How to maximise your chance of having a baby

New research by The Times has revealed a huge variation across the UK in the cost of a common fertility drug with some high street chemists charging infertile couples up to 80 per cent more than others for private prescriptions.New research by The Times has revealed a huge variation across the UK in the cost of a common fertility drug with some high street chemists charging infertile couples up to 80 per cent more than others for private prescriptions.

The research appeared in The Times Good Fertility Guide, published March 5, 2005 with The Times Body & Soul supplement. The 14-page guide covers everything couples need to know about pre-conception, separating fact from myth, and providing a definitive resource from Body & Soul's esteemed health and medical experts. It is endorsed by Professor Lesley Regan, Professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at St Mary's Hospital, Imperial College London.

The Times contacted 50 outlets, including independent chemists, supermarkets and high street chains, such as Lloyds and Boots, to survey the cost of a commonly prescribed fertility drug. The cost of one ampoule of Gonal F (a commonly-prescribed hormone) ranged from GBP22.31 to GBP40, a 79 per cent difference. Up to 40 may be needed per cycle so a couple could end up paying GBP686 more for one cycle's drugs.

The cost of the 60-dose Synarel, which regulates the pituitary gland, ranged from GBP55.66 to GBP85.49, a 58 per cent difference. While the cost of NHS drugs is regulated by the Prescription Pricing Authority (PPA), there is no such regulation for the cost of drugs dispensed by private prescription.

Clare Brown, the chief executive of the Infertility UK support group comments in the guide: "Many couples prefer to keep their infertility to themselves, so don't talk to their friends or contact a patient group like ours and never discover that they ought to shop around."

Along with expert advice on how to improve your chances of conception with tips on lifestyle, nutrition, sex, and fertility specialists, The Times Good Fertility Guide also includes personal accounts from women on their attempts to conceive.

Times columnist and TV football presenter Gabby Logan gives a compelling account of her three year struggle to become pregnant and how IVF finally helped her to conceive twins, which are due in July of this year.

She writes: "Just over three years ago my husband Kenny and I stopped taking precautions and started trying to have a baby. We couldn't have been healthier, no recreational drug use, moderate alcohol intake, a great diet, lots of exercise and we were blissfully happy...A year-and-a-half later nothing had happened, not even a miscarriage. That may sound heartless, but I wanted a sign that my body was at least capable of being pregnant."

After countless visits to doctors and health specialists, Gabby and her husband decided to consider the alternatives. She writes: "[The doctor] was frank about IVF, the risks and the potential for great disappointment and he in no way pushed me towards it, but as I drove home I decided I wanted to try it...I knew we could have waited longer, maybe left it another year. Three years isn't really that long until it's your three years and you are the one having the thoughts almost every day about why you are not pregnant and when you might be; when everyone around you seems to be."

Hilly Janes, Editor of The Times Body & Soul, comments: "Women wanting to become pregnant may consult their doctor, friends, magazines or the internet, but there is a bewildering amount of information available - some from professional sources, much of it tied into the fertility industry. Our guide will help you separate the facts from the myths and put you in control of the information so that you can make the right choices to enhance your fertility."

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