Concerns about fertility have increased during the pandemic, according to fertility specialists at Bourn Hall
Many people have become much more aware that time is against them and increasingly anxious about delays of up to nine months in NHS fertility testing.
Being better informed can help ease concerns and help to gain the most appropriate support, says Laura Carter-Penman, lead fertility nurse at Bourn Hall, who is on the frontline advising patients how they can improve their chances of pregnancy.
Laura is taking part in a virtual Fertility Fair, organised by Bourn Hall to give those struggling with infertility a one-on-one chat directly with a health professional to help overcome obstacles in their fertility journey.
She said: “Your GP is the first person to see if you are concerned about your fertility and have been trying to conceive for over a year, but the average GP only sees about six cases of infertility a year, so they are not specialists. So, to make the best of your appointment it is good to do some homework first.”
Laura gives the following advice on what to bring to a GP appointment:
Measure your height and weight to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). The recommended healthy BMI for men and women when trying to get pregnant is 19 – 26, so achieving this may improve your fertility which might be sufficient to achieve natural conception. The NHS has a number of programmes to help you to lose weight.
Record your periods – if you have a regular cycle then this is an indication that you are releasing a mature egg each month (ovulating). Keep a record of your periods, the date they start, and the duration. Are they very heavy or painful? There are also ovulation kits that you can buy. Your GP can request a blood test to check your ovulation hormone levels.
Be prepared to talk about sex – ensure that you are having unprotected intercourse two to three times a week for a year before you go to your GP, as you will be asked about this. Don’t worry about timing around ovulation – if you are having sex with this frequency you will hit the window when ovulation occurs.
Be clear about any previous fertility tests – if you had previously been referred for testing and have some results then take these with you to the GP appointment. If no tests have been done then you could request appropriate female fertility tests and a semen analysis for men.
It may easiest if you both have the same GP but check first if either of your GPs Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) provides funding for IVF treatment. There is currently a postcode lottery for IVF funding and GP practices a few miles apart may fall under different policies.
Fertility tests can reveal if there is a reason why you are having difficulty conceiving – many causes can be treated with medication or surgery – but others such as blocked fallopian tubes or low sperm count will mean that need IVF treatment is appropriate.
Fertility naturally declines as you get older and the chances of success are greater if you are under 37. It’s best to gain a diagnosis as soon as possible. The Fertility Fair on April 10 and will provide advice on navigating the fertility roadmap and help people at every stage to progress.
For further information and to find out how you can attend, Click here