This is a story about why I wouldn’t want IVF treatment courtesy of the NHS. This is my story and not a reflection on everyone’s experience of NHS treatment. Nor is it a reflection of everyone who works for the NHS. It is simply my story and my opinion.
After the outcry and attention surrounding the NHS upping the age limit for IVF treatment and the woefully poorly written blog on the Mothercare website (now kindly removed due to its ill informed nature), in which the author speaks about how no woman (with a few exceptions) should be granted access to IVF Treatment on the NHS, I thought you may all like a different take on things. So this is about why I would not want the NHS to treat my infertility, nor would I want any NHS funded IVF. Again this is a personal story so if you are going through IVF courtesy of the NHS, your experience may be very different. And hopefully it is.
My story starts back in 2009, when I first started trying for a baby. After months of trying, I took myself off to the doctors for initial blood testing. When I got the results back the doctors said she would be referring me to the “specialist” at the hospital, as my hormone levels were, and I do quote, “not quite there yet”. At the time I didn’t think much of the comment as I was very new to the fertility world and assumed that having been on the pill for so long, it would just take a little while for my hormones to return to the right levels.
I had to wait months for an appointment. When I finally got my appointment, I was beckoned into the consulting room, where there were two student doctors sitting inside as well as the specialist. He asked me what the doctor had told me about my test results, I answered him, and at this point, he turned to the student doctors, and laughed. Yes that right folks, he laughed at me, chuckling, “hormones not quite there yet – hahahah”. He laughed like I was a naive, clueless, little girl, and frankly I probably was at the time. I had not idea what to expect or what would unfold at this meeting. Can you imagine how that felt, given I was feeling pretty horrendous about everything anyway?
I was then informed by the specialist that the problem was with my hormones, especially the FSH level, and it was that, that was preventing pregnancy. He then asked me if I was having any hot flashes, told me I was menopausal and said that my only option would be donor eggs or adoption. Astounded much??!!
He lent across the desk and handed me a piece of paper, written on it was the names of 2 local private IVF clinics. He said the NHS would not treat me for any aspect of my condition because I didn’t meet the criteria for treatment and I would be too difficult to stimulate at IVF stage.Plus it wouldn’t be worth it because my eggs would be poor quality.
To say I was stunned is an understatement. Talk about ZERO bedside manner, compassion or thoughtfulness. I was only 32.
As I got up to leave he stopped me, seemingly stunned that I wasn’t crying. Not one to shy away from a confrontation, I said to him that if he refused to treat me, I would go find someone that would. The man simply had no compassion and no sensitivity to the situation. The enormity of it was overwhelming to me. He may have dealt with many women all in the same situation, but this was my life and he couldn’t even be bothered to treat me with any respect or empathy.
I eventually ended up having 2 rounds of IVF at a local clinic which was utterly soul destroying. In my opinion that clinic gave me some seriously sub-standard care, especially as I later discovered that the horrible specialist I had met at the hospital was actually a consultant there, and had been let go or encouraged to leave, due to never getting a woman pregnant. His skills and expertise in the area of IVF and fertility were clearly, nil. The man was simply just not up to the job. Or lacked the motivation and drive to get it right.
So after practically saying “ta ta” to my sanity after these 2 failed rounds of IVF, I got online and googled my ass off to find the best clinic in the UK. Which lead me to the very wonderful, ARGC. I owe them so very very much. Yes I paid them £15K for the pleasure but I still owe them. Their commitment to find a solution to my individual problem. Their creative use of drugs to maximise success. Their extensive testing.Their commitment to immune testing too. Mr T is quite simply an angel. We are so very lucky to have him in the UK.
It is my understanding that the NHS do not test immunes, they do not prescribe things like steroids, they do not use blood thinners to help implantation etc. I also understand that they do not work at the weekend, so its tough luck if you need your eggs collected then, you just have to wait.
Once my care was passed back to the NHS from the ARGC at 12 weeks pregnant, I found that there was a serious gap in their knowledge of how to care for ladies who had gone through IVF, as I was still on certain drugs – progesterone, aspirin and clexane. My mid wife was so baffled by my journey, my IVF and the drugs I was still on that she promptly referred me back to the hospital to see another specialist this time.
This specialist, again totally baffled by why I was still on drugs and why I had been prescribed the majority of my drugs in the first place, told me to stop taking everything, advice I promptly ignored. By this point my disillusionment with NHS treatment and care was huge!
My experience of infertility care by the NHS is very poor. I haven’t accessed much NHS care previously, I don’t go to A&E lots, I don’t even have an NHS dentist, but the one and only time I needed them, they failed me.
Maternity care at the hospital was something else entirely and I actually found that very good indeed, in fact, I was shocked at how good it was. There was a time I considered having the baby in a private hospital just so I wouldn’t have anything to do with the NHS. I’m not quite as angry now thankfully!
It is my option (and my opinion only – so please don’t take offense), that the NHS simply does not have the skills, the innovation, the ability and the motivation to treat those of us with fertility issues that are not straightforward. They are unable to think around a problem and come up with any creative solutions. It is my opinion that they are baffled by anything new, anything innovative and a little “left field”.Their solutions are very off the peg as the desperately try to force you into a “one size fits all” solution. Sadly I am left with only negatives thoughts and feeling about the NHS.
IVF is heartbreaking and scary. Its the most god awful rollercoaster ride you will ever experience. And a failed IVF is hell. Therefore IVF treatment on the NHS for me given that myself and my husband both have fertility issues, would have been a pointless exercise and a waste for all involved.
There is no denying the NHS is seriously stretched and something needs to be done, but my experience was a nightmare.
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