Secondary infertility

The fact that fertility problems can occur for people who had no trouble conceiving their first child often comes as something of a surprise – and yet it’s very common. You may have seen the article in The Guardian this weekend by journalist Sarfraz Manzoor about the difficulties he and his wife experienced when they tried for a second child – a subject author Maggie O’Farrell had also written about in the paper some years ago. The magazine Fertility Road covered the subject recently, and it is great that it is being talked about.

All too often, there’s an assumption that secondary infertility is somehow less of a problem because you aren’t childless – and yet in fact the pain it causes may be different, but it is still a deeply distressing problem. Parents can feel guilty about not being able to provide a sibling for their child, and it can be very difficult to escape pregnant women and babies when you have a young child.

People sometimes put off seeking medical advice if they are experiencing secondary infertility having conceived without a problem in the past. In fact, there are no guarantees when it comes to fertility and it is actually more common to have a problem second time around than it is not to be able to have a child in the first place. Sometimes the difficulties you are experiencing are just down to the fact that you are older than you were when you got pregnant before, but there can be other medical problems which may have occurred in the interim. If it is taking you longer than you would have liked to get pregnant again, you should visit your GP in just the same way that you would do for primary infertility – so usually after a year of trying unsuccessfully or after 6 months if you are over 35.

Advice on fertility from a range of therapists

Logo_oficThe magazine Fertility Road has produced a guide of tips for anyone who is trying unsuccessfully to conceive covering a range of different categories – complementary therapies, diet and nutrition, male fertility and vitamins and supplements. The tips come from a range of complementary therapists and other practitioners working in the field.

Some are more evidence-based than others when it comes to actually boosting your fertility, but there’s a lot to think about and some useful tips and suggestions for ways to help yourself to feel better apart from anything else. I particularly like author Jessica Hepburn’s thoughts about not stopping following all the other dreams you have for your life – as many of you will know, Jessica followed hers to swim the Channel and then climb Mount Kilimanjaro!

Why not take a look here, and see if you can find something that resonates with you.

Could you support an amazing challenge?

f69dfacf-fc0e-4f3b-b5a8-125a668ab203People do all kinds of unusual and challenging things to raise funds for charity, from bungee jumping to running marathons. Some are difficult, some are fun – but most are well-trodden paths which feel within the realms of possibility.

For Infertility Network UK trustee Jessica Hepburn, the challenge is something which most of us couldn’t – and wouldn’t – even begin to contemplate. Jessica has decided to swim the English Channel…

Jessica has been a great champion for fertility patients since she wrote her book, The Pursuit of Motherhood, about her own experiences of treatment – and she’s now also a columnist for Fertility Road magazine as well as a trustee of Infertility Network UK.  I’ve just been reading a bit about what she’s taken on – it’s at least 21 miles to swim from one side of the Channel to the other, but tides and currents mean that you usually swim further than that – and according to the Channel Swimming Association you may face waves higher than 2 meters, jellyfish, seaweed and planks of wood as well as very cold water. What’s more, you’re swimming in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, with 600 tankers and 200 ferries going across daily!

It’s an incredible thing to do – and Jessica really does deserve your support. She’ll be setting out on her swim later this month. What I find most extraordinary about it is that she says she isn’t really a swimmer – she certainly will be after this…  If you’d like to help her to raise funds to support people affected by fertility problems by offering them advice, information and a friendly helping hand, do sponsor her via her Justgiving page – you don’t have to know her personally to help her raise much-needed funds and to support her challenge

Could a fertility group help you?

images-2I’m off to run the Central London get-together for Infertility Network UK tonight (and it’s not too late to come along – you can just email me at for details if you’d like to join us), and it made me think about how helpful it can be to meet up with others who really understand what you are going through and to share experiences.

We tend to call the meetings “support groups” which I think is slightly off-putting, and conjures up images of a rather depressing event. In fact, our groups are far from depressing, and there’s usually far more laughter than tears. It is always rewarding to see people leaving some of their anxieties behind after a meeting and gaining emotional strength from being together.

How fertility support groups can help

I wrote an article recently for Fertility Road magazine about this subject, looking at how groups can be beneficial.  So often in our groups, people end up taking email addresses and keeping in touch with one another in between meetings. They build up a network or real friends rather than online ones who are there for them during the ups and downs, and that is invaluable. It really can help you to get through the emotional ups and downs of tests and treatment more smoothly.

Infertility Network UK’s groups meet across the country and are free of charge – you can find details here – there’s nothing to lose by giving one a try!


Want to know more about endometrial scratch?

I’ve noticed a lot of people have been asking about endometrial scratch recently and whether they should have it at their clinic alongside their IVF. It is a procedure which is sometimes offered alongside IVF and carried out before treatment starts. There have been suggestions that it may improve outcomes but it is clear that people aren’t really sure whether it is really worthwhile – and the costs of the procedure can vary hugely from one clinic to another.

Endometrial scratch – evidence and experience

If you want to find out more about other people’s experience of having a scratch, about the science behind it or about what leading specialists in the field would advise, you may be interested in this article I wrote on the subject for Fertility Road magazine. It will certainly help as a starting point if you aren’t quite sure whether to go ahead and pay for a scratch.

What’s your ultimate fertility find?

Do you have something that helps you getting through your fertility journey? Whether it’s a particular song or piece of music, a favourite film or book, a lucky charm or a helpful piece of advice, the team at Fertility Road magazine would like to hear from you as they’re putting together an article called “My Ultimate Fertility Find”. They want to know what has kept you going, given you energy or helped you to relax – and makes the journey that little bit easier.  If you’ve got a suggestion you’d like to share, you can email, explaining what is helping or has helped you, and how – and ten lucky people who have responded will get a Molton Brown giftset.