“Having irregular periods wreaks havoc with your life and is really disruptive,” says Kim. For as long as she can remember Kim has kept a diary detailing when her periods start and end.
Irregular periods are a sign that a woman is not releasing a ripe egg in to her fallopian tubes every month (ovulating). For natural conception to take place the eggs and sperm must meet in the fallopian tube and if a woman is not ovulating regularly the likelihood of her conceiving is greatly reduced.
You’re most fertile within a day or two either side of an egg being released from your ovaries. This usually occurs around 14 days after the beginning of a period, but it can vary between 11-16 days. If you are not having regular periods this is an indication that you are not ovulating.
Medication such as clomid can be used to stimulate the ovaries and this is carefully monitored so that only one egg is produced and intercourse timed to increase the chances of successful fertilisation.
Ovulation Induction and natural conception – Kim’s story
“I could literally go for four months without a period and then have a short period followed by a longer, heavier one a few weeks later,” Kim says. “Then I could go for months without another one. Having regular monthly periods is something which a lot of women take for granted but mine were all over the place and completely random.”
Kim got so fed up with the disruption that when she was in her early twenties she went to her GP who put her on the pill: “At the time that was fine because all I wanted was to make my periods regular,” she says.
She then met Adam and the couple started trying for a baby shortly after their wedding. “I came off the pill and, I suppose, I was a bit naïve really about how difficult it might be for me to get pregnant,” says Kim.
After a year of trying and not getting pregnant, the couple went to see the GP who referred them to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn.
“I had my first appointment with a consultant at the hospital but then shortly after that I received a letter to say that Bourn Hall now provided the fertility diagnostics and also Ovulation Induction for natural pregnancy and so all of my subsequent appointments were at Bourn Hall’s clinic in King’s Lynn,“ says Kim.
Checking tubes were clear
One of the first steps which Bourn Hall took with the couple was to test Adam’s sperm and to undertake a Hycosy diagnostic test on Kim which involved inserting a dye into her fallopian tubes followed by an ultrasound scan to see if there were any blockages in the tubes.
“Adam’s sperm tests came back all fine and the Hycosy showed that my tubes were not blocked,” says Kim.
Ovulation Induction (OI) to stimulate egg release
It was agreed to stimulate Kim’s ovaries with medication to produce and release a mature egg each month for natural fertilisation. During an ovulation induction (OI) cycle, a woman will have ultrasound scans and blood tests to ensure ovulation is occuring correctly and to help time natural conception.
Kim found the waiting stressful, “Part of me was just desperate to have a baby. I am normally quite an upbeat person but even people at work noticed that I wasn’t my normal self. I hadn’t told them about my fertility issues and so when people asked me if I was okay I would say that I was fine when I actually felt like screaming.”
The ovaries were carefully monitored and the couple were given the good news that two follicles had developed to maturity. Kim was given a trigger injection to get the eggs to release.
“We were told us to go away, take time for ourselves and have lots of sex for the next week. At last we had our window of opportunity,” says Kim. “We just went away and did as we were told!”
Moment of truth
Two weeks later Kim did a pregnancy test and it was positive. “I just stood holding the test in the bathroom and I was sobbing,” says Kim. “Adam and I just clung to each other and kept looking at the test it was surreal.
“When I told our fertility nurse Carol that I was pregnant she said ‘congratulations’ and I said ‘you did this for us’. Carol said ‘I didn’t do it you did!’”
A range of fertility treatments to get you pregnant without IVF
Bourn Hall offers a full range of treatments at its clinics in Cambridge, Norwich and Wickford and they are open and accepting patients. It is now possible to have online consultations with fertility nurse specialists and consultants.
Fertility Nurse Specialist Leona Crookston explains that there are a number of fertility treatments that are less invasive than IVF. These can be tried to get you pregnant without IVF.
In the video she goes through the options, which include IUI (intrauterine insemination) is when sperm is introduced directly into a woman’s womb. This increases the chances of conception as it is timed to coincide with ovulation (release of an egg) and means the sperm don’t have to travel so far.
“IUI can be with a partner’s sperm or donated sperm and is less invasive than IVF. For same-sex couples IUI is often a good option and we can offer super-sperm from a good selection of donors.”