It’s hard not to get excited about headlines shouting that “Scientists ‘REVERSE’ menopause: Women who’d not had a period in five years are now menstruating again after their ovaries were rejuvenated” – but does it really mean what it claims? Will the menopause be a thing of the past? Will women be able to conceive naturally later in life?
The story was originally reported in New Scientist and concerns research carried out by specialists at a Greek fertility clinic, Genesis Athens. The team found that a blood treatment, platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, which is most often used to help wounds heal faster, could also have an impact on ovaries. They injected PRP into the ovaries of older women and found that it appeared to rejuvenate them. They say they have managed to “re-start” periods in women who are menopausal, one of whom had her last period five years before. Note the ONE!
It is potentially exciting, but this is still at an experimental stage, and more work will need to be done to prove that this is effective and that it is a safe treatment which should be available more widely. You can read more about it here. You can find comments from Professor Geeta Nargund about her concerns about this technique here.
I never post about politics on this blog, but last night when I heard on the news the comments that Andrea Leadsom was alleged to have made about Theresa May’s childlessness I was horrified. When Leadsom claimed later that she hadn’t said these things and that it was gutter journalism at its worst, I wondered if maybe she had been misquoted. When I listened to the audio of the interview, sadly I found the way in which she talked about being a mother as if it gave her some sort of superiority even more upsetting than the written words. It was particularly unkind coming so soon after Theresa May had expressed her sadness at the fact that she had never had children.
So, perhaps this is not really about politics but about compassion and about how every one of the 3.5 million people in this country currently trying to conceive feels about being told they don’t have a stake in the future. I have heard from so many friends this morning who were never able to have children and who have got long past the age of trying, but who are deeply wounded by these words and who find it hard to comprehend that anyone could think expressing such a sentiment was acceptable.
For anyone who has been pained by this, please don’t forget that most of the response to Andrea Leadsom’s words has been shock and sadness. For every person who feels it is OK to say things like this, there are many dozens who think it’s appalling and who are feeling nothing but empathy and compassion for you today. I want to send love and hugs to you all xxx
It is well-known that being very overweight can have an impact on your fertility, and so obese women are often told that they need to lose weight in order to have fertility treatment.
Now, new analysis of research from the Netherlands suggests that losing weight if you are obese might not have an immediate impact on your chances of getting pregnant with fertility treatment but what it does make a difference to is your chances of getting pregnant naturally.
The researchers found weight loss had a significant impact on the chances of getting pregnant naturally, particularly for women who were not ovulating. There was a marked increase in the chances of getting pregnant naturally for this group when they lost weight. The research team suggest that this shows that healthy lifestyle changes could be a first port of call for obese women, especially those who aren’t ovulating.
You can read more about this research presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting here.
Have you had fertility treatment? Do you want to help others who are going through it too? The body which regulates fertility treatment in the UK, the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) is looking for people who might be willing to share their story on the authority’s new website.
Fertility treatment can feel like the loneliest place on earth, but by sharing your story you can help thousands of other people who are struggling with fertility problems. It doesn’t matter what treatment you had, if you’re a man or a woman, how old you are or whether you were successful or not: the HFEA want a wide range of stories that truly represent the diverse experiences of people having fertility treatment in the UK.
To share your story please email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are having IVF treatment, you’ve probably read online about endometrial scratch – a procedure which involves “injuring” the lining of the womb and which apparently can increase the chances of an embryo implanting.
The procedure has been in the news this week after a new review of the trials of endometrial scratch was released which suggests it may be beneficial for couples who are either trying to conceive naturally or using IUI where it seemed to increase the chances of success considerably. This has been widely reported as suggesting that everyone should go off and have a scratch but it is important to note that the review concludes that “the quality of the available evidence is low”.
You can read more about the review presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology here. There are currently trials being carried out looking at the success of endometrial scratch which should give some more good quality evidence to show whether or not the procedure is worth paying for.
A new study from Denmark has found that three out of every four women starting fertility treatment will have a baby within five years, whether as a result of the treatment or by getting pregnant naturally. The study looked at the records of nearly 20,000 Danish women having fertility treatment, and found that more than half had a baby within two years and 71% after five years. Most had their children as a result of fertility treatment, but 14% got pregnant without treatment.
The researchers found that age made a significant difference when it came to whether women were going to have a child – after five years, 80% of women under 35 had given birth compared with 60.5% of women aged 35-40 and 26% of women who were 40 or above. You can read more about the study here.
Infertility Network UK, the country’s support charity for anyone affected by fertility problems, is set for a change of name and logo! From mid-August, the charity will be Fertility Network rather than Infertility Network.
It’s a welcome change – the term “infertility” is no longer so widely used and in fact the majority of those experiencing difficulties getting pregnant are sub-fertile rather than truly infertile. The new name also reflects some of the wider interests of the charity, around campaigning for better fertility education for young people for example. Here’s a preview of the new logo and colour scheme! A new website will follow and will be launched in the Autumn at the Fertility Show.
New research published this week shows that more more than a third of those who became mothers aged 35 or older had experienced a period of infertility and that nearly a fifth of all women aged 35 to 44 have struggled to conceive. The research project included more than 15,000 people and their results showed that 18% of 35-44 year old women had tried to get pregnant for a year or more. Overall, the figure was 13% of women of all ages who had experienced fertility problems.
The research team found that fertility problems were more likely in couples who moved in with their partner later, who were older when they started trying to conceive and who were from a higher socio-economic group. The research also found that many people didn’t seek any medical help for their fertility problems – only just over half reported getting help.
It won’t surprise anyone with experience of infertility to learn that the team found higher rates of depression associated with fertility problems and the research team called for an acknowledgement of the impact of infertility and the availability of appropriate support. The research was led by Jessica Datta from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and was published in the Journal Human Reproduction – you can find the full text here
If you are in or near London, you may be interested in a talk on nutrition at the Infertility Network UK Central London group on July 7 at 6pm. This will be specifically focused on healthy eating and diet for fertility. The evening is open to everyone and is completely free of charge as are all Infertility Network UK groups.
There will be time to listen, to ask any questions you may have about healthy eating and diet, and then to get together with others who are experiencing fertility problems.
If you’d like to attend, email email@example.com who will send you more details.
OK, I know I’ve written about this a lot, but there are just a few days left now to catch Gareth Farr’s play The Quiet House at the Park Theatre in London. I know how easy it is to think “Oh, I must get round to seeing that…” and then suddenly realise it’s too late and you’ve missed whatever it is. So, don’t do that this time around.
I’ve seen the play twice, and can honestly say it got better each time. There are some amazing performances, especially from Michelle Bonnard who plays Jess who is going through IVF treatment. Don’t miss it – box office link is here!