Men speaking out

Sex_educationWhen you read about fertility problems, it’s nearly always women who are speaking out and telling their stories, but I’ve been really heartened to see that more and more men are opening up about their experiences of fertility tests and treatment. This article by Dan Rookwood in the Evening Standard is a great example.

Dan makes it clear that it isn’t just women who find it difficult when other people announce their pregnancies, that it isn’t just women who feel the disappointment when every period comes, that it isn’t just women who come to dread that question about when they are going to get around to having children… And anyone who has struggled with a diagnosis of unexplained infertility and who has been told that being less stressed might help will know exactly where Dan is coming from when he says that “nothing stresses you out more than someone who can’t give you any definitive answers telling you not to stress out“.

It’s a great article and well worth a read – it’s really important that we start to realise that fertility problems affect men just as much as they affect women.

One small quibble though – Dan says that he and his partner opted to transfer two embryos in order to “double our chances of success“. It is very important to be aware that although it may feel that way in fact putting back two embryos most definitely doesn’t double your chances of success – it just increases your chance of having twins. Dan explains that he and his partner began their treatment in the US, and if that’s where they had their IVF, it would explain this entirely as not all clinics in the States are as concerned as we are here in the UK with reducing multiple pregnancy. Here, a team would usually recommend single embryo transfer for a first IVF cycle if the embryos were good quality. Although we all know twins who are fine, many others are not – and multiple pregnancy is the biggest health risk from IVF, which is why it is so important to choose a fertility clinic which has a good success rate combined with a low multiple rate.

Is an egg-freezing party really the best place to inform yourself?

120px-2_eggsApparently it’s the latest thing in the States and is set to arrive on our shores soon – the egg-freezing party hosted by a doctor who calls herself the “egg whisperer” who will tell you all you need to know about freezing – and offer you discounts on her freezing service if you go along to a party, or host one yourself.

I’m all in favour of people knowing more about the realities of egg freezing, but I’m not entirely convinced that a party organised by someone who is trying to sell her egg freezing service is the best way to do that.  What women really need is impartial advice about this, a real assessment of their chances of producing viable eggs and honesty about the age-related decline in egg quality as well as quantity. The truth is that egg freezing is not likely to be able to offer a successful “extension” to your fertility if you are already in your forties, and yet many of the women who look into this as an option are older – apart from anything else they are more likely to be able to afford to pay for it as egg freezing is a costly business.

There’s a growing debate about companies providing egg freezing for employees after a couple of US companies offered this to staff – but what hasn’t been so widely reported is that this move was an extension of existing fertility packages which also offered funding for IVF. Perhaps that might be a more welcome move…

If you’re interested, you can read more about egg freezing parties in this article from the Evening Standard