Young mum’s anguish at her struggle to conceive

Gemma and her husband Jon Cleland struggled to conceive but had a daughter, Erica, after IVF treatme

Gemma and her husband Jon Cleland struggled to conceive but had a daughter, Erica, after IVF treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic and then four years later Gemma fell pregnant naturally and had their son Aidan. Picture: Caitlin Locke - Credit: Caitlin Locke

A woman whose dream of becoming a mum was shattered at the age of 22 fell pregnant after treatment.

Gemma Cleland, from King’s Lynn, recalls the anguish she felt when she started trying to get pregnant with her husband Jon, a chef who is now 46.

“All I ever wanted was children,” said support worker Mrs Cleland, now 37. “What made it worse was that all of my friends were getting pregnant with no problems at all and I wanted to be happy for them but was always wondering when it was going to be my turn.

“I felt as though everyone else I knew was starting their life and I couldn’t, it was really hard. I was thinking how is this fair? I cried lots of tears, it was horrible.”

IVF treatment was recommended for the Clelands after tests revealed underlying fertility issues. They were referred to Bourn Hall Clinic and were successful first time. The couple became parents to daughter Erica, who is now 10.

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Four years later, the couple had the surprise of their lives when Gemma became pregnant with son Aidan.

Dr Thanos Papathanasiou, medical director at fertility clinic Bourn Hall, which has clinics in Norwich and King’s Lynn, has seen an increase in enquiries.

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“The lockdown has been stressful for everyone, but particularly those wanting to start a family,” he said.

“Being stressed puts the body into continuous readiness for fight-or-flight. This creates cortisol which affects the hormones that control reproduction in men and women.

“Being overweight or having inadequate nutrition can also impact your hormones so getting good lifestyle advice and being fertility fit is important to increase your chances of success.”

Fertility is impacted by many factors and it is often not realised that there are less invasive ways than IVF treatment to improve the chances of pregnancy. This includes stimulation of the ovaries to produce more eggs.

Bourn Hall provides GP-referred fertility testing and NHS fertility treatment for eligible couples across Norfolk and is hosting a virtual fertility fair during Fertility Week, which begins on November 2.

One-to-one chats with fertility and complementary health professionals from 12-noon 4pm on Saturday, October 31.

For more information or to register for a free place go to

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