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Infertility is a health issue warns new Bourn Hall medic

Dr Maz Khan says infertility can be early indication of treatable underlying health conditions

Obesity may not be the cause of fertility problems but another symptom of an underlying health issue, says Dr Maz Khan, a specialist in early pregnancy complications recently appointed as Lead Clinician at Bourn Hall Clinic Colchester.

He says: “Recent research suggests that insulin resistance affects the development of the ovaries and also makes it difficult for a woman to lose weight. A problem conceiving can be an early warning sign of this condition and appropriate treatment can boost fertility and delay the onset of diabetes.”

Bourn Hall Clinic Colchester is part of the world famous clinic established by the IVF pioneers Steptoe and Edwards. Dr Maz Khan brings experience from the UK’s top referral units for reproductive medicine, including St Mary’s and Kings College hospitals in London. Although understanding of reproductive medicine has increased considerably since the birth of the first ‘test-tube’ baby, Louise Brown, in 1978, much infertility is still categorised as ‘unexplained’.

Dr Khan is keen to address this and is concerned that too often infertility is seen as a symptom of obesity or increasing age rather than part of a treatable condition.

“The reproductive system can be a victim of other health problems but all too often it is viewed in isolation. If a patient has been trying for a baby without success for over two years in a young woman, or earlier if age is an issue, then other factors must be ruled out to protect the woman’s long-term health.”

He gives the example of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a complex condition that results from a disruption in the woman’s hormones with symptoms that include irregular periods, infertility and weight gain. Although it is commonly understood that PCOS can affect egg production it is less well known that the hormone imbalance can also affect the woman’s ability to maintain a pregnancy.

 “Women who go to their GP when they are unable to conceive are often given Clomid or injections of Gonadotrophin to stimulate the ovaries and treat the infertility. However, it is emerging that PCOS can be a symptom of insulin resistance, which affects the hormones and the woman’s reaction to fertility drugs. The condition needs careful management during pregnancy to prevent gestational diabetes and early miscarriage.”

Dr Khan explains that PCOS is difficult to diagnose: “A patient may previously have visited the GP to complain about weight gain, acne or irregular periods and each condition will have been treated separately. The patient may also have been told to lose weight before fertility treatment can begin.

“It could be that referral and a more thorough investigation of the infertility would lead to an accurate diagnosis of the underlying problem – in this example, insulin resistance. In these cases appropriate treatment, such as modifying the diet and more exercise, would improve a woman’s chances of natural conception, reduce complications in pregnancy and after birth, and enhance her long-term health by delaying the onset of diabetes and heart diseases.”

Another area of interest for Dr Khan is the use of ultrasound scanning for revealing gynaecological conditions and early pregnancy complications.

“Ultrasound is non-invasive and can reveal an incredible amount of information about the ovaries and the uterus, especially with the 3D scanners that we have at Colchester. Women with PCOS who have conceived using IVF need careful monitoring. A scan in early pregnancy can provide helpful reassurance.”

 

 Dr Khan is delighted to join the team at Bourn Hall Clinic:

“Bourn Hall is where it all started and the team here has contributed greatly to our knowledge of reproductive medicine. I feel privileged to help progress this work and complement their considerable expertise with my specialist knowledge of early pregnancy complications and skills in ultrasound scanning. This will provide new insights and ways of treating patients.”

Sarah Pallett, Clinic Manager at Bourn Hall Colchester, welcomes Dr Khan to the team:

“Maz brings considerable experience from the working with leaders in the field, but most importantly he is passionate about helping patients. He has a warmth and empathy that inspires confidence and our patients will know they are in the best possible hands.”

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Media contacts:

Rebecca Nesbit /Rachel Holdsworth, PR consultants, Holdsworth Associates Tel: 01954 202789, email: rachel@holdsworth-associates.co.uk, www.holdsworth-associates.co.uk

About Bourn Hall Clinic www.bourn-hall-clinic.co.uk

Bourn Hall Clinic, the world’s first and best known assisted conception clinic, was established in 1980 by Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards, the pioneers of IVF. Through innovative thinking the clinic maintains a leading role in the field.

The clinics are located in Bourn, Cambridgeshire and Colchester, Essex.

 Bourn Hall Clinic is an operating division of Bourn Hall Limited, and is located at Bourn Hall, Bourn, Cambridge, CB23 2TN, UK Tel: 01954 719111.

The Colchester Clinic is based at Charter Court, Newcomen Way, Colchester, Essex, CO4 9YA, UK Tel: 01206 844454.

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