gender scan Sutton Coldfield

Some hospitals across Scotland have decided they will no longer reveal the baby’s gender at routine pregnancy scans. For decades, women have been able to determine whether they are having a boy or a girl at the standard 20-week scan. So, why are some hospitals choosing to stop revealing gender?

Here, we’ll look at the reasons behind the sudden change and the options women have if they still want to know the sex before baby is born.

Why are some hospitals choosing not to perform a gender scan?

The decision to stop revealing baby’s gender has been made by some hospitals due to the fear over legal action if the prediction is wrong. A total of 4 out of 14 NHS boards including Orkney, Grampian, Shetland and Forth Valley, no longer offer gender reveal.

Hospital sources revealed that this was partly down to the threat of legal action when the gender turned out to be wrong. There have also been cases where sonographers have been verbally abused when they haven’t been able to detect baby’s gender during the scan. This has led to the hospital policy being changed in the hope staff will no longer have to go through potential abuse if they can’t get a clear image of baby.

However, although it has only recently come to light, these Scottish NHS hospitals have actually avoided revealing baby’s gender for many years now. The NHS Forth Valley for example, claims its sonographers don’t routinely tell patients the sex of their baby, and that has been their policy for more than ten years now. The only time the gender would be revealed is if it was required for clinical purposes.

The trouble with early ultrasound scans is that they can’t always provide a clear picture of baby. So, it isn’t always possible to determine the sex during the routine scan.

Is withholding baby’s gender the right thing?

The media coverage surrounding the decision to avoid revealing baby’s gender has led to a lot of heated debate. Is it right to withhold baby’s gender? Perhaps what would be more beneficial, would be if patients were informed about the risks of the gender reveal being wrong. Many don’t understand that early ultrasound scans cannot always determine baby’s sex.

There has also been some coverage that revealing baby’s gender may lead to more terminations. However, this is only really an issue in countries where cultural beliefs may come into play. In the UK, gender selection isn’t as prevalent as it is in many other parts of the world. So, the decision not to reveal baby’s gender may be a little unfair for patients, but it’s certainly understandable from the hospital’s point of view.

Patients who have been refused to find out the sex of their baby do have other options. A private gender reveal scan can show you whether or not you are having a boy or a girl. The cost isn’t as expensive as you might think, and you’ll also be able to choose whether you want a 3D or 4D scan.

ovarian cancer test

Here in the UK, over 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year and it’s the sixth most common cancer affecting women. If a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the early stages then she has a 70% chance of survival, but unfortunately, the disease is still often detected once it has become more advanced, which is why it is often called ‘the silent killer’.

In the early stages, symptoms of the disease are often vague and are often dismissed merely as women’s problems, particularly in post-menopausal women. To mark Ovarian Cancer Month this March, here is a list of symptoms to be aware of:

  • Persistent bloating
  • Loss of appetite or feeling full quickly
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain or pain in the lower back
  • Needing to wee more frequently or more urgently

Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to GPs is that they should offer ovarian cancer screening to women if they experience these symptoms more than 12 times in a month or continue for three weeks.

Advice for women over 50 who are experiencing symptoms similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS, is to see a GP for an ovarian cancer test as it is unusual for women over the age of 50 to develop this condition for the first time.

Other possible symptoms of ovarian cancer to be aware of include:

  • Changes in bowel movements, either diarrhoea or constipation
  • Feeling very tired for no reason
  • Unexplained weight fluctuations (either weight gain or weight loss)
  • Bleeding between periods (you should always see a GP if you experience any bleeding after the menopause)
  • Pain during sex

At the moment, there is no national screening programme for ovarian cancer. At SureScan, we offer full screening for ovarian cancer including consultation for risk assessment and a combination of tests. For more advice and diagnosis, please call us on 07835 736627 or 0121 308 7774 to arrange an appointment for an ovarian cancer test.

Nuchal Translucency Scan

When you’re pregnant, there are a lot of scans and tests available to ensure baby is developing properly. One optional scan you may want to undergo is the Nuchal Translucency scan.

Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the Nuchal Translucency scan and why it is carried out.

What is a Nuchal Translucency scan?

The Nuchal Translucency scan is an ultrasound scan that is offered to women in their first trimester. It can be carried out between 11 and 13 weeks and its purpose is to identify any potential chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down’s Syndrome.

The ultrasound scan looks to see how much nuchal translucency there is within the foetus. While some nuchal translucency is completely normal, there shouldn’t be excessive levels identified. However, if it is discovered that your baby has excessive levels of nuchal translucency, it doesn’t automatically mean they have a chromosomal abnormality. Instead, it’s used as an indicator of risk, rather than an actual diagnosis.

In order to get a more conclusive prediction, a Nuchal Translucency scan may be combined with a blood test. The blood test looks for both hCG and PAPP-A hormones. These are passed on from the foetus to the mother and if low levels of PAPP-A are identified, it could indicate an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the foetus.

Without having the blood test, the nuchal translucency scan has an accuracy of around 75%. However, with the blood test, the accuracy rate increases to 85%.

Is a Nuchal Translucency safe?

One of the main questions you may have about the test is whether or not it’s safe for baby. The good news the ultrasound scan has no known risk factors for either baby or mother. So, it’s 100% safe to undergo.

However, if there are abnormalities detected and you’re classed as a high risk for chromosomal abnormalities, you may be offered further testing. Some of these additional tests can increase the risk of miscarriage, so it’s important to talk through the risks with your healthcare professional.

What happens during the scan?

You’ll typically be referred by your doctor for a Nuchal Translucency scan. However, you can also book one privately.

It will take approximately half an hour to have the scan done by our scanning experts. Like a standard ultrasound scan, a gel will be placed onto the abdomen, before a transducer device is rolled gently across it. You may notice a little pressure, but the scan shouldn’t be painful.

If we have trouble getting a clear picture through the abdominal ultrasound, then we may offer a vaginal ultrasound instead. This will help them to get a much closer look at baby, along with a clearer image of the nuchal translucency fluid. You’ll receive the results of the scan within two weeks. If the results show an NT measurement of 3.5mm, that’s considered a normal result. An NT measurement lower than 1.3mm is considered low risk, while an NT measurement result of 6 or over is considered a high risk of chromosomal abnormalities.

Overall, a Nuchal Translucency scan can be a great tool for identifying your baby’s risk of developing chromosomal abnormalities. It’s a fast, safe ultrasound scan procedure and when done with a blood test, its accuracy rating is pretty impressive.

timeline for pregnancy scans

It’s perfectly normal to be wary of undergoing pregnancy scans and tests. However, most of them are simply carried out to confirm that baby is developing normally, and everything is ok. You also have the opportunity to see your baby, enhancing the bond you feel for your unborn child.

Sometimes, scans may be needed to detect more serious conditions. In any case, it’s good to have a clear idea of how the pregnancy is developing and whether or not there are any issues which may need to be addressed. The question is, how many scans and tests will you need? Here, you’ll discover a brief timeline for pregnancy scans and tests.

Basic pregnancy scans you’ll need

After having a βhCG (urine pregnancy) test to confirm the pregnancy, you’ll typically require two basic scans. The first is carried out at 12 weeks and takes approximately 10 minutes. This is where you’ll find out the due date of your baby, along with how many babies you are expecting, and whether there appears to be any abnormalities. It’s an abdominal scan, so a gel will be placed onto the abdomen before a handheld device is used to scan the area.

You’ll get to see a black and white image of your womb and growing baby, though you may not be able to clearly make them out just yet! This first scan is understandably exciting for expectant parents, particularly if it’s your first baby. After the scan, you’ll be given a copy of the image of your baby to take home.

The second basic scan is carried out at 20 weeks. During this scan you’ll be able to see baby much more clearly and most importantly of all, decide whether you want to know the sex. It usually takes from 15 to 20 minutes, and you do have the option to buy scan pictures to take home with you. The specialist will be able to check that baby is continuing to develop normally and detect any potential problems.

Early pregnancy scans

In some cases, you may need an early pregnancy scan. These take place between 6 to 10 weeks and are usually provided if you’re experiencing bleeding or if you’ve previously experienced a miscarriage.

As baby will be really small, you may need to have a probe inserted into the vagina to get a proper look at what is going on. This type of scan will also show your baby’s age and size, as well as check for a heartbeat.

For more information on your pregnancy scan timeline, give us a call on 07835 736627 or 0121 308 7774.

presentation scan

When you’re pregnant, it’s common to undergo numerous scans to check on the progress of the baby. Most typically, scans are carried out early on in the pregnancy. However, a presentation scan is one of the few that are performed later on in the pregnancy.

Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about a presentation scan, including why you might need one.

What is a presentation scan?

A presentation scan is typically carried out after 36 weeks into the pregnancy. Its primary purpose is to establish the position of baby, though it also looks into the position of the placenta, and how much amniotic fluid is surrounding baby.

The presentation scan isn’t performed unless it is recommended by your midwife or obstetrician. It is typically recommended to those perceived to have a high risk of a breech presentation and if the clinical examination is not accurate in determining the presentation.

Why it’s important to check baby’s position

During delivery, babies should be born head first. Throughout the pregnancy, your baby will move around a lot, sometimes ending up in what is referred to as breech position. This is where either the feet or the buttocks are the opposite way around to what they should be. Giving birth with baby’s feet first can raise potential risks, with most needing to be born via a caesarean section.

By week 36 of the pregnancy, baby should have settled into their final position. If they are still in breech position, a caesarean section will most likely be scheduled between weeks 37 and 38. The presentation scan helps to identify what position baby is in.

What does the presentation scan include?

A presentation scan typically includes an ultrasound scan. Most private clinics provide 4D imaging of baby, giving you an in-depth look into how they are developing. You can also have either 2D or 3D scans printed. If you haven’t found out baby’s sex yet, there is the possibility you could find out during the presentation scan. However, it does depend upon what position baby is in.

After the scan, you’ll be provided with a report, including baby’s measurements if requested. The entire appointment will last between 15 and 20 minutes, though the scan itself takes just a couple of minutes to locate baby’s head.

What do you need to do to prepare for a presentation scan?

Unlike other pregnancy scans, you’ll be pleased to learn that you don’t typically need a full bladder before the scan takes place. You will need to expose the abdomen, however, so it is recommended you wear two pieces of clothing, such as trousers and a top, rather than a dress. It is possible to take guests with you, though ideally, you’ll want to limit it to two to three people.

Overall, presentation scans can prove crucial in preventing breech births. While they are pretty rare, in the event your baby is still in breech position, it does help to be prepared. Once you’ve received the results of the scan, you’ll be able to come up with a plan of action of how best to proceed with the birth.

Call 07835 736627 or 0121 308 7774 to arrange a Presentation Scan at SureScan.

frozen eggs

Fertility campaigners and experts are placing pressure onto the government to change the time limit on how long women can store their frozen eggs. As it stands, women who choose to freeze their eggs for social reasons can store them for a maximum of ten years. After that, the eggs are required to be destroyed if they haven’t been used for IVF. Campaigners argue that the time should be lengthened to keep up with modern society.

Here, we’ll look at the current laws regarding egg freezing and why it’s time for them to change.

What are the current laws and when were they introduced?

Current laws state that eggs frozen for social purposes, rather than fertility purposes, can be stored for a maximum of 10 years. After that, they need to be destroyed. If premature fertility issues are likely to be a problem, this limit can be increased to up to 55 years.

The current laws were introduced in 1990 through the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. At the time the 10-year storage limit was set, fertility clinics relied upon slow-freezing techniques, which meant that the eggs couldn’t last much longer than 10 years.

Why are fertility experts campaigning for change?

These days, technology has vastly improved the fertility sector, enabling experts to freeze eggs for much longer. Not only that, but the age in which women are choosing to start a family has also increased.

Since 2010, more women than ever before have started to freeze their eggs. It’s common for women to focus more on their careers and travelling before they settle down and have children in today’s society. Therefore, the 10-year time limit that was introduced in 1990 is vastly outdated. There has also been an increase in the number of women waiting until they find the right partner before they contemplate having kids. So, fertility experts are campaigning to change the law in accordance with today’s technology and society.

What impact would lengthening the time limit have on society?

The debate over changing the laws was actually brought up in the House of Lords in 2018. Lord O’Shaunghnessy, a Conservative, argued that an extension to the length of time eggs can be stored, would have “far-reaching impacts on decisions that women make in starting families”. He claimed that there would need to be a public debate before a change in the current laws could be contemplated.

There is a worry that lengthening the time span would lead to women starting families a lot later than they do now. So, some experts are concerned about the impact that would have on society. However, the key thing that needs to be remembered within the debate, is that ultimately it should be down to each individual woman when she wants to start a family.

As fertility declines in a woman’s 30s, the eggs need to ideally be frozen in their 20s. However, under current laws, this means the eggs may need to be destroyed before the women are ready to start a family. Times and have changed and the laws also need to change in order to reflect modern technology and society.

If you’re concerned about your future fertility, the first step is to book a fertility health check so you can make informed decisions about your next steps. Call 07835 736627 or 0121 308 7774 to book an appointment at SureScan.

chances of conception

For many couples, trying to conceive can prove to be a stressful and frustrating process. Contrary to popular belief, it can actually take up to a year to fall pregnant. However, there are tools out there which can help make conceiving that little bit easier.

A new fertility app promising to improve the chances of conception is currently under development. The question is, could apps and tools like this really improve your chances of getting pregnant? Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the new app and how it works.

What is the new fertility app?

The new fertility app is being developed by experts from the prestigious Brigham and Women’s Hospital in America. It is being designed to help identify when a woman is ovulating, and the researchers claim it could be 100% accurate.

Compared to current methods offered to test ovulation such as a clinical blood test or body temperature measurement, this new app would prove to be much more cost-effective, as well as accurate. It would be much easier for users to understand too compared to current methods.

How does it work?

The smartphone-based test analyses the woman’s saliva to establish whether or not she is ovulating. Current saliva tests aren’t always accurate, but this new test works in a manner that provides an accuracy of 100%.

To use it, the saliva is smeared over a glass slide. It is then placed into an optical device which has been 3D printed. This is then placed over a smartphone camera, before an AI app analyses the sample to check for what is referred to as ‘ferning’.

Ferning is where, as the saliva dries, it crystallises and starts to look like a fern. This shows that a woman is ovulating, but to the untrained eye it can be easy to miss. So, the use of the smartphone app increases accuracy, producing more reliable, easy to understand readings.

The app developed by the team of researchers has been trained using more than 1500 images of non-ovulating and ovulating samples.

Could it be key to improving your chances of conception?

Initial findings show that this new app could significantly improve a couple’s chance of conceiving. However, it is worth keeping in mind that this is only true if the couple don’t have any underlying fertility issues.

Monitoring ovulation is crucial when you’re trying to conceive. It enables you to try to get pregnant during optimal times. So, for couples just starting out trying for a baby, it could definitely increase their chances of success.

Further testing required to establish the app’s effectiveness

Although this new test is an exciting development, further testing is required to establish how effective it really is. Current studies have been carried out on a somewhat small scale. So, larger-scale research will be required before it can be introduced into the mainstream.

While the new test is unlikely to hit the market anytime soon, there are current ovulation tests available. If you’ve been trying to conceive for over a year without success, however, it could point to a fertility issue. If you’re concerned about your fertility, book a consultation with a specialist to identify whether or not there is an underlying issue which needs to be addressed.

gynaecological scan

Let’s face it, undergoing a gynaecological exam isn’t something you’d consider to be a fun experience! However, they can prove extremely useful at diagnosing potential issues early, including fertility and health problems. Here, we’ll look at what a gynaecological exam consists of and why you might need one.

What is a gynaecological exam?

A gynaecological exam typically consists of two different scans including a transabdominal scan and a transvaginal scan. Both are carried out to detect any potential gynaecological problems.

The transabdominal scan is performed through the tummy, while the transvaginal scan gets closer to the organs to give a much clearer picture of what’s going on inside. Both scans are quick and straightforward, and you’ll be provided with the results right after the scans have been carried out if you do it privately.

Why might you need a gynaecological scan?

Gynaecological scans can be carried out for all age groups. You’ll typically need one if you experience any of the symptoms below:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Irregular bleeding
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abnormal discharge
  • Palpable mass within the pelvis/abdomen

These are just some of the symptoms which may lead you to require a gynaecological scan. Your doctor may refer you for the scan, or if you’re concerned you aren’t receiving an accurate diagnosis, you can choose to undergo a private gynaecological scan at specialist clinics such as SureScan.

What can the gynaecological scan detect?

Gynaecological exams can detect a wide range of potential health issues including fibroids, ovarian cysts and pelvic complex masses or suspected ovarian cancers.

Fibroids are fairly common, and they’re said to affect around 30% to 40% of women. Causing heavy bleeding, these benign growths have the potential to grow large enough to compress nearby organs. The majority of fibroids, however, don’t cause any issues and don’t even require treatment. They typically only need to be treated if they cause heavy bleeding, leading to debilitation or anaemia, or if they become too large that they place pressure onto the surrounding organs.

Gynaecological scans can also detect ovarian cysts. These fluid-filled sacs form within the ovaries and there are numerous types which can develop. Most of the time these cysts are benign, but there is a small chance they could be malignant. Cysts are very common and most of the time they are harmless, especially if you’re diagnosed with follicle cysts which tend to go away by themselves within one to three months.

Finally, gynaecological scans are crucial in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. While it is rare, early detection of ovarian cancer greatly increases survival rates. For example, if the cancer is caught during Stage 1, the success rate of treatment is around 90%. Regular gynaecological exams can, therefore, help to detect ovarian cancer quickly, enabling patients to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Overall, gynaecological scans should be carried out for any woman experiencing abdominal and gynaecological issues. Going for regular scans ensures that any potential problems are picked up early, giving the treatments more chance to work. If you’re concerned you may be suffering from an abdominal health issue, book a scan with SureScan today.

male fertility

When it comes to fertility treatment, the main focus is usually placed upon the woman. However, the reality is that over half of the troubles couples have when it comes to conceiving, lie with the man.

It has been well documented in recent years that sperm counts are dramatically falling, and men can suffer just the same emotional trauma as women when they are dealing with fertility issues.  So, why is the industry still focused predominantly on females when male fertility is the most common issue faced by couples today?

Here, we’ll look at the problem of male fertility and the options men have to check for any issues.

How men are treated within the fertility sector

One of the main issues faced by men when they seek fertility advice and treatment is that they are seen by women specialists. If a man is diagnosed with fertility issues, they are referred to a women’s reproductive health specialist. After semen analysis has been carried out and it has been determined the fertility issues are down to the male partner, again the focus is placed entirely upon the female and how the issues are affecting her.

Obviously, the woman should be supported during the process, but so should the male partner. Many men feel like they are side-lined from fertility treatments such as IVF, with many clinicians barely even recognising they are there at all.

The truth is, fertility treatment and diagnosis are tough on both partners, yet many specialists do tend to ignore the feelings and needs of the male partner.

Better testing is required

It’s not just the emotional support aspects of male infertility which needs to be addressed. The sperm analysis testing carried out by the NHS is also very much out of date. The gynaecologist’s male patients are referred to, don’t tend to carry out physical examinations to check for potential testicular issues. They also don’t look into whether any lifestyle factors might be contributing towards male infertility.

Finally, further tests aren’t carried out to look for sperm defects like DNA damage, which could result in miscarriage and infertility. So, while the sperm analysis testing that is done will help to identify possible issues, it certainly isn’t the only method that should be used.

The benefits of a fertility health check

Although current testing for male infertility isn’t as intensive as it could be, there are still benefits to undergoing a fertility health check. Not all fertility clinics ignore the male partner’s feelings and problems, so finding one which focuses on supporting both partners is possible.

At SureScan, we know how taxing fertility issues can be on both partners. We offer sperm analysis testing and do our best to identify the root cause of the problem. From diagnosis through to treatment, we’ll ensure you feel supported every step of the way.

Overall, more certainly needs to be done to address the issues with how men are treated throughout the fertility process. New, more accurate tests are currently being developed, such as the CAP score method, but clinicians also need to better understand the toll fertility issues can take on male partners in order to provide better emotional support.

fertility health check

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for some time but you’ve so far been unsuccessful, it’s understandable you might be worried about your fertility. It’s actually really normal for it to take a while to conceive, but if it’s taking longer than a year, it could be a sign that something is wrong and it’s time to book a fertility health check.

So, who should you see if you’re concerned about conceiving? Below, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the signs to watch out for and where you should turn if you feel there is a problem.

How long does it take to get pregnant?

How long it takes to actually conceive will depend upon numerous factors. For a healthy woman under the age of 35, it typically takes around a year to conceive. If after this time you still haven’t gotten pregnant, that’s when fertility issues are diagnosed.

However, if you’re under 35 and you have signs of infertility, it’s a good idea to seek help earlier. Some of the main risk factors to watch out for include a history of ovarian cysts, irregular menstrual cycles, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Women over the age of 35 should visit the doctor after six months of trying. It doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem, but your chance of conceiving reduces the older that you get. So, it’s a good idea to seek help as quickly as possible in case there is an issue that can be picked up on early.

How can you tell if you have fertility issues?

The only way to really tell if you have fertility issues, is to visit a doctor or fertility specialist. However, there are a few signs and risk factors you can watch out for.

Ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids could be a contributing factor if you’re failing to conceive. Uterine fibroids are actually really common, with most women having fibroid growths on their uterus. However, most of the time they don’t cause any issues with fertility. Ovarian cysts can also block conception and could need surgery to be removed.

Other potential risk factors include if you suffer from pelvic inflammatory disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome or if you have any scar tissue or adhesions within the fallopian tubes. Of course, the problem may not even lie with you at all. Male infertility accounts for more than half of infertile cases. So, if you are concerned that you or your partner are experiencing fertility issues, where should you turn?

Undergoing a fertility health check

If you are concerned you or your partner are experiencing fertility issues, you can undergo a fertility health check. This is typically offered to couples who have been trying to conceive for over a year without success. However, if you have any of the risk factors mentioned earlier, you can request a fertility health check after six months.

The health check can consist of a consultation, physical examination, an ultrasound scan and blood tests.

So, if you’ve been trying to conceive for more than a year and you aren’t experiencing any success, a fertility health check can help to diagnose the issue. Contact SureScan today to book a fertility health check with one of our fertility specialists.