Want to know more about adopting after fertility problems?

If you’re interested in finding out more about adopting after fertility problems and live in or near London, you may want to come along to the next meeting of the Central London fertility group in Vauxhall on February 4th. We’ll be joined by a speaker from First 4 Adoption who will be giving a short talk about adoption and will then be around to answer any questions you may have. We will have time for our regular catch up and chat too.

This is open to everyone and is completely free – if you’d like more details, email katebrian@infertilitynetworkuk.com

The group is run, funded and organised by the charity Infertility Network UK.

Coping with Christmas

images-1This is always a difficult time of year for anyone who is trying to conceive – you can’t escape the most painful reminders of what you don’t have in the face of festivities which are so often focused on happy families and excited children. It can make you feel very lonely and isolated, and it’s always worth remembering that there are 3.5 million other people in the UK at the moment feeling very much how you are about it all.

There’s no shortage of advice about how to get through the Christmas period for people with fertility problems, but I think the most important thing that you can do is to be kind to yourself, accepting that this is never going to be an easy time. Do all that you can to protect yourself which means that you may want to say that you can’t go to your nephew’s nativity play or a family party if you know it is going to really upset you. Don’t 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.

If you have friends who are going through fertility problems, it can be a good time to make arrangements to spend time together and do something different. You may even want to get away completely if you are able to or perhaps do something different – volunteering with an organisation like Crisis which provides Christmas for homeless people. If you are having a family Christmas, you can always opt out of the bits that you find particularly challenging. It is not going to be easy – but take care and remember that looking after yourself comes first.

Fertility group reminder

Just a quick reminder that there are a number of new fertility groups running in London and the South East now, in addition to the existing groups across the UK.

The new Central London group is meeting on April 2, the Kent group is meeting on April 12, the Croydon group meets on April 15, and on that same night there’s group at  in Epsom meeting at Newlife clinic, there’s a meeting at Bourn Colchester on April 16, the new North London group is meeting on April 25 and there’s a meeting in Southampton at Complete Fertility on April 27 – so a range of get-togethers for everyone across London and the South East.

Don’t forget, Infertility Network UK also runs groups right across the UK from Scotland and Northern Ireland to the Channel Isles – you can check out your local groups on the Infertility Network UK website.

Happy New Year

images-8Just to send you all my very best wishes for 2014 – and to remind you that if you’ve been having difficulty getting pregnant and are going into the new year hoping that this will be the year that things move on, you don’t need to feel lonely and isolated on your journey.  There are lots of organisations and charities offering support and advice which is honest, reliable and often completely free.

The charity Infertility Network UK is one of the best sources of general advice and support for anyone trying unsuccessfully to conceive – yes, I’m biased as I’m the charity’s regional organiser for London and the South East but I do the job because I think the charity has so much to offer to anyone experiencing fertility problems. There is online support, but also regional meetings and support groups, telephone support from peers and medical professionals and the charity also plays a key role in raising awareness of infertility and in campaigning for better NHS funding and for fair access to fertility treatment.

If you are thinking of using donor sperm and/or eggs, the Donor Conception Network should be your first port of call – a fantastic charity that offers so much help and support at every stage.  There are meetings, workshops, books and advice for all those who may consider using donor gametes for whatever reason, and the charity works with families who have used donor conception and adults who were donor conceived.

For those who have polycystic ovary syndrome, Verity-PCOS is fantastic source of information and advice – run by the dedication of a small band of volunteers it offers a highly professional service covering all aspects of PCOS.  The Daisy Network is another excellent organisation, offering help to those who have experienced an early menopause.

If you’re thinking of a future without children, there are two fabulous organisations that can offer help.  More to Life is for those who are involuntarily childless and offers a support network across the country with regional groups, meetings and a support line. Gateway Women is run by the dynamic Jody Day who runs a range of workshops, local groups and offers online support for those who are childless by circumstance.  For emotional support, you may also want to consider Lesley Pyne who offers support to childless women.

So don’t let yourself feel isolated – there are 3.5 million people out there who are having difficulty conceiving in the UK right now, and being in touch with others who understand just how you feel can make all the difference.  I hope that 2014 will bring happiness to you all.


Do you get your fertility support online?

I had a really interesting morning speaking at the eyeforpharma Patient Summit Europe this morning with Angel Gonzalez from Ideogoras in Spain – all about fertility and how fertility patients are using social media. One of the difficult things about infertility has always been the lingering stigma that somehow never quite goes away no matter how much more open we are today, and the idea of being able to discuss fertility problems with others incognito online can be particularly attractive to fertility patients. Whether you choose to post in an online forum, to join a chat room or to tweet, there are now so many ways of finding other people who are in the same position and going through the same things without having to brave meeting them face to face. It is sometimes easier to be open and honest about things when you are anonymous – but really supportive friendships are built in online communities – and they do become genuine communities where people can share experiences and support one another.

I think social media can be hugely helpful, but my one caveat – and I’d be happy to be corrected on this – is that maybe it makes it harder to ever escape from fertility when you’re trying unsuccessfully to conceive with a Twitter feed full of fertility hashtags coming into your phone 24 hours a day… but maybe that’s just me showing my age!  Your views are welcome…

Does your clinic offer free fertility counselling?

It’s the 25th anniversary of BICA, the British Infertility Counselling Association, this year and I was recently talking to one of the founder members about the development of the charity for the Journal of Fertility Counselling.  One thing which came up during our conversation was access to specialist fertility counselling, and the fact that this is just as much of a postcode lottery as access to NHS treatment.  It seems that some enlightened clinics include as much counselling as their patients need in the cost of an IVF cycle, whilst others will give patients the details of a counsellor in order to comply with regulations, but will leave patients to fund any counselling themselves.

Seeing a qualified fertility counsellor can make all the difference when you are going through treatment – just being able to talk to someone impartial who can help you make sense of the way that you are feeling is invaluable.  It’s a great shame that clinics are failing to recognise that including counselling in the price of treatment can actually make things easier for them as well as helping their patients.

If you’re trying to choose a fertility clinic, do ask about counselling. You may feel you don’t want or need it at the start of your treatment, but as time goes on many people find that they can do with some emotional support.  Seeking help through counselling is never a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength – that you are doing something to help yourself through what can be a tough time.  If patients don’t ask about counselling, clinics aren’t going to bother to include it in the cost of treatment – so do make a point of finding out about it when you are looking around…