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What It's Like To Be Told Your BMI Is Too High For IVF

3 16 31
04.05.2021

“My body and my inability to lose weight failed me in the one thing I ever really wanted,” says Carolyn Nicholls, 47, from Nottingham.

“I’ve yet to forgive myself for that.”

In 2011, after a year of trying to conceive and one miscarriage, Carolyn and her partner visited their GP for help. She was weighed and informed she was 4lbs over the BMI limit that had been set for accessing fertility treatment in her area.

Carolyn, who says she was “getting at least the recommended amount of exercise and eating a healthy diet”, spent months trying to lose the weight, without luck. The couple eventually paid for three cycles of IVF at a private clinic, which cost around £8,000 per cycle. Sadly, each cycle failed.

“We have now had to accept that we won’t have children,” says Carolyn. That was 10 years ago, but the NHS is still turning away couples on the basis of their BMI today, despite an ongoing debate over whether it is an accurate indicator of health.

BMI, or body mass index, is your weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of your height (in metres). An ideal BMI is in the 18.5 to 24.9 range for most adults, according to the NHS.

However, even the NHS acknowledges that it “is not the perfect measure of your overall health,” noting that BMI “can’t tell if you’re carrying too much fat or you’ve got a lot of muscle.”

In a recent House of Lords debate on BMI, former Olympic silver medallist Sir Colin Moynihan pointed out that many Olympic athletes would be considered above the “healthy” BMI measure. Meanwhile, some patients have been denied access to eating disorder services if their BMI is not considered “low enough”.

Daniel Davies, 36, from Bedford, and his wife Sarah, 32, are about to start private fertility treatment, after being turned away by the NHS in 2020.

Sarah has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and in 2018, following two miscarriages, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease – an autoimmune disorder that attacks your thyroid and can impact pregnancy.

She’s since had a third miscarriage. Despite these significant barriers to natural conception, the couple have been denied IVF treatment on the NHS – because of Daniel’s BMI.

“The irony was, I didn’t have any issues as far as we knew from semen tests and blood tests, so it didn’t seem fair at all,” he says. “I felt victimised by it.”

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which provides evidence-based guidance for health and social care, does not recommend blanket BMI limits for either male or female patients when it comes to accessing fertility treatment.

However, it does........

© HuffPost


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