Infertility Sucks: The IVF Funding Debate

I started writing this having had Loose Women (I know, I know, I’m not even sure why it was on) on the television yesterday in the background, but quickly started to listen properly. I’ve seen further outrageous articles (some of which I cannot bring myself to read because my stress levels do NOT need raising any further, especially with no running!), comments, suggestions etc. since, which has meant: this is getting posted.

Restrictions on IVF terrifies me. I’m 30, husband 32. We’ve been trying for 3 years – around 2 years ago we discovered I don’t ovulate, so without help, we can’t conceive. It is no ones fault (but of course I blame myself), it is just the (un)luck of life. Earlier this year after 18 months of trying with the aid of Ovulation Induction at our local hospital, we began treatment with Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine. 

IVF is our last chance. Despite me being “only” 30, we get 1 try at IVF on the NHS, funded by Somerset (where we live) CCG (Clinical Comissioning Group);  2 less than the NICE guidelines (as well as “3” attempts at IUI, which whilst we have taken, after one fail and two cancelled treatments, I no longer feel any positivity about]. I’m from Berkshire originally and am aware Berkshire currently funds 2 “goes” at IVF. I also know, from discussions with fertility nurses and teams, that Essex gets zero funding.
It isn’t fair, and it most certainly isn’t a choice. I wish more than anything James and I could conceive our much-longed for child naturally. At no point did I wish to have to undergo various procedures and general prodding and probing and blood tests and injections and, worst of all, the heartache every single month when I am still not yet pregnant. Everyone should get their chance should they want to be a Mum – so many people seemingly manage to conceive so easily (whether they want children or not) and it is heartbreaking for those that can’t: I can’t take any more pregnancy announcements. I am feeling myself begin to isolate whilst I withdraw from friends or family who may (or may not) be about to announce their happy news. Of course I am happy for them – but it is long overdue our turn… when will that be? Will it ever be? My last period saw me hit an absolutely horrendous depression; I lost half a stone in 2 days. I couldn’t eat or sleep, I could barely move and I most certainly was not engaging in any communication, with anyone. I constantly worry that I have somehow already gone through menopause and no one has noticed and therefore it will never happen. I have said to James on more than one occasion that we should sell the big car and 5-6 bed house we bought – ready for children – when we moved to Somerset, move to a one bed getting rid of our mortgage alongside any other expenses because I’m so convinced it’s never going to happen.

We can and will pay once we’ve used up our NHS “chances” – but even in saying that, money and our savings ends somewhere…. and whilst I know the same goes for the NHS and the government – everyone should be funded for the 3 rounds of IVF as per the NICE (recommended) guidelines. We pay our taxes into the government; why should we not get some funding back out?? Or do we get to pick and chose now what our taxes go towards instead, because we seemingly get nothing else back for them!

It is so extra incredibly frustrating when you hear that what is essentially 29p paracetamol is being prescribed by doctors, but not the guideline amount of IVF, because [albeit a minority] can’t even be bothered to fund that themselves. Our postcode lottery on healthcare is disturbing. And, worryingly, of this also falls in line with my politics blog. Its all politics. Few of us are actually qualified or even in some cases*, clearly intelligent enough to comment.
I am constantly told “I’m still so young” but 3 years ago when we started trying, I was 27… when will I still be “so young”? The only thing I have ever and always known I wanted to be is a mother – and I wish I could turn back time to have not been so “worried” or “swayed by societal expectations” to not have children before marriage – my husband and I have been together 10 years now and I always have that hideous thought that I could and should have started trying earlier than when we got married; then we might have known sooner, begun treatment sooner, and may already have our much longed for child/children in our arms… for me, I’d rather be a younger Mum than older and it hurts to think that only I delayed that for daft reasons.

If funding for IVF is now only given to women aged 30-35, then me questioning my “still so young” timeframe just became even shorter. But also – if we had been ready and keen to start a family when I was 25, why should we not have been provided with that funding then as well? We still knew we wanted them, and we still would have faced the same infertility issues we face now.

I have faced a lot in the last few years, I’ve battled mental health difficulties my entire life, I’ve battled being “dumped” by friends/colleagues because of the isolation mental health creates around you, I gave up my career, I face worries about my parents and elder family members, and I ran a marathon. I know I am not alone in any of this, but nothing, none of these things are as hard as battling infertility.

And for those that think IVF should be private only – if you smoke and get lung cancer or have a heart attack as a direct result: should that be paid for by the NHS? Why?! At least infertility isn’t a choice*. For those that think adoption is the answer: should you not be more concerned about the fact that contraception is FREE on the NHS, and yet still there are so many children born each year that are placed into the care system?? Why should my husband and I not have our chance at OUR children, rather than the children of someone else who are lucky enough to conceive, yet can’t be bothered to look after their own? 

*one comment suggesting that “some” cases of infertility are asked for or someone’s fault because they are born from STI’s…. 1) I have never had an STI, (neither has James for the record) but I am pretty certain no one asks for an STI, thus fertility issues..

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