diagnosing endometriosis

The BBC has recently discovered that thousands of women are being left in crippling pain due to delays in the diagnosis of Endometriosis. The condition, said to affect 1.5 million women in the UK, can be excruciatingly painful and have a significantly negative impact on their lives.

This latest study shockingly revealed that it takes over seven years on average for the condition to be diagnosed. Here, we’ll look at the results of the latest study and what it means for those who do suffer from the condition.

Understanding the latest Endometriosis study

The new research carried out by the BBC, saw 13,500 women take part. The Endometriosis UK charity helped to collect responses to surveys, which saw half report they had experienced suicidal symptoms.

The majority of respondents also said the condition has had a negative impact on their careers, relationships and mental health. It can also have a devastating impact on fertility. By the time a diagnosis is made, the symptoms are often at their worst, and the damage caused to the body is significant.

As a result of this latest study, MPs are set to launch an enquiry into the experiences of women living with the condition.

Why does it take so long to receive a diagnosis?

Considering how many women suffer from Endometriosis, it is shocking that a diagnosis isn’t reached for an average of seven years. Part of the reason is said to be down to a lack of knowledge regarding the condition. Physicians and caregivers could use a lot more education into the condition and the effects it can have.

The symptoms of the condition can also be mistakenly diagnosed as being normal. For example, pain during menstruation is considered normal and given that everyone has a different pain tolerance, it can be difficult for GPs to establish what is normal for patients. The symptoms can also be confused with other conditions.

So, it’s a combination of a lack of awareness about the condition and the symptoms it produces which can cause delays in diagnosis. Some women are also reluctant to talk about the symptoms due to their intimate nature.

What can you do if you suspect you have Endometriosis?

Although this new research highlights how much needs to be done to improve Endometriosis diagnosis, there are things patients can do.

Undergoing a gynaecological exam can help to diagnose the condition. If you don’t have confidence in your GP to diagnose the condition, these scans can be carried out by private clinics such as here at SureScan. These clinics tend to have a lot more knowledge of the condition and how it presents.

While there isn’t a cure for Endometriosis, there are effective treatments which can be used to reduce the symptoms. The earlier these treatments are sought, the less impact the condition will have both on a patients physical and mental health. This latest research highlights the desperate need for GPs and health practitioners to become more knowledgeable on the condition and the effect it can have on patient’s lives. Call 07835 736627 to arrange your appointment.

recurrent miscarriage treatment

Recurrent miscarriages can have a devastating impact on couples trying to have a baby. However, hope for a cure has been provided thanks to a new trial carried out by the University Hospital Coventry and the University of Warwick.

Scientists discovered that an underlying infection could be the cause of recurrent miscarriages. Now, they’ve been given the funding required to find out if medication to cure the infection could be the cure they’ve been looking for.

Understanding the latest recurrent miscarriage trial

The new trial is following on from research carried out by the scientists from the Warwick and Coventry universities. Their initial research showed that recurrent miscarriages could be caused by endometritis, where the lining of the womb becomes inflamed. It’s also known to cause pain and bleeding.

The condition could be treated with antibiotics. The US and Germany are already treating Endometritis with antibiotics, but as of yet no trial has been carried out to establish whether they could also cure recurrent miscarriages.

The Medical Research Council has given the scientists £1.9 million to fund the trial and they are now currently seeking 7,000 couples to take part. The recruitment process is going to take a couple of years due to its large size. If it proves successful, antibiotics could be used to prevent up to half of the women who suffer from recurrent miscarriages.

Cure could be provided before pregnancy

One of the most exciting things about this new discovery is that a cure could be provided before pregnancy. So, it’s a preventative option, rather than a treatment. By treating the inflammation prior to pregnancy, it eliminates the chance a recurrent miscarriage could occur due to Endometritis.

What else could cause miscarriages?

Although this new discovery is a major breakthrough, it’s important to note that it’s only going to help those suffering with Endometritis. There are numerous reasons recurrent miscarriages can occur and Endometritis is just one of them.

Miscarriages tend to occur within the first trimester of pregnancy. In many cases, what caused the miscarriage isn’t known. Recurrent miscarriages are diagnosed when a woman has experienced three or more miscarriages. They also increase the risk of experiencing another one by around 40%.

As well as inflammation and infections, recurrent miscarriages can be caused by:

  • Genetic issues
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Abnormal hormone levels
  • Cervical problems

It’s estimated around half of those who do experience recurrent miscarriages do so because of inflammation of the womb lining. So, the new trial could prove extremely promising for these patients. However, due to other causes, it is crucial patients seek an accurate diagnosis. That way, the best course of treatment can be recommended.

Recurrent miscarriages can be devastating. This new trial provides hope for those experiencing recurrent miscarriages due to infection and inflammation. If antibiotics could be used to eliminate the chances of recurrent miscarriages, it would change the lives of thousands of patients. However, it’s going to take years to establish whether or not antibiotics are a viable cure.

Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing

The screening test, Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT), is designed to look for genetic and chromosomal abnormalities. However, before undergoing this relatively new type of screening, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with what it is, how it works and any potential complications or risks it might present.

To help you decide whether or not it’s right for you, below you’ll discover everything you need to know about Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing.

1. What is NIPT?

NIPT is a simple blood test which analyses tiny fragments of DNA which circulates throughout the body when you’re pregnant. Sometimes referred to as NIPS (Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening), it can determine whether the foetus is likely to be born with genetic abnormalities. The fragments tested aren’t found within the cells like most DNA. Instead, they float around freely.

The bloodstream in pregnant women contains DNA from both the mother and the placenta. The placenta is what links the foetus to the mother and it contains the same DNA as the foetus. Therefore, analysing the placenta DNA through NIPT gives a good indication of whether genetic abnormalities are present.

The test is largely used to detect the presence of Down’s Syndrome, Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13. It can also be used to screen for additional abnormalities caused by copied or deleted parts of the chromosomes. It’s also starting to be used for genetic issues that are caused by variants within single genes.

2. Does Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing pose any risks?

There are no risks associated with NIPT. It’s a non-invasive blood test, producing the same side effects as any blood test. There’s no risk to the baby and it can be carried out quickly. This is largely what drives the popularity of the test.

3. Are NIPT results accurate?

There’s a lot of misconceptions over the effectiveness of NIPT. The first thing patients need to realise is that the test doesn’t diagnose chromosomal abnormalities. Instead, it reveals the chances your baby would be born with an abnormality. So, it’s not necessarily definitive if the foetus is found to have some abnormalities.

In terms of how accurate the test is, for Down’s Syndrome it has been discovered to be 99% accurate. That being said, false positives can occur so it’s advisable a follow-up amniocentesis or a CVS is carried out to confirm the result.

As for other abnormalities, the accuracy rates vary. So, if you do get a high-risk result back, it’s always worth discussing the risks with your doctor. They’ll be able to schedule follow-up testing to confirm whether the NIPT was accurate.

4. When can I undergo Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing?

If you want to undergo NIPT, you can have it any time after 10 weeks into the pregnancy. It’s a good idea to undergo the test before going for your first Nuchal scan. You can book a NIPT here at SureScan. Call 07835 736627 to arrange your appointment.

Overall, NIPT is a great non-invasive way of determining whether or not your baby has any chromosomal abnormalities. However, it’s important to make sure you understand what the testing involves and what it can and can’t detect.

early pregnancy scan

After finding out you’re pregnant, the wait for the first ultrasound scan can feel like an eternity. Not only are you excited to see your baby for the first time, but you also want to check that everything’s ok.

The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to wait until the first scan offered on the NHS. There’s an option to undergo an early pregnancy scan between 7 and 11 weeks. Here, we’ll look at what an early pregnancy scan is and the top reasons you might want to consider having one.

What is an early pregnancy scan?

An early pregnancy scan is performed before the first Nuchal scan offered on the NHS. This early scan isn’t provided on the NHS so it will need to be performed at a private pregnancy scanning clinic.

It’s typically carried out anywhere between 7 and 11 weeks. This means an abdominal scan can be carried out, rather than internally. In some pregnancies, it may be recommended that testing is carried out before 7 weeks. These scans have to be carried out trans-vaginally.

The benefits of an early pregnancy scan

There’s a number of benefits that come from undergoing an early pregnancy scan. The main one is you can check for abnormalities.

If you’re perceived as having a higher risk pregnancy, an early scan can help to determine whether or not baby is developing as they should. Picking up on any abnormalities early on will prepare you for any decisions you may need to make. It also enables you to be monitored more closely if required.

The scan will also reveal your due date and how far along you are in the pregnancy. You’ll also get to see how many babies you’re expecting. Of course, you’ll also get to actually see your baby for the first time and receive a scan photo early. If nothing else, this early pregnancy scan can help to put your mind at ease if you’ve had a history of difficult pregnancies, or miscarriages.

Are there any risks or complications?

Ultrasound scans, even these early ones, are deemed safe during pregnancy. So, medically there’s no reason you shouldn’t choose to have one. There are a few factors to consider however before determining whether this scan is right for you.

Firstly, it won’t be able to tell you a significant amount of information about your baby. It could also potentially make you feel more anxious having the scan if an abnormality is found. It could also be beneficial waiting to have the first scan at the same time as NIPT screening.

It’s important to take these factors into account as well as the benefits of the scan. If you’re unsure whether or not an early pregnancy scan is right for you, book a consultation with one of our specialists. They will be able to tell you more about the scan and help you determine whether it’s a good option for you. With no risks or side effects, early pregnancy scans can be extremely beneficial; particularly for those with a high-risk pregnancy.

To arrange your early pregnancy scan, call 07835 736627 to arrange an appointment at our Sutton Coldfield pregnancy scan clinic.

menopause health check

At their recent party conference, Labour announced plans to introduce flexible working hours for menopausal women. They are hoping to tackle the stigma behind the condition, as well as make life more bearable for the women going through it.

At the moment, these plans only apply to larger companies which have a minimum of 250 employees. They will also only be introduced if Labour wins the next election. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the new plans and how they could benefit thousands of women across the country.

What are the proposed menopause workplace policies?

The new policies being introduced by Labour would force larger companies to provide flexible working hours to their menopausal workers. Managers would also be required to undergo training to learn more about the condition. This would enable them to better accommodate the needs of their workers.

Under the plans, large employers would also need to treat the menopause as they would a long-term health condition. It’s also recommended they make their absence policies more flexible.

Finally, risk assessments would need to be carried out to ensure the working environment doesn’t exasperate symptoms. For example, adjustments to ventilation may be required to help relieve symptoms such as hot flushes.

Plans hope to move towards equality in the workplace

Labour is hoping that these new plans will help to move towards better equality in the workplace. Women are often at a disadvantage in the workplace due to menopausal and menstrual problems. The stigma relating to these issues also makes it difficult for those suffering to get the help they need.

These plans are just part of the Labour party’s goal to improve the workplace for women. They’re also planning on forcing large companies to come up with solid action plans for narrowing the gender pay gap. Tougher action over harassment at work will also be put into place through the Equalities Act.

Menopause is linked to impaired thinking

Although these new proposed plans are likely to cause controversy, there are scientific studies which back up the impact the menopause can have in the workplace.

Researchers from the University of Illinois discovered that night sweats experienced in the menopause can lead to impaired thinking. This is largely down to the sleep disturbances it can cause.

Interestingly, the study found that menopausal women who experience night sweats, tend to sleep for longer. The longer they do sleep, the harder they find it to think straight during the day. It’s worth pointing out that the study only found a link and not a direct association. However, it still backs up the troubles menopausal women can have in the workplace if their sleep is affected.

Having more flexible working hours and a greater understanding of the menopause in the workplace would be a major step forward in equality. However, it all rests on whether Labour actually gets voted in. Even if they don’t, other parties are likely to see the potential of the plans and could come up with something similar. In the meantime, those who are suffering from menopausal symptoms can use medications to minimise symptoms.

To book your menopause health check, call SureScan on 07835 736627.

viability scan

Ultrasound scans are crucial for checking that baby is developing well in the womb. As well as NHS scans, pregnant women can also opt to have private ultrasound scans. Here, we’ll look at the different scans available and what you can expect from NHS vs private ultrasounds.

Understanding ultrasound scans

An ultrasound scan enables you to see how baby is developing. Ultrasound gel is placed onto the abdomen by a trained sonographer. A handheld device is then rubbed over the gel, sending ultrasound waves into the womb, which then produces an image of the baby. These scans are carried out for a number of reasons. They look at the size of baby, while also figuring out the due date. They also detect how many babies you’re expecting, and whether or not they are developing healthily. It may also be possible to detect some types of abnormalities. These types of scans are considered safe for both you and baby.

What pregnancy scans are offered under the NHS?

The NHS typically offers two ultrasound scans to pregnant women. These are standard 2D ultrasound scans including the early pregnancy scan and the anomaly scan. The early pregnancy scan can be carried out anytime between 8 and 14 weeks. This scan tells you your due date and identifies how many babies you’re expecting. You’ll also discover whether or not they are developing as well as they should. At this scan, you should be offered screening for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down’s Syndrome.

The testing for chromosomal abnormalities involves a scan and a blood test. It can take a couple of weeks to receive the results and it isn’t able to 100% detect whether or not there is a problem. However, it can help to identify the risk.

The second scan, known as the anomaly scan, takes place between 18 and 21 weeks. This is where baby’s heart, bones, brain, abdomen, face, kidneys and spinal cord are assessed. The sonographer will check for the presence of any potential problems.

What private pregnancy scans are available?

As well as the free tests offered by the NHS, patients can also choose to undergo private testing. There are numerous private tests available including a viability scan, gender scan and 3D scans.

The viability scan can be undertaken between 6 and 10 weeks into the pregnancy. While you won’t be able to see much of baby right now, it’s a great test for reassurance if you’ve suffered previous miscarriages for example. The gender scan is usually carried out 20 weeks into the pregnancy on the NHS. However, private scans can potentially reveal baby’s gender after 16 weeks. Then finally, you have the 3D scans. These are offered during the second half of the pregnancy, giving you a 3D view of your baby inside the womb.

There are benefits to having both NHS and private ultrasound scans. For those who are worried about their pregnancy, private scans can be used to provide reassurance. If you’re not sure whether or not a private scan would be useful, call 07835 736627 to book a consultation at our private pregnancy scanning clinic today.

early menopause

A research breakthrough has discovered a way to postpone the menopause, allowing women to have children later in life. Scientists have developed a procedure which is being carried out by the pioneer of IVF treatment. Not only does this new procedure enable women to have children later in life, but it can also delay early menopause. Here, we’ll look at this new procedure and the benefits it can deliver.

Understanding the procedure to postpone early menopause

The new procedure is the first of its kind, co-founded by four world-renowned reproductive medicine experts. It’s said to take just half an hour and involves no pain. It comes at a cost between £6,000 and £11,000 and can be provided to patients up until the age of 40. If the patient is choosing to have the procedure for fertility rather than hormonal purposes, the age limit drops to 35.

The procedure involves removing ovarian tissue and freezing it until it is needed. Keyhole surgery is performed to remove part of the tissue. Then, it’s sliced up before being frozen and stored.

The earlier the procedure is carried out; the more eggs will be viable when the woman does choose to start a family. So, for example, if patients have the procedure at 30 and then choose to start a family at 40, the tissue re-grafted onto the body will be 10 years younger. This greatly increases the chances of fertility. So far, nine women have undergone the procedure.

The benefits of the procedure

This new procedure is revolutionary in the fertility sector. Thousands of women go through early menopause. While HRT is available to combat some of the side effects, it does nothing to improve fertility. There are also health issues linked to HRT, particularly in its long-term use.

The procedure is thought to be able to delay the menopause by up to 20 years. This is excellent news for women who have a high risk of going through early menopause. The earlier the procedure is carried out, the longer it will delay the menopause later on. Not only can it help to preserve fertility, but it can also prevent serious health conditions associated with early menopause.

Cost-cutting benefits for the NHS

The benefits of the new procedure don’t just stop at fertility and health. It’s also thought that there’s going to be significant cost-cutting benefits for the NHS too. This is because it’s going to greatly reduce the need for Menopausal treatments. It will also reduce the number of women experiencing serious health complications from the menopause such as osteoporosis and heart conditions.

Overall, this new procedure is a fantastic development within the sector. It provides hope for millions of women. While it is still fairly new, it is likely to become a lot more prominent in the private health sector in the coming years. Eventually, the procedure may even be offered by the NHS, particularly if it does significantly reduce costs.

Recurrent miscarriage

Recurrent miscarriages can be devastating for couples. Usually, tests are carried out on the woman to determine the cause of the miscarriages. However, a recent study has revealed that recurrent miscarriages could actually be linked to faulty sperm. It is thought DNA damage is a major contributor to recurrent miscarriages. Here, we’ll look at what the recent study discovered and what it means for the future of fertility treatments.

What did the study find?

The study, carried out by the Imperial College London, looked into the sperm quality of 50 men. Their partners had suffered recurring miscarriages, which medically refers to at least three miscarriages in a row. There were 110 men involved in the study overall.

When they compared the results to men whose partners hadn’t experienced a miscarriage, it was discovered there was more DNA damage present in the sperm. They are hoping this small-scale study will open the doors to further research and the identification of treatments to reduce miscarriage risk.

Study highlights importance of male health in fertility

Although only a small study, its results do highlight the importance of male health in fertility. It is thought that bacteria left over from previous infections could be a factor in the increased sperm DNA damage. The bacteria which lives within the prostate gland, would increase the levels of reactive oxygen species. Obesity is also known to lead to fertility issue in men. It’s thought that an increased fat content can lead to a reactive oxygen species increase, in turn affecting fertility.

According to the results of the recent study, age could also be a factor in the poorer sperm quality of the men studied. Those whose partners had suffered a miscarriage were seven years older than the other group of men. They were also slightly more overweight. The researchers are now looking into whether these factors could have affected the reactive oxygen species levels.

Further research into recurrent miscarriage needs to be carried out

The results of this latest study highlight the need for additional research to be carried out. In particular, more needs to be discovered about whether reactive oxygen species increase the risk of miscarriages. If it is found they have an impact on fertility, new treatment solutions could be developed to lower the levels.

Understanding that both partners health could contribute to fertility is crucial in diagnosis and treatment. Although medicine has been very slow to catch up to the fact that male sperm could be the cause of miscarriages, this new study goes some way to increase awareness. Now, further research into sperm health and miscarriages will help to potentially develop new treatment avenues.

It’s thought that one in 50 couples experience recurring miscarriages in the UK. This new study will hopefully lead the way to more in-depth, larger studies being carried out. Couples who are currently experiencing troubles conceiving naturally should reach out to a fertility specialist. There are numerous treatments currently available, along with tests for both the male and female partner.

Call 07835 736627 for more advice from SureScan Women’s Health Clinic.

ovarian reserve test

A new large-scale study has discovered a link between air pollution and declining ovarian reserves. The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology looked at real-world data from over 1,300 Italian women. It was discovered that air pollution can have a negative impact on a woman’s fertility.

Here, we’ll look at what the study found and how patients can check their fertility with an ovarian reserve test.

Understanding the study into ovarian reserves

The study involved analysing hormone data for over 1,300 women in the Modena area in Italy. The data was taken from the year 2007 through until 2017. After compiling it into a large database, the measurements were extended to link hormone levels with residential and age information.

It is already known that a lot of environmental chemicals can disturb the physiology of hormones. The researchers were looking at one hormone in particular within this study – the Müllerian hormone (AMH). This hormone is produced by the ovaries and is known to be a reliable marker of ovarian reserve. It’s already known that smoking and age can influence AMH levels. However, this is the first time that environmental pollution has been found to also impact the hormone.

The environmental exposure assessment looked into nitrogen dioxide levels, alongside particle matter. It was discovered that environmental factors also played a role in AMH levels.

Although there is a link between air pollution and ovarian reserve, the largest link remains a patient’s age. The older a woman gets, the lower her ovarian reserve becomes. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of conception.

Should patients check their ovarian reserves?

Women who are worried about their ovarian reserves can have them checked. It’s well known that girls are born with all of the eggs they’ll ever have.

By the time they reach puberty, girls have an average of 300,000 eggs. These develop and mature over a woman’s lifetime and each has a different number of eggs. As you age, the number of eggs you have in your supply diminishes at a staggering rate. Once the eggs run out, that’s when the menopause kicks in.

An ovarian reserve test will let you know how many eggs you roughly have left. This will in turn help to identify how well you’ll respond to fertility treatment. It can also reveal how much time you have left to use your remaining eggs. The test is especially important at determining whether or not drugs used to stimulate the ovaries would prove effective in those with a low reserve.

The test involves carrying out a transvaginal ultrasound and a blood test to measure the AMH levels. This is one of the most accurate tests to detect ovarian reserves. At SureScan, our fertility tests include an ovarian reserve test.

This latest research show that air pollution can have a significant impact on a woman’s fertility. Therefore, those who live within high air pollution towns and cities might want to consider freezing their eggs. This would mean air pollution wouldn’t be able to stop the women getting pregnant later on in life if they choose to.

Call 07835 736627 to arrange a fertility health check at SureScan for more advice and tests.

fertility health checks

These days, you can find smartphone apps for just about everything, including fertility. For couples who are struggling to conceive, fertility apps are designed to help boost their chances by revealing when the woman is at her most fertile. However, do these apps actually work?

Here, we’ll explore fertility apps and what studies have so far shown in relation to their effectiveness.

The increasing popularity of fertility apps

In 2016, a study revealed there were almost 100 different smartphone apps which allowed women to track their menstrual cycles and fertility. It also discovered most of these apps had more than one million downloads. This just showed how popular fertility apps had become. Now, in 2019, the number of fertility apps available to smartphone users has increased further.

Being able to keep track of menstrual cycles and fertility via technology is extremely convenient for couples. There are some pretty advanced apps available too. The most advanced apps make use of STM, or Sympto-Thermal Method. This uses three different clues to accurately predict your fertility window. It monitors your period, cervical fluid and temperature.

The question is, are these apps actually useful? When you’re trying to conceive, you only have a very small window of opportunity each month. So, if these apps aren’t accurate, they could be jeopardising your chances. Let’s take a look at what the studies say in regard to fertility app effectiveness.

What do the studies show?

Up until recently, very few studies have been carried out into the effectiveness of fertility apps. However, Stanford University and EPFL’s Digital Epidemiology Lab have recently worked together to assess the effectiveness of two popular fertility apps.

They carried out a large-scale study into 200,000 users of Kindara and Sympto fertility apps. Both of these apps allow users to track their fertility using the advanced STM feature. They tracked a staggering 30 million days of data from 2.7 million menstrual cycles. It is the largest study of its kind.

One of the most interesting findings from the study was that the majority of women don’t ovulate on days 14-15 of their cycle. This is when the average ovulation period is expected to begin. It also discovered that when tracked frequently, the apps did tend to provide fairly accurate results.

However, it is important for women to understand that these apps are not 100% accurate. They can, however, be used to provide valuable information to medical teams working with couple’s seeking fertility treatment.

The importance of fertility health checks

Although the evidence does suggest fertility apps can be useful, couples who are struggling to conceive, especially after over one year of trying, are encouraged to undergo a fertility health check. This will help to establish whether there are any issues that need to be addressed. If nothing else, a fertility health check will give you better peace of mind.

Overall, fertility apps are definitely worth investing in, particularly the more advanced versions. However, if you want the most accurate results, it’s much better to undergo fertility health checks; to arrange your appointment call 07835 736627.