As a trusted provider of fertility programmes to thousands of patients, Access Fertility prides itself on our rigorous approach. All our programmes have been devised by fertility specialists with decades of experience supporting people like you to achieve their dream of having a baby. Furthermore, we ensure that every application to our programmes is reviewed by our medical team to guarantee that each case is considered thoroughly and fairly. We met with two of our medical team – Miia Hughson and Scott Nelson – to better understand what they do, and how it benefits you.
What does a fertility specialist do here at Access Fertility?
Scott: There are really two main roles that we do here. Firstly, I guide Access Fertility on the products and services we offer to ensure they’re evolving in line with the latest scientific research. As you can appreciate, the fertility sector is constantly advancing, and it’s my job to make sure Access Fertility is at the forefront of those developments, so that what we offer remains relevant.
Miia: That brings us nicely to our second role. Scott and I both work on the medical reviews that we require of anyone applying for the Access Fertility programmes. Together, we do a thorough review of a patient’s medical history, looking at their gynaecological results, ovarian reserves and any fertility issues that have been flagged by the clinic. We have agreed criteria that we look at for each case, to ensure everyone is treated fairly. Often we discuss cases between the medical team when there’s any uncertainty about whether we can accept someone or not, and review each others’ decisions to keep the process transparent.
What expertise do you bring to the role?
Scott: My role at Access Fertility is one of several that I currently hold in fertility right now. I am also Scientific Director of the Fertility Partnership – a global fertility clinic company. Meanwhile I work at the University of Glasgow and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde where I work with fertility patients daily and lead a translational clinical research programme. As a globally-recognised IVF expert, I understand what patients are going through, and bring my knowledge to ensure Access Fertility continues to meet their needs.
Miia: Outside Access Fertility I also have another role, as a fertility nurse at the Lister Fertility Clinic, one of the largest clinics in the UK. I have over 15 years’ experience in IVF, and most recently have specialised in egg donation and surrogacy.
How did you become a fertility specialist?
Miia: I was a midwife for years, and loved the role, but was looking to develop into a new area. When I had fertility challenges myself, I decided to pursue a career in that area. I felt I could relate to patients on so many different levels.
Scott: I also started out in obstetrics and maternal medicine – I specialised in supporting women through high risk pregnancies. In 2005 I quickly realised that actually those risks were being set up in first few weeks of care, and a great way to make a difference was to get involved before the pregnancy even started, in IVF. Then, in 2008 I became Muirhead Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of Glasgow. I only stopped working obstetrics earlier this year, and was making and delivering babies until then. There are aspects of it that I miss, especially that interaction with patients. However, I don’t miss being up in the middle of the night!
Have you learned anything surprising along the way?
Miia: I’m constantly learning with Access Fertility, because every case is different. Sometimes if I haven’t seen something before, I consult with Scott and we discuss it together. We need to do quite a lot of research.
Scott: One of the key things that has surprised me is the way the profile of the people we help is changing. People are becoming increasingly aware that they may need a package of care to achieve their family, that is, that they will need more than one IVF cycle to have a baby. With that realisation comes the desire to de-risk their decision, either with a refund programme or with the multicycle. Previously, the patients we spoke to were quite new to the process, but they do seem more aware now.
What advice would you give someone embarking on their fertility journey?
- The first thing is to optimise your lifestyle as best you can, both for you and your partner (if applicable). This can really help improve your outcomes
- Ask what support mechanisms are available to you. You may need them at different points in your journey. When you know what the options are (e.g. counselling, support groups, formal psychologists), you can reach them when you need them.
- Never be afraid to ask questions. At every single point of the journey. The teams you’re dealing with have been asked these questions before and can answer easily. The advantage is, by asking questions you are empowered on that journey, and it’s not all happening around you. You’re being an active participant.
- Remember, everyone has different journeys through fertility treatment and different pathways. What worked for them (e.g. egg donation, adoption) doesn’t mean it’s the right decision for you. They live with those decisions, not you.There is a pathway for most people, find yours.
- I would echo Scott’s point #3 – ask questions! Don’t forget you can ask our fertility nurse, Kelly, in a free consultation.
- Look after yourself and your relationship. Going through IVF is really tough on your relationship. You’ll seek out medical advice, but don’t forget to also get support for you, and your relationship. Think about it from a personal point of view.
- Don’t lose hope!