Category: Maternity

Let’s Educate And Break The Breastfeeding Stigma

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Breastfeeding stigma

Sadly, the world does not make life easy for breastfeeding parents. There are still a lot of people out there who have negative opinions of the process and condemn anyone trying to feed their children this way in public.

The breastfeeding stigma is a fairly archaic one that is fed by misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding the benefits and process. But by sharing more about the topic and helping more people become aware of why people do or do not feed this way, we hope to make the world a much more accepting place for parents!

breastfeeding stigma

Benefits of Breastfeeding

It is recommended around the world as one of the best sources of nutrition for babies. A perfectly normal and natural function that supports young children should not be one that is surrounded by so many negative connotations.

Strengthens The Bond

One of the main benefits is the bonding experience it offers between mother and child. This time spent close together helps to create an unbreakable bond that can offer lifelong benefits. A lot of mums decide to breastfeed to experience this incredible time between themselves and the child they are raising.

The physiological effects felt by the parent during nursing can lower stress and create a sense of calm that can also aid in better sleep. Skin-to-skin contact is one heavily recommended by healthcare professionals all over the world – breastfeeding is just one of the great ways to experience this and grow your bond from day one.

Improved Immune System

It also helps with the baby’s development of their own immune system as well as providing them with vital nutrients and antibodies that they may not get from other sources. It has been shown to reduce the risk of:

  • SIDS
  • Obesity
  • Type II diabetes
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Asthma
  • Childhood leukaemia
  • Ear and respiratory infections

Amongst other incredible health benefits, these are risks that can be extremely problematic for young children and so any possibility of mitigating these risks should not be scoffed at!

Aids Pregnancy Recovery

The breastfeeding stigma also fails to recognise the benefits the mother receives. The hormone oxytocin is produced during feeding, causing the uterus to contract and return to its usual size more quickly. This can help to reduce the amount of bleeding after pregnancy and even lower the risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.

What If I Can’t Breastfeed?

There are many reasons why a parent may not be able to breastfeed their child. Perhaps they are taking medication that is not compatible or maybe they have a medical condition that doesn’t allow it.

Some mothers simply cannot produce enough milk for their baby or choose not to breastfeed for personal reasons. It can be a stressful and painful time for many so no matter what the reason may be, no parent should ever feel ashamed or embarrassed about how they feed their child.

Below are some more very common reasons why mums choose to stick to the bottle:

  • Returning to work or school
  • Lack of support
  • Personal fears
  • Health concerns

We need to break the breastfeeding stigma and help to educate those who do not understand the process or the benefits. Only then can we create a more accepting world for parents and their children.

If you or someone you know is struggling to breastfeed, it is important to first visit your doctor, midwife or lactation specialist. They can give you support after leaving the hospital and ensure you have all of the resources and understanding you need to make it as enjoyable of an experience as possible.

However, if you cannot or choose not to, it’s just as important that you are aware of the best alternatives available to you such as formula or exclusive pumping. For more information, you can visit the NHS website.

Struggles Associated With Breastfeeding

It’s not always an easy process, nor will it work the same way for every parent or child. It’s important that if you are struggling – you talk to your healthcare provider as soon as possible so that they can help you tackle or overcome any issues.


When the strip of tissue attaching the tongue to the mouth is shorter than usual, it can create problems when breastfeeding. Cases can range from mild to severe but if you notice issues with latching as well as any of the signs below, it could indicate a tongue-tie.


  • The tongue does not lift or move side to side
  • Refusing to feed
  • Difficulty with any form of feeding
  • Slow weight gain


Colic is most common in babies from a few weeks old up until they are around 4-6 months. It affects around 1 in 5 babies and could occur whether they are breastfed or bottle fed. Whilst there is sadly no cure, it’s important to look out for the signs and try some soothing methods such as burping, proper latching and sitting up your baby to console them.


If you notice the tissue around your breast becomes inflamed and painful, or there is a lump around the sore area – you may be suffering from mastitis. It’s something not a lot of women talk about because it can be embarrassing and painful.

It’s an important topic to be aware of as it can leave parents feeling run down with flu-like symptoms that need to be treated. Feeding from one side more than the other or improper latching can be some of the most common causes, however, it may also come from:

  • Not feeding enough
  • Milk duct or gland damage

Catching it early is crucial as it becomes much easier to treat. Antibiotics can be used for any infection, but you should try to continue breastfeeding in spite of the pain.

For more information on managing mastitis and other challenges – visit this NHS page.

Is It Illegal To Breastfeed In Public?

Despite the breastfeeding stigma and the fact that some people may feel uncomfortable about the matter, it is completely legal to breastfeed in public areas in the UK as well as in most European countries.

The Equality Act states that it is discrimination to treat a woman poorly if she is breastfeeding. You are absolutely within your rights to challenge anyone who asks you to leave, but the more it is done and the more people understand the process, the more normal it will become.


breastfeeding stigma


Many parents choose to use a muslin or oversized shirt to cover up as they breastfeed in public, but there is no right or wrong way of doing so. Just ensure you feel comfortable.

Benefits For Developing Countries

As well as the antibodies passed from mum to baby, breast milk contains all of the vital nutrients newborns need. It can be a major way of aiding digestion and ensuring newborns are as protected as possible from common illnesses.

In areas with poor water sanitation and high rates of disease, it is often much safer than giving a young child contaminated water. It can also help to reduce the risk of malnutrition and dehydration, both of which are common problems in developing countries.

As well as this, in countries where food is in short supply – breast milk is a free alternative that ensures newborns are getting the fuel their body needs to grow. This cheaper option makes a great choice for developing areas that cannot afford to repeatedly buy baby food high in nutrients or formula that can be extremely expensive.

The formula can also be difficult to come by in any areas that are not easy to import to or are not developed with plenty of shops and cities. As a result, breastfeeding may be the only option for some parents. It’s important to remember that even if it is not possible or chosen to breastfeed in developed countries, this does not make it any less essential for those who live elsewhere.

This is part of the reason why we need to educate those who do not understand. Only then can we create a more accepting world for parents and their children.

Tackle Breastfeeding Stigma With Us

From the 1st of August to the 6th of August this year is World breastfeeding awareness week. We work with parents through fertility journeys and pregnancy recovery – seeing all the struggles and challenges they face along the way.

This should not be a barrier people have to deal with simply to ensure their child gets the nutrition and energy they need every day.

We believe that this natural process should be a comfortable and happy experience for all – without the breastfeeding stigma. This is why we will be discussing your thoughts and feelings as well as professional advice on our social media throughout the week. We hope you’ll join us in asking questions and sharing information. Let’s educate and empower parents everywhere to feel confident about their choices!

What’s All The Fuss? Celebrating National Surrogacy Week

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National surrogacy week runs from 1st – 7th August this year and we want to give you an opportunity to learn more about it.

This is a topic that can be surrounded by a lot of stigma. People may not understand the need for surrogates or may be under the impression that it is strange or shameful. But surrogacy is actually a very common procedure, and more and more people are using it every year.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the meaning behind the term, why someone might need it, and how it works. We’ll also break down some of the myths surrounding surrogacy and allow you to continue the conversation around this important topic.

national breastfeeding week

What Is Surrogacy?

Surrogacy is an arrangement between intended parents and someone with a uterus who agrees to carry a baby for them. This person is known as the surrogate. People can choose between traditional or gestational methods.


This involves the surrogate being artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm. (This would also make the surrogate the baby’s biological mother as it is their egg being fertilised.) They will then carry the foetus to term and deliver it for the intended parents to raise.


This is slightly different because an embryo is implanted using ‘in vitro fertilisation’ or IVF as it is more commonly known. The mother’s (or egg donor’s) eggs are fertilised with sperm from the father (or sperm donor) and placed into the uterus of a surrogate. The surrogate has no biological connection to the baby but will carry and deliver it for the parents.

Why Use A Surrogate?

A large part of national surrogacy week is understanding the reasons why someone might choose to go down this route. It’s still hugely misunderstood by many people and we do not see much information surrounding it in mainstream media.


This is a huge barrier that leads many to choose a surrogate. Whether it’s low sperm count, endometriosis or ectopic pregnancy causing infertility – surrogacy removes a large part of the issue as well as some of the risks associated with miscarriage.


By the time we hit menopause, the chances of falling pregnant reduce significantly. A large proportion of people who want to conceive at this age use younger surrogates as they are unable to fall pregnant or carry to term to due their age.

Same-Sex Couples

Another important aspect of National Surrogacy Week is celebrating the ability of all couples to conceive – regardless of sexuality or situation. Without the opportunity of conceiving naturally, this method has gained real popularity amongst the LGBT community.

It also allows at least one of the intended parents to share biological relations with the child if they would like to and are able to do so.


There are certain types of medication that can have severe side effects on a developing foetus. This would obviously be a huge risk to take if you desperately wanted children but surrogacy gives you the chance to avoid this completely. Similarly, asking someone to come off of their medication for nine months could be detrimental to their own health. It’s not always an option for people with chronic or long-standing conditions.

Personal Choice

This is not an exhaustive list of reasons people may choose to use a surrogate, but one people often forget is that the individual or couple would simply prefer to conceive this way. Infertility and health are not always the main reason for doing so. Whether it is to maintain their physique or continue working hard at their career, surrogacy is an option that everyone can consider.

Myths Surrounding Surrogacy

Now that we know a bit more about surrogacy, let’s dispel some of the myths that surround it.

“It’s So Expensive”

This is one of the most common things people say when they find out about surrogacy. Yes, it can be expensive and it’s currently not available on the NHS. However, there are many ways to finance it – whether through savings, loans or even crowdfunding.

It is currently against the law to pay the surrogate for their service, however, it’s perfectly legal to pay for all reasonable expenses along the way. This may include travel costs, loss of earnings, reimbursements or physical/physiological treatments.

It can also be cheaper to conceive via traditional surrogacy as you will not need to undergo fertility treatment of gestational methods.

“The Surrogate Will Be Attached To The Baby”

Whilst it is true that carrying a baby for nine months will create a bond between them, this doesn’t mean the surrogate will want to keep the child. In fact, most surrogates are mothers themselves and understand how difficult it must be to go through life not knowing if you’ll be able to have a child of your own.

It’s important to remember that the surrogate is carrying the baby for you and wants what’s best for you and your family. They will have no legal rights over the child once it is born. Part of national surrogacy week is remembering that surrogates are incredible people doing a very selfless thing for the intended parents – they do not always have ill intentions as we may see in films or TV shows.

national breastfeeding week

“It’s So risky”

As with anything in life, there are risks associated with surrogacy. However, most of these can be mitigated by working with a reputable agency or fertility clinic.

The risks to the surrogate are usually minimal as they will undergo the same health screenings as anyone else who is pregnant. The main concern is usually to do with their mental health and emotional well-being – something that national surrogacy week and professional healthcare providers hope to address.

“You Won’t Be Able To Bond With The Baby”

This couldn’t be further from the truth! You would have been  involved in every step of the pregnancy and will likely have a very close relationship with the surrogate.

After the baby is born, you will be able to spend as much time with them as you like and you may even be able to stay in the hospital room with the surrogate and baby if you wish.

How To Start The Process

Many people turn to friends and family. This is a great option as you already have a fantastic relationship built on trust. However, if this isn’t an option for you it will take some research to ensure you find the right surrogate for you.

Unfortunately, we do not offer the service at our clinic but there are plenty of organisations that can offer advice, resources and contacts.

You’ll be asked to decide a few things that will determine how the pregnancy moves forwards. Having an idea beforehand can make this less daunting.

It may be useful to draw up an agreement or think about the financial side of things. How much are you willing/able to reimburse? Also how much contact will you be having with the surrogate?

These are all important questions that national surrogacy week can help you answer alongside the professional advice available online and in clinics.

It’s important to remember that there are many people involved in the process and national surrogacy week is a time to celebrate them all. From the surrogate mothers carrying the baby to the clinics and agencies supporting you along the way – everyone plays an important role.

Join Us This National Surrogacy Week

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to this method of conception. It’s a personal choice that should be respected much like the decision to have (or not have) children in the first place. 

In light of this, we hope you will join us this national surrogacy week in celebrating this incredible topic and raising awareness for the incredible act of kindness that comes with it.

It’s natural to have many questions when you first start looking into surrogacy as an option, after all, it isn’t something that is talked about often.

So, if you’re considering surrogacy, or know someone who is, make sure to reach out and get informed. It could be the best decision you ever make.


What are your thoughts on surrogacy? Have you ever considered it? Share your story with us in the comments below or join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #nationalsurrogacyweek. We’d love to hear from you!

Why Group B Strep Testing Is So Important

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Group B Strep

Did you know that we offer Group B Strep testing? It is the most common cause of sepsis (a potentially life-threatening condition) in newborn babies.

It is not mentioned heavily in mainstream media, nor are mums taught much about it during pregnancy. It is a type of bacteria that can be passed from mother to baby during labour and birth, and it can have a serious impact on both.

The lack of education on this matter means that a lot of pregnant women do not have the chance to access routine tests. As a result, many mothers are unaware that they ever carry the bacteria. 

This can cause a number of implications for pregnancies – so in this blog post, we are going to take a closer look at Group B Strep (GBS) and explain why we offer tests as part of our service.

Group B Strep Testing

What Is It?

GBS is a type of bacteria that is found in the digestive system, rectum and the vagina. Around 20-40% of women carry it, but most will never know as there are usually no symptoms in adults.

Due to the close proximity of the rectum, vagina and urethra, it is fairly easy for it to migrate and be passed on to the baby during pregnancy or birth. While the bacteria usually doesn’t cause a problem, there is a chance it can cause serious problems for both mother and baby, including sepsis, miscarriage, pneumonia, meningitis, and urinary tract infections.

The risk of your baby contracting the infection is higher if:

  • They were born prematurely
  • You’ve had a baby who was previously affected by GBS
  • Your temperature was high during labour
  • Your waters broke more than 24 hours before the baby was born

Signs Of Early-Onset Infection In Babies

Without routine Group B Strep testing, the infection is usually not picked up until the first week of life. Most symptoms will be noticeable within the first 24 hours of birth and so it is important to keep an eye out for them.

  • Floppy/unresponsive
  • Vomiting
  • High or low temperature
  • Significantly fast or slow heart rate
  • Major breathing changes
  • Persistent crying
  • Blotchy skin

You should contact your GP if you are worried about any of these symptoms or go to the emergency department if the baby is struggling to breathe or becomes unresponsive. 

Late-Onset Infection In Babies

The infection can also present later on in life, up to around three months. The symptoms are similar to those of early-onset infection but may be more subtle, so it is important to be aware of them.

  • Fever
  • Poor feeding
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Irritability/excessive crying
  • Lethargy/tiredness/unusual sleepiness

It is important to remember that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, so if you are worried about your baby, please contact your GP or health visitor.

Group B Strep Testing

As mentioned before, it is important to remember that if not treated in a timely manner, there is a chance of life-threatening infections such as sepsis. This is why we believe it is important for women to have the choice of testing and be aware of their options both before and after labour.

A negative result offers peace of mind whereas even a positive one provides a better chance of successful treatment and a healthy mum and baby.

Why Our Tests Are Important

There are a number of reasons why we offer routine Group B Strep testing and want more people to be aware of the service.

Many people do not jump at the chance for a test because the bacteria can be present in low numbers without causing any harm. In these cases, it is not necessary to treat the infection as it will go away on its own. And there have been some cases where women have been treated unnecessarily while pregnant.

In fact, it is uncommon for the infection to be passed on at all. Despite this fact, the possible outcome for those who do contract the bacteria can be fatal. It is for this reason that many women choose to get tested at private health clinics like our own.

Knowing whether or not you carry the bacteria gives you the opportunity to make informed decisions about your care during pregnancy and offers peace of mind that could improve your overall journey to parenthood.

What Is Group B Strep Testing Like?

The procedure at our clinic is very simple and involves a swab of the vagina and rectum. We send this off for analysis and the results come back in a few days.

Ideally, we recommend women have the test around 35 weeks of pregnancy but, of course, before labour starts. The cost of the swab is £99 and you can book online or call 01483 454 016.

If you do test positive after having the test, we will send a referral letter to your GP and advise you to contact your midwife. This way we can ensure a strong plan is created for your treatment before delivery.

In this case, IV antibiotics are usually given during labour. It is entirely your choice to receive them and if you decide against antibiotics, your baby will be closely monitored for at least 12 hours after birth.

However, if you are delivering via caesarean, you will not need antibiotics.  

Preventing Group B Strep Infection

There are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of contracting or passing on bacteria:

  • Keep your vagina clean by washing with water and mild soap. Avoid using douches, perfumed products, or vaginal deodorants as these can actually increase the risk of infection.
  • Wipe from front to back after going to the toilet to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the vagina.
  • Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting clothes as they can trap moisture and provide a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and yoghurt (which contains probiotics that help keep vaginas healthy).
  • Limit sugary and processed foods as they can encourage bacteria to grow
  • Reduce stress as much as possible to keep your immune system strong
  • Stay hydrated – 8-12 cups of water a day is suggested for pregnant women

If you have any concerns about this topic, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at The Surrey Park Clinic. We are always happy to offer advice and support or book you in for Group B Strep testing with our amazing team.

Is It Time To Book An Appointment?

With the possibility of a fatal outcome, we truly believe the benefits of a test during pregnancy should be available to everyone.

It is a safe and simple test that can minimise any risks to the unborn baby.

On average across the UK and Ireland, 66 babies are diagnosed with the infection every month. We would love to cut that down even further and ensure as many mums as possible get the chance for treatment during labour.

At just £99 per test, all you have to do is click here to book in and one of our friendly team will walk you through the whole thing. If you have any questions or concerns before visiting, do not hesitate to contact the clinic.

These choices are yours to make. We just want to offer you the ability to make them.

  Category: Maternity
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Women’s Health Physiotherapy: Why We’re Launching Our New Service

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women's health physiotherapy

The team at The Surrey Park Clinic are really excited to announce that we will be launching a brand new service from March 31st 2022. Following a host of feedback from patients, we are going to be offering Women’s Health Physiotherapy

To celebrate, we are also offering a FREE 15-minute drop-in session for you to experience our treatments and discuss your own concerns. These drop-ins will take place exclusively on March 31st, so book now to avoid disappointment! You can book a session via our website and we look forward to seeing you!

Why Might You Need A Physiotherapist?

Historically, women’s health physiotherapy focused primarily on obstetrics. This meant treating women for back pain and pelvic pain during pregnancy. However, it has continued to develop and grow as a speciality, now encompassing a range of conditions relating to the pelvic floor that affect the bladder, vagina and bowel. 

Women’s Health Physiotherapy

While pregnancy and postnatal issues are still a focus, our clinicians have been able to branch out into other areas of pain management. You may find you need treatment for: 

  • Pre and postnatal
  • Back, pelvic or coccyx pain
  • Bladder or bowel issues 
  • Pelvic floor rehabilitation
  • Prolapse treatment 
  • Incontinence
  • Constipation
  • Hip, groin or lower back pain

Did you know that in women who have not had children, around 60% will experience some significant bladder, bowel or pain symptoms? As well as this, it is thought that 20% of 18-50 year old women will complain of chronic pelvic pain.

These statistics and the fact that all women will go through menopause at some point in later life displays the real need for the recent development of the women’s health physiotherapy sector. 

Our experienced physiotherapist Annabel Cussen specialises in helping women overcome a variety of pain and symptoms. You can come and see us about any concerns you may have and our team will be happy to devise a personalised plan that is tailored to your needs. 

Book your free taster session today to begin the journey. 

What Can I Expect From Women’s Health Physiotherapy?

Our personable clinical professionals are highly regarded experts in their fields. We are proud to be able to offer an efficient and extensive service with appointments available 6 days a week. 

We completely understand that you may be nervous about attending the clinic or worried about examinations that may be required. However, our consultant-led care ensures you will always see the same person at each appointment. We hope that this will help you to feel more comfortable and build a rapport with your consultant. 

Furthermore, our team all agree that consciously taking the time to fully understand your needs is one of the most important factors when attending any health clinic. That’s why we offer a range of appointments and times to suit busy lives and other commitments. 

We will listen to your concerns and try to get to the bottom of your worries. Our specialists will ask tailored questions to formulate a bespoke plan that provides you with the best care possible. 

After this, we will inform you of any further tests, examinations or treatments we think may benefit you. We will always keep you in the loop and any steps we take will be entirely in your hands. If you have any concerns or questions, we can address them in each appointment. Or, you can contact us and ring our reception who may be able to help you outside of your appointment times. 

Top Tips For Attending A Women’s Health Physiotherapy Appointment 

Our priority is making you as comfortable as possible and targeting your needs at every consultation. While our team has always been commended for their customer service, there are a few things you can do to relieve the worries and make yourself as comfortable as possible. 

Wear Loose Fitting Clothes

During a women’s health physiotherapy appointment, it is best to wear comfy, loose clothing that allows you to move freely and not become restricted during the appointment. Not only will this help you to feel more comfortable in yourself and during the appointment – but it will also help our physiotherapists to examine you properly and carry out any movement exercises that may need to be performed.

Talk To Someone

If you are particularly nervous about your appointment, it can be beneficial to speak to a friend or family member who may have gone through the process before. Alternatively, one of our team will always be happy to answer any questions you may have and we can walk you through each and every step before it happens. 

Talking through it can help put your mind at ease and eliminate any surprises along the way. We are always completely transparent with our methods and information, so there is no need to worry about attending or booking an appointment at The Surrey Park Clinic. 

As well as this, it is so important to talk about the symptoms that are troubling you too. We can often push them to the back of our mind in favour of other people or things we deem ‘more important’. Speaking out about your concerns could address something that needs to be treated or open an avenue that can benefit your body in the long run. 

Bring A Chaperone

Some people may feel more comfortable with someone they know in the room during an appointment. If you would like a friend or family member to be present during the physiotherapy session, our team will be happy to arrange something to suit you. 

This can help calm your nerves and also provide a second pair of ears for any information you may receive on the day. People are often worried about remembering everything – so having someone else there to pick up on bits you may miss can help provide some clarity within your treatment. 

Allow Enough Time Before & After The Appointment

Many say that the beauty of attending The Surrey Park Clinic for any of our services is the flexibility. Our consultant-led team has plenty of availability from morning to evening, 6 days a week. 

Take advantage of this and try to book a slot that gives you plenty of time to prepare beforehand and relax afterwards. If you have to rush around to be on time or are worried about returning to work after the appointment, you may not make the most of the treatment. 

Leaving plenty of time will ensure you are calm and relaxed on entry and can fully engage with our specialists as they help you to address concerns and work towards the outcome you’ve discussed.

The Surrey Park Clinic 

We are really proud to be able to offer this new service and hope that our specialist can assist many more women in their health journeys. 

Whether you’re looking for pelvic floor rehabilitation, support with incontinence or postnatal treatment – the team at The Surrey Park Clinic can work to provide you with a personalised plan. 

Simply get in touch today to find out more or book your free 15-minute drop-in consultation today!

  Category: Maternity
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Every woman ‘needs fertility MoT at 25 to boost chances of getting pregnant and avoiding miscarriages’

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Millions of women with a painful womb condition should be monitored much more closely in pregnancy because they are at a higher risk of losing their babies, doctors said last night.

They spoke out after a major study showed that endometriosis, which affects around one in ten women, raises the odds of a host of complications in pregnancy. These range from miscarriages and premature birth to potentially deadly haemorrhages. But watching these women more closely could reduce the danger – and save their life and that of their baby.

Endometriosis occurs when cells normally found in the womb lining attach themselves to other parts of the pelvic area, causing scarring, inflammation and pain. It was known to cause fertility problems, but it had been thought that once a woman did conceive, the condition was unlikely to put her pregnancy at risk. However, the issue had not been thoroughly researched. Now, Aberdeen University researchers have trawled through 30 years of medical records in Scotland, allowing them to compare pregnancies of women who have endometriosis with those of women without the condition.


Women over 50 are putting their lives at risk by failing to go for smear tests, researchers warn. Many wrongly believe they are immune to cervical cancer as they think it is only caused by casual sex. But experts say the virus that causes the illness can lie dormant for 20 years and it can then be another ten to 15 years before tumours appear.

There are 3,100 new cases of cervical cancer in the UK a year, of which a third are in women over 50. Older women are much more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage tumours, which are inoperable, and death rates are twice as high. Scientists say this is because they fail to attend smear tests, which pick up the first signs of the cancer.

A report by the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust shows that 81.6 per cent of 50 to 54-year-olds attended a test, dropping to 74.8 per cent of 55 to 59-year-olds and just 73.2 per cent of 60 to 64-year-olds. Women over 55 put off appointments by an average of four years.

The analysis of more than 15,000 pregnant women showed that those with endometriosis were 76 per cent more likely to miscarry. They also had almost triple the chance of suffering an ectopic pregnancy – when the embryo implants outside the womb and the baby is lost.

Women with endometriosis also have a higher risk of complications later in pregnancy such as giving birth prematurely and haemorrhaging, which can be fatal, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s annual conference in Lisbon heard.

It is thought that the complications happen because endometriosis damages the development of the placenta – the lifeline between mother and unborn child. Doctors suggested women with endometriosis should give birth in hospitals with specialist neonatal units so that expert help is on hand.

Researcher Lucky Saraswat, a consultant gynaecologist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, said that miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies sadly can’t be prevented – so in these cases the baby cannot be saved.

But if doctors know that women with endometriosis are more at risk, they can monitor them more closely and admit them to a specialist unit at the first sign of trouble – limiting the dangers to the mother. Catching a haemorrhage early can save the life of both the mother and child. Dr Saraswat said: ‘These findings should be used to counsel women with endometriosis and inform them.

‘At the moment, once they are diagnosed with endometriosis, we talk about infertility but we do not talk about what happens once they get pregnant.

‘These finds can also be taken into account when planning antenatal care for these women.’

‘And often the person who waited until 39 to try is a successful career woman, who passed her school exams, went to university, got a good job and climbed up the career ladder and suddenly she can’t have something that everyone else can.’

As many as one in six couples suffers infertility. Almost 40,000 British women have fertility treatment each year, paying up to $15,000 per course, with 12,500 babies born with the help of IVF. Several fertility blood tests already exist, including one developed by Professor Ledger.

They typically use hormone levels to gauge a woman’s ‘ovarian reserve’ – the number of healthy eggs she has left. But critics question how well they work and fear a ‘good’ result could lull women into a false sense of security. Other doctors argue schoolchildren should be taught about fertility during sex education classes. Mark Hamilton, former chairman of the British Fertility Society, said there was ‘widespread misapprehension’ about the success rate of IVF. By the time a woman is in her mid 40s, it can be as low as 5 per cent.

Dr Hamilton, of Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, said: ‘Sexual health messages focus entirely on the avoidance of sex but this should be coupled with promotion of fertility awareness.

There is a patchy understanding about fertility among the general public, even among those who are well-read and highly educated.’

Tony Rutherford, the present chair of the BFS, said: ‘If a woman leaves it late – by which I mean 36 – she is taking a gamble.

‘There is a public health duty for us to ensure that men and women are informed about their fertility potential. At the moment, that’s not the case.’

By Fiona Macrae, The Daily Mail


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