A woman feared that she had lost her baby after going through fertility treatment alone.
Allyssia Burkinshaw, 27, from Sheffield, went through IVF (in vitro fertilisation) which involved removing eggs from her ovaries and fertilising them with sperm in a laboratory.
She had learned at a young age that suffered from polycystic ovaries which affected hormones and the release of eggs, reports Hull Live.
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Allyssia had to face fertility appointments on her own because her husband was unable to be there due to the Covid-19 guidelines in place at the time.
She said: “Obviously going through fertility treatment in the first place is quite lonely and isolating, but not having my partner there was difficult.
“It was hard for him as well, because it’s not a normal way of getting pregnant, so he wasn’t there for any of it and he didn’t get to see the embryo being put back in, none of that.
“Prior to Covid we tried an IUI (intrauterine insemination) procedure so he was able to be there through all of that but then we didn’t know what the next steps would be because of lockdown, so we had to wait to find out whether we were having another got at IUI or a go at IVF.
“When we finally got to do our IVF, none of my bloods were in date. So I had to go through that again.
“He wasn’t allowed to be there for any of it, even when I got pregnant he wasn’t allowed to be there.
“And I had two episodes of bleeding, so we thought we were losing her, but he wasn’t even allowed to be there for that.
“We’re so grateful to the nurses, it wasn’t their fault. It was just the national guidelines.
“My husband couldn’t be there and you don’t take a lot of it in when you don’t have someone else with you to listen to it. But, even though he couldn’t be there, the nursing staff become part of your family.”
Allyssia began intrauterine insemination treatment (IUI) in February 2020 ,followed by an IVF cycle in August.
(Image: A.W.S. Photography)
After both were unsuccessful, she tried a frozen embryo transfer at Sheffield Teaching Hospital last November.
Thankfully this turned out to be a success and Allyssia and her partner now have a three-month old baby girl.
“We’re so happy and it was so relieving, but having IVF and being pregnant was still hard, because you don’t expect anything to work.
“It’s isolating, it’s really daunting, but only people who have been through it will understand.
“You do feel alone because nobody understands what you’re going through, it’s only you and your partner or the ‘trying to conceive’ community. But, yeah it’s isolating,” she said.
Charity Fertility Network UK has released survey results that demonstrate the devastating impact of Covid-19 on fertility patients.
In her spare time, Allyssia volunteers for Fertility Network UK running a South Yorkshire support group.
Out of a survey of nearly 400 patients, a majority of respondents (58%) had experienced delays being able to access treatment as a result of the pandemic, while a quarter had not been able to access emotional support or counselling.
Patients reported widespread delays in diagnostic testing, including blood tests and semen analysis and a range of surgical procedures from laparoscopy to surgical sperm retrieval.
Delays ranged from months to more than two years.
Similar to Allyssia’s case, male partners were often unable to attend fertility appointments, which meant patients reported having to go through miscarriages and receive bad news alone.
Patients also reported widespread delays in diagnostic testing, including blood tests and semen analysis and a range of surgical procedures from laparoscopy to surgical sperm retrieval. Delays ranged from months to more than two years.
Many patients, like Allyssia, had to repeat tests that were out of date by the time they were able to access treatment and reported appointments being repeatedly cancelled.
Kate Brian, operations manager for the Fertility Network UK, said: “Our concern is that the outcome of fertility treatment is very much related to age, so the older you are the less likely treatments, like IVF, are to be successful. So that’s why we’re concerned about the impact on women caused by these delays.
“A study by Aberdeen University early this year showed what different lengths of delays would mean to outcomes. Their research suggested if you wait for six months for older women it might mean a 12% decline in the live birth rate, but if you waited a year it could mean a 20% reduction.
“We know that a lot of the women are waiting quite a long time and it’s really difficult for them, because they know that every month that you’re waiting, you’re period comes again and they feel upset and sad, because it’s another reminder that you’re still not pregnant.”
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