A recent survey of 500 women with fertility problems found that they were not offered basic tests to see whether they were likely to need IVF, according to an article in The Telegraph. 70% of them were apparently not offered tests to check for regular ovulation which led to delays in their ability to access fertility treatment.
Though most GPs are great when it comes to investigating fertility problems, it is certainly the case that there is room for improvement. And there still seems to be a woeful lack of knowledge about the basics of fertility among some GPs, which really makes you wonder what training they are given. Only last week one of our patients reported she had been told she definitely ovulated on day 14 even though her cycle was only 22 days long - she had been trying to conceive for 3 years!
All this underlines the importance of getting a good understanding of your cycle, particularly when you ovulate and therefore when your fertile time is, as soon as you are ready to start trying for a baby - in fact before then would be better! The survey was carried out by Ovusense, the makers of an expensive new bit of kit that technologizes fertility awareness and sounds very similar to market first movers, DuoFertility. The thing is that these gadgets cost from £250 to £900 depending on how much support you want to go along with the monitors themselves. Of course this completely undercuts the typical cost of a private IVF cycle at around the £3,500 - £5,000 mark, so the companies can boast that they're saving you a stack. But the truth is that a lot of the time there's simply no need for any gadget whatsoever and a lot of women can get to grips with their fertility for a lot less - the £14 cost of a great fertility awareness book or £60 for a session with a private fertility awareness teacher if you need a bit more help. Some of you may even be lucky enough to have access to NHS nurses trained in fertility awareness at your local family planning clinics, though sadly they are few and far between.
Don't be nervous - fertility awareness is not rocket science, it's not all about complicated temperature taking and it's tremendously empowering to finally understand what's going on in your cycle. In the words of Weschler's book, it's time to Take Charge.