Couple Spent £15,000 On Unnecessary IVF Treatment

25/01/2012 12:53 | Updated 22 May 2015
IVF treatmentPA
A woman has told how she underwent £15,000 of painful IVF treatment – only to find out her partner's sperm was preventing her conceiving.

Jeanette Parker, 38, and Mark Griffiths, 42, tried for a year to have a baby before seeing their GP.

She was referred to a gynaecologist who suggested that Jeanette might have a blocked fallopian tube.

After four minor procedures the blockage was cleared – but Jeanette still didn't conceive.

It was only after Jeanette had undergone three unsuccessful IVF cycles - costing £15,000 - plus the removal of one of her two fallopian tubes, which had to be removed after an ectopic pregnancy, that doctors suggested the problem might be with Mark's sperm.

He was referred to a specialist male fertility doctor who diagnosed a blocked ejaculatory duct.

This was preventing the normal volume of semen being released. Tests on Mark also revealed that while his sperm count was reasonable, the volume of semen was small and the sperm itself "acidic".

However, the gynaecologist dismissed this as nothing serious.

The condition, which causes up to five per cent of cases of male infertility, may be triggered by a cyst or scarring due to prostate infections.

"A number of doctors have given us very poor advice and failed to pick up on my problem," said Mark, from Portsmouth.

Last July - three years after being sent to the gynaecologist - Mark had an operation to clear the blockage.

Research shows up to 30 per cent of those with this condition go on to conceive naturally, suggesting the three IVF attempts Mark and Jeanette endured might not have been necessary.

The couple – who already have a six-year-old son conceived naturally – believe IVF clinics tend to focus on women's fertility issues, with little attention paid to men's problems.

Most clinics don't even employ a male fertility specialist, they say.

As a result, some women are going through expensive, and often gruelling, IVF unnecessarily.

Rowland Rees, a urological surgeon at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, explained: "The majority of fertility clinics are gynaecology-led, where the emphasis is on investigating the female partner and carrying out assisted conception.

"The investigation and treatment of male-related fertility problems is often not done thoroughly enough, and sometimes not at all.

"In half of cases male problems are partly responsible and, in 20 per cent, it is purely a male issue.

"Around 50 per cent of male fertility problems are treatable, but unfortunately this is commonly overlooked.

"Therefore, couples are undergoing IVF when they could have conceived naturally had the man been treated.


Treating male infertility may also be cheaper, more successful, and less invasive.


Meanwhile, although Mark's sperm count and volume are now normal, he and Jeanette have not yet conceived and are planning IVF again because they are "getting older".

Mark is urging men who think they may have a fertility problem to seek help from a specialist sooner rather than later.

"It could prevent a whole lot of heartache and hopefully lead to the baby you are wishing for," he said.

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