Focus group for research

We’ve just had a request for people who might be interested in taking part in a focus group to talk about their experiences of fertility problems from Dr Shantel Ehrenberg, a Lecturer in Dance and Theatre, who is leading a research study to investigate and increase awareness of women’s often silent emotional and physical experiences of getting a diagnosis of fertility problems.

She is not a clinician, so there will be no medical information and this isn’t a clinical study, but Shantel is interested in understanding women’s experiences of infertility and sharing her findings with medical professionals and the society-at-large. She wants to use your experiences to help to inform a performance lecture as part of this research. A performance lecture is a thirty-minute presentation that includes text, movement, and visual imagery, presented at conferences and workshops, to help raise awareness about women’s experiences of fertility problems.

The current research project is funded by a University of Surrey Pump Priming Award and approved by the University’s Institutional Ethics Committee.  Compensation is offered for taking part (£25).

​The focus group would be about 90 minutes and include a brief introduction of the project.  The meeting will take place in central London. If you want to know more or are interested in taking part you can contact Shantel by email s.ehrenberg@gsa.surrey.ac.uk or phone  01483683137

New online group for people who are pregnant after fertility treatment

At Fertility Network UK, we have set up a new online group for people who are pregnant after fertility treatment.

Whether you’ve just had a positive pregnancy test or are further down the line, you may be interested in joining our new group which will get together online. If you would like to join the group or to find out more about it, please contact kate@fertilitynetworkuk.org

Breaking bad news

Do you think clinic staff get it right when it comes to breaking bad news to fertility patients? And how do you think that could be improved? Are staff too blunt? Or not blunt enough?

I’ve met so many patients who have felt that things weren’t always handled in the best way, and I’d be keen to find out more about where you think things may go wrong – and what you think might work better.

I’d be really interested to know what you think – you can leave a comment below or use the contact form if you would like to send a private response – http://fertilitymatters.org.uk/contact/

Men wanted to answer survey on fertility

Men can often feel rather left out when it comes to fertility treatment – and the support available to couples can often seem very female-focused. Now, a team from Leeds Beckett University have partnered with Fertility Network UK to try to find out more about men’s experiences of fertility problems. They believe not enough is known about how men cope with fertility issues and will use the results of the research to help to raise awareness of men’s needs.

They will also produce a report at the end of the study and present the findings to health care professionals to ensure that the male perspective is taken into consideration in fertility clinics and in fertility counselling settings.

This survey is completely anonymous so please do fill it in – or get your partner to – and ensure that the researchers get a good response and can start to encourage changes in the support for men during treatment.

You can find the survey here 

Why do people go overseas for IVF?

A new survey of fertility patients looking at overseas treatment carried out for Fertility Network UK and the website Fertility Clinics Abroad has unsurprisingly found that cost is the major reason why people travel for treatment.  Of those who responded to the survey, nearly 80% said fertility treatment in the UK cost twice as much as they were willing or able to pay and 68% said that they would travel for treatment because IVF overseas was generally cheaper.

When people first started travelling overseas for fertility treatment, it was often to access donor eggs but according to this survey most of the respondents were using their own eggs for IVF treatment abroad. The survey found that people believe that treatment can often be offered more quickly abroad. There was also a perception that the standard of care was better overseas with clinics offering a more personalised approach.

Interestingly many were also attracted by the apparently high success rates overseas, but some respondents had noticed that these rates could be confusing and misleading. A majority had said a centralised database of all overseas clinic success rates would be welcome but it would be very hard to verify these rates. Some overseas clinics claim success rates of more than 80% for women using their own eggs for IVF, and it is important to be clear that these rates are not comparable with the figures you will get from a UK clinic as they are using different criteria, are not always including all the patients treated at the clinic and may be giving rates for positive pregnancy tests rather than for live births.

Almost a quarter of respondents wanted to go overseas because they would have access to anonymous donors and it would have been very interesting to find out why they felt this was an advantage – did they feel it was linked to a larger pool of available donors or was it the anonymity itself which was attractive, and if so why. So, a survey which provides some interesting information – and also raises many questions! You can read more details about it here 

Want to know more about long-term fostering?

The patient support charity Fertility Network UK runs regular online groups which you can join via Skype. The next one will take place on Thursday 18th May at 6 pm and the month’s guest speaker is Amel Bouaraba from 24 Seven Fostering. Amel will discuss long-term fostering’. Anyone is welcome to join in – for more information or to find out how to join the call, you can email Hannah – hannah@fertilitynetworkuk.org

The Daisy Network Conference

The Daisy Network, the support group for women with premature ovarian insufficiency, is holding a conference on Saturday 10th June at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. They have speakers covering a wide range of topics including HRT, fertility, sexual health and nutrition. There will also be an Ask the Experts session and plenty of opportunity to meet other members.

It promises to be an interesting day, and tickets cost £15 for members and £20 for non-members. including lunch and break-time refreshments. You can buy tickets here 

Are you going to bed too late?

Could your sleep patterns be affecting your sperm count? New research from China has found that going to bed after midnight along with sleeping much less or much more than average seems to have an impact on sperm.

The research team looked at more than nine hundred men who had regular sleep patterns and divided them into groups who were all given different sleep durations and bedtimes. They then carried out semen analyses over a period of six months, and found that those who were having the shortest sleep had lower sperm counts and lower motility.  They also found that those who went to bed after midnight had lower sperm counts regardless of how long they then slept for.

So, if you are trying to conceive, it’s certainly worth ensuring you get to bed before midnight – and that you don’t get too little or too much sleep. You can find the full paper from the team at China’s Harbin Medical University, which was published in the Medical Science Monitor, here 

The US fertility lottery

A fertility clinic in the US has recently held a lottery offering a number of free cycles of IVF – which was a good PR exercise for the clinic itself. I’ve just been reading an article about this and was surprised to discover that the “free” cycle didn’t actually include the cost of any drugs (which, as anyone who has been through treatment will know, are extremely pricey). Nor did it include any additional treatments such as PGD or sperm freezing should they be needed. Entrants also had to be under the age of 43.

The lottery was drawn live on Facebook, 30 winners from the 500 or so entrants which seems a small number given what was on offer. But perhaps not, as they also had to agree to forfeit their right to anonymity as the names and locations of winners would be announced during the live draw.

This was carried out for the US National Infertility Awareness Week and whilst the sentiments may appear honourable, the idea of winners having to agree to let the world know about their fertility problems is something I struggle with – as is the concept of a prize which involves spending hundreds of pounds…

Could you help shape training for doctors of the future?

There’s a very exciting opportunity to help inform the new curriculum for specialist doctors who are training in gynaecology and obstetrics. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is looking for a range of people to join a new public insight group to help identify the communication skills and clinical knowledge that doctors need to give the best possible care.

The curriculum is updated every so often to ensure that new evidence or technology is taken into account, and the RCOG is committed to involving people who use services in all aspects of their work. Although the expertise of experienced doctors is vital, it is just as important to involve service users to hear what knowledge and skills they feel specialists of tomorrow should have.

The Public Insight Group will aim to include people from across the UK with a variety of needs and experiences. It may also include representation from individuals who have particular understanding of the needs of specific communities and can represent the experiences and needs of those groups effectively. There will be a core group of around 20 people who will meet face-to-face for an initial workshop session. After this, the group will be coordinated mainly by email as the new curriculum develops.

A wider consultation group will bring a broader pool of views into the project. This group will only be involved by email. Both the core and the wider group will play a crucial role in informing the new curriculum over the next year. Both groups will be communicated with regularly to gain insight and feedback will be given to members about how the new curriculum is progressing.

For more details about what is involved and to see whether this is something you may be interested in, see here