Fertility Worries? Try An MOT

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This article has been reproduced by kind permission of The Mail on Sunday YOU Magazine.

It’s wellknown that getting pregnant – and ending up with a healthy baby – becomes much more difficult from the age of 35. But having had three bouncing sons in her 30s with no difficulty, Helen wasn’t prepared for the difficulties she faced after turning 40. ‘After the boys were born, my husband was worried about providing for another baby in the recession, so we hung on. Finally, after 18 months, he agreed to try again but when nearly a year had passed, I was convinced I’d missed my “fertility window”.’ Helen knew the likelihood of conceiving naturally was slender but she ‘just needed to know if I had a chance’.

According to consultant gynaecologist Michael Dooley of the Poundbury Clinic in Dorchester, the incidence of infertility in women over 40 is nearly 29 per cent; one third of pregnancies end in miscarriage (50 per cent from 45). The risk of disorders such as Downs Syndrome, also of pregnancy and birth problems, is much higher too.

A recent test confirmed her husband’s sperm count was still high, so, in July 2010, Helen took a Fertility MOT at the holistic Zita West Clinic in London. This includes a comprehensive medical history questionnaire plus a blood test to measure levels of AMH (anti-mullerian hormone), which is made by the ovaries, and plays a vital part in reproduction. Because levels fall with age, it can indicate how many eggs are left from the finite supply women are born with (aka ovarian reserve), as well as how well the ovaries are functioning in general. The AMH test is relatively new to the UK (and not available on the NHS), but some experts believe it’s the best way to predict older women’s chance of conceiving.

Helen knew the AMH test (which can be done at any time of the month but isn’t suitable for women on the Pill) had limitations. ‘The big “but” was that it wouldn’t tell me anything about the quality of my eggs, or if there were any underlying problems such as blocked Fallopian tubes.’ The level of AMH is measured on a scale of one to 48.5 pmol/L (picomoles per litre). Satisfactory fertility is 15.7 to 28.6, optimal 28.6 to 48.5.

Helen’s results came in at 7.8, marginally higher than average for her age. She was elated to be told by Zita that indicated she still had some eggs. (The price includes a consultation with a trained midwife.) ‘I didn’t think I could do anything to influence my chances but Zita believes there can be emotional blocks to getting pregnant [as do many fertility experts] and that this might be a factor with me. I told her how much I resented my husband for stopping us trying earlier. We also discussed my belief that I was too old. Zita told me there was nothing standing in the way of me having the baby I longed for. I began to believe I could do it.’

Zita referred Helen to inhouse hypnotherapist Maureen Kiely to work on her emotional blocks. ‘Two sessions with her unlocked deeper issues of fear and guilt surrounding relationships with my parents and siblings that I didn’t know I was holding on to, despite years of counselling. I felt I’d been set free.’ Three weeks after the second session, Helen, then 41, found she was pregnant. ‘I phoned my husband, weeping with joy.’ Baby Fuchsia was born on April 7th this year.

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