Have you booked your ticket for Cardiff yet?

Wales-Info-day-Lottery-logoIf you live anywhere in or near Cardiff, you should come along to the fertility information day there on September 27.  You will be able to hear speakers on a wide range of fertility-related subjects, including IVF and complementary therapies for treatment.  Bookings are now open – and your ticket includes lunch, tea and coffee.

It’s a brilliant opportunity to find out more about fertility – and meet up with others too. I’ll be there along with others from the Infertility Network UK team – so hope to see you there!

There are a limited number of tickets – so do book yours now at www.infertilitynetworkuk.com

Beware of miracles…

I keep coming across press releases for a book called The Pregnancy Miracle by someone called Lisa Olson which claims to offer a miracle cure for infertility using a “clinically proven holistic and ancient Chinese proven system”.  Apparently this method is 100% guaranteed and can “reverse” infertility within four months without any drugs, side effects, surgery or expensive treatments.

There is nothing that can guarantee 100% success when it comes to infertility, but I know how tempting claims like this can be  when you are searching for answers to a fertility problem. I’ve come across mention of this book on fertility forums where patients are talking about the book as looking “impressive”,  and saying that they have got to the point where they are willing to give anything a go.  When someone posts a question about the book online, there are often remarkably similar-sounding responses from others about it. They all contain links to press releases which are just more fluff about how marvellous it is, even though some claim to be “reviews” which “investigate” the claims in the book. They even suggest the book comes with an offer of a full money-back refund if you aren’t satisfied.

Posters on forums who’ve fallen for this scam have found it hard to get their money back when, unsurprisingly, they find that they are not pregnant after reading the advice – which they say is mainly suggestions that you should go to an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine specialist.

The most recent press release I’ve had the misfortune to read seems to have been written by someone with a rather odd grasp of English – and it was the promise that not only can this miracle method guarantee a pregnancy but also a “stout” baby that was almost funny. Almost, because it’s really not at all funny to exploit people in this way


Visualisation and IVF success

I apologise in advance for the rant, but I have come across a few people recently promoting the idea that they can somehow change your mindset, freeing you up to think positively and get pregnant.  Of course, we’ve all heard of the placebo effect, and yes we know that our minds do influence our health, but the idea that you can guarantee IVF success by visualising yourself being pregnant is just nonsense.

I suppose you could say it doesn’t do any harm, but actually I think it does. Not only are people often paying for the services of those who are apparently freeing their minds to make them more fertile, they are also accepting the idea that they will be personally responsible for the failure or success of their fertility treatment. So, if your treatment doesn’t work, it wasn’t down to possible problems with the eggs or sperm, it wasn’t because the embryos didn’t flourish or implant, it wasn’t anything to do with your age, your hormones or your medical condition – it’s your fault for not visualising yourself sufficiently pregnant.

I’m not against alternative treatments or mind-body sessions, and I think complementary therapies can be helpful to those going through fertility treatment but you should be very, very wary of anyone who makes extravagant claims about what they can do and particularly those who suggest that they can influence the outcome of your treatment.  Of course, some people who go to them will be successful because 25% of IVF cycles result in a live birth, but many others won’t – and it makes me angry that anyone should suggest that this might be their own fault.

The latest miracle “cure” for infertility

I’m afraid this is going to be a bit of a rant, but I received a press release this morning for a fertility book which made me REALLY cross. Apparently this book will “teach”, yes “teach”, you how to conceive naturally in 60 days with no risks or side effects using “100% natural methods”.  It costs $40 and allegedly contains diet plans and suggests Chinese herbal remedies which the author has researched for decades.  The killer line for me was the final one which claimed that “Any woman can use these methods to fix her fertility problems and become a mother”.  If only…

This book is an extreme example, but there are an abundance of similar (if not quite so patently ridiculous) claims being made now by experts in relaxation and complementary therapies. You can choose from any number of books which will help you to readjust your body’s natural balances in order to “help yourself” to get pregnant.

Anyone with a fertility problem wants to do all that they can to change their situation, and being at the mercy of clinicians, having to wait for appointments and submit to the indignities of treatment doesn’t help you to feel in control of what is happening. Being more proactive and visiting a complementary therapist or following a diet plan is helpful because it makes you feel that you are regaining some of that control, that you are doing all that you can to work towards a positive outcome.

The reality is that no amount of healthy eating or swallowing herbal remedies is going to unblock fallopian tubes that are impossible for sperm or eggs to pass through, or restore a congenital absence of the vas deferens. You are not going to have any impact on this kind of fertility problem with 100% natural herbal remedies.  But what about more subtle imbalances or unexplained infertility, I hear you ask?  Fertility patients are often told that these problems are linked to stressful lifestyles or unhealthy eating, and made to feel that they must be to blame. If you are living on diet coke and fast food, drinking vast quantities of alcohol and smoking, if you are morbidly obese, are suffering from an eating disorder or exercise to excessive levels, then your diet and lifestyle will have an impact on your fertility – but in reality, the majority of people who are trying to conceive unsuccessfully have already adjusted any issues in their lifestyles to try to maximise the chances of success when it became apparent that getting pregnant wasn’t going to be easy.

I have met so many couples who have given up caffeine and alcohol, who are following the  healthiest diets imaginable, yet are still worried that somehow they aren’t doing things quite right for conception, that they aren’t eating enough broccoli, that they may be consuming too many papayas or whatever the latest trend happens to be.

I’ve come across people who are filled with self-doubt about their attitudes to their infertility, and blame themselves for failing to get pregnant because they can’t allow themselves to feel positive after so many disappointments; people who worry that they are responsible for their infertility because they feel so stressed about not being able to conceive; people who have been told that they might get pregnant if they relaxed more, went on holiday, gave up their jobs, did more yoga, did less yoga – you get the picture…

I’ve had enough experts who make you feel guilty, who suggest that by taking some “simple steps” you can solve a medical problem.  Of course, you want to lead the healthiest lifestyle possible when you are trying to get pregnant, and of course, complementary therapies can help you feel relaxed and ready for treatment, but don’t ignore the warning bells when you come across anyone who claims to be able to “teach” you to “fix” your fertility problems…