Fertility Network UK

Please help

My wife and I are trying for a baby, but so far (3 years down the line) unsuccessful.. she had cysts removed from her ovaries via a botched surgery at the hospital and also suffers from endometriosis.. we are looking into the possibility of IVF but are being told that she is overweight (she's a size 16) and does not qualify.. she has trouble losing weight via exercise due to a bad back and problems with pain from the endometriosis.. slimming clubs aren't working either...can any body tell me if there is a certain weight restriction as we found something on the internet saying a woman was allowed IVF on the NHS even though she was over the BMI for help ? (but can't find it now to show the doctor) And offer any advise on where to go from here... she is starting to panic as she turns 37 this year and found out that you have until you are 39 to get help from the NHS.

6 Replies

Hi. As far as I'm aware your bmi needs to be lower than 30. They do seem to be quite strict about the weight thing. I am doing a 9 day cleanse at the moment before I start injections just to make sure my body is in tip top condition and just to loose a little bit of weight. You are suppose to loose anything from 7 pounds to a stone in 9 days. Its quite a strict diet but may help your wife get in the right frame of mind, shrink her appetite and give her a kick start. Google clean 9, it does cost about 100 pounds though. How about swimming as a low energy exercise that's good for back problems. Sorry I didn't give you the answer you had hoped for. Wish you both luck on your journey xx



I believe each NHS trust has it's own criteria, but my local trust insisted on healthy BMI and to quit smoking. Thankfully my BMI was okay and although my husband and I only occasionally smoked we went to a smoking cessation clinic to give up for good. It was only once we had done this did we get referred. I had to be referred by the age of 39 too. (I am 38!).

It's very difficult but maybe you could speak to a dietitian or nutritionist. Crash diets are not really successful, but if you can change your eating habits and go walking every day it can really make a difference. Some core exercises and stretching will help with back pain too. I slipped a disc in my back last year so I know from experience this helps. Your wife doesn't have to run marathons to get fit!

Before and during IVF they recommend a high protein diet. Plenty of chicken and fish with fresh vegetables and obviously plenty of fruit and lots of water. Obviously cut out refined sugars and as much processed food as possible. There are various websites with diet guides such as this one which can be useful. carefertility.com/fertility...

Good luck on your journey and I hope you get the treatment you deserve.

Anjel x


Hello Hopi1983, the NHS in it area also required a healthy BMI before they would provide treatment.

I don't know the cause of your wife's back problem but my husband was struggling to do exercise for the same reason and acupuncture has helped him. I've also heard Tai Chi is good exercise if you have back problems and swimming as Anjel suggests may also work.

A healthy diet should help your wife lose weight and I also agree with Anjel that a dietician may help. There is a link between stress and eating habits so a GP referral to a dietician may help, or your wife could try counselling or even hypnotherapy!

Either way, I wish your wife the best of luck x


The criteria for BMI is less than 30 and they are strict with this. Also the age limit varies depending on what trust or CCG you come under. The age limit for the trust I come under is 35 so we had to pay for all of our IVF.

Low carb diet is good. Me and my partner cut out carbs with the evening meal, stopped snacking, portion size control and ate mainly veg and meat. We lost a lot of weight.

Also exercise with endometriosis does not have to be energetic. A daily 30 minute brisk walk is good starting point. I have endometriosis and found the low carb diet helped with my pain issues as did exercise. Yoga and Pilates helped too.

Has your partner tried reflexology this helped my stress levels too during trying to conceive and the IVF.

Good luck and I hope your journey is a happy one with a baby at the end of it x x x


Hi hopi1983. So sorry to hear that you and your wife are feeling anxious because she has a weight problem. I’m afraid that gone are the days when it was not such an issue. Unfortunately, if you are attending an NHS clinic/hospital – for any illness or complaint – not just infertility issues, then they are bound by the “CCG contracts” (Clinical Commissioning Group) re patients’ BMI. Besides hopefully improving her endometriosis and back pain, reducing it will make it easier for the doctor to carry out procedures, plus safer for her during pregnancy and delivery – plus should you need a general anaesthetic! Well done with any weight loss so far! I am certain that she is doing everything that she can to lose weight, but whatever she is doing, make sure that she is keeping a record of her losses, however small, so that she can prove that she is trying. A practice nurse at your GP practice would weigh her and keep a record too, if she doesn’t want to join a slimming club. Swimming, if possible, is good too, as it will support her back. If you can afford to attend a fitness centre, then speak to one of the advisors. He/she will be able to help her with her diet requirements and also the correct exercising that she requires. If you need to check the criteria for your NHS area then have a look at fertilityfairness.co.uk where you will find out what you need to know. Good luck! Diane


Hi hopi1983 I'm sorry to hear u and ur wife are having problems some if there's rules can be so frustrating can't they, everyone has diets and such that work well for them, everyone's different and body's respond differently but whenever I need to shift a few extra pounds I use the Paelo diet or Caveman diet, it really works for me as in includes food that are natural anti inflammatories as I have a joint condition and don't like taking my prescription pain killers I find this helps! It works on the basis that if a caveman could eat it then u can't! Like I say every diet works differently for everyone but I hope u and ur wife find an answer somewhere to help!!

Good luck 😊


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