I don’t often put personal posts on this blog, but today I did want to say thank you to Juliet Tizzard who is leaving her role as Director of Strategy and Corporate Affairs at the regulatory body for fertility treatment, the HFEA. If you’ve been to the Fertility Show in the past, you may have seen Juliet speaking there about how the Choose a Fertility Clinic pages on the HFEA website can help if you are trying to decide where to have treatment. She’s driven some of the exciting steps forward for the HFEA such as the new website where patients can find lots of helpful information about different clinics and can give feedback after they’ve had treatment. Juliet is moving on today to the Health Research Authority where she will do a fantastic job – but she will be missed!
Did you know that the Fertility Show will be in Manchester next month? The event which has taken place at London’s Olympia for many years is spreading its wings and will be held at Manchester’s Central Convention Complex in Windmill St on March 25 and 26.
There will be a wide range of speakers including Allan Pacey, Geeta Nargund, British Fertility Society Chair Adam Balen, Charles Kingsland, Simon Fishel, John Parsons, Rachel Cutting, Jane Stewart, Raj Mathur, Tony Rutherford and Zita West. The HFEA’s Juliet Tizzard will also be speaking as well as specialist lawyer Natalie Gamble and Fertility Fest Director Jessica Hepburn. The sessions will cover a wide range of topics suitable to those just starting out and wanting to know more about their fertility through to more detailed sessions on specific fertility problems and treatment options. There will also be a separate platform for Q and A sessions and a wide range of exhibitors.
Tickets are now on sale here so do come along if you are nearby – I will be there too speaking about how to choose a fertility clinic and will be on the Fertility Network UK stand so come and say hello!
It’s next weekend and if you haven’t booked your tickets yet, there is still time. It’s true that the Fertility Show can feel a bit like some kind of Ideal Home Exhibition for fertility problems, but it’s well worth visiting for the amazing seminar programme alone where you can catch many of the country’s leading experts and benefit from their wisdom and advice.
Talks on Saturday include:
- How To Get Pregnant (and to have the best possible pregnancy) with Zita West
- Innovations in embryo selection. Do they really make a difference? with Rachel Cutting MBE, Chair 2010-2014 of the Association of Clinical Embryologists and Principal Embryologist at Jessop Fertility in Sheffield
- Stress and its impact on fertility with Jacky Boivin, Professor of Health Psychology at Cardiff University and Lead Researcher at Cardiff Fertility Studies
- Surrogacy in the UK with Sarah Templeman, Nurse Manager at Herts & Essex Fertility Centre and Helen Prosser from Brilliant Beginnings
- Natural Cycle and Mild IVF – fertility treatment without the drugs? with Professor Geeta Nargund, Medical Director of CREATE Fertility
- The Basics. What you need to know to get pregnant and how to prepare for pregnancy with George Christopoulos, Subspecialty Registrar in Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at IVF Hammersmith
- Next Generation IVF? with Professor Simon Fishel, CEO of CARE Fertility
- Dealing with recurrent miscarriage with Dr Vidya Seshadri, Consultant Gynaecologist & Specialist in Reproductive Medicine at The Centre for Reproductive & Genetic Health
- Reduced ovarian reserve: Is anyone too difficult to treat? with Sam Abdalla, Director of the Lister Fertility Clinic
- Factors to consider when choosing a fertility clinic with me! (Kate Brian, journalist, broadcaster, author of bestselling The Complete Guide to IVF, mother of two IVF children, Lead of Women’s Voices at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and London Representative for Infertility Network UK)
- Going abroad for treatment? Question time featuring 2 overseas clinics with Dr Bruce Shapiro of The Fertility Center of Las Vegas and Dr Natalia Szlarb from IVF Spain.
- Counselling through infertility with Tracey Sainsbury, member of the British Infertility Counselling Association.
- Boost fertility and prevent recurrent miscarriage with nutrition with Dr Marilyn Glenville
- Immunology – potentially hazardous treatment or your best chance of success? with Mr Mohammed Mahmoud, Consultant in Reproductive Medicine of The Newlife Fertility Clinic and Siobhan Quenby, Professor of Obstetrics and Director of the Biomedical Research Unit in Reproductive Health at the University of Warwick.
- Improving the odds of IVF working for you with Yacoub Khalaf, Consultant Gynaecologist and Medical Director of the Assisted Conception Unit at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS
- Coping Strategies with Wendy Martin, specialist fertility counsellor with Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine NHS
- Testing your fertility and the value of your ovarian reserve with James Nicopoullos, Consultant Gynaecologist at the Lister Fertility Clinic.
- Freeing your mind to improve fertility with Russell Davis, Cognitive Hypnotherapist.
- Dealing with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) with Adam Balen, Professor of Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at Leeds NHS Centre for Reproductive Medicine and Chairman of the British Fertility Society.
- Issues for families created with donors with DC Network founding member Olivia Montuschi.
- What men need to know about their fertility – testing it, boosting it, treating it with Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology at the University of Sheffield and former Chairman of the British Fertility Society.
- Complementary Therapies – can they boost your fertility? with Dr Gillian Lockwood, Medical Director of Midland Fertility Services and ethics spokesperson for the British Fertility Society, Andrew Loosely who practices herbal medicine and Barbara Scott, chair of the Association of Reproductive Reflexologists.
- Fertility treatment for older women with Tarek El-Toukhy, Consultant in Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital.
- How to keep costs down – do you really need those add-ons? with Dr, John Parsons, part of the team that established the first IVF pregnancy to deliver at the Hammersmith hospital.
- Sperm and egg donors from the UK with Laura Witjens, egg donor and former CEO of the National Gamete Donation Trust, and Venessa Smith, Donor Services Co-ordinator from the London Women’s Clinic.
- Can acupuncture improve fertility? with Michael Dooley, Medical Director of Poundbury Fertility and Emma Cannon, acupuncturist.
- The arguments for travelling to the USA vs Portugal vs Norway with Dr Angeline Beltsos of Vios Fertility Institute, Dr Vladimiro of Ferticentro and Dr Jon Hausken from Norwegian Klinikk Hausken.
- Steps to choosing the right adoption agency with First4Adoption’s Gemma Gordon-Johnson.
- Travelling to the USA for egg donor treatment – the patient’s perspective and the clinic that treated them with Sarah Esdaile and her partner who had treatment in the USA and Dr Michael Levy, Director of the Donor egg programme at Shady Grove Clinic.
- A patient’s experience of the fertility rollercoaster and what to expect with Jessica Hepburn, trustee at Infertility Network UK and author of The Pursuit of Motherhood.
- Why should I give it another go? with Tim Child, Associate Professor and Subspecialist in Reproductive Medicine, University of Oxford and Honorary Consultant Gynaecologist, John Radcliffe Hospital.
- Planning Treatment abroad? The arguments for travelling to Greece vs Spain vs Russia with Dr. Dimitrios Dovas of The NewLife IVF Centre in Greece, Dr Ramon Aurell, IVF Unit Medical Director of Hospital Quirón Barcelona and Dr Yulia Gurtovaya, a consultant at West Middlesex University Hospital who speaks on behalf of Russian IVF clinic CRM MAMA.
- Single women and lesbian couples – options for conceiving with Dr Raúl Olivares, Medical Director of Barcelona IVF.
- An overview of the common causes of infertility and the main approaches to treatment with Kamal Ojha, Medical Director of Concept Fertility and Honorary Senior Lecturer at St George’s Hospital.
- Fertility treatment for older women with Dimitrios Nikolaou, Consultant Gynaecologist, lead clinician at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Hospital’s Assisted Conception Unit and Medical Director of Fertility for Life.
- Options for adoption with Jan Fishwick, CEO of PACT
- Unknown donor vs known donor vs co-parenting with fertility lawyer Natalie Gamble and Erika Tranfield of Pride Angel.
- What to think about before going abroad for treatment with Ben Saer, who with his wife Becky had successful fertility treatment in the Czech Republic, Dimitris Kavakas of Embryolab based in Thessaloniki and Dr Carlos Doscouto of Spanish IVF clinic Women’s Health Dexeus.
- Dealing with and treating, endometriosis with Haitham Hamoda, Consultant Gynaecologist in reproductive medicine and surgery at King’s College Hospital.
- Top Ten ways to cope with infertility with Anya Sizer, rregional organiser at Fertility Network UK.
- Surrogacy arrangements with Helen Prosser from non-profit UK surrogacy agency Brilliant Beginnings and Natalie Gamble, campaigner and founder of leading fertility law firm Natalie Gamble Associates.
- Single woman in your 30s or 40s? Thinking about having a baby on your own? with Caroline Spencer, trustee for the Donor Conception Network.
- New technologies in IVF with Lucy Richardson, Senior Embryologist at the UK’s Herts & Essex Fertility Centre and Dr Elizabeth Barbieri from US-based Oregon Reproductive Medicine.
- Getting your head around treatments, clinics and statistics with Juliet Tizzard, Director of Strategy and Corporate Affairs at the HFEA
- .Men Matter Too with fertility Counsellor Anthony Ryb.
- Fertility treatment on the NHS? with Anil Gudi and Amit Shah, Consultant Gynaecologists who run the NHS fertility service at the Homerton Fertility Centre in East London.
- Nutrition to help with PCOS, endometriosis and fibroids with Dr Marilyn Glenville.
- How to deal with the diagnosis of unexplained infertility with Dr Jane Stewart, Consultant in Reproductive Medicine at the Newcastle Fertility Centre.
- How to keep costs down – do you really need those add-ons? with Yacoub Khalaf, Medical Director of the Assisted Conception Unit at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS.
- Overseas egg donors. Who are they and how are they chosen? with Dr Israel Ortega of IVI Madrid in Spain and Nancy Block of Fertility Source Companies in the US explain.
As you can see, there is something here for everyone and having access to so many experts under one roof presents a unique opportunity to learn more about fertility and the treatments which may help. You can buy tickets from the website www.fertilityshow.co.uk
It 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
It’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.
If you missed the debate organised by Progress Educational Trust on the HFEA’s plans to include some patient feedback on clinics on the website, you can catch up with the podcast here.
You can hear the HFEA’s Juliet Tizzard, Infertility Network UK’s Susan Seenan, Yacoub Khalaf director of the fertility clinic at Guy’s and St Thomas and Antonia Foster, a media litigation specialist discuss the issue in a debate chaired by Adam Balen, the chair of the British Fertility Society. It was an interesting and lively evening – and that link is at –http://www.progress.org.uk/tripadvisor
It’s every patient’s worst nightmare – the idea of some kind of mix-up in the laboratory with worrying scenarios of confusion whether eggs, embryos or sperm are being given to the right person. As the latest report from the HFEA on what are known as “adverse incidents” shows, such problems are incredibly rare with just three serious problems reported in the UK over a three-year period. There were, however, many more lower grade problems which although they may not have the potential to lead to disasters can still be very upsetting for the patients concerned.
What is perhaps really important about this report is the fact that clinics are telling the HFEA when things go wrong, as it is only by understanding how mistakes occur that they can be prevented in the future. The HFEA’s director of strategy and corporate affairs, Juliet Tizzard, has written an interesting article about this for BioNews.
The New Viking Invasion considers the rapid increase in imports of donor sperm from Denmark in recent years, and looks at why this has happened. It’s partly down to the efficient system the Danes offer, but also due to our system in the UK where fertility clinics don’t always have the time or resources to recruit their own donors. Only one in every twenty men who turns up offering to donate will be suitable, and the process of screening donors can be lengthy and costly. In Denmark, they have dedicated sperm banks which don’t do anything else.
Of course, some UK clinics do have donors – but you may not discover that if you don’t happen to go to the right place. Clinics don’t necessarily to want to refer their patients to other clinics – suggesting using a Danish donor is often easier and it means they keep the patient. One couple who feature in the programme had been told they could face a ten year wait for a UK donor – in fact, they later found one without a wait at another UK clinic.
We visited European Sperm Bank in Copenhagen for the programme and spoke to staff and to donors to find out why their system works so well, and spoke to many leading experts in the UK to discuss their views and concerns about our increasing use of Danish donors. You can hear the thoughts of Dr Allan Pacey of the British Fertility Society, Laura Witjens of the National Gamete Donation Trust, Ruth Wilde of BICA, Olivia Montuschi of the Donor Conception Network and Juliet Tizzard of the HFEA along with consultants Jane Stewart from Newcastle and Mark Hamilton from Aberdeen in the programme – as well as Danish donors and UK recipients.
“The New Viking Invasion” produced by Steve Urquhart will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Friday 27th June at 11am