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

The Fantastic Fertility Fest

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I was in Birmingham yesterday for the first ever Fertility Fest which was a truly amazing day. Jessica Hepburn and Gabby Vautier put together the festival and had worked tirelessly to create something which managed to be moving, interesting, emotional, inspiring, uplifting, thought-provoking and exciting all in one day.

It was wonderful to have so many artists who have produced such different work about their experience of fertility problems gathered together under one roof – visual artists, playwrights, photographers, musicians and writers. To have them joined by leading fertility specialists added another context to the discussion and proved to be a fascinating mix.

I chaired the opening session where Jessica was joined by playwright Gareth Farr, whose play The Quiet House, which is about a couple going through IVF, forms a central part of the festival. They spoke about why they’d both wanted to write about their experiences of fertility problems, and about the stigma and taboo which still surrounds infertility and treatment. They set the tone for the day, explaining how the idea for Fertility Fest came about and what they hoped the day would achieve.

I went on to the session about IVF with writer Jo Ind and visual artist Tabitha Moses, where we were joined by Anya Sizer from the London Women’s Clinic. Jo read some passages and a poem she’d written at the time of her fertility problems and treatment, and then Tabitha presented some of her work about fertility – her beautiful embroidered hospital gowns featuring women’s fertility stories and the light-box embryos, pinpricked out using the syringes she used for her IVF. We had a fascinating discussion afterwards about their work, about infertility and treatment, about IVF pregnancy and parenthood and about the compulsion to explore fertility problems through art and writing.

In the afternoon, I was in the session on male fertility with photographer Aaron Deemer, musician and composer Fergus Davidson and fertility expert Professor Allan Pacey. Aaron began by talking about his extraordinary photos of the men’s rooms at fertility clinics, and about his visits to clinics in China and the UK – and explained how the photos have become a way into talking about men and fertility. Fergus gave an incredibly moving talk about his fertility problems and experience of miscarriage, and then played some music he had composed accompanied by pictures. I think most of the audience in the room were in tears by the time he had finished his courageous and honest account, and it made me realise how rare it is to hear a man speaking so openly about the pain of fertility problems and of miscarriage. Aaron and Fergus were joined by Professor Allan Pacey for the discussion afterwards who added a professional view to the debate which gave a forum for a subject so often overlooked. It was great that Dr Robin Hadley, an academic who has researched men’s responses to childlessness, joined us in the audience for the debate.

The final session of the day on the Future of Fertility was started by Amanda Gore from Liminal Space who talked about their most recent project involving the creation of a fictional beauty brand and pop-up shop designed to unlock the facts around egg freezing. Chair Peter Guttridge skilfully led the panel of experts – Professor Geeta Nargund, Professor Jacky Boivin, Dr Gillian Lockwood and Professor Allan Pacey – as they discussed what they felt lay ahead. Egg freezing, synthetic sperm and eggs, a dwindling population and the future of NHS-funded fertility treatment were up for discussion!

The day ended with a production of Gareth Farr’s play The Quiet House. I couldn’t stay for that but am really looking forward to seeing the play in London. There were so many amazing artists and experts, and I just wish I could have attended all the sessions. If you are anywhere near London and haven’t got tickets for Fertility Fest on June 11 – book one right now here before they sell out. It promises to be another truly fascinating day.

Have you booked for Fertility Fest?

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It’s just a week away, but there are still some tickets left for Fertility Fest which opens in Birmingham next Saturday. If you don’t know about this unique event, linking art and science in a day of performances and discussions, you can find out more by visiting the Fertility Fest website.

The Festival takes place in London too, but opens in Birmingham next weekend with leading experts in the field including Allan Pacey, Sue Avery, Geeta Nargund, HFEA Chair Sally Cheshire, fertility counsellor Tracey Sainsbury, the NGDT’s Laura Witjens, Gillian Lockwood and Jacky Boivin. Artists featured include Jude Christian, Milli Bhatia, Ronke Adekoluejo, Satinder Chohan, Somalia Seaton, Katie Barlow, Tina Reid-Peršin, Jo Ind, Tabitha Moses,  Amy Rosenthal, Kazuko Hohki, Sarah Esdaile,  Jody Day, Louise Ann Wilson,  Aaron Deemer, Fergus Davidson and Amanda Gore.

The day will conclude with a performance of award-winning playwright Gareth Farr’s latest production, The Quiet House, which addresses IVF and fertility. Fertility Fest has been organised by Jessica Hepburn and Gaby Vautier. It promises to be a really fascinating event, so if you are anywhere near Birmingham – book your tickets now!

Fertility Fest – when art meets science

images-6It will be the first event of its kind in the UK taking place in London and Birmingham, and it’s called Fertility Fest. The event, devised by writer Jessica Hepburn and producer Gabby Vautier, will bring together some of the country’s leading writers, visual artists, theatre-makers, film-directors and composers alongside some of the country’s foremost fertility experts for a day of performance, discussion and debate. Topics under the artistic microscope include facing the diagnosis of infertility, IVF, donation, surrogacy, the male experience, egg freezing, involuntary childlessness and alternative routes to parenthood.The full day of events concludes with a performance of a new play from award-winning writer Gareth Farr called The Quiet House about one couple’s journey when they enter the world of IVF.

Fertility Fest is in London on Saturday June 11 at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park and in Birmingham on Saturday May 28 at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. The artists involved in the days include Aaron Deemer, Amanda Gore, Amy Rosenthal, Fergus Davidson, Fiona Duffelen, Gabby Vautier, Gareth Farr, Jessica Hepburn, Jo Ind, Jody Day, Julia Copus, Jude Christian, Kazuko Hohki, Katie Barlow, Louise Ann Wilson, Matthew Dunster, Paula Knight, Peter Guttridge, Stander Chohan, Ronke Adekoluejo, Sarah Esdaile, Somalia Seaton, Steve Ball, Tabitha Moses, Tina Reid-Persin and Yann Seznec. The experts in the field joining them for the day will include Professor Allan, Pacey, Professor Geeta Nargund, Laura Witjens, Professor Jacky Boivin, Janine Elson, Juliet Tizzard, Kate Brian, Natalie Silverman, Sally Cheshire, Dr Sofia Gameiro, Dr Sue Avery, Professor Susan Bewley, Professor Susan Golombok, Tracey Sainsbury and Victoria MacDonald.

Tickets cost £25 a day which include all workshops, talks and a performance of The Quiet House – for more details and booking, visit the website www.fertilityfest.com

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.

Hooray for Jessica!

f69dfacf-fc0e-4f3b-b5a8-125a668ab203It’s not often that someone does something so incredible that you feel overwhelmed by admiration, but Jessica Hepburn has done that by swimming the Channel to raise funds for Infertility Network UK.

Jessica’s swim began at 1 am and just thinking about getting into an icy, dark English sea in the middle of the night makes me feel very unwell…  She swam all through the night, was stung by jellyfish, swept about by waves and the wash from container ships – and then carried on swimming all the next day. She was swimming while I slept warmly snuggled up under the duvet, was swimming when I got up and had a cup of coffee, swimming as I worked all morning, swimming when I stopped for lunch and was still swimming when I finished work. She finally reached the coast of France 17 hours and 44 minutes after setting off.

Just think of that cold water, those waves, those jellyfish – and keeping going for that long – and why not sponsor her to show how much you admire her amazing feat and to make it worth every moment in that icy water – https://www.justgiving.com/Jessica-Hepburn-INUK

Who will you find at this year’s Fertility Show?

logoIt’s here at last – the seminar details for this year’s Fertility Show are now available online for you to browse! Once again, there are a really great array of speakers covering pretty much everything you might want to find out about fertility problems, tests and treatments.

Starting with the basics, there are talks from Zita West, nutritionist Marilyn Glenville and IVF Hammersmith’s Stuart Lavery. There are talks on ovarian reserve (from  James Nicopoullos, Consultant Gynaecologist at the Lister Fertility Clinic) and on the causes of infertility, and Infertility Network UK trustee Jessica Hepburn will be talking about the patient experience. Leading consultant Yacoub Khalaf will explain how to improve your chances of success, Professor Geeta Nargund, Medical Director of CREATE Fertility,will be looking at natural cycle and mild IVF, the HFEA’s Juliet Tizzard will discuss making sense of success rates and I will be talking about choosing a clinic.

There are some interesting debates on new techniques in IVF and on dealing with particular problems. Professor Lesley Regan will be covering recurrent miscarriage, Dimitrios Nikolaou, lead clinician at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Hospital, will talk about treatment for over 40s while Dr Melanie Davies, consultant in the Reproductive Medicine Unit at London’s NHS University College Hospital will talk about how to deal with the diagnosis of unexplained infertility. Sam Abdalla, Director of the Lister Fertility Clinic, will ask whether anyone is too difficult to treat with a low ovarian reserve, Professor Adam Balen, Chair of the British Fertility Society, will talk about PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and Tarek El-Toukhy will discuss treatment for older women.

There will also be some interesting discussions on donor treatment with Laura Witjens of the National Gamete Donation Trust and Kamal Ahuja of the London Women’s Clinic as well as a variety of talks on different aspects of fertility treatment overseas.  Complementary therapies such as acupuncture, hypnosis and massage will be covered in  a number of seminars. There will be four sessions for single women and lesbian couples and separate sessions on surrogacy. Male fertility issues will be covered by Professor Allan Pacey of Sheffield University, who will be talking on both the Saturday and Sunday so that no one needs to miss his sessions.

Fertility counsellors Jennie Hunt and Tracey Sainsbury will look at emotional issues and coping with treatment, along with Anya Sizer who is the support co-ordinator at London Women’s Clinic. The difficult issue of whether to try again after unsuccessful treatment will be covered by Tim Child who is Associate Professor and Subspecialist in Reproductive Medicine at the University of Oxford and and Honorary Consultant Gynaecologist at John Radcliffe Hospital. Finally, there will also be three sessions over the weekend looking at different aspects of adoption.

This year’s Fertility Show will be on November 7 and 8 and London’s Olympia and you can find the full seminar list here 

 

 

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 https://www.justgiving.com/Jessica-Hepburn-INUK/

WoW 2015

I’m really excited to be chairing a session at this year’s Women of the World Festival at the Festival Hall on London’s Southbank.  WoW is an amazing event, and this coming weekend you will find a huge range of talks, workshops and performances covering everything from immigration to the use of sexist language.

The session I’m chairing is on Fertility Myths, and there’s a really interesting panel including Gateway Women founder Jody Day, fertility lawyer Harjit Sarang, psychotherapist Carmel Dennehy, Consultant Gynaecologist Dr Ephia Yasmin and fertility author Jessica Hepburn.

If last year is anything to go by, this will be a fascinating hour or so – hope to see you there!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions…

At the recent Infertility Network UK information day in Cardiff, fertility author Jessica Hepburn gave an excellent talk about her experiences and suggested some tips for getting through fertility treatment. One of the things she mentioned was the way that we often lose confidence in ourselves when we are at the fertility clinic, worrying about being annoying and wanting staff to like us as if this might have an impact on the outcome of our treatment. I’ve spoken to a number of people talk about this recently, and sometimes usually confident people find themselves becoming oddly meek when they’re facing a fertility specialist.  People do leave the clinic without really understanding things, or don’t want to make a fuss even when there are clearly issues which need to be addressed.

Even today, there’s still a lingering stigma about fertility problems that can carry an element of shame and embarrassment – and it can be difficult to feel confident in the clinic when you may feel constantly close to tears. It is important to remember that it’s fine to ask questions or to say if there’s something you don’t understand or which is worrying you.  There’s nothing worse than walking out of an often long-awaited appointment feeling that you aren’t quite sure what is happening next or why a certain path is being recommended.

If you are worried about anything, don’t forget that Infertility Network UK has a trained nurse who you can call completely free of charge and who can point you in the right direction offering support and advice  – but when you are at the clinic, remember that asking questions and understanding is key to taking back some control.