A couple have shared their joy at welcoming a baby after a lengthy fertility journey, which saw them retrieve only one egg during the IVF process.
Katie Leaning, 35, a business analyst, and her husband, Richard, 35, an operations manager from Stafford, West Midlands, got married in October 2017 and wanted to start a family straight away.
Having tried to conceive naturally for three years they were referred for fertility treatment after doctors were left puzzled about why ovulation tests weren’t showing a set day for ovulation.
The couple underwent multiple rounds of tests and medication in an attempt to boost ovulation before starting IVF.
But during Katie's egg collection, just one mature egg was retrieved. Thankfully, the egg went on to fertilise and following an embryo transfer, the couple discovered the process had been a success two weeks later.
Katie gave birth to her son, Nathaniel, now 16 months, via C-section in April 2022 at the University Hospital of North Midlands, weighing 7lbs 13oz.
Read more: How does the IVF process work and who is eligible? (Yahoo Life UK, 6-min read)
Following their wedding, Katie and Richard decided to start trying for a baby, but didn't manage to conceive naturally so were referred for fertility treatment.
After various tests and multiple rounds of clomid and letrozole medication to boost ovulation, the couple started their first round of IVF at TFP Nurture Fertility in July 2021.
Despite hoping to get between five and six eggs during the egg collection, clinicians were only able to retrieve one mature egg, with doctors suspecting Katie may have experienced premature ovulation.
Premature ovulation is when your eggs are released from the ovaries before they are collected during egg retrieval.
On learning of the news Katie describes feeling "upset", and worried the couple were somehow to blame.
"The timing [of the IVF process] is crucial, the storage of the drug has to be at a certain temperature in the fridge," she explains.
"That could be a failure point. But we followed the instructions when we received the delivery and set an alarm to have it at the exact time.
"The nurse was compassionate with me. I could tell that she didn't like sharing the news with me.
"Mentally, at this point, we were convinced it would be back to the drawing board."
Read more: Couple raise £8k in four weeks to pay for IVF baby after 12 years of infertility (Yahoo Life UK, 3-min read)
For the one egg they were able to retrieve, Katie and Richard decided to go with natural fertilisation (where the egg is surrounded by sperm in a petri dish and ultimately one sperm fertilises the egg).
The couple were told that the egg had formed into a healthy embryo that could be implanted and two weeks later in August 2021 they found out Katie was pregnant.
"It felt like an age passed as we waited for each milestone," Richard says.
"I remember saying people who get pregnant naturally wouldn't even know all these stages as they get the blue line after week 4-6.
"Whereas we seemed to have to pass so many more hurdles.
"I remember just having dread for the time it would be until the next 'check'."
Watch: UK’s first womb transplant a ‘massive success’ after sister’s donation
After a "smooth" pregnancy, at 39 weeks Katie was told her baby was breech, and after an attempted rotation Nathaniel arrived via C-section weighing 7lb 13oz.
"When I held him, it was magical," Katie says of the moment.
"It took us so long to get there, I couldn't believe that this was our baby."
"He is the apple of my eye."
Read more: Single woman welcomes sperm donor baby at 38 after getting tired of waiting for Mr Right (Yahoo Life UK, 5-min read)
Egg retrieval: the facts
Various studies have examined the question of how many eggs need to be retrieved depending on a woman’s age.
According to IVI, generally, retrieving between five and 14 eggs is considered adequate for women under 35.
For a woman who is 38, this number increases to between 10 and 34.
Many factors can influence the number of eggs retrieved during your egg collection procedure including:
Age with egg supplies declining with age.
Response to ovarian stimulation medication. Women who do not respond well to medication may have fewer eggs retrieved.
Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as PCOS and endometriosis can affect the number of eggs retrieved.
Previous surgery: Women who have undergone reproductive surgery may have fewer eggs retrieved
Read more: Most searched-for fertility questions answered by a doctor (Yahoo Life UK, 5-min read)
Chances of higher egg retrieval
Although it is impossible to guarantee a specific number of eggs upon retrieval, TFP Fertility UK say there are a number of things that can be done to improve fertility and help your chances of successful treatment:
Taking care of yourself by eating well
Taking some key supplements
Addressing unhealthy habits such as smoking and alcohol
If you’re concerned about your lifestyle and the impact on your fertility, a fertility assessment could be a good first step to help you identify ways to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Additional reporting SWNS.