Creative writing for fertility

120px-Inkwell_icon_-_Noun_Project_2512.svgIf you enjoy writing, you may be interested in a special series of group creative writing workshops aimed at exploring and expressing the feelings and emotions brought up by fertility issues.

The five half-day workshops are open to both men and women and will take place in Brighton in East Sussex. They will be run by fertility counsellor and writing facilitator, Deborah Sloan. You don’t have to have any experience of creative writing to join the workshops, and a range of writing prompts are given using music, art, literature and natures.

The dates for 2016 are all Saturdays – the 16 January, 27 February, 2 April, 30 April and 11 June. The workshops can be attended individually as a drop in (dependent upon availability) or can be booked as a course of five. For more information or to book, please contact Deborah on 07753 228616 or at  The workshops cost £30 each or £135 if you would like to attend them all.

Childlessness workshop

You may be interested in a weekend workshop to be held in London on the weekend of 7th and 8th of November for people who are childless. Anyone who has experience of fertility problems or unwanted childlessness is welcome.  The workshop is run by fertility counsellor Gill Tunstall, and aims to help people to explore their emotions and to open up the possibility of moving on in their life. Women, men and couples are welcome.

You can read more about the workshop on Gill’s website here




London workshop on involuntary childlessness

If you are in or near London and are experiencing involuntary childlessness, you may be interested in a weekend workshop run by fertility counsellor Gill Tunstall.

Running in SW8 on October 18th and 19th, it is for anyone who has experienced infertility, failed fertility treatment, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, premature menopause, stillbirth, terminations for medical reasons or otherwise neonatal death, or unwanted childlessness–whatever the cause, including lack of a partner. The intention is to allow participants to explore their emotions, and to open up the possibility of moving on in their life.

Women, men and couples are welcome. Partners are particularly encouraged to attend, and all sexual orientations are welcome.

For further information  see

Cardiff fertility information day speakers

The speakers have now been confirmed for the fertility information day in Cardiff on September 27, and there’s a brilliant range of talks covering everything from what to expect at your first appointment to counselling and complementary therapies.

Wales-Info-day-Lottery-logoYou can hear speakers from leading fertility clinics in Wales including Dr Hemlata Thackare and Louise Mitchell from London Women’s Clinic Wales and Paul Knaggs from Wales Fertility Institute – as well as Dimitrios Kafetzis from Newlife Clinic in Surrey. Specialist acupuncturist Jackie Brown who has a clinic at CGRW, fertility counsellor Wendy Martin and Ann Bell from Adoption UK. Finally, Infertility Network UK trustee and fertility author Jessica Hepburn will be there, talking about her personal experience.

I will be there chairing along with Infertility Network UK‘s Andrew Coutts.

You can book your tickets for the day now for just £10 to include lunch –


Are you getting the counselling support you need?

Ask pretty much anyone who has had IVF what’s the most difficult thing about treatment, and they’ll talk to you about the emotional aspects.  Before you start fertility treatment, you might imagine it would be the drugs or the injections or egg collection – but for the vast majority of fertility patients, it’s dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of treatment that is so difficult  – which makes the fact that patients may not be getting the emotional support they should be entitled to all the more worrying.

A survey carried out by Infertility Network UK and the British Infertility Counselling Association (BICA) found that a third of those who replied hadn’t been offered any counselling at their clinics.  When you are having IVF/ICSI or donor treatment this isn’t an optional extra – clinics are obliged to ensure that you can access counselling services and if they don’t, they are breaching their licence conditions: the HFEA Code of Practice clearly states that the offer of counselling by licensed clinics is a statutory legal requirement.

The online survey was available via Infertility Network UK’s website for patients to complete and it showed that 33% of the respondents had not been offered any counselling. 20% said they were not even aware that counselling was available at their clinic.  Of those patients who were aware, the majority (61%) felt that the potential benefits of counselling were not made clear to them.  Some said that they felt information about counselling was “hidden” in the information that the clinic had given them, and that little consideration was given to how patients cope with the emotional aspects of treatment.

Ruth Wilde, outgoing chair of BICA, said: “Counselling is an integral part of infertility treatment, not a luxury, yet many people are not even being offered information about counselling and how it could be of benefit to them before, during and after treatment. Clinics have a duty of care to their patients and the HFEA makes it clear that the offer of counselling is a mandatory part of this care in a defined set of circumstances. Infertility is an extremely stressful procedure with huge potentially long term emotional consequences and patients should expect to have access to counselling support as part of this process. The issue is not simply about patients being made aware of counselling, it is about how it is offered and the value and emphasis attributed to it. The survey reflects what we as practitioners know, but clinics and clinicians sometimes fail to understand – that it is not just about offering counselling as a box-ticking exercise, but about communicating the reasons and benefits for having it. There is support out there: BICA seeks to continually raise the standard of support offered to people affected by fertility issues and involuntary childlessness and to help them access the right help. Everyone having licensed treatment should be able to see an infertility counsellor through his or her clinic. For those not currently having treatment, there is a list of specialist infertility counsellors who offer private infertility counselling on our website at

I N UK’s chief executive, Susan Seenan, said: “We know from the people who talk to us every single day that the emotional impact of infertility is as devastating as ever. The sorrow, anger, and frustration that can come with prolonged fertility problems invade every area of life and people need the right help and support to help them cope. That clearly isn’t happening anywhere near as often as it should be.  This survey has shown what we have long suspected and we will be working with BICA and the HFEA and push for changes to ensure patients are getting the full package of care. Counselling can be a lifeline and clinics are failing patients if they overlook this.”