Support for weight loss on the path to fertility treatment is essential
Amy, 31, has PCOS and highlights her struggle to reduce her BMI and access NHS-funded help.
No one ever talks about infertility and what happens if you are unable to have a baby. For many years you welcome ‘Aunt Flo’, all while keeping pharmacies in business. But no one discusses the disappointment and grief when she continues to visit you every month when you are ready.
I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at the end of 2021, we had been actively trying for a year and a half, but to no avail. I went to my GP who organised a scan, this showed around 12 cysts on just one of my ovaries.
PCOS diagnosis a surprise
With pretty regular periods and none of the tell-tale symptoms, I was surprised. However, now I know that regularly plucking hairs out of my chin might not be something that just comes with turning 30.
PCOS is an endocrine disorder, high levels of insulin cause increased levels of the male hormone testosterone. Resulting in irregular ovulation or no ovulation at all, irregular periods, excess hair and weight gain. There is no cure but being a healthy weight will make some symptoms better.
BMI too high for NHS-funded treatment
Mine and my husband’s diagnosis as a couple is pretty grim, we will require ICSI – a form of IVF. However, currently my BMI is too high for NHS-funded treatment. I have always struggled to lose and maintain weight throughout my adult life, and have many different diets under my belt. Shakes, slimming clubs, you name it I’ve tried it.
The last discussion I had with a consultant, I was told to come back in three months with the hope of being two stone lighter. This made me feel even more alone in my journey to become a mum, as well as pressured that this was now entirely down to me.
PCOS is a disorder that makes it harder to lose weight, all whilst craving sugar… great combination. It also puts you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Yet, there is little support with weight management for women trying to have fertility treatment.
The NHS needs to have more stringent plans in place, having discussions with women about their diet, lifestyle, exercise and setting realistic goals. Follow up appointments may also motivate and encourage and build better relationships with your practitioner.
Unfortunately, this support is currently lacking within the NHS. I am very determined, and with support from loved ones and friends I will get there.
Infertility is a very lonely place to be, and it should not be a silent subject. Please talk about your experiences openly and honestly, you don’t know how much that might just help someone else going through it.
If you are struggling to lose weight in order to be able to access fertility treatment, why not join our Fertility weight loss online support group.