‘I’m an open book’ says IVF blogger

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A Harrogate care worker is documenting her IVF journey through an online diary after becoming one of the first people in the area to receive treatment on the NHS in years.

Leah Coates (nee Farr) and her husband Mark are sharing their IVF journey on Facebook, offering advice for other couples struggling to conceive.

Leah, 28, a home carer said: “When I was a little girl I always thought I would just grow up, get married, have children as simple as that, but it isn’t that easy for everyone.

“Around one in six couples struggle to conceive, but it is still something people don’t always talk about.”

The pair married at the George Hotel in December and have recently returned from honeymoon.

The couple raised their concerns with their GP, who referred them to the hospital.

Leah lost three and a half stone after being initially speaking to her doctor in October 2013.

She said: “My GP didn’t believe it at first, but I lost the weight in seven months on the caveman diet and exercising. Knowing it could mean I would get treatment was a good motivator.”

Leah met Mark, 33, a civil servant, three and half years ago though mutual friends.

She said: “I have always loved children, nearly all of my friends have children, some of them have three or four and I love them all, they are just great.

“I love looking after them but I can’t help but think, ‘when is it my turn?’”

She added: “Sometimes my friends say that would be worried about telling me if they are expecting, but they couldn’t be more wrong. I am so happy for them.”

Through the blog and other online communities Leah has reached out to people for advice, and also been approached by other people looking for help and guidance.

“It works both ways,” she said, “I am a very open person, I am an open book, I blogged through my weight loss and I will blog through this.”

Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group agreed to fund one cycle of IVF for people in the district in April 2014. To date, 46 applications have been received and 41 have been approved.

NICE national guidelines state that CCGs should be offering up to three cycles.

Leah said: “It does seem unfair that people living a few miles down the road get access to more treatments, there is less pressure on them, especially as it costs so much privately.”