five months pregnant and had no idea!” she laughs. “We had even been along to the opening event of the new Bourn Hall Clinic in Wymondham with the view to having more IVF treatment, and I realise now that I was pregnant when we went!”

When Natasha went into labour the second time around there wasn’t time to get to the hospital, and husband Chris delivered second daughter Summer on the couple’s bathroom floor – with the labour lasting just 11 minutes!

“We were so happy that after Summer was born we donated the rest of our frozen embryos to Bourn Hall for another couple to use,” says Natasha. “Having been told at one point we would never have children naturally we now had two miracles.”

On Summer’s first birthday Natasha was delighted to discover that she had fallen pregnant naturally again.

Third child Luca, the first grandson to be born on Chris’ family’s side, was born just over two years ago and Natasha couldn’t believe that in the space of just a few years she had gone from thinking she might never have any children to being a mum to three children under three and a half.

Sadly Natasha’s mum died a year ago but Natasha is grateful she got to meet all of her grandchildren before she died. “Mother’s Day is really bittersweet for me,” she admits, “but the children really helped me get through the dark days after my mum died and they have added a bit of sunshine to everyone’s lives.

Miracles happen

“I firmly believe that if I hadn’t had IVF we wouldn’t have any of our children. I don’t know whether the IVF corrected my body or triggered something or whether surgery I had which involved clearing out some of my fibroids and cysts helped but I always tell people to never give up hope because miracles do happen and we have got three of them to prove it.”

endometriosis and fertility


More information about endometriosis.


Baby joy after years of uncertainty

Karen and David from Essex tried for nearly 10 years to conceive naturally before turning to IVF. The result, their daughter Ruby, was one of the first 35 babies to be born following treatment at Bourn Hall Wickford.

Diagnosed with PCOS 

Karen first found out that she had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in her early twenties and had to undergo years of surgery, scans and treatment for that condition as well as for endometriosis.

When her hospital consultant first suggested that she might consider fertility treatment she refused, worried of the effects that the drugs might have on her PCOS and also her emotions.

“It seemed as though having a baby would be impossible,” says Karen. “We decided that we should just carry on trying for a baby ourselves but seven years later nothing had happened. We were not getting any younger so when fertility treatment was suggested again we thought we should give it a try.”

Treatment at Wickford and Colchester

Karen and her partner David opted to have treatment at Bourn Hall and choose to go to Bourn Hall’s satellite clinic in Wickford in Essex, travelling to the full-service clinic in Colchester for the egg retrieval and embryo transfer.

“My first round of treatment didn’t work,” says Karen, “but we decided to give it another go.

Marriage and a second round of IVF

“We had been engaged for years and David decided that he really wanted us to get married before we had a baby. So I started my second round of IVF treatment, one week after our wedding in January 2014.

“Only one of my three eggs fertilised. I still remember the phone call telling me and I was convinced that it was going to be bad news and that the process wouldn’t work for us again.”

But one fertilised egg was all that was needed second time around and Karen and David were absolutely delighted when Karen was told she was pregnant.

Ruby arrives

“It was quite incredible,” says Karen. “I still get emotional thinking about it.”

Baby Ruby was born on 17th October 2014 and her proud mum describes her as a happy, smiley baby.

“I thought I would never be a mum,” says Karen. “But now I think it was meant to be!”

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Destined to be a mother, despite only one fallopian tube and endometriosis

Susie can well remember the feelings of frustration that come when trying to conceive: “Pregnancy seemed just out of reach and every month with no success felt awful. I suffer with PMT and often convinced myself the symptoms were the early signs of pregnancy. I would dream about it, ask myself ‘is this it?’ When my period came, I would feel deflated.”

Susie, now 40, first met the man that was destined to become her husband in 2005: “Rob was a DJ in a club, we started chatting, arranged to meet again and never looked back,” she recalls with a grin.

One fallopian tube and an endometriosis diagnosis  

Just four months into their relationship, Susie, a secondary school drama teacher, experienced sharp pains in her abdomen and was rushed to hospital.  During emergency surgery, it emerged she had an ectopic pregnancy; a fertilised egg had implanted into her fallopian tube and started to grow, causing bleeding and pain.

As a result, one of Susie’s fallopian tubes had to be removed.  As the tube links the ovary to the womb, it dramatically lessened her chances of conceiving without medical help. At the time, having a family was not a priority for the new couple and they decided to let nature take its course until they were ready to start trying again.

A few months later, Susie moved to live with Rob, now 40 and an insurance manager. About a year before the couple married in 2010, they began trying for a baby. After a couple of frustrating years, Susie eventually went to see her GP who referred her for further tests at the hospital.

The couple’s consultant found that, in addition to only the single fallopian tube, Susie was suffering from endometriosis. Cells from the lining of her womb where growing outside the womb causing abdominal pain and bleeding.

“I’d always thought my periods had been fairly regular but I did have the occasional heavy period which I now know was down to the endometriosis,” Susie explains.  “The doctors said it was only moderate but it was enough to be affecting my chances.

Difficult times 

“With so many obstacles to having a baby, it would have been easy to feel down and even give up. On top of our own problems, my family was coming to terms with the loss of my 18-month old nephew Stanley to a rare heart condition. My sister Debbie and her husband Brad were devastated. We all were. It was a difficult time.

“Thankfully, Rob is a strong and steady person and he reassured me that everything would be OK.  I trusted the doctors and knew it would happen for us eventually.”

Susie and Rob were told by their consultant they were eligible for NHS-funded IVF, but Susie was at first not convinced she wanted to undergo the treatment at all.

“I didn’t have all the facts, and people were filling my head with all kinds of inaccurate information about IVF. I was also worried about telling Debbie while she was grieving for Stanley’s loss. It was Rob that persuaded me we had to try, so we attended a seminar for NHS patients at Bourn Hall’s Cambridge Clinic. We loved it there, the grounds were so peaceful and the staff just incredibly caring, so we decided to go for it.”

one fallopian tube

Beacons of hope

As 2013 dawned, Susie began to take fertility drugs to stimulate egg production and in February, she had several eggs collected from her ovaries to be fertilised with Rob’s sperm.  After two days developing in an incubator, an embryo was transferred into Susie’s womb and the couple waited two weeks to take a pregnancy test.

“We took the test at the start of March and I was prepared for the worst… however when it came back positive, I was amazed. My happiness was multiplied when Debbie came round two weeks later to tell us she was also pregnant… it finally felt like the bad times were over.

“I tried not to get too excited about my pregnancy, even when the early six week scan at Bourn Hall confirmed a foetal heartbeat.  I don’t think it really sunk in until 20 weeks when we found out it was a little girl,” Susie remembers.

Happy endings 

After years of waiting, baby Callie was born on 31 October 2013, weighing 7lb 10oz. Her birth was not without complications; it was discovered that Susie had the condition placenta praevia. Her placenta had grown lower down in the womb than is usual. It was blocking her cervix, preventing a natural birth. Callie was also in breech position, meaning her feet and bottom were pointing downwards instead of her head.

“I can’t remember much about the birth,” Susie explains. “I had an emergency caesarean section and was quite weak so my midwife Elizabeth took Callie while I was being patched up. Because I couldn’t hold her, Elizabeth brought her close to my face and rubbed her tiny nose against mine. That memory means so much to me, I can’t describe it.”

Susie had to remain in hospital for eight days following surgery to correct the placental problems. She is now fighting fit and along with Rob is relishing life as a parent. Her sister Debbie also gave birth to son Gus a couple of weeks later. The family have started a fundraising campaign in memory of Stanley. It has so far raised nearly £50,000 for Great Ormond Street children’s hospital.

“I was destined to be a mother”

Susie says: “I knew in my bones I was destined to be a mother… though I didn’t anticipate quite the rollercoaster journey it would take to get there. Our families have been through a lot the past few years but now things seemed to have turned around and we couldn’t be happier.

“We were so lucky to have the funding that we got. For us, it meant the difference between having a baby and not having a baby. It is as black and white as that. Our lives would still have been full and happy, we would have come to terms with it, but I know that a little pocket of sadness would have existed in our hearts. The NHS has changed our lives by giving us Callie.

“Being a mother is like nothing I ever imagined… all the things in life you worry about, daft things, aren’t important once you have the child you’ve always wanted. I couldn’t imagine life without Callie now and this is down to the expert team at Bourn Hall Clinic.”

More information about endometriosis.

Destined to be a mother, despite only one fallopian tube and endometriosis
Susie, Rob and Callie in 2018

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Mum with multiple sclerosis overcomes obstacles with IVF

“Being a mum is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it is absolutely worthwhile.  Sometimes I just sit and stare at my beautiful boy Alexander and think ‘how did this happen?’  It’s amazing!”, says Victoria. The 35-year-old conceived her son after IVF treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic.

Victoria can well remember the feelings of frustration that come when trying to conceive: “Every month, if my period was a couple of days late, I would think, ‘is this it?’. Then I’d experience the rumbling pain in my stomach when meant my period was on the way and would know another month had passed without success.”

Multiple Sclerosis

Victoria suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), a condition which affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord causing problems with muscle movement, balance and vision. While the condition does not cause fertility problems, Victoria had to stop taking some of her medication and wait a year before she and husband Neal could start trying for a baby.

After a further two years with no success, the couple went to see their GP who referred them for tests at their local hospital.  While the tests were ongoing, Victoria was rushed to hospital in the middle of the night with suspected appendicitis.  It was discovered that she actually had a 6cm cyst on her ovary which needed emergency surgery to be removed.



Victoria picks up the story: “Along with the cyst, the doctors discovered I had serious endometriosis which also had to be removed.  I always had painful, heavy periods and just thought it was normal, until I discovered it was due to this condition where bits of my womb lining grow outside by womb.

“At this point, we thought the odds were stacked against us ever having a child.  Our consultant told us we could try IVF on the NHS and we chose to be treated at Bourn Hall Clinic in Colchester”

IVF with ICSI at the Colchester Clinic

Victoria had to wait for her body to recover before starting IVF treatment.  While the treatment was going on, Victoria remained stoical about their chances of having a child.

She explains: “My MS is made worse by stress, so trying to keep calm was vital, and I didn’t want people asking about it all the time.  We didn’t tell anyone we were having IVF other than our parents and one person at each of our places of work.

“I tried to stay as emotionally detached from the treatment as possible so I viewed each trip to the clinic as just another appointment and took everything a step at a time.”

The couple had IVF with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), a procedure where a single sperm is injected into the egg to fertilise it. Two weeks later, Victoria snuck off to the bathroom to take the pregnancy test that was to signal a change to their lives.

The couple welcomes Alexander


Baby Alexander was born on 4 August 2013 at Colchester General Hospital weighing 7lb 11.5oz after a quick hour and a half labour.  Victoria and Neal are delighted with their little boy and say everything they have been through is worthwhile.

Victoria adds: “The staff at Bourn Hall were so helpful and reassuring that it made everything easier to cope with.  Nothing was too much trouble from them… I just can’t thank them enough!”

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Bourn Hall Clinic Wymondham celebrates first baby

Sian and Ryan were the first patients to become parents following IVF treatment at the Bourn Hall Wymondham clinic as their baby daughter Yvie came early. Sian is delighted to be a mum: “Having her home from hospital is brilliant – I can now cuddle her when I want. We feel like she’s finally ours after all those years of waiting.”

Years of infertility

The couple first met in 2002 and Ryan says: “We’d always wanted to have children – but we wanted to get married first and for Sian to achieve her qualifications for her career.  We thought we were doing things the right way and you just don’t think you’re going to have problems.  We got married in July 2008 and we’re hoping to start a family straight away.”

After a year without success they went to their GP for advice.

Both Ryan, a pipe fitter for an oil and gas company and Sian, who works in human resources have demanding jobs.

Ryan continues: “We were given advice to make some lifestyle changes… including exercise and diet and to try and minimise stress, which was difficult in our jobs.  But the most stressful part was not knowing why we were having problems conceiving.”

Sian agrees: “We both felt under pressure; although we didn’t talk about it openly we were both worried it could be our fault.”

In the end it took more than five years before they had the cause of their infertility properly investigated. They were then referred for IVF treatment.

Endometriosis diagnosis

At the James Paget hospital, Sian underwent a “lap and dye” test; also know as a laparoscopic tubal patency test, to see if her fallopian tubes were blocked.  The results confirmed that Sian had endometriosis, a condition where endometrial tissue, which is normally found within the uterus, grows outside of the womb and is found in abnormal sites such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. It was also the cause of the couple’s infertility.

Sian explains: “The diagnosis explained why I had suffered with such painful menstrual cycles which over the years were becoming increasingly worse.

“Our consultant said I would probably end up with a significant amount of scar tissue if the endometriosis was removed, potentially causing more harm than good, so it was decided not to operate before IVF treatment.”

Ironically, the best treatment for endometriosis is often pregnancy.

The couple were referred to Bourn Hall. Sian phoned the clinic and managed to get an appointment really quickly.

“IVF treatment is more common than you think”

IVF treatment involves stimulating the ovaries to increase egg production and these eggs are then collected to be fertilised with sperm.  Sian and Ryan were among the first to have egg collection at Wymondham in June 2013.  Their embryos developed in the laboratory for five days until they reached blastocyst stage.

The embryologist explains that three out of the four embryos were top grade:  “Yvie was a ‘hatching blastocyst’. We don’t see them very often as embryos don’t normally ‘hatch’ until they implant in the lining of the uterus.”

After two weeks it is normal to do a home pregnancy test followed by a confirmation a few weeks later. Sian could not wait and did the pregnancy test a few days early. She did it secretly before showing Ryan the results!

Sian recalls: “As much as we said we’d initially keep it to ourselves, we were so delighted we told our parents, my sister Amy and other family members.  We had kept the treatment fairly quiet, although some of my close work colleagues knew.  It wasn’t that we were embarrassed about having IVF treatment… once the results were in, we happily discussed it with others.

“I found the more I spoke to people about it – the more people opened up about their own experiences.  It was surprising how many other people had had help with fertility, including IVF.  It’s more common than you think.”

Being supported by Bourn Hall clinic Wymondham

Sian says that being able to have her treatment at Wymondham inevitably took some stress out of the appointments: “Coming to Bourn Hall we felt we had made it. We had utmost confidence in the staff. They are professional and caring and we felt in expert hands.

“At one point I was being monitored every other day. Travelling to Cambridge would have meant a three hour round trip and would have been very difficult juggling this with work.  I can’t say enough what an amazing service we had at Bourn Hall Clinic in Wymondham.”

Although the pregnancy was good to start off, Sian had the first indications of a problem at about 10 weeks when she began to bleed and went to A&E.

A difficult pregnancy

Although a scan revealed that the baby was fine, it was a very emotional and stressful time as Sian remembers: “We were very anxious and tried hard to balance taking care of myself with maintaining normal life, including work.

“My employers had been very understanding but I had felt that by missing work others were picking up my work load which was unfair at such a busy time.  After several other bleeds, and a pep talk from my midwife, I realised I had to focus on being an expectant mother and took the decision to take better care of myself.”

At the 20-week scan, the doctors discovered Sian had placenta praevia. This is a condition where the placenta grows low in the womb – blocking the cervix and causing bleeding. It affects around one in 200 pregnancies in the UK and it can happen in any pregnancy. It cannot be predicted and it is not associated with other conditions such as endometriosis.

Unfortunately Sian had a further bleed at 24 weeks. The condition began to create concerns: “As the baby was growing, the placenta was stretching, causing further bleeds.”

Every additional week was a bonus. On the fifth bleed and admission to hospital, the Chases went for a tour of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, which has special facilities for premature babies. “We were in denial and were sure we were going to get past 30 weeks but it didn’t happen.”

Baby Yvie is born

Yvie was born at 29 weeks at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital on the 1 January 2014. She came home eight weeks later after receiving care at the James Paget neonatal unit. The couple are delighted that they have finally achieved their dream of having a family.

Bourn Hall clinic Wymondham celebrates first babyRyan says: “We are so indebted to the team at the Bourn Hall Clinic who have changed our lives.  Our advice to others is not to put it off. The most difficult part was enduring the initial screening process through the GP. Once that was out of the way and we were referred for IVF, it became less daunting.

“It is not straightforward but also not as bad as you think. We now have a beautiful daughter which makes the hardship and trauma that we have gone through seem insignificant and a distant memory.”

To read more about Bourn Hall Norfolk. 

Ref: CS051

Miracle baby ends period of pain

Jenny had suffered painful periods since a teenager when the couple struggled to conceive they went for advice which revealed endometriosis.

Jenny, aged 39, who lives in Bedfordshire, had always wanted children but when she was in her early thirties feared she would never be able to get pregnant. After three years of trying unsuccessfully for a baby with partner Dave she went to see her GP.

“I had suffered with painful periods from the age of 16,” says Jenny, “and had been put on the pill. About 15 years later I had a blood clot and was taken off the pill and since then my periods had been really painful”.

Tests revealed endometriosis 

A laparoscopy revealed that Jenny had endometriosis, a condition affecting around 2 million women in the UK – and she also had some fluid in one of her fallopian tubes. The couple were advised that they would be eligible for NHS-funded fertility treatment.

Getting in shape for fertility

Health-wise Jenny was in pretty good shape to have fertility treatment. She had given up smoking and had a healthy BMI. Smoking affects ovulation in women and can reduce fertility. Women should ideally have a BMI of between 19 and 30 according to NICE guidelines.

“I have been a committed vegetarian since I was 11,” says Jenny, “and recently I became vegan. I am careful not to overdo my caffeine intake and have always been very aware of nutrition.”

It is thought that caffeine also affects fertility levels – it is not just present in tea and coffee but also in chocolate and some soft drinks.

After being told they were eligible for NHS-funded fertility treatment Jenny and Dave were given a choice of clinics. “We chose Bourn Hall because it was closest to home and I had read some of the patients’ success stories on their website,” says Jenny. “Also I didn’t want to have to travel down to London on the train.”

Pregnancy shock

Jenny and Dave attended an open evening at Bourn Hall just outside Cambridge and shortly afterwards began their treatment. The first round did not work and Jenny was then treated using frozen embryos from the first cycle.

Happily, following the frozen embryo transfer the couple found out that Jenny was pregnant and she describes it as a ‘shock’. “We were really, really happy,” she smiles. “I just took it one day at a time. I was aware that it might be the only time I would ever be pregnant and so we took lots and lots of photos and I wrote down regularly how I was feeling.

Fletcher was born on 17 September 2014 and Jenny describes motherhood as ‘brilliant’.

Jenny is delighted that since giving birth to Fletcher she has stopped having painful periods. “I think when he came out he jumbled everything up,” she laughs.

Grateful to the NHS

She is also really grateful for the NHS funding they received for the fertility treatment – at the time of her treatment they were eligible for three cycles.

“When we were told that we were entitled to three cycles of NHS-funded treatment it made us feel confident that we would get there in the end and become parents,” says Jenny. “I do appreciate that it is really hard now with decisions having to be made about where NHS funding goes but for couples who only get one funded cycle it must be really stressful.”

One last go

After successfully having had Fletcher, Jenny and David would love a brother or sister for him. A recent round of IVF (which they paid for themselves) didn’t work and so Jenny is gearing herself up for what she describes as her ‘last go’.

“As much as we would love another child, it is really more for Fletcher than for us,” says Jenny. “Both Dave and I have a sibling and we are really close to them and ideally I would love Fletcher to have a brother or sister. That being said, I have got lots of friends with one child and it is very common and you get round it in other ways with friends and family.”

Endometriosis: cause of period pain and infertility


More information about endometriosis

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Lucy was told at 18 that PCOS would cause infertility but she didn’t give up

Lucy has wanted children for as long as she can remember. “I decided when I was 12 that I wanted three children when I was older,” she laughs, “I had even decided on their names!”

It therefore came as an enormous shock to Lucy when she was diagnosed at the age of 18 with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) a common ovulatory disorder that affects between 5-10 per cent of women and is a common cause of infertility.

PCOS would cause infertility

It is a complex syndrome producing a variety of symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose and treat – but Lucy was exhibiting a number of the more common symptoms and so her mum pushed for her to get checked out.

“I had hardly any periods since starting them aged 13 and at one point went two and a half years without having a period at all,” Lucy explains. “Throughout my teenage years I had to cope with excess facial and body hair and despite eating like a bird and running every day I struggled with my weight.

“A blood test and scan of my ovaries confirmed PCOS and I was told that if I wanted children in the future it was likely I would need IVF. The implications were explained but not in any great detail and I think it was assumed as I was so young that I had many years of studying and forging a career ahead of me first and that having children was not something to dwell on.

“It is safe to say that, although I did throw myself in to studying and work, being diagnosed with PCOS at 18 was a huge blow and I was determined that one day I would have a family.”

Managing PCOS

Lucy says that at the time she wasn’t given any proper advice about managing her PCOS long-term other than being advised to go on the contraceptive pill.

“I wasn’t offered any help or advice with managing my weight or excess hair,” says Lucy. I personally felt that if I could get my PCOS under control when I was younger I might be able to conceive naturally later on when I was ready to start a family and I have since found quite a lot of useful dietary information online.”

Ten years after she was told her PCOS would cause infertility Lucy met Gerry and as the relationship got serious she felt that she needed to be totally honest with him about her chances of conceiving.

“My best friend and some friends from school had started to have children and when our relationship started to get serious I felt that I needed to be upfront with him as it was such a big thing for me,” says Lucy. “Gerry was extremely supportive and said that he wanted to be with me and if we had children that was a bonus.”

Boosting natural fertility

The couple, who lived in London at the time, had a two-year engagement to save up for their wedding and during that time Lucy was sent for hospital fertility tests where she was told again that her chances of conceiving naturally were very slim. She was subsequently referred for IVF treatment.

“If obsessed brides are called ‘bridezillas’ then I was a ‘mumzilla’’ recalls Lucy. “My body was a total temple, I drank no alcohol, worked out every day, drank loads of water, ate loads of vitamin E rich foods, got at least 8 hours of sleep a day and did reflexology and yoga.”

Lucy thinks this commitment paid off because the day before she was due to embark on a course of fertility drugs she found out, miraculously, that she had fallen pregnant naturally. Lucy and Gerry were over the moon and in July 2013 son Finn was born.

PCOS would cause infertility

Devastating news 

Just before Finn’s second birthday Lucy was ecstatic when she found out she had fallen pregnant naturally again but her joy was short-lived when she suffered a miscarriage.

“I was absolutely devastated,” says Lucy. “I took the miscarriage really badly and ended up being on anti-depressants for a while.”

After they got married the couple relocated to Norfolk and decided to approach nearby Bourn Hall Clinic in Norwich for advice.

Running out of time

“I had been lucky to fall pregnant twice naturally but with me only ovulating twice a year it was anyone’s guess whether I would fall pregnant again after my miscarriage,” says Lucy. “I was nearly 34 when we approached Bourn Hall and I didn’t feel as though we had time on our side.”

Lucy was treated at Bourn Hall Clinic using IVF which involved her taking fertility drugs to stimulate her egg production before having the eggs removed using a minor surgical procedure to be mixed with Gerry’s sperm in a culture dish for fertilisation. A resulting embryo was then transferred to her womb.

Polycystic ovary syndrome can affect a woman’s hormones and her reaction to fertility drugs and Lucy was closely monitored by Bourn Hall during her treatment to ensure she didn’t produce too many eggs and develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. She describes the care she received at Bourn Hall as “exceptional.”

The hardest part of the whole process, she reveals, was the two-week wait after she had been treated before she took her pregnancy test. The couple were delighted when the test came back positive and Lucy gave birth to second son Rory on April 1, 2016.

Miracle sons

“Finn’s birth had not been very easy and he had ended up in the special care baby unit so I was absolutely petrified when I went in to have Rory,” says Lucy. “But Rory’s birth went very smoothly and he let out the most enormous cry when he was born and he has been absolutely delightful ever since.”

Lucy, who works as a Procurement Specialist, cannot praise Bourn Hall Clinic highly enough: “I was just so impressed with Bourn Hall,” she says. “The whole experience was just so professional, caring and personal.

“I have got two miracle sons, one conceived naturally and one as a result of IVF, and I am just so grateful.”

PCOS would cause infertility

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