Struggling to conceive is heart-breaking. Month after month that dreaded period arrives, despite your best efforts to get pregnant.
This journey starts out with great excitement. You feel incredibly empowered. You have made this important decision. You and your partner are ready to embark on parenthood.
But then the months slip by and nothing. You feel like a deflated balloon. The doubt starts to creep in and you begin to wonder if something is wrong.
Talk to your partner about your doubts
Your partner is having those exact same doubts, the nagging question, “Is it me?”
The doubt turns to frustration. If you told the world about your monumental decision, then the constant enquiries about getting pregnant become an irritation.
If you are under 35 and tried for over 12 months, then it’s time to see a doctor. If you are over 35, then you need to see a doctor after only 6 months. That is because women are born with all of their eggs, after the age of 35 ovulation almost halves.
Don’t get fobbed off by your GP
Now, for couples in the U.K. that trip to see their GP can go one of two ways. The first is the most frustrating! To be sent away and told to keep trying – arghhhh! Some GP’s can be very supportive, so if you aren’t happy, book another appointment with a different doctor.
The second option is more favourable but a risky strategy. Your doctor may refer you to a fertility specialist for further tests. I call this a risky strategy because it lulls you into a false sense of security. You go home and think, we are going to get to the bottom of this and then we’ll be back on track.
In reality, you then wait 6 months for the appointment. Then you wait a few more months to have tests. Then you wait another few months to see the specialist again to get the results. Only then do you find out what the treatment options might be.
The UK postcode lottery
Before you know it, another year of your fertility window has gone. If you are advised that IVF is your best option then you enter the postcode lottery.
Depending on where you live in the UK, you may or may not qualify for IVF on the NHS. There is a strict criteria to qualify. It’s dependent on female age and if either of you have had children previously. If you are lucky enough to qualify, there is a waiting list.
And then along came COVID19! All fertility treatments were suspended between March and May. This has created a HUGE backlog of patients. Now, I’m not knocking the NHS, we are incredibly privileged to have access to an incredible health service. But as the fantastic NHS rebuilds itself, fertility treatments are slow to resume. I have been working with infertility patients for over 16 years and this has been one of the toughest times the assisted reproduction sector has ever faced.
I wanted to write today’s blog, as I read stories of couples still waiting on NHS treatment. If you know you need IVF then I urge you not to wait on the NHS to resume normal service. I’ve known couples sit it out and then funding is withdrawn.
Female age is important
After the age of 40 the success rate with IVF is significantly lower than under 40. So please start investigating private treatment as soon as possible. Time waits for no woman where her biological clock is involved.
You need to bite the bullet and start making enquiries, prices vary so please do shop around. You also need to look at success rates, these also vary so make sure you are comparing like for like. You may even want to consider going abroad for treatment. There are some fantastic clinics out there, who really do care about your well-being both emotionally and physically.
I often hear we can’t afford private treatment, and my answer is always the same. The cost of treatment is a fraction of what raising a child costs! But, the joy of parenthood far outweighs any monetary value and you’ll give your last pound to see your child smile! You also have to be prepared that there are no guarantees that treatment will be successful. Don’t let time pass you by, you only regret the things in life you didn’t do!
Funding private treatment
In terms of funding, if you have health insurance through work or a private policy check to see if it covers fertility treatment. Some couples secure a loan or use a credit card. Others get financial support from family and others also try crowd funding. You’d be amazed how many people want to help you achieve your dream of a family.
COVID19 has seriously impacted the mental health of infertility patients. Infertility in itself is stressful and the cause of much anxiety. Add to that a global pandemic, which has impacted everyone and then add the suspension of treatment. It’s a volcano of emotions, so it’s important to realise you are not alone.
I know that infertility is a mine field, but all the clinics we work with here at The Fertility Hub are happy to hold your hand. They will answer ANY questions no matter how big or small.
I’m rooting for you, take charge of your treatment and please drop us a line for any guidance or support.
Veronica Montgomery, Patient & Clinic Liaison Consultant
The Fertility Hub