COUPLES struggling to conceive could benefit from new fertility services when Colchester General Hospital merges with Ipswich.

A growing fertility team at Ipswich Hospital has a partnership with leading experts at Cambridge IVF, part of Addenbrooke’s hospital, where self-funding patients can have satellite in vitro fertilisation.

This is where patients start their treatment at Ipswich hospital and go to the specialist Cambridge centre for egg collection an embryo transfer.

At the moment, NHS-funded IVF is not available in Essex.

NHS fertility consultant Djavid Alleemudder said: “This means patients get all their care and treatment at NHS facilities.

“It’s all evidence-based, trusted care. We are committed to making sure all patients get high-quality, effective and individualised treatment.

“Crucially, we won’t recommend IVF unless it’s right for the patient.

“Only a third of couples struggling to conceive need IVF.

“There are many other options to explore first.”

Couples are advised to see their GP if they have not conceived after a year of regular unprotected sex (or sooner for women over 36 or those aware of having fertility problems).

Essex patients are entitled to free NHS investigations and some fertility treatment – commonly this is medication to assist a woman’s ovulation.

For every 100 couples trying to conceive naturally, 84 will conceive within a year, 92 within two years and 93 within three years.

The services for self-funding patients available from Mr Alleemudder’s team, currently based at Ipswich hospital, include fertility ‘MOTs’. Mr Alleemudder added: “These are a chance for male and female patients to undergo tests to find out about their fertility health and are useful for people who may not want to fall pregnant now, but who want to find out what their chances are in the future, and whether there’s an action they need to take.

“We don’t recommend these tests, or any other tests or treatment, unless it’s our clinical opinion that it’s the right thing to do.”

Other self-funding services include superovulation drugs (to stimulate ovaries to release more than one egg in a month) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) where a male’s most healthy sperm is out into a woman’s uterus when she is ovulating.

To contact Mr Alleemudder’s team, call 01473 703658.