Author: kbiddiss

HCG Pregnancy Blood Test: Do I need one?

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Pregnancy Test

Positive Pregnancy Test

What is an HCG Blood Test?

By H Boys (Registered Nurse)

 

Firstly, if you have just found out you are pregnant CONGRATULATIONS!!!

An HCG blood test can identify the presence and level of the pregnancy hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin in a woman’s own blood sample. This is the same hormone that is picked up in the urine, with home pregnancy testing kits. At The Surrey Park Clinic, we offer the HCG blood test as a ‘same day’ result if required (£61.25 + nurse fee). Alternatively, we can offer a turnaround time of 24-48 hours (£49 + nurse fee).

Whilst the presence of the HCG hormone can identify a ‘positive’ test, it cannot confirm the stage of pregnancy or whether the pregnancy is progressing. The report will give a number (milli-international units per ml) alongside the lab parameters expected at a certain stage of pregnancy. It is important to note that these parameters can vary greatly from person to person.

 

“We offer an HCG blood test as a ‘same day’ result”

 

Some women may have been asked by their GP or specialist (a fertility specialist for example) to do an HCG blood test, so that they can monitor their levels closely.

HCG blood tests are not recommended as a replacement for home urine tests, which are just as effective at identifying a pregnancy, if taken at the appropriate time. The blood test is usually recommended if clinically indicated; for example, if a woman is under the care of a Fertility/Gynaecology specialist, if they are experiencing unusual cramping/spotting or if they have reason to be concerned that their pregnancy is not progressing. In this scenario, it is always best to take guidance from their GP or specialist before booking these tests. The doctor may suggest doing two or more tests, between 48 hour periods to see if the levels are doubling.

 

“HCG blood tests are not recommended as a replacement for home urine tests.”

 

Whilst an HCG blood test result can offer reassurance to a woman/couple in the early stages of pregnancy, it cannot be used as a diagnostic tool.  Unusual symptoms can be a normal part of early pregnancy, but in some cases further monitoring (including scanning) and medical support is required to rule out conditions including a biochemical pregnancy, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. In emergencies, it is recommended to seek medical advice via A&E or your local Early Pregnancy Unit.

If you do need to book an appointment, you can do so online by clicking here. Alternatively, if you would like to speak to a member of the team for more information, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01483 454 016 / info[email protected]

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Over the counter HRT

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Following last weeks announcement about over the counter HRT for women +50, here Consultant Gynaecologist Mr Jay Chatterjee talks about what you need to know.

Making HRT more accessible is definitely a step in the right direction, but it is important that women do not self diagnose. Seeking expert advice and guidance is fundamental to ensure that you are receiving the right treatment and dosage.

If you are concerned, worried or just need some advice around where to start, please do get in touch. Our team of experts and specialist doctors are here for you.

For more information about how we can help you or a loved one, please follow the link here. 

#BecauseYouMatter

Putting your health first Podcast

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Our Consultant Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist, Lilian Ugwumadu was invited to speak on The Confidence Conversations Podcast, hosted by Joy Burnford. This episode focused on putting your health first, and as a busy working mother of two, Lilian knows all too well how easy it is to disregard your own health concerns. Do give this podcast a listen to find out why you should put your health first.

Here’s a snippet of the podcast and you can find the full episode here https://www.myconfidencematters.com/podcast/put-your-health-first

Interested in Freezing your eggs?

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We are delighted to be hosting an information evening on egg freezing with our Medical Director and Fertility Specialist, Mr Emmanuel Kalu on February 16th at 7pm. More and more women are looking to freeze their eggs if they are not ready to start a family so this event will be very informative in understanding what is involved.

We are all born with a finite number of eggs and from the age of 35, not only do the number of eggs decline more rapidly, the quality of these eggs also deteriorates. Click here for information about egg freezing, or join Mr Kalu on the 16th February to find out more. Spaces are limited so please email [email protected] to secure your place.

Next Fertility Open Evening – 7th February

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Our next Fertility Open evening will take place on the 7th February. Places are limited so please email [email protected] to confirm your place. Fertiltiy Consultant, Miss Petya Doncheva, will give you a free 15 minute consultation to discuss your fertility challenges and give you an overview of the options available to you. You can meet some of the members of the team and get a feel if we are the right clinic for you.

To find out more, please click here.

 

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Can new fertility device improve chances of pregnancy?

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Improving Chances of At Home Conception – Is it Possible?

We read with interest about the new Fertility device (Twoplus Fertility Sperm guide) that promises to increase the chances of conception by retaining sperm in the vagina for over an hour. The aim is to prevent sperm leakage after intercourse and create a rich pool of sperm in the vagina, thereby increasing the chances of fertilization by enabling more sperm cells to swim up into the uterine cavity.

The device is inserted into the vagina, and the male ejaculates sperm into the pouch of the device. Manufacturers of this device recommend that couples use a lubricant to minimize the male partner’s discomfort during intercourse. 

 

“Great interest among our patients; including same-sex couples who wish to explore self-insemination.”

 

Obviously, the development of any device that facilitates conception is always exciting to the Fertility community.

Although we are yet to see any scientific data to back the efficacy of this device, we anticipate that it would draw great interest among our patients; including same-sex couples who wish to explore self-insemination.

Obviously, the outcome of fertility treatment is influenced by various factors, which is why treatment must always be individualized. Each case is different, and it is essential to ensure that the treatment of choice is suitable for the individual patients.

“The outcome of fertility treatment is influenced by various factors.”

Devices like this would be much more effective for women who have a good understanding of their ‘body’.

It is extremely helpful for women to understand the ‘fertile window’ and to aim for insemination/intercourse at the time of optimum fertility.

The fertile window is best defined as the 6day interval ending on the day of ovulation. The viability of both eggs and sperm should be maximum during this time. Research has shown that peak fecundity was observed when intercourse occurred within 2 days before ovulation.  

Among women who have regular cycles, the likelihood of conception increases during the putative fertile window.

 

At home fertility device to help with conception

TwoPlus Fertility Device

 

 

Unfortunately, the timing of the fertile window within a given cycle can vary considerably, even in women who have regular cycles. Although fertility tracking methods (including calendars and apps; cervical monitoring, ovulation detection kits and basal body temperature tracking) can help assist patients to understand their own personal cycle characteristics. A major weakness of these predictor devices is that they are based on the assumption that the timing and duration of a woman’s fertile window are consistent and dependent on cycle length characteristics and trends. But we know that cycles are pretty much variable, and the timing of ovulation can vary from month to month and from woman to woman.

The calendar method is based on the length of the menstrual cycle. The length of the luteal phase (the part of the menstrual cycle after ovulation) is presumed to be about 14days. Thus, the day of ovulation would be cycle day 14 for women who have a 28-day cycle and day 16 for women with a 30days cycle.

 

“Unfortunately, the timing of the fertile window within a given cycle can vary considerably, even in women who have regular cycles.”

 

The fertile window, therefore, is set as the presumed day of ovulation and the 5 days prior (cycle day 9-14 in a 28 day cycle and cycle days 11-16 in women with a 30 day cycle etc).

Finally, it is important to note that sperm is motile and swims into the cervical canal extremely quickly and shortly after deposition in the vagina. Studies have shown that sperm deposited into the vagina at mid-cycle are found in the fallopian tube within 15 minutes. Sperm has been found in the cervical canal seconds after ejaculation, regardless of the coital position.

Although many women think that lying face upwards for some time after intercourse facilitates sperm transport and prevents leakage of sperm from the vagina, this belief is not backed by any scientific evidence. Lying still in bed or elevating the legs does not necessarily increase the chance to conceive. Motile sperm swims up the genital tract, and some seminal fluid leakage is normal.

Whilst we welcome new devices that help our patients conceive, it is important that the right patient group are identified for each treatment type, and treatment must be individualized.

 

For more information on the different fertility options available to you at The Surrey Park Clinic, please click here.

 

By

Mr Emmanuel Kalu MBBS, DFFP, FRCOG

Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

Specialist in Reproductive Medicine 

1 in 3 people do not attend their cervical screening

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The 17 – 23rd of January was cervical cancer prevention week. Cervical cancer is highly preventable with recent data showing the HPV vaccine is cutting cases of cervical cancer by nearly 90%. ⁠

Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by a high risk HPV virus. This sometimes causes changes in the cells in the cervix which may develop into cancer. ⁠

Cervical screening helps detect if you carry the high risk HPV virus and if there are any changes to cells in the cervix. HPV is common, 8 out of 10 people will have it during their lifetime so having the high risk HPV virus doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop cervical cancer. But if screening picks up you do have it, you can be monitored and treated before the virus becomes cervical cancer.⁠

Cervical screening is important even if you have had the HPV vaccine as the vaccine doesn’t protect against all types of HPV. If you are nervous about going for screening, please talk to your medical practitioner as they will try to make you as comfortable as possible. The procedure only lasts a few minutes but could save your life. There are sadly around 850 people who die from cervical cancer a year so please make sure you attend your screening when invited. We also offer cervical screening here at The Surrey Park Clinic, so please get in touch if you’d like to book. You can book on-line (link in bio) or call 01483 454 016.⁠

 

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New Counselling & Therapy Service

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NEW: We are delighted to now offer a therapy and counselling service. Our team of psychotherapists can help with specific problems triggered by life-stage, e.g perinatal, postnatal, midlife or can help with general anxiety, depression, dealing with trauma or relationship problems. We are offering 10% off your first appointment. Visit https://thesurreyparkclinic.co.uk/mental-health-services/ or call 01483 454016 to book

The 5 Gynaecological Cancers you need to be aware of…

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Awareness of the 5 gynaecological cancers is very low despite 21,000 women receiving a diagnosis each year. As with many cancers, early diagnosis is key so it is important women are aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for and to know what’s normal for them.

At The Surrey Park Clinic we offer Well Woman checksCervical Screening and Ovarian Cancer screening. You can find out more about these tests by following the links and you can book these on-line or by calling 01483 454 016. As September is Gynae Cancer Awareness Month, we are offering 10% off our Well Woman and Ovarian Cancer Screening checks for bookings made in September.

Ovarian Cancer

Otherwise known as the silent killer, ovarian cancer is sadly often diagnosed at a late stage which is why awareness of symptoms is critical to ensure this cancer is caught early.

Ovarian cancer affects around 7,500 women a year. It is the abnormal growth and division of cells in the ovary and the tumour can spread to other areas of the abdomen. Recent research has highlighted that ovarian cancer is likely to start in the fallopian tubes.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer:

The main symptoms of ovarian cancer are fairly vague and non-specific but do watch out for:

  • Struggling to eat and feeling full more quickly
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain felt over a period of time
  • A change in bladder habits
  • Post menopausal bleeding

If you have any of these symptoms, please do see your GP or book into to see our consultant gynaecologist. At The Surrey Park Clinic, we offer ovarian cancer screening. Our Consultant Gynaecologist will discuss your medical history, conduct a trans-vaginal scan to assess the ovaries and also do CA125, CEA, Ca19-9 blood tests.

Who is at risk?

  • Women with a family history of Ovarian cancer and or related cancers such as breast, bowel and endometrial cancer
  • Women with an inherited BRCA gene mutation
  • As there is increasing awareness of Ovarian cancer, many women simply wish to have the reassurance of having their ovaries checked, especially if they have a friend who has developed the disease

More information on Ovarian Cancer:

Vulval Cancer

Vulval Cancer fortunately is quite a rare cancer and tends to affect women over 65 years. In order to be vigilant, it is important to know what your vulva “normally” looks like. We advise using a mirror to get to know the appearance of your vulva and check this on a regular basis to see if there are any changes.

Symptoms of Cancer of the Vulva:

  • a persistent itch in the vulva
  • pain, soreness or tenderness in the vulva
  • raised and thickened patches of skin that can be red, white or dark
  • a lump or wart-like growth on the vulva
  • bleeding from the vulva or blood-stained vaginal discharge between periods
  • an open sore in the vulva
  • a burning pain when peeing
  • a mole on the vulva that changes shape or colour

What Causes Vulval Cancer?

The exact cause of vulval cancer is unclear, but the following factors may increase your risk of developing the condition:

  • increasing age
  • vulval intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) – where the cells in the vulva are abnormal and at risk of turning cancerous
  • persistent infection with certain versions of the human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • skin conditions affecting the vulva, such as lichen sclerosus
  • smoking

Our Consultant Gynaecologist, Mr Jay Chatterjee, gives an overview of Vulval Cancer:

 

Womb/Uterine Cancer

This is the most common gynaecological cancer which affects a woman’s reproductive system. It tends to be more common amongst post-menopausal women.

Symptoms of womb cancer:

  • any abnormal bleeding during your usual cycle
  • any bleeding post menopause

What causes womb cancer?

It is not always clear why womb cancer occurs but there are factors which may increase your risk of developing it. If you have high levels of oestrogen in your body you may have a higher risk. Obesity can create higher levels of oestrogen and there may also be a slight higher risk from long term use of tamoxifen.

Our Consultant Gynaecologist, Mr Jay Chatterjee, shares an overview of womb cancer:

 

Cervical Cancer

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that is highly preventable. This is because dangerous pre-cancerous cell changes can be picked up in a Cervical screening, and any abnormal cells can be removed before they develop into cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women under 35 years and causes approximately 1,000 deaths per year in the UK. Most cervical cancers are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

What Are The Symptoms of Cervical Cancer?

Symptoms include:

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding during or after sexual intercourse
  • Bleeding at any time if you are past Menopause
  • Vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant
  • Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse

How do I Reduce my risk of Cervical Cancer?

Ensuring you are up to date with your Cervical screening appointments are the best way to reduce your risk of Cervical cancer. Research suggests that Cervical screenings (smear test and HPV testing) save around 1,000 lives every year. At The Surrey Park Clinic we offer a cervical screening service – find out more here.

HPV vaccines are also now available. Human papillomavirus vaccines are vaccines that prevent infection by certain types of human papillomavirus. Available HPV vaccines protect against either two, four, or nine types of HPV. All HPV vaccines protect against at least HPV types 16 and 18, which cause the greatest risk of cervical cancer.

 

Mr Jay Chatterjee gives an overview of Cervical Cancer:

 

Vaginal Cancer

Vaginal cancer is a rare cancer affecting the vagina, the tube leading from the cervix (neck of the womb) to the vulva.

What are the symptoms of vaginal cancer?

  • vaginal bleeding after the menopause
  • bleeding after sex or pain during sex
  • smelly or bloodstained vaginal discharge
  • bleeding between periods
  • a lump or mass in or at the entrance to the vagina
  • an itch in your vagina that will not go away
  • pain when peeing, or needing to pee a lot

Vaginal cancer is very rare for women under 40 but if you are experiencing symptoms, please do seek medical advice as early diagnosis is key.