Fertility

How to improve your chances of conception 2018-05-15T10:18:04+00:00

For countless women, becoming pregnant is relatively easy. For others, it can be far more complicated. Many women feel helpless if they do not conceive quickly, and they begin to think there may be a serious fertility problem. There are many things women can do to increase their fertility levels and therefore, improve their chances of having a baby.

 

Keep a Positive Attitude

 

Research has shown that physical health is not the only issue, where conception is concerned. Having a positive mental attitude can make an enormous difference. Negative thoughts will often hinder your chances of conceiving. As stress level rise, fertility levels can fall. Try not to worry too much about getting pregnant quickly. Take time out of your busy schedule to unwind. Everyone has different methods of relaxing, so think about what you can do to achieve this.

 

For some, it can be as simple as taking a warm, candlelit bath. Others may need more help. Aromatherapy massages and reflexology are wonderfully calming and can make a huge difference to your state of mind. Aromatherapy may also be used to regulate menstrual cycles. Certified aroma therapists can be found on the internet or in your local business directory.

 

Just spending some quality time with your partner can help. Try to do activities together in your spare time and make sure that you both enjoy them. This alone can heighten the emotional aspects of your relationship and remove some of the stress that so easily builds up when you are trying for a baby.

 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been known to have a very positive affect on fertility, when used in conjunction with IVF. Research in to its effects on fertility alone, are incomplete. Though, smaller studies have shown that it can be beneficial.

 

Acupuncture has been used by Chinese medics for around 5,000 years and is renowned for having amazing effects on a variety of ailments. However, its benefits have only been recognised by American medics for the past few decades.

 

If you are interested in trying out acupuncture, always find a reputable, certified acupuncturist. The National Institutes of Health and The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture are reliable sources for finding licensed acupuncturists.

 

Ovulation

 

Your chances of becoming pregnant greatly depend on your menstrual cycle and its regularity. Ovulation usually occurs between the twelfth and eighteenth day of your cycle. During this time, you are at your most fertile and your chances of falling pregnant are maximized.

 

It is thought that ovulation is most likely to happen on day fourteen (this is based on a regular, twenty-eight day cycle.) A way of predicting your most likely day of ovulation is to subtract fourteen from the total length of your own menstrual cycle. For example, if your cycle is twenty-eight days, subtract fourteen to arrive at your optimum date of fertility, (in this is case, it would be day fourteen.) Nevertheless, women’s menstrual cycles do vary greatly; consequently, your day of ovulation may either be before or after day fourteen.

 

Ovulation predictor tests can also be bought from a pharmacy or drugstore. Having sexual intercourse when you are ovulating will obviously increase your chances of getting pregnant. Although, couples should try to have sex at least three times per week if they are trying for a baby. The human body is a miraculous thing and ovulation does not always occur when it should take place. Regular sex not only strengthens a relationship, it is a way of making sure that no opportunities are missed.

 

After you have had intercourse, try not to get up or move around for at least twenty minutes, this will help to keep your partner’s sperm inside your body, again, increasing the likelihood of falling pregnant.

 

Nutrition and Diet

 

Having good nutrition and eating a sensible, healthy diet plays a hugely important role. Try to eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, lean protein and wholegrain, fibre-rich foods, such as brown bread, rice and pasta.

The vitamins and nutrients that are found in certain foods can also help you become pregnant. Here are some examples:

 

Leafy, green vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, broccoli, lettuce and spinach, are high in folic acid, a vitamin which is incredibly important for both mother and child. Folic acid supports the development of a foetus and can prevent debilitating defects, including spina bifida. It is also essential for the reproductive and general health of a woman. Folic acid can also be found in bread and cereals and taken as a vitamin supplement.

Lean meat or beans and pulses are very rich in protein and iron. These important nutrients help to keep iron levels high in the body. A blood count low in iron, can affect the general health of the ovaries, and may interfere with ovulation.

Dairy products are rich in calcium, which everyone needs to maintain healthy bones and teeth. If you are trying to get pregnant, make sure that you consume enough calcium, in order for your body to support a developing fetus

When to seek conception advice

If you have been trying to get pregnant for more than one year, or you are feeling very unhappy. It is best to make an appointment, to discuss any issues you may have, with your doctor. If your doctor thinks there is a genuine complication, they will arrange for you to see a fertility specialist as soon as possible.

 

 

Share your Fertility and birth stories with us 2018-04-30T13:31:01+00:00

Share your Fertility and birth stories with us

We are looking for women from around the globe to share their fertility (Trying to conceive) and birth stories with us. Perhaps you had been trying to conceive for 10 years and then fell pregnant with twins or maybe you fell pregnant very quickly after stopping contraception but experienced an eventful pregnancy or birth.

However easy, complicated, happy or challenging your experience has been, we would love to hear from you! We will be publishing a selected number of stories on our website. You may chose to remain anonymous if you so wish.

To register your interest, please contact us via the form by clicking here

A GROUNDBREAKING method of IVF that uses MAGNETS to separate healthy sperm could increase pregnancy success rates by 10 per cent 2018-03-15T10:42:28+00:00

A GROUNDBREAKING method of IVF that uses MAGNETS to separate healthy sperm could increase pregnancy success rates by 10 per cent, according to experts.

 

MACS – magnetic-activated cell sorting — uses biodegradable magnetic nanoparticles that stick to ageing or damaged sperm that would probably die before fertilisation. The laboratory sample is then put in a tube where sperm is passed by gravity through a magnetic field. As it rises, defective sperm coated with the antibody is caught and removed, while the remainder goes through unharmed and without obstruction. Doctors treating women through IVF can then use only the more healthy sperm for egg fertilisation, increasing the chances of pregnancy.

Experts at IVF Cube in Prague say they are highly encouraged by the MACS technique

The world-leading IVF treatment centre is one of the first to use it, and two women have already become pregnant after treatment, with another eight set to start. Dr Hana Visnova, IVF Cube’s medical director, admitted MACS was still in its early stages in the field of IVF. But from her work and research, she believes it could become a highly effective new treatment method.

She said:

We are very encouraged by the fact that the first two patients to undergo this treatment at our clinic, have been confirmed as being pregnant. Other women being treated by us have started MACS, but it is still too soon to know how successful it will be. Only a few clinics use it, it is still a very new method, and so it is impossible to be able to collate more accurate data about it. But from my personal experience of it, through research and from results at IVF Cube, I believe it to be a potentially highly important new method of IVF.

Dr Visnova added:

I am confident that it can deliver between a five and ten per cent improved chance of bringing about a successful pregnancy. IVF Cube already enjoys a high rate of success, but an increase of that amount is significant. Of course, much depends on the particular sample of sperm and circumstances of the patient, but our results so far are very encouraging.

Maintaining the genetic integrity of sperm is vital to normal embryo development, and a high level of DNA fragmentation can affect embryo development and often lead to miscarriage. Selectively removing defective sperm which are otherwise indistinguishable is believed to improve the likelihood of pregnancy through assisted reproductive treatments. Sperm in a small tube has the marker protein Annexin V added and allowed to mix for about 15 minutes at room temperature. It is then held in place between magnets, which causes a block to poor quality sperm passing upwards due to gravity. Healthy sperm passes through the magnetic field and is collected for use in the artificial insemination process.

Benefits

Men who are infertile and have a high level of DNA fragmentation in their sperm, are likely to benefit, as are women who have had repeated miscarriages with an unidentified cause. Women who have had at least one previous treatment cycle or who have poor embryo quality which is not attributable to their eggs, may also be treated. Although the technique has been in use for almost three decades, mainly in clinical immunology and haematology, it has only recently been applied to IVF. One benefit of MACS is that it can be combined with additional and better proven techniques such as IMSI or PICSI. PICSI is a technique during which natural sperm selection of the matured sperm only is imitated. It works by testing the ability of the sperm to attach to the hyaluronan, the substance contained in the surface layer of the egg, in a special petri dish.

 

In IMSI, individual sperm is evaluated under a highly specialised microscope, where only the morphologically optimal sperm is used for the micro manipulative fertilisation. IVF Cube was established in 2011 and has a proven record of success in treating women, including many from the UK, and has an 84 per cent success rate.

 

Sperm in general are highly prone to damage and fragmentation of their nuclear DNA. When this DNA becomes too fragmented or too damaged, the cell begins to die naturally. If such a sperm manages to fertilise an egg it is more likely to result abnormal development of the embryo.

The initial stage of fragmentation is hard to identify, but as sperm begins to break down, it exposes a substance called phosphatidylserine on its surface.

Normally this is contained within the cell, so can be used to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy sperm. The nanoparticles used during MACS bind to this substance, making it possible to extract the unhealthy cells using a magnetic field.

Sperm DNA damage can be caused by stress, certain chemicals, the influence of free radicals, smoking and increased testicular temperature. Age is also a factor.

How to deal with endometriosis to preserve fertility 2018-02-25T20:44:58+00:00

HOW TO DEAL WITH ENDOMETRIOSIS TO PRESERVE FERTILITY

Endometriosis is a common and long-term condition which affects 1 in 10 women in the UK. It occurs when the lining of the uterus (endometrium) grows in other places, such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries or along the pelvis. The condition causes heavy and painful periods as well as pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis, or lower back.

Around 30% of women with endometriosis have fertility problems, this can be as a result of scarring on the tubes and ovaries, issues with the quality of the egg or problems caused by the embryo travelling down the tube and implanting in the wall of the uterus.

With diagnosis for endometriosis taking an average of 7.5 years in the UK, Endometriosis Awareness Week (3rd – 11th March) is aiming to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the condition for women who may not yet have a diagnosis.

Mr Anthony Rutherford, Consultant Gynaecologist in reproductive medicine and surgery at Leeds Centre for Reproductive Medicine, gives his advice on how to deal and treat endometriosis in order to preserve fertility, ahead of his seminar at The Fertility Show.

  1. Act on your symptoms – It is very important that women are aware of the symptoms of endometriosis as you may not discover you have the disease until you are actively trying for a baby. If you have a history of painful periods, including pain before you start your period as well as during, and have experienced pain during sex then I would advise speaking to your doctor. Early referrals for women with endometriosis are vital as surgical treatment in most circumstances would improve your outcome of natural conception in the future. In the biggest surgical study conducted in women with endometriosis, patients who had treatment for the disease compared to those that didn’t were assessed across a 9-month period post treatment. The results showed a 17% chance of natural conception if women had no treatment and a 30% chance if they had treatment.
  2. Endometriosis doesn’t stop conception – Women with endometriosis can get pregnant naturally but have about half the chance of getting pregnant compared to their peers of a similar age. If you have been diagnosed I would recommend asking your doctor about your options as each case needs to be treated individually. This could involve trying to conceive naturally for 6 months or surgery to aid conception. If you have been trying for 2-3 years then you should explore alternative methods such as IVF as this would improve the chances of conceiving.
  3. Don’t rush into invasive surgery if you are trying to conceive as it could delay conception –If you are diagnosed with endometriosis while trying to conceive, medical management of the condition involves supressing ovulation, which of course will stop you getting pregnant. There is no evidence that treating endometriosis before IVF would improve the outcome. I think that a lot of patients might benefit from not having to go through difficult and stressful surgery at a time when they are trying to conceive. Ultimately, having surgical treatment when you are already struggling with conception delays the fertility treatment itself and further delays the pregnancy. The other consideration about operating on an endometrioma is that while an ovarian cyst may be removed part of the normal functioning ovarian tissue may also be removed and that would mean a woman’s ovarian reserve would be reduced on that side.

 

INFO BOX

Hear Mr Anthony Rutherford on Saturday 24th March at The Fertility Show Manchester on the topic of ‘Dealing with and treating Endometriosis’.

The Fertility Show Manchester takes place at Manchester Central Convention Complex on 24th & 25th March 2018.  

With over 50 exhibitors, 30 topical seminars with speakers including doctors, clinicians and fertility experts, and a dedicated Q&A stage where you can ask all your questions (in person or anonymously), visitors will have the opportunity to get all the fertility information and support they need, at one time, under one roof.

The Show is hosted in association with Fertility Network UK.

Visit www.fertilityshow.co.uk/manchester for further information and tickets. 

 

The impact of alcohol on your fertility 2017-11-08T13:04:40+00:00

Ahead of Alcohol Awareness Week (13– 19th November), Dr Venkat discusses the impact of alcohol on your fertility

Current NHS guidelines suggest that women should avoid drinking alcohol altogether if they’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, in order to keep any risks to their unborn baby to a minimum. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and your baby having a low birth weight or preterm birth. It may well affect your babies’ health after they’re born as when you drink, the alcohol crosses from your bloodstream through the placenta directly into your baby’s blood.

As infertility rates in the UK are on the increase, we have to wonder if regular alcohol consumption may have a more profound effect on our ability to conceive than we think. Alcoholic beverages contain a lot of sugar. Excessive sugar consumption decreases fertility by contributing to hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance, yeast infection, vitamin and mineral deficiency and lowered immunity. All of which may impair fertility for both men and women.

Here, we ask Dr Venkat, Director of Harley Street Fertility Clinic, to explain how alcohol affects fertility for both sexes:

  • Women & alcohol

For women, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can have a negative impact on ovulation and menstrual cycles, which is essential for conception. Alcohol also depletes the body of vital vitamins and minerals and we know, we need good levels of nutrition to make a healthy embryo and baby.

There is no ‘safe’ drinking amount when trying to conceive, so if you’re planning to try for a baby, I suggest quitting alcohol altogether, or limiting it to very special occasions only. Recent research has shown, that even those women who consumed 5 drinks or less a week, had lowered fertility. Abstaining also eliminates the possibility of a woman consuming alcohol before she knows she’s pregnant, and reduces the likelihood of damage to the embryo. In fact, studies show that if neither partner drinks at all, they are typically likely to get pregnant quicker than those who continue to drink alcohol.

However, if you decide not to abstain, limit drinking to no more than 1-2 units once or twice a week (two units equals a 175ml glass of wine).

  • Male fertility & alcohol

Studies have shown that consuming excessive amounts of alcohol lowers testosterone levels as well as the quality, quantity and motility of sperm.  It has also been proven to cause impotence and reduce libido. However, by abstaining from alcohol the effects on fertility are easily reversed.

 

Couples planning to try for a baby should ideally abstain from alcohol for a few months before attempting to conceive, since sperm needs at least three months to mature.

 

If you decide not to abstain then I would strongly recommend staying within Government guidelines (3-4 units a day – a pint and a half of beer).

 

What to drink instead?

Throughout the day, stay healthily hydrated by choosing filtered or mineral water.  I would recommend trying to consume around 6 larges glasses of water per day and aim for more if exercising. In terms of socialising, if you baulk at the idea of having an apple juice at your friend’s birthday party, there are now plenty of non-alocholic cocktails beverages at your disposal that are just as delicious.

For more of Dr Venkat’s work please visit www.hsfc.org.uk

Fertility and age: knowing where you stand 2017-12-14T16:49:44+00:00

There is no denying that the fertility and age is connected.  With women having their first baby at an older age,  the trend continues to rise due to a variety of reasons, these include women wanting to pursue careers, educational opportunities, as well as the high cost of housing and other complex social issues.

It is unlikely that this trend of delaying parenthood is going to change anytime soon. But what can you do to assess your fertility health, what really are your chances of having a baby in your late 30’s and is there anything you can do to preserve your fertility?

NowBaby talked to Harley Street Fertility Clinic Director, Dr Venkat about the common issues with age and fertility:

Common issues with age and fertility

The key to fertility is a woman’s ovarian reserve ie. the availability of healthy eggs.  A decline in ‘ovarian reserve’ means that not only do the ovaries have fewer eggs to offer, but the eggs they do have are of poorer quality.

The challenge for many women choosing to have their first child mid-30’s or later is that as part of the body’s natural aging process, a woman’s eggs age too.  This can lead to infertility and/or miscarriage.

Achieving a natural pregnancy after 40 years of age is a challenge for many women, but getting pregnant is only half the journey. Miscarriage rates over 40 are 50% and rise quickly with each advancing year.

They use a number of methods to evaluate a woman’s fertility health. It really is crucial to undergo fertility health-checks in order to know where you stand and if you need to take steps to preserve your fertility (such as egg freezing) for the future.

  • Hormone testing to assess egg quality and number

Blood Tests

Three simple blood tests can check hormone levels and reveal more information about egg quality and number. These tests may also help diagnose infertility in a younger woman, who ordinarily would not be experiencing diminished ovarian reserve or poor quality, but may be living with an undiagnosed condition:

Three simple blood tests can check hormone levels and reveal more information about egg quality and number.

  1. Basal FSH: FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) is the main hormone involved in producing mature eggs in the ovaries. If this test reveals excessive levels of FSH in the body, it is a signal that the brain is trying to boost poorly performing ovaries into action. In other words, the ovaries may need extra help to make eggs.
  2. Estradiol: Estradiol is the most important form of oestrogen found in the body, and is responsible for maintaining healthy eggs in a woman’s ovaries, as well as for facilitating a healthy pregnancy. If a blood test shows high levels of Estradiol, it indicates a problem with egg numbers and/or quality.
  3. Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH): AMH is a blood test that directly measures ovarian reserve. It is produced directly by early stage ovarian follicles. High levels (over 1.0 ng/mL or 8 pmol/L) are favourable, while low levels (less than 1.0 ng/mL or 8 pmol/L) indicate decreased ovarian reserve. AMH may be the best measure of the menopausal transition and ovarian age.

Ultrasound

  • Ultrasound evaluation to assess egg quantity

An ultrasound allows us to evaluate the uterus, uterine cavity, and ovaries. We recommend that this scan is performed just prior to ovulation – from this we can make sure there are no fibroids or other growths that could affect fertility, as well as assessing the number of small follicles (antral follicles) in the ovaries, referred to as an antral follicle count (AFC). These give us a good indication of the ovarian reserve.

At the end of the day, knowledge and education is key! If parenthood isn’t an option until a person’s late 30’s/early 40’s then why not consider egg or sperm freezing to increase the chance of having your own ‘genetic’ child at a later stage in life.

For more information about a fertility health-check contact the Clinic by emailing: info@hsfc.org.uk or call 020 7436 6838.

Where to next

The Fertility Show arrives in Manchester 2017-12-14T16:49:53+00:00

Tickets are now on sale for a brand-new event coming to Manchester for the first time in 2017; The Fertility Show.

The two-day Fertility Show which takes place on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th March 2017 looks set to welcome thousands of prospective parents through its doors for this unique opportunity to get information, advice and support on fertility issues from the experts under one roof.

The Fertility Show Manchester

Held in association with Fertility Network UK, is a follow up to the renowned London Show, which celebrated its eighth year in November last year and welcomed almost 3,000 visitors. Now, to give even more people access to expert advice on fertility, the UK’s most popular fertility event will now travel North.

In the UK, 1 in 6 couples struggle with fertility and the need for information and support is in high demand.  The Show is for everyone wanting to conceive. Whether you’re considering IVF, want to find out about egg and sperm donation, thinking about other alternatives such as surrogacy, or simply want to know how to boost your fertility, then this event is for you.

Manchester’s Central Convention Complex will play host to exhibitors including doctors, clinicians and fertility experts all offering help, support and guidance as to where to go next on your fertility journey. The Show will also feature a diverse seminar programme, with 30 topical sessions across the two days delivered by experts in the field such as Professor Charles Kingsland, Lead Consultant, Hewitt Fertility Centre, Liverpool, Professor Adam Balen Consultant in Reproductive Medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Dr Raj Mathur, Consultant Gynaecologist, Manchester Fertility, and leading expert Zita West.

Key issues and hot topics that will be discussed in Manchester include:

  • Factors to consider when choosing a fertility clinic
  • Natural cycle and mild IVF – fertility treatment without the drugs?
  • Surrogacy arrangements
  • Single women and gay couples – options for conceiving
  • What men need to know about fertility
  • Issues for families created with donors

Visitors to the Show will also have the opportunity to be involved in the unique Q&A stage, running throughout the two days in association with Fertility Network UK.  The stage gives visitors an opportunity to put forward their questions, either openly or anonymously, to a panel of experts. The stage will be hosted by Jessica Hepburn, Fertility Road columnist, trustee at Fertility Network UK and author of Amazon bestseller, The Pursuit of Motherhood and chaired by Susan Seenan, Chief Executive of Fertility Network UK – who will be joined by a rolling panel of fertility experts across the two days to give advice directly to visitors.

Please visit https://www.fertilityshow.co.uk/manchester for further information.  Tickets cost £10 for each day, or £16 for a weekend ticket in advance. Seminars can be booked for just £3 a session.

We have 5 pairs of weekend tickets to give away.

For a chance to win a pair of tickets please enter using the form below.  5 winners will be selected at random from the entries received.



Closing Date midnight Thursday 16th March 2017
T&C’s apply – please see competition rules on the site
Your details are being sent by email to the managing editor of NowBaby.  They will only be used for the purpose of selecting 5 winners. Winners will be notified by email within 48 hours of the closing time.

 

Fertility and pregnancy trends to look out for in 2017 2017-01-31T16:32:09+00:00

There has been some major advances in the world of fertility and pregnancy – from a major clinical study that confirmed a link between The Pill and depression to apps and gadgets that can pinpoint fertility.

Fertility entrepreneur Dr Elina Berglund, CTO and co-founder of Natural Cycles fertility tracking app, which helps prevent, plan and monitor pregnancies, and has been shown to be as effective as The Pill, predicts the major fertility and pregnancy trends to look out for in 2017.

More women will abstain from The Pill

Hormonal contraceptives are used by 3.5 million women in the UK. In 2016 the University of Copenhagen published results from the largest study of its kind which confirmed a link between hormonal contraceptives and depression.

In 2017 the debate around the effects of The Pill will revive and more information will be needed so women can better understand the impact of hormonal contraception.

Rising interest in technology-assisted natural contraception

Interest in hormone-free birth control alternatives will rise in 2017. Women will explore more natural ways to manage their contraception, and fertility tracking apps like Natural Cycles will support them.

Technology will drive innovation in fertility and contraception

Whilst the pharmaceutical industry is retracting funding from contraception, foundations will continue to give money to research in this field. Funding will also be directed to technology companies which are investing in clinical studies and new tech platforms e.g. apps, wearable tech and hardware to be used to track fertility.

This will help women better understand their bodies and pinpoint, with precision, when they are fertile so they can plan or prevent a pregnancy – as well as identifying potential fertility problems early on.

Women will use apps and IVF for planning pregnancies and egg freezing

With advances in technology and a better understanding of one’s body, women will use new platforms and insights to accurately plan when to get pregnant which will help them better balance other aspects of their lives e.g. ageing, career and life in general, but also use the information for infertile couples to accelerate IVF treatment.

IVF will also expand its user base to include healthy women for egg freezing.

Push for IUD from the medical world

Following intense funding from the Buffet Foundation (CHOICE project), the medical community will push to increase awareness about Long term Acting Reversible Contraception (LARCs)

More regulations and user safety

2017 will see an upward trend in the way technology and hardware for contraception is regulated. Whilst Natural Cycles is the first health app for women to be regulated as a medical device, we will see an upward trend in the amount of apps and technology platforms that will be regulated. Regulation around data privacy will also ensure that user data and security remains paramount.

Women will get pregnant later in life

According to the Office of National Statistics in 2016, pregnancy rates were higher among over-40s than under-20s for first time since 1947. This trend is set to continue as the current financial position of households and concerns about the economy, welfare and unemployment, are all factors which affect the timing of childbearing for women in the UK.

Described by the BBC as a ‘fertility entrepreneur’, Dr Elina Berglund says:

“2016 has been an incredible year for new advances in fertility and pregnancy planning. The rise of technology, new insights and knowledge, together with better regulation, means that women are now in a position to better understand their bodies which means they can more accurately plan, prevent and monitor pregnancies, identify potential fertility problems and, ultimately, make decisions that are right for them.”

Natural Cycles has over 130,000 users in 161 countries. In recent clinical studies the app was shown to be as effective as the contraceptive pill* and could pinpoint ovulation with the same accuracy as methods used in clinics and hospitals**. It is also the first fertility tracking app for women to be regulated as a medical device.

#NaturalCycles

References

Results of the clinical study demonstrating the effectiveness of Natural Cycles as a natural birth control has recently been published in the peer-reviewed
European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care 

Clinical Study

About Natural Cycles www.naturalcycles.com

Natural Cycles is a fertility tracking app to help prevent, plan and monitor pregnancies. Our mission is to educate and empower women to take control of their fertility and future, championing a vision where every pregnancy is wanted. Natural Cycles has been shown in clinical studies to be as effective as the contraceptive pill and is the first fertility tracking app for women to be regulated as a medical device. Natural Cycles was founded by husband and wife team Dr Raoul Scherwitzl and Dr Elina Berglund, a top physicist who was part of the Nobel Prizewinning team that discovered the Higgs boson. With PhDs in physics, they applied their mathematical techniques to create a unique algorithm which allows Natural Cycles to adapt to each woman’s body individually. Natural Cycles app has over 130,000 users in 161 countries.

Breaking the silence of infertility: talking and supporting 2017-12-14T16:50:02+00:00

It’s a funny thing, but for many of us coping with infertility we just don’t talk about it.  Its a private experience that we keep to ourselves and our partners.  Whilst many around us are celebrating their pregnancies or new arrivals we anxiously pray that Aunt Flo will not make an appearance this month and that that little plastic stick will grant us that very special wish.  We know that stress had a negative impact on fertility, yet not talking about fertility problems can serve to increase stress levels.  So how could talking openly about infertility help you and get you the support that you so desperately need?

Stacey Hill is the creator of Kickstartbabies, a brutally honest blog of My Journey to Mummy, through IVF and Beyond. A proud wife to Keith and now co-creator of gorgeous, twin boys, Ronnie and Arnie.  Stacey has shared her story with littlebud.com as part of their campaign to get people talking about fertility – helping to raise awareness . Stacey is part of the Bud team of contributors writing news, advice and support articles on fertility related issues and here she explains the benefits of talking about her infertility experiences and shares some guidance on how to do it yourself….

Talking openly about my experience with infertility has helped me cope immensely with my journey. I’ve had somewhere to vent on the down days and lots of support from the TTC community. It has also helped me gain a better understanding of both the medical aspects of what to expect, and most importantly, the emotions involved of assisted fertility.

Talking openly about such an intimate part of your life and relationship can be very daunting, sharing such information isn’t for everyone. For me, I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve, so it came naturally for me to talk openly with people about what we were dealing with. But even then, the more intimate, raw, gritty detail proved difficult to speak of, through fear of embarrassing myself or the person listening. However, I found a way to share my journey with others, which at the time was crucial, looking back now I hardly remember some of the symptoms, feelings, physical changes that people want to know. People about to go through it or are already on their fertility journey want to know the uncomfortable bits, they want to know how you feel at certain points, how it affects relationships, if loose stools could be a symptom of a positive, if other people have been catching their pee in hairspray lids or are frightened to sneeze at fear of the embryo falling out.

It’s only after I’d had the boys that I really shared with the world who was behind my blog… But I know, from reading other women’s stories and talking openly about it, sharing my journey has been a great support for many women, which is why I urge others to do the same.

The subject of infertility is a tough one to talk about, here’s some guidance on how to talk about it openly with others….

RESPECT each other

Before even thinking about talking openly about your journey, make sure you and your partner are on the same page. Is he happy to have your private life laid out bare for all to see? Set boundaries that you both agree on, what should be shared and where to draw the line, if any.

SHARE it

So, if for you the idea of sharing it petrifies you because you want it to be a secret form your family/friends, but you want to look back on this journey, why not write it up and log it? Whether this is a diary for just you and your husband to keep, or in a blog under a pseudonym. Nobody has to know it’s you behind that screen, but you’d have the support of TTC community and a place to vent all of your hormone induced emotions. Writing it out can be a huge release, you can be as honest as you want, or delete it after a good vent. For me, this was what kept me going.

This is YOUR journey

One woman’s journey will be completely different to another’s, we all respond to medication differently, have different backgrounds as to why you’re dealing with infertility, ages are different, relationships, etc. Remember this is YOUR journey. Your story. One woman may have been through several failed rounds of IVF and still no baby, another may be lucky first time, it’s important to remember that your end goal is the same, and you’ve all gone through your own highs and lows to get to this point.

Infertility – We are 1 in 8

When openly talking about the fact you are dealing with infertility, it might be a good idea to mention that 1 in 8 people are too. That little bit of information can soon smash the taboo about the subject of infertility, when it affects so many of us, it seems ridiculous that someone could be uncomfortable talking out loud about it. Don’t be ashamed, don’t be embarrassed. Embrace this journey, it’s part of your history.

Use the SUPPORT around you

Dealing with infertility can be a very lonely experience. Although surrounded by family and friends, you can feel like nobody really understands what you’re going through. Talk to them, tell them how you feel, what your worries are. Just a good chat between you and your partner can really help you feel like you’re ready for anything. Plus, how are they to understand unless you tell them? Tell them how they can help, not to ask too many questions, ask more, not at all maybe. Pick a good time.

Know that you’ve HELPED someone, somewhere

That someone could be you, it could be someone in the family or a complete stranger. But talking about your experience with infertility will have helped someone, somewhere. Maybe just you and your partner talking about it, that will have helped you both air a few feelings, keep you both on the same page. Maybe a friend or family member hadn’t realised that you’re going through a tough time, now they understand what’s going on and can support you more, or a friend is going through the same and suddenly doesn’t’ feel so alone. Or maybe, half the world away, someone if reading your story and taking hope from it, on what started as a really bad day.

However you do it, maybe even something as small as responding to yet another “when are you going to start having babies” question, with, “well, we are actually struggling at the moment” or simply writing your journey down….. your educating someone, giving hope to the next person and supporting another.

Together, we can slowly breaking the silence of infertility, and the more voices heard, the less uncomfortable the world will be talking about it.

Telling your friend you’re pregnant….when she wants to be 2017-12-14T16:50:11+00:00

I can remember wanting to be pregnant. Trying month after month and facing the bitter disappointment of yet another period, looking for the smallest sign that maybe this time we may be lucky and having to hear the ‘happy’ news that my friends were expecting.  It wasn’t easy and I know we were lucky because eventually thanks to the wonders of IVF we went on to have children, but the memory of that time has never left me because it was so hard and so painful.

I hadn’t told anyone other than my Mum that we were trying for a baby, so when friends told me of their exciting news, they didn’t have to tread on eggshells but I often wonder how different it would have been if they had known.  How would they have felt about sharing their news, would it have made them feel uncomfortable and what is the best way of telling someone that you’re about to have the one thing that they want most?

Ms Dani Singer, Counsellor and Specialist Psychotherapist at Harley Street Fertility Clinic has some advice for you if you find yourself in just that predicament….

“This is a very delicate dilemma on both sides of the pregnancy divide, and sometimes even for those who have crossed over the divide (i.e. those, who after much struggle, finally have a child). The advantage for the latter is that they have firsthand experience of what it was like for them but even then it does not mean that it will be the same for everyone – and so there cannot be an exact ‘right’ formula or way to deal with the situation.

I’m Pregnant!

Unsurprisingly, your news is likely to unleash a veritable tornado of emotions in your friend: from genuinely pleased and excited for you to (possibly) downright hatred (you betrayed her again!) and jealousy, but at the same time feeling like a horrible friend/human being for having these feelings just because it is not her. You sound like you too are struggling with your own torn feelings, but probably to a lesser degree: delight at welcoming another child into your family and feelings of guilt in relation to her, almost a mirror image in reverse. As she is your best friend, and she has continued in that role through your previous pregnancies, you are well placed to imagine the turmoil she is going through, and also what approach might be most helpful to her specifically. Nevertheless, it is very hard to get it ‘right’, because the difficulties your friend is experiencing are not ‘right’, neither what she wants nor expected.

So in a way you are from the outset ‘in the wrong’. Perhaps the best thing you can do is to be aware of this and be able to withstand any emotional backlash from your friend, by letting her know that you love and care for her and are there for her regardless of how she responds – a process that may fluctuate and take time.

What will your strategy be?

The trick is to negotiate a path between not being unintentionally patronising – ‘I understand/ know how you must feel’ (you may not, not really), ‘It will happen to you too’ (it may not),  or excluding (ie she is the last to know because you are trying not to hurt her feelings) or over inclusive (she probably does not want to hear every little detail no matter what she says to you) or over apologetic (it is your baby after all).

People use a variety of strategies: some may drop ‘hints’ so that she guesses herself (e.g. morning sickness), some suggest that this was completely unplanned (though this may not help her, after all she is working hard for the same goal) and others wait until they start to show. However, probably more helpful is to tell her gently and privately, not in the presence of others. She will probably prefer to hear it from you directly, rather than indirectly through your mutual friends or, worse, on facebook. You don’t want to assume that she can’t ‘handle’ it. One possible scenario might be something along the lines of: ‘I realise this might be difficult, but I want to tell you (first),even though I know I’d said I wouldn’t and the timing is terrible (for you)… and I also want to let you know how much I am thinking of you and wishing/praying/hoping for a really good outcome for you too.” Then perhaps a ‘good luck!’ or ‘you’re a wonderful and very special friend to me’ card and flowers a few days later – delivered to her home rather than at the office.

In a similar vein, some women opt for sending a letter or emailing in the first instance so as to give your friend time and space to gather herself and get over the shock rather than feel forced to respond instantly with a ‘congratulations, this is wonderful news, I’m so happy for you’ front. Some suggest apologising for the timing in a light touch manner, making reference to suddenly being the kind of person you always secretly hated (addressing the sense of betrayal), and expressing your sincere wishes that she gets similar news soon. Then follow it up with a tete a tete conversation, if she’s willing (she may need more time).

Don’t be too happy

Don’t put on too happy a spin to her situation; don’t go on and on and around in circles with a lot of superfluous kid-glove empathy and apologies either. Instead, tell her simply, and then step back, give her space.  For example: ‘I wish I knew the perfect way to tell you this news, but I don’t. I am X weeks pregnant. I wanted you to hear it from me, and I want to give you as much time and space as you need. If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s OK. Please know that I love you and care about you.’ Maybe not even that much, depending on your level of friendship and how involved you are in her grieving (or infertility treatment) process. Remember, as someone I recently saw said, that pregnancy is a gift that keeps on stinging, for an infertile woman.

Include her but accept her feelings

Include her in the invitations to celebrate your news, but probably don’t ask her to organise these and acknowledge that you understand that she may not always or at all want to participate and that that’s alright with you. She may call and ask how you are etc, answer her questions but don’t say more than that as that might hurt her feelings and you probably have other people you can do that with. She may just need a hug at times, but may also find it hard to see your growing bump. Accept her process, she is doing the best she can.

So generally, in as much as one can generalise, sharing pregnancy news with someone struggling with infertility or past losses should go something like this: tell them soon, possibly first, ensuring that they don’t hear the news second-hand, in a space where they can be free to experience the full force of their reaction which they probably won’t be prepared for.”

For more information on fertility treatment visit: www.hsfc.org.uk