Don’t bottle up your feelings

Sophie remembers all too clearly the turmoil of emotions she felt when her Facebook feed seemed to be full of pregnancy announcements.

“I got to the stage in my life when me and my friends had all got married and the next stage was having children,” Sophie says. “My husband Christopher and I spent three years trying for a baby with no success and during that time it seemed as though someone I knew was announcing their pregnancy every other day. Obviously I was happy for them but envious at the same time that they seemed to have done it so easily.”

Sophie is now mum to baby son Jenson after fertility treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic; she says: “My advice to other people having fertility issues is not to bottle it up because it is surprising when you start talking to people about your situation how many other people have gone through it too. It is nothing to be ashamed of so don’t be shy in seeking advice.”

Sophie went to see her GP shortly after she and Chris got married when Sophie had stopped taking the contraceptive pill and still had not had a period after a few months. “My GP suggested that I had a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome,” reveals Sophie. “I had been on the contraceptive pill for so long that it had masked a lot of the symptoms.”

PCOS common cause of infertility

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of fertility issues in women. It disrupts the release of a woman’s eggs and common symptoms include: irregular periods or no periods at all; excessive hair growth, such as on the face; weight gain; oily skin/acne and thinning hair.

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.

Sophie’s GP initially advised Sophie to commit to improving her diet as well as trying other therapies such as acupuncture. When Sophie’s periods still did not return she went back to her GP who referred her to her local hospital.

“I was put on clomid and metformin by the hospital to try and kickstart my ovulation and every month I would have blood tests to see if it had worked. Throughout the whole six months I never ovulated and so it was very disappointing.”

The couple were told that they had to have been trying for a baby for three years before they could be referred for IVF treatment and so had to wait a further year. “In that entire three years that we were trying I only had two or three periods and every time I would think ‘oh perhaps my body has finally woken up’ and everyone was telling me to relax and not to stress but that is easier said than done,” says Sophie.

The couple were eventually referred for IVF treatment and Sophie chose to have it at Bourn Hall just outside Cambridge. “We went along for an initial seminar at Bourn Hall to find out more about what fertility treatment involves. I found it really reassuring because there were around 20 other couples there and I looked around the room and saw people a lot younger than me and also older than me and I suddenly felt ‘normal’ and that it wasn’t just me who had a problem.”

Healthy eggs

Tests had concluded that although Sophie wasn’t ovulating she actually had healthy eggs – and lots of them. The IVF procedure produced a ‘triple A grade embryo’ which Sophie describes as ‘the best of the best’ which Bourn Hall transferred to her womb.

The couple then went home before taking the early pregnancy test after 14 days. “It was the weirdest feeling leaving Bourn Hall and carrying on as normal,” laughs Sophie. “It felt really strange. I carried on working as a childminder which helped to take my mind off the two-week wait.”

The couple were delighted when a pregnancy test confirmed that Sophie was pregnant. “I was shaking!” laughs Sophie. A 5-week scan at Bourn Hall Clinic confirmed the good news. “We were over the moon,” she adds.

After a textbook pregnancy Sophie gave birth to Jenson in August and is happily settling in to life as a new mum. “I keep looking at him and I can’t believe he is mine,” she says. “Old ladies stop me in the street and coo over him and I just think that I never believed that I would get to this stage. It is the most amazing feeling, I sit and stare at him for hours.

“Struggling to conceive does put strain on a relationship but I would say that mine and Chris’s relationship is stronger because of what we had to go through to have a child together. What I would say to other couples going through this is definitely get help and advice, support each other and don’t lose hope.” 

For information about Fertility testing.