Double celebration for man who thought he would never be a dad

Steven will never be sure of the exact reason for his infertility. He did have mumps as a teenager and this can impact the fertility of one in ten males who contract the viral infection. Other common causes are sporting injuries and underlying medical conditions.

Infertility can put a huge strain on relationships.  Steven’s first marriage ended in divorce following three failed rounds of IVF treatment in Yorkshire. “I had resigned myself to the fact that I would never be a dad,” he says.

The impact was so devastating that when he moved south to Norfolk and met Joanne, he told her on their first date that he couldn’t have children.

“I don’t know what he expected,” laughs Joanne, aged 25. “I think he thought that might mean the end of the road for us, but within eight weeks we were living together and got engaged a year later.”

NHS fertility advice and testing 

Coincidentally Joanne, who runs her own hairdressing salon, had also been told she might have difficulties conceiving having been diagnosed with mild polycystic ovaries at the age of 21, after experiencing irregular and painful periods.

“It hadn’t really bothered me at that point,” she says. “It was diagnosed early and my ovaries had not deteriorated too much. I always knew that I wanted to be a young mum and if I met the right person I would get started quite soon trying to get pregnant.”

After their engagement the couple decided to get advice and booked an appointment at Bourn Hall Clinic, which provides NHS-funded fertility testing, diagnosis and early-stage fertility treatments in Norfolk and is also the only fertility clinic in East Anglia to provide both NHS and self-funded IVF treatment.

In Norfolk Bourn Hall helps 30% patients get pregnant naturally

Dr Thanos Papathanasiou, Regional Lead Clinician at Bourn Hall Clinic, comments:  “Giving good advice at an early stage supplemented by minimal interventions helps 30% of the couples we see in Norfolk conceive naturally.  Of the remaining patients some will require surgery and the others IVF treatment.”

The couple had blood tests as well as semen analysis for Steven, which confirmed a low sperm count of which many were of good quality. The couple decided to proceed with IVF treatment including Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) where the sperm is injected directly into the egg.

The couple were delighted when the IVF treatment at Bourn Hall worked for them first time but suffered a potential setback when Joanne had a bleed four weeks in to the pregnancy. “We thought we’d lost everything,” says Joanne.

Massive bleed

The couple were offered an early scan at 5 weeks at their local hospital on Steven’s 31st birthday.

“I had suffered a massive bleed and we thought we were going along to hear the worst news ever,” says Joanne. “But we were told that we were expecting twins and we could see two perfect embryos sitting there.

“It was too early to see a heartbeat but we could see them and they were safe. I went really quiet.”

Steven was lost for words.

“I couldn’t speak for a while,” he says. “I was just crying with joy.

“Jo asked me if I was going to phone my brother to let him know but I couldn’t speak. It was probably the best day of my life, and on my birthday as well.”

mumps can impact fertility
Steven with his twins

The twins Jasmin and Quinn have just celebrated their first birthday and Steven, who runs his own SMART car repair business, is loving every minute of fatherhood.

He says: “It is amazing being a Dad. Every day I have a smile on my face. Every morning, every evening, every time I get home. It is beautiful. Having been at the lowest point I could be I sometimes just can’t believe my luck.”

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

Marathon man celebrates fatherhood

The couple first started trying for a baby in 2015 but when they hadn’t conceived after 12 months Hannah went to see her GP.

“I knew that there was potentially a problem with me because I had irregular periods as a teenager and my periods took ten months to start again after I came off the pill,” says Hannah.

50:50 male and female factors

Hannah and Luke assumed Hannah’s irregular periods were the reason that she wasn’t falling pregnant – but it transpired that this was only half of the story.

Tests revealed that Luke, aged 33, had a low sperm count which, coupled with Hannah’s subsequent diagnosis of polycystic ovaries, significantly lowered the couple’s chances of conceiving naturally. “We were really surprised when it turned out that Luke had fertility issues too,” says Hannah.

Luke agrees: “It was very hard to deal with as it was just something which had never crossed my mind,” he says. “I remember feeling helpless and not knowing what I could do to change things.”

One third of couples who are tested for infertility will discover that there are contributory factors on both sides.  For Hannah and Luke the news hit them hard: “When we found out that we both had fertility issues it was pretty devastating,” admits Hannah, aged 32.

“Seeing adverts for pregnancy tests and baby products on TV was just one small way we were reminded of our difficulties and it was a really hard time for us. We just had to get on with it really and keep ourselves busy. Luke tried a few of the tips suggested for improving sperm count such as wearing loose underwear, exercising and not drinking,  but it didn’t help particularly.”

NHS fertility treatment

Hannah and Luke were referred for fertility treatment at Bourn Hall Cambridge and were lucky to be eligible for one round of NHS-funded treatment before funding was withdrawn for NHS IVF in Cambridgeshire.

“Living so close made everything more straightforward for us,” says Hannah. We didn’t have to stress about the travelling or being late for appointments. If the car had broken down on the way we could probably have finished the rest of the journey on foot so we were very lucky!”

The couple’s NHS-funded treatment was not successful. “I only produced three eggs and we had one viable embryo for transfer. The embryo didn’t take and I had a period after two weeks. It was very sad,” says Hannah.

“We had saved up in case we needed more treatment and we knew that we wanted to try again. We gave it a few months and I did a 10k run whilst Luke did another marathon and then we went on holiday before going back to Bourn Hall.”

The second time – as with the first – the couple had IVF using a procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) which is commonly used where the sperm needs a bit of ‘extra help’ to achieve fertilisation. Hannah’s eggs were collected and then Luke’s sperm was directly injected in to her eggs in the laboratory before transferring two embryos to her womb.

low sperm count and PCOS can contribute to infertility
Luke with Adeline and Max

Two weeks later and a pregnancy test confirmed that the treatment had worked. “We were grinning like maniacs. It never crossed our minds that both embryos might have taken,” laughs Hannah.

When a scan revealed that the couple were expecting twins “It was beyond good news,” says Hannah. “We were shocked but ‘happy shocked’!”

Twins Max and Adeline were born eight months ago – “it was surreal when they were born, it was amazing,” says Hannah.

“Now the twins are here it is hard to imagine our life without them,” says Luke. “I look forward to all the new experiences we will have together. They are just a constant source of happiness.”

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

Norfolk mum celebrates her miracle IVF baby

Cradling ‘miracle baby’ Riley in her arms, Lauren says that she just doesn’t have enough words of praise for Bourn Hall, the fertility clinic which made his birth possible.

Lauren and husband Stephen from Norfolk, were one of the first couples to be treated at Bourn Hall’s full-service Wymondham clinic.

A local clinic makes the difference

“When you are undergoing fertility treatment you need a very flexible boss,” explains Lauren. “The woman, in particular, has to be available for lots of tests and scans in the beginning, so if you are having to travel further afield that can make it very difficult to arrange around your job and can really add to your anxiety levels.

“Having all of my treatment on the doorstep was perfect and cut down on juggling with work commitments”.

Visit to GP set wheels in motion

Lauren met Stephen through work and having realised that Stephen was her Mr Right, Lauren says that they started trying for a family almost immediately.

“We tried for a baby for a couple of years but nothing was happening,” she says. “We thought we were doing all the right things, checking the dates and buying all the kits, but I just didn’t get pregnant”.

A visit to the couple’s GP set the wheels in motion and both Lauren and Stephen underwent tests which revealed that there was an issue with Stephen’s sperm motility (the ability of the sperm to ‘swim’).

“We were entitled to NHS treatment and luckily for us Bourn Hall had just opened their clinic in Wymondham, so we went along to an information evening which was really interesting,” says Lauren. “The presentation took us through the whole treatment journey and was really realistic about the whole process in terms of how emotionally draining it can be and what the chances of success are.”

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

Lauren was treated at Bourn Hall using a process called ICSI where an individual sperm is injected into each egg to fertilise them.

Unfortunately, Lauren developed Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, which happens in only around two per cent of patients undergoing fertility treatment, so her embryos were frozen until she had recovered.

“Bourn Hall were brilliant and once my periods started again my body went back to normal,” says Lauren.

Treatment restarted and ten of the embryos were thawed prior to transfer to Lauren’s womb. The cells in the embryo’s weren’t dividing vigorously and it was thought that they would not survive to the five day blastocyst stage, so after two days two embryos were selected and transferred.

Miracle baby

The couple were delighted when both of them took and Lauren became pregnant with twins. Sadly she suffered an early miscarriage and went for a scan at Bourn Hall.

“That was when I fell in love with Bourn Hall,” says Lauren. “We were not sure if I was still pregnant when we went in for the scan, so we were very worried. We were delighted to be given the good news that one had survived and some of the other staff came in to the room to celebrate with us. It was absolutely lovely!”

sperm motility

In October 2014 Lauren gave birth to son Riley and she says that he is just the perfect baby. She gave up her job to spend as much time with him as she can and was so impressed with Bourn Hall that she plans for another round of treatment, this time self-funded, in the hope of a brother or sister for Riley.

“We are moving down to Sussex with Stephen’s job,” says Lauren, “and I wanted to have my fertility treatment at Bourn Hall before we go. I wouldn’t have my treatment anywhere else. I cannot recommend them highly enough, we are so grateful to Bourn Hall, everyone there is brilliant.”

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New MicroTESE overcomes zero sperm

When Adrian gets in from work every evening the first thing he is greeted with is “Daddy!” and the outstretched arms of his toddler Michael.

Being a Dad was something which Adrian, aged 50, had always believed would never happen to him. He had been told as a child that he had a condition which would impact his fertility, and this was confirmed when he was in his twenties after a doctor told him that he had a very low sperm count.

Told at 20 would never be a dad

“Adrian told me when we met that he couldn’t have children,” says Adrian’s partner Michelle. “He actually told me before we started going out, I think that it was something which really worried him because it had caused problems in relationships before.  At the time it didn’t really concern me because I was still quite young and was focused on my job.”

The couple moved in together and Michelle’s priorities changed. “My sister had children and I used to spend a lot of time with them and it made me reflect on my own future. I was working long hours and my enthusiasm for my job had started to wane. I started to think about what else mattered in life.”

When Michelle turned 30 she stopped taking the contraceptive pill but Adrian was not optimistic that she would conceive. “In my mind I was thinking ‘miraculously I might fall pregnant,’” she says.

A woman’s fertility declines with age and at the age of 35 a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant naturally each month is just 10% (for a woman in her twenties it is 20-25%). Seven years after Michelle stopped taking the contraceptive pill she was still not pregnant and she knew that, at the age of 37, time was not on her side. She realised that she had been avoiding a conversation with Adrian for far too long.

“In the end I said to him, ‘I really want to do something before it is too late. We don’t really know why you can’t have children and science might have moved on since you last sought advice and there might be something which can be done.’”

Eligible for NHS funded treatment at Bourn Hall 

The couple went to see their GP and were referred to the James Paget Hospital for tests. “By this point Adrian was in his 40s and I was in my late 30s,” says Michelle, now aged 41. When tests confirmed male factor infertility Adrian and Michelle were told they would be eligible for NHS-funded fertility treatment and they chose to go to Bourn Hall Clinic, which has clinics across the East of England.

“I really had to push Adrian to take a leap of faith,” says Michelle. “There was that fear of disappointment again, being given hope and then possibly losing it. In the end I had to say to him, ‘I really want to try something, can we see if we can do it together?’”

Parenthood at last for couple who took ‘a leap of faith’ with medical science

Told there was hope – MicroTESE can overcome zero sperm

The couple went along to Bourn Hall Clinic and were given the stark news that Adrian was producing no sperm at all. “We sat there and thought, ‘oh, well there is nothing that can be done for us,’” reveals Michelle.

Specialists at Bourn Hall, however, explained that even a zero sperm count doesn’t have to mean that it is impossible for a man to father a child.

Adrian admits that he was emotionally quite thrown by this revelation. “ To sit at Bourn Hall and be told that even with a zero sperm count I might be able to father a child using my own sperm came as a complete shock.”

MicroTESE (micro-surgical testicular sperm extraction) involves using a surgical microscope to identify tiny tubules most likely to contain sperm – and then removing them for analysis in the laboratory. If sperm are found they could injected directly into an egg during IVF treatment.

Oliver Wiseman, Consultant Andrologist and male infertility specialist at Bourn Hall Clinic explains: “It is important that men with no sperm in their ejaculate or with very low numbers ask to see an andrologist who can undertake this surgery if it is indicated, as this will give them the best chance of being able to proceed with treatment using their own sperm.

Most men with low testosterone levels are given Clomid to try and boost their body’s own testosterone production, as normal levels of this are important for sperm manufacture and may increase the chances of finding sperm with microTESE.”

Adrian was prescribed Clomid for three months and then went back to Bourn Hall Clinic for the MicroTESE procedure. The couple were told that Adrian had responded to the medication and sufficient sperm were then found at surgery for the couple to have IVF treatment.

Slim chance 

“Our specialist at Bourn Hall was very honest with us and told us that he had found some sperm, but not very much,” says Adrian. “He was very honest with us about the risk of failure and the chances of success.”

“It is such an upheaval in your life,” says Michelle. “You feel like you are constantly in limbo. I stopped work, I didn’t want to put myself under any addition stress and we focused purely on achieving our goal.  Adrian said that until he was holding a baby in his arms he wouldn’t let himself believe it could happen, so much could go wrong. He said he just wasn’t going to count on anything happening.”

Michelle had been told during her treatment that one of her ovaries had stopped working and when the couple decided to go ahead with a third cycle of treatment they felt as though it was their last chance.

“We were down to our last sample of Adrian’s sperm which had been extracted and we decided to throw everything at this treatment,” says Michelle. “I had an endometrial scratch and intralipids before transfer because they are thought to reduce the risk of miscarriage.”

MicroTESE overcomes zero sperm

The couple were delighted when Michelle’s treatment worked and her pregnancy went to full term. On October 6, 2016 she gave birth to son Michael, who they named after Adrian’s own father who had sadly passed away some years before.

Michael is now a bubbly toddler and ‘a real little character’ laughs Michelle. “I am so glad that I did insist we sought help because if I hadn’t Michael wouldn’t be here. I didn’t want to end up an old lady asking myself if I could have had a child. My one regret is that I didn’t push for us to get help a little sooner, or had my eggs harvested when I was younger, as we might have had the opportunity to have a second child. But that is with the benefit of hindsight and you don’t think about that at the time.”

Adrian is a doting Dad. “Michael is a carbon copy of me,” he laughs. “Being a Dad has totally changed my life. To have been told from an early age that there was very little possibility that I would father a child and then to be 50 years of age and have a young son is just incredible.

The procedure used to retrieve my sperm is relatively new and so didn’t exist as an option for me when I was younger. I am just so grateful that we put our faith in medical science. There are no words to describe what has happened to us, it is a miracle.”

More information about MicroTESE

Three IVF daughters, successful first time for each

Claire met her husband John through a lonely hearts advert in the ‘Beds on Sunday’ in 1999, before the days of internet dating, and they always assumed that they would have children some day but those dreams were shattered when John was diagnosed with cancer.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

John was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma and, as treatment with chemotherapy can affect your fertility, he was offered the option of freezing his sperm which he accepted.  After two difficult years which included a stem cell transplant he went in to remission.

Five years later the couple decided to start a family and after fertility testing it was confirmed that they would need IVF treatment. They were offered NHS funding and after some research, chose the world-famous Bourn Hall.

“Like something out of Back to the Future”

John’s sperm had been stored at Hammersmith Hospital and as John didn’t want to risk having the sperm couriered he drove it up to Bourn Hall himself. He says driving with the box of dry ice “was like something out of Back to the Future.”

Delivering the good news


The first cycle of treatment was successful and the couple broke the news to both sets of prospective grandparents at the same time in a local restaurant.

“We decided to photocopy the baby scan on to the back of the menu and then sat the parents opposite each other. It took them a while to realise and we had to spell it out to them!” laughs Claire. “They were all over the moon – tears, especially John’s parents who had envisaged he would never have a family.”

Sydney, Robynne and Kennedy

Claire gave birth to a little girl, Sydney. It was the first grandchild for Claire’s mum and stepdad and on John’s side it was the first granddaughter.

The couple then went on to have two further IVF babies funding the treatment themselves.  Robynne was born two years after Sydney, and Kennedy, their third daughter, is now 14 weeks old.

Each child was born following their first IVF attempt.

“For all three children we didn’t tell anyone we were having treatment as it took the pressure off,” says John. “With each scan you go up the ladder but the further up the ladder you go you know that you have further to fall and you have to keep your hopes up. We have been so lucky. Parenting is the most challenging and rewarding job.


“Bourn Hall staff are fantastic”

“Bourn Hall staff are fantastic. They were open and honest and managed expectations. We took Sydney and Robynne when Claire was being treated for Kennedy and they were so delighted to see the fruits of their work. And that was everyone starting from the ladies on reception.”

Claire is now a self-employed dressmaker, which allows her to balance motherhood and work.

“We are so proud of the girls, we have been through so much to get here,” she beams.

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Struggling to conceive? You are not alone says Royston mum

Lucy from Royston still vividly remembers the deflation and gnawing disappointment she experienced every month at not being able to conceive – and then having to put on a brave face to the outside world.

Lucy, aged 39, says: “The really hard part for me was when friends were falling pregnant. I would be really pleased for them and go to the baby shower and share in their excitement but then I would go home, shut the door and shed a few tears before picking myself and carrying on.”

Now a busy mum to three-year-old Benjamin and six-month-old twins Oliver and Chloe following fertility treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic, Lucy says the subject of children came up pretty quickly when she met her husband Andrew ten years ago. “It was something each of us had always seen in our future but up until that point neither of us had met the right person,” she says.

The couple got married four years later and started trying for a baby straight away. After 18 months they went to see their GP. “I had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right,” says Lucy. “We had months and months of trying and nothing happening and getting disheartened and then other people telling us to relax and not think about it which is virtually impossible.

“It really takes a strain on a relationship, it takes all the fun out of things when you are trying for a baby for months and months. It was getting us both down, we had read every book on the subject, were eating all the right foods and had even gone organic, we were taking supplements and still nothing was happening. We wondered what we were doing wrong.”

According to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority over 90 per cent of couples conceive naturally within two years. If you haven’t conceived for a year however, or you know you have a condition which affects your fertility, you should go and see your GP to discuss next steps.

“By the time we went to see the GP I was 35 and had reached an age where I thought we really needed to get a move on,” says Lucy. “I had spent years being careful to avoid getting pregnant and so hadn’t expected it to be such a challenge when I actually wanted it to happen!”

Lifestyle changes

When Lucy started opening up to people about their situation she discovered that a number of people around her had encountered problems conceiving or had their children through IVF. “People tend to keep fertility issues to themselves but once I started telling people about our situation I was surprised at how many people I knew had experienced similar problems,” she says.

The couple’s GP referred them for hospital tests which revealed that Andrew had a low sperm count. “It can be hard for a man but actually for us we were pleased that we finally had an answer,” says Lucy.  “Andrew tried changing his diet and even wore loose underwear and I was advised to lose some weight to get my BMI down but we still didn’t conceive and so we were told that our best chance of a baby was with IVF treatment.”

Lucy and Andrew opted to have their treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic just outside Cambridge and were told that they could be treated using a procedure called ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection). Very few sperm are needed for this particular fertility treatment and it involved injecting Andrew’s sperm directly in to eggs retrieved from Lucy before transferring one of the fertilised embryos to her womb (uterus).

The couple’s treatment worked first time but they had an anxious few weeks wait before the pregnancy was finally confirmed after their first scan was inconclusive. “We were desperate to tell family in time for Christmas if it was good news and so the nurse at Bourn Hall fitted us in for a scan on Christmas Eve,” Lucy reveals. “I still get really emotional thinking about it. We went in and on the screen we saw the little flicker of a heart. I remember phoning my mum and sister on the way home to tell them the good news, it just didn’t seem real!”

Son Ben was born three years ago after what Lucy describes as a “textbook pregnancy” and he is now a happy and healthy toddler.

When Ben celebrated his second birthday Lucy had further treatment at Bourn Hall and was delighted when she discovered she was expecting twins. Oliver and Chloe were born six months ago and Lucy cannot believe how much her life has changed in the last few years.

“I have gone from thinking that I would never be a mum to having three little people in my house. It is completely surprising and I feel really blessed,” she says.

Lucy’s advice to other people finding it difficult to get pregnant is “trust your instincts.”

“I knew that something was not quite right,” she says. “It was such a relief when we did seek help because it felt as though we were not alone anymore.”



Support through our IVF journey made all the difference

Emma (33) delightedly texts her husband Wayne (33) that their four month old son, Jake, has laughed for the first time. When they began trying for a baby back in 2010 this milestone was incomprehensible to them.

Childhood sweethearts

Emma begins: “Wayne and I have known each other since the age of five, when we started school together, but it wasn’t until we were 17 that we became a couple and then finally in 2009 we decided to tie the knot and think seriously about starting a family.

“For over three years we were on tenterhooks: every month hoping that the next month I would conceive. It was devastating not getting pregnant, especially when everyone around us seemed to be conceiving so easily.”

Referred for fertility tests

In May 2013 the couple went to see their GP and were referred for fertility tests. The results showed that Wayne had abnormally shaped sperm. They were informed that this could possibly be affecting their chances and so their consultant referred them to Bourn Hall Clinic. As the couple lived in Essex, they attended the satellite clinic in Wickford.

Emma says: “In advance of our initial consultation I was apprehensive at the prospect of IVF and imagined it being very invasive, even aggressive, but the Bourn Hall staff put us at ease.

Good chance with IVF

“The consultant we saw was very positive and despite our fertility test results thought we had a good chance of success with IVF.”

Wayne adds: “I have always wanted to be a dad, looking forward to when we had our own little family. So when we were told we had to go for fertility treatment it was a lot to take in. I was of course worried about what lay ahead for Emma and I, not really knowing what to expect. But once we had gone for our first consultation there seemed to be hope.”

Taking it one step at a time

The couple began their NHS funded treatment cycle in January 2014.

Wayne says: “All the way through the IVF treatment the staff at Bourn Hall were professional and friendly. They explained each stage of the process which helped ease my fears. I felt the best way to go through the process was to take each stage one at a time. I never wanted to look too far ahead in case things didn’t work out. I guess it was my way of coping.”

ICSI and blastocyst transfer

Seven eggs were collected from Emma and six were successfully fertilised by Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). All of the six embryos made it to day five blastocysts, of which one was transferred into Emma’s womb and another was suitable to be frozen.

Emma adds: “We took each step at a time; never quite daring to believe that I might become pregnant and ultimately us having a family.”

Wayne admits: “I never discussed any of the IVF process when we were going through it with friends. It seemed to be difficult to bring up in conversation. I think it was hard enough going through it without having people knowing and asking how it was all going.”

“We are so lucky to have Jake”

Emma’s pregnancy went smoothly and on 8th November 2014 baby Jake was born.

Emma enthuses: “He’s a wonderfully cheeky chappy, who’s very alert and loves to chat. We are so lucky to have him that it is beyond words.”

Wayne adds: “I have waited a long time to become a dad, and now it has finally happened I couldn’t be happier.  Sometimes it can be challenging but just seeing my little boy happy and smiling makes it all worthwhile. I love spending time all together as a family. I am looking to the future and all the adventures it will bring.

Bourn Hall staff were reassuring

“I cannot thank Bourn Hall enough, without all their knowledge and hard work we may not have our little family.”

Emma concludes: “And certainly if we do decide to have any more children we would return to Bourn Hall Clinic as the staff have been so supportive and reassuring.

“Any early fears about IVF have long gone and we would wholeheartedly encourage other couples that find themselves in our predicament to have hope and visit Bourn Hall.”

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Crohn’s Disease overcome with help of ICSI

As three-year-old James runs around excitedly with his cousin Bella at pre-school, mum Kelly cannot praise Bourn Hall, the fertility clinic which made his birth possible, highly enough.

Crohn’s Disease

“We always knew that we might have problems conceiving,” explains Kelly from Norfolk, “My fiance Paul has Crohn’s Disease and when he was very unwell he was admitted to hospital and treated with a medication that we were told may affect his fertility”.

The couple first met when Kelly was 17 and Paul was 22 and decided early on that they would like a family. After trying unsuccessfully for a baby when Kelly was in her early twenties they went to their GP and explained the background to Paul’s Crohn’s treatment.


“Our GP was lovely,” says Kelly, “and immediately arranged for Paul to have a sperm test. The test revealed that there were problems with his sperm and we were referred for treatment in London.”

The treatment in London resulted in a pregnancy but Kelly was devastated when she had a very early miscarriage. “I did have a feeling though that something was wrong,” she says.

“The staff at Bourn Hall are amazing”

Kelly and Paul were then told that their hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn, had established a satellite service in partnership with the world-famous fertility clinic, Bourn Hall, and they jumped at the chance of NHS treatment closer to home.

The couple had their routine appointments at the hospital and then went to Bourn Hall Clinic near Cambridge for egg collection and embryo transfer. “The staff at Bourn Hall are amazing,” says Kelly. “We were greeted warmly from the moment we walked through the door.”

IVF with ICSI 

Kelly had IVF with ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) where one of Paul’s sperm was individually selected and injected into one of her eggs. After the first round of treatment the couple faced disappointment when the pregnancy test came back negative.

“We were upset,” says Kelly, “but we accepted that it was one of those things, just another hurdle along the way. We stuck together and our families were very supportive. We decided to try again.”

Second time around at Bourn Hall and Kelly says her treatment was textbook. “I was driving home from Bourn Hall in December 2010 and I just knew that it had worked,” she smiles. “I took a pregnancy test on New Year’s Day 2011 and it was positive!”


Proud parents to James

After a stress-free pregnancy, which she enjoyed with her sister-in-law who was expecting a baby at the same time, Kelly gave birth to son James in September 2011, who topped the scales at over 9lb.

Since baby James was conceived, Bourn Hall has opened a full service fertility clinic at Wymondham near Norwich, and a dedicated satellite clinic at King’s Lynn.

The King’s Lynn clinic provides continuity of care for patients who need fertility investigations or treatment. This means that testing is in one place with one team of staff and couples can be treated together. For the specialist egg collection and embryo transfer, patients can choose to go to Bourn Hall clinics near Norwich or Cambridge which ever is more convenient.

Kelly welcomed the news that Bourn Hall was opening a new fertility clinic: “It will be so much better for people in this area of Norfolk” she says. “I cannot praise Bourn Hall Clinic enough. They are brilliant.”

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Long-term struggle overcome with donated sperm

Donating sperm really does change lives; there are few other things that you could do for someone else that would have such a positive impact.

One couple that will always be grateful to an anonymous donor are Ria and Lee from Suffolk, it took them ten years and two miscarriages to finally achieve their ‘happy bubbly baby.’

donated sperm

The couple married in 2001 and Ria then 21 came off the pill to start a family.

Ria (now 34) begins: “However time ticked on – I returned to university, our careers developed – and on turning 30, I realised we needed to do something.”

Investigations revealed a low sperm count

The couple went to their GP who referred them for tests at the local hospital.  When investigations revealed that Lee had a low sperm count, it was suggested that they had IVF treatment and from the list of fertility centres offered they picked Bourn Hall Clinic.

Ria says: “We chose the Cambridge clinic as set in a wonderful open space, the home to the first IVF baby – Louise Brown – and because I didn’t like the idea of being probed in a London clinic and then having to sit on a train home to Suffolk.”

Surgical sperm retrieval recommended

After the initial consultation in September 2012 it was suggested that an attempt was made to retrieve sperm directly from the testicles using a minor surgical procedure called surgical sperm retrieval (SSR).

Although the couple were told that there was a slim chance of it being successful they thought it was worth the chance.

Ria says: “We went in with our eyes wide open and we had wanted to try to see if we could have a baby that was genetically ours before considering other options. It was very disappointing when they couldn’t find any sperm.”

Using a sperm donor

The next option was to use donated sperm. Bourn Hall was the first clinic to freeze sperm and also the first to start a sperm bank.

Each donor prepares a short anonymous pen picture of himself and this is given to the couple, along with details of the donor’s build and colouring to help them to select a good match.

Several vials of sperm from the same donor are reserved for the couple so they can have a number of IVF cycles and also to use the sperm for siblings if required.

April was a tough month

In February 2013 Ria began a course of injections to increase her ovulation in preparation for the couple’s first NHS-funded IVF treatment.

“April was a tough month,” recalls Ria. “My Mum suddenly died two days before I was due to have my egg collection and then after becoming pregnant I later miscarried.”

Having decided they wanted to try again, the couple returned in mid-October for a second cycle of IVF treatment, again using the frozen donor sperm.

Although an initial home test revealed Ria was pregnant, unfortunately her seven-week scan showed heartbreakingly there was no baby.

The couple decided to wait until after Christmas to try one last time.

Baby Jacob arrives

donated sperm

For their third and final NHS-funded cycle it was decided to change Ria’s drug regime and also to continue with medication through the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy to improve the blood flow to the womb.

“When I was told at the first scan that I had a ‘healthy pregnancy’, it was such a relief that I cried but I was also concerned in case I lost the baby again. I felt like I was on a knife’s edge during those first few scans,” says Ria.

“The Bourn Hall staff were very supportive and easy to talk to and when I saw our little baby’s heart beating at the 12 week scan it was such a good feeling!”

The rest of Ria’s pregnancy went smoothly and on 11th December 2014 baby Jacob was born.

Ria reflects: “It took us a lot longer to get where we are, with our happy bubbly baby, but once referred to Bourn Hall Clinic the process was surprisingly quick.

“We now couldn’t imagine life without Jacob.  Lee phones me every day from work to check how his son is doing – it was well worth going through all the ‘hoops’ to get him.”

For more information about male infertility treatments.

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Success with ICSI after tests reveal PCOS and a low sperm count

Hannah and Chris were childhood sweethearts who assumed after they got married that a family would follow shortly after, but their hopes were dashed early on.

“I had always wanted children,” says Hannah, “and assumed we would have a honeymoon baby. We started trying for a baby straight away but nothing happened.”

Eventually she went to see her GP who referred both of them for hospital tests.

Tests reveal PCOS

“The tests revealed that I had polycystic ovaries, which came as a complete surprise as I had none of the more common symptoms,” she recalls.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects 5–10% of women and a common cause of infertility. It has only recently been determined that a large proportion of women with PCOS are suffering from insulin resistance. In some women, raised insulin levels have a knock-on effect on the ovaries, preventing them from releasing mature eggs, and so leading to infertility.

Low sperm count

The couple were then dealt a further blow when tests on Chris uncovered a low sperm count caused by a childhood condition.

“We had to do some battling after that as all of the proposed treatments seemed to focus on me rather than Chris but then a different hospital consultant looked at both of our histories and took five seconds to decide that we needed IVF. It was the best day of my life,” says Hannah.

ICSI treatment at Bourn Hall

The couple were referred to Bourn Hall in Cambridgeshire, and started treatment in January 2013.

“I really thought ‘this is our year’” says Hannah, “but my first treatment failed and we had to wait a few months before trying again.”

Hannah was treated at Bourn Hall using a process called ICSI which involved directly injecting one of Chris’ sperm into one of her mature eggs before transferring it to her womb.

Second time around Hannah knew she was pregnant even before she had taken the pregnancy test.

Baby Ewan arrives

“I just knew because I felt different,” she says. “It was amazing. The only way to describe how I felt is that before I was pregnant I felt broken and that on that day I felt as though a small piece of me was put back together. Gradually throughout my pregnancy I was pieced back together and now I am fixed!”

Baby Ewan arrived in May of this year after Hannah had a trouble-free pregnancy and Hannah and Chris cannot thank Bourn Hall enough for their treatment:

“Bourn Hall is just amazing,” says Hannah. “I don’t know if the people there realise just how appreciated they are. They are such special people. There was a nurse who held my hand when I was being treated and she really sticks in my mind, she and all her colleagues made me feel as though I was the only one who mattered.”

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