Don’t bother with that detox

images-4Most people think about their lifestyle when they are going through fertility tests and treatment – there is so much information out there now about how diet and lifestyle can impact on fertility that it’s not surprising that people often feel a need to take measures to improve what they eat. It’s never a bad thing to eat healthily, but it’s also true that there’s little scientific evidence about so-called fertility “superfoods” or that supplements are going to make a real difference to the outcome of treatment.

At the start of a new year, many of us feel we want to use the opportunity to improve ourselves in some way and the idea of a detox to start the year is often very popular. However, doctors have issued a warning after one woman who did this last year became seriously ill as a result of taking herbal remedies and drinking too much water. She collapsed and suffered a seizure before being admitted to hospital.

Please don’t worry that eating your five a day and cutting back on alcohol is going to make you unwell – this was a full-on detox diet which is a very different thing. In fact, the British Dietetic Association told the BBC that the whole idea of detoxing is nonsense – so whilst eating well and cooking fresh wholesome food is always going to be good for you, this makes it clear that there is not only no need to follow extreme diets, it can also be very dangerous. You can read more about this here and here 

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas

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Just to wish you all a very happy Christmas wherever you may be – and best wishes for the New Year which I hope will be a very good one for you.

If you are struggling today, please don’t forget that there are 3.5 million other people across the UK trying to conceive and probably finding it just as hard – you are not alone.

Free creative workshop for anyone with fertility problems

120px-yoga_meditation_pos-410pxYou may be interested in a fabulous and completely free creative workshop for anyone who is experiencing fertility problems which will take place in London in the New Year.

Called Blessing our Bodies, the workshop offers an opportunity to rekindle your body and mind connection through movement, music and art materials and share experiences in a relaxed and safe environment. It’s the sort of thing which would cost a fortune if it were being offered privately, but this is part of the research for a new arts project run by a dancer and choreographer, Maria Ghoumrassi.

It will take place in Greenwich in South East London on January 28 from 11.00 – 15.00 and refreshments and lunch will be provided. There are, inevitably, limited spaces but if you are interested in this fabulous opportunity, you can contact Maria Ghoumrassi at mluzghoum@hotmail.com.

 

Join our online group for help coping with Christmas

800px-arbol_navidad_02If you are finding it hard to deal with things at this time of year, why not join our Christmas Skype chat on Wednesday 14th December?

I am going to be doing a brief chat about the things I think can help, and then we’ll have time for everyone to join in with questions and a discussion  We’ll be starting at about 6.15 pm and the chat will be for half an hour or so.

Everyone is welcome to join the chat which is organised by the patient support charity Fertility Network UK. All you need to do is send an email to Hannah – hannah@fertilitynetworkuk.org – and she will join you to the group. I look forward to chatting to some of you next week!

 

How to handle Christmas when you’re trying to conceive

juletraeetIt’s that time of year again and it can seem as if you can’t escape images of cheery happy families whatever you do and wherever you go.  Christmas is always a difficult time for anyone trying to conceive when it can feel as if everything conspires to remind you of what you don’t have – and of course, the festival itself is all about celebrating a very special birth.

I know lots of people offer lots of different advice about how best to get through the next few weeks, but I think the bottom line is that you need to try to find a way to make the Christmas break an enjoyable or rewarding time for yourself. It isn’t easy if you end up with dozens of invitations to family parties or child-focused events, but don’t forget that this is your holiday too and your top priority should be looking after yourself.

Christmas is meant to be a time of giving, and sometimes we assume that means that we need to put what others want and need ahead of what we might want and need ourselves – but actually sometimes that’s not the best thing to do. If you know you are going to spend a miserable afternoon at your friend’s Christmas party surrounded by the friends she’s made at her daughter’s nursery school who all want to discuss how to get children to eat broccoli and which is the best local primary – and who will all ask whether you have children yourself – it’s really quite acceptable to make an excuse not to go and just arrange to see your friend at another time over the Christmas period.

This is true of any events over the holiday period. Try not to feel guilty about making an excuse if you need to. Sometimes other people may not seem to understand, but there’s nothing wrong with being honest and saying that actually you would just find it too painful if you feel able to do that. Otherwise, you can always make an excuse – at this time of year, there are often so many things on that it’s very common to be double-booked. Don’t feel you have to do things that you know will make you feel upset and unhappy just because it’s Christmas.

If Christmas makes you feel lonely, never forget that there are 3.5 million people across the UK having difficulty getting pregnant – and it may be that your neighbour or colleague is experiencing exactly the same feelings.

Think carefully about the things you would like to do – an adults drinks party, a trip to the theatre or cinema and maybe you’d like to celebrate in your own way and do something completely different whether that’s a Christmas trip somewhere completely different (IVF-diminished funds permitting), a long seaside walk, tapas for two at home for Christmas lunch or a Christmas Day film marathon. You could consider doing something completely different, perhaps volunteering with an organisation like Crisis which provides Christmas for homeless people or Community Christmas which provides celebrations for isolated elderly people – in London, another option is Whitechapel Mission but there are similar schemes across the UK.  It really is up to you what you want to do, and you don’t need approval from anyone else. Do something that will make you feel good and that you will enjoy – and most importantly, try to have fun.

 

 

 

 

National Fertility Awareness Week starts on Monday

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National Fertility Awareness Week starts on Monday 31st October and runs through to Sunday 6th November 2016. It is your week and you can help Fertility Network UK to raise awareness during the week.

Fertility issues are all too often misrepresented and misunderstood. It’s common for media attention to be focused on stereotypes of fertility struggles: the 30 – or 40 – something career woman who’s left it too late; the against-the-odds IVF success story or the woman who’s apparently easily come to terms with childlessness – but this is far from the real picture.

During National Fertility Awareness Week, Fertility Network UK aims to highlight the unseen, intimate and day-to-day reality of fertility issues, to overturn commonly-held misconceptions about fertility and to shine a spotlight on untold fertility stories.

In the UK, 1 in 6 couples experience the pain fertility issues bring. Even if you don’t have direct experience, you probably know someone who does – a family member, friend or work colleague. We hope people will join in, raise funds and help change perceptions about fertility issues.’

The five focus areas for this year’s media campaign are:

  • The myth of the middle-aged would-be-mum: fertility issues in your 20s and early 30s
  • The truth about fertility treatment: we know that 75% of individual IVF cycles are unsuccessful and that most people who become parents after treatment go through more than one cycle. What is it like to face multiple rounds of treatment?
  • The hidden half: men are just as likely as women to suffer from fertility issues
  • Facing up to childlessness: coming to terms with childlessness is too often portrayed as a straightforward process when the reality is far from that
  • Life after successful IVF: the taboo of secondary infertility and can life as the parent of an IVF miracle ever be normal?

You can find out more about how to get involved at the National Fertility Awareness Week website and on Twitter with the hashtags #NFAWUK #HiddenFaces #fertilityin5

What not to say to people with fertility problems

images-2Here’s an article from the Huffington Posby Shafali Talisa Arya that you may want to share with friends and family who don’t know quite how to deal with your fertility problems… It’s a list of some things not to say and covers many that you will most certainly have seen before – the relax and stop thinking about it one, and the why don’t you just adopt, it could be worse and the people who seem to think it is helpful to tell you how very fertile they are…

I wish it talked about fertility problems rather than infertility (most of us are really sub-fertile rather than infertile) but I hope it makes people think a little more about some of the potentially hurtful things they say. Of course, it’s always difficult to get it right and no one can always hit the correct tone with someone else when they are in the midst of a challenging situation – but I love the closing thought that people with fertility problems don’t need advice, they need support… So true!

Can people without fertility problems be infertile?

flag_of_who-svgWhen a story about the World Health Organisation apparently deciding to revise their definition of infertility to include single men and women without fertility problems who wanted to become parents, there was an inevitable media flurry of stories about the NHS having to offer them fertility treatment.

The Daily Mail heralded the story with a headline shouting “Single, childless but want a baby? You could be labelled infertile“, while The Telegraph told us that “Single men will get the right to start a family under new definition of infertility” and The Sun went one better with “Gay couples and single men who want kids will be branded ‘INFERTILE’ – to make accessing IVF easier“…

In reality, the chances of this happening in the UK in our current fertility funding climate is very slim. It is already hard for couples with proven fertility problems to access treatment in many parts of the country, let alone those without them. We have seen cuts to fertility services in recent months and fewer and fewer fertility patients are now being offered the treatment that NICE recommends – which is three full cycles of IVF for those who are 39 and under. So the idea that commissioners are going to rush to start offering treatment to single men and women is far from likely…

For anyone who is trying to conceive

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If you are experiencing fertility problems and feeling lonely and isolated, I am sure you will find this video will resonate with you. The video is part of Fertility Network UK’s #HiddenFaces campaign for National Fertility Awareness Week and has been generating a lot of positive responses from people who know what it’s like to live with fertility problems. It was made by Jessica Hepburn, who is a trustee of the charity and an author – she writes a blog called after her book – The Pursuit of Motherhood – which is also worth looking at.

Jessica is an amazing woman who has swum the Channel to raise funds for Fertility Network UK and she is the brains behind the wonderful Fertility Fest which some of you may have been fortunate enough to attend in London or Birmingham earlier this year.

Thank you Jessica on behalf of everyone who knows what it is like not to be able to conceive, thank you for talking about something so personal and difficult, thank you for your courage and warmth and for all you do to raise awareness of something so many people find too difficult to talk about x

Have you booked your tickets for the Fertility Show?

the-fertility-show-london-logoThis year’s Fertility Show will take place at London’s Olympia on November 5 and 6. If you haven’t been before, it is certainly worth considering a visit as you will find many of the country’s leading experts under one roof offering a wide range of talks on every aspect of fertility over the two day show. There are also more than 100 exhibitors from clinics around the world as well as advice groups, charities, acupuncturists, diet, nutritional & lifestyle advisors and many others.

You will find something for you in the seminar programme and speakers include Professor Adam Balen, Professor Allan Pacey, Yacoub Khalaf, Professor Geeta Nargund, Zita West, Marilyn Glenville, Emma CannonJessica Hepburn and many more.

Tickets are on sale now, and there will be another Fertility Show in Manchester in March if you can’t make this one – details can be found at www.fertilityshow.co.uk