IVF News-Three Person IVF research success

A controversial new IVF method being researched in the US has produced promising results. So far the studies have been done on human embryos in the lab and monkeys. The technique is used to reduce transmission of mitochondrial disease from mother to child. A public consultastion on the ethics of using this techenique in UK is underway the results of which are expected next spring.

Source BBC News & HFEA

Find out more here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20032216

and at the HFEA http://www.hfea.gov.uk/7517.html

IVF News-new technique could double IVF success rate for women in their early 40’s

Women in their early 40’s currently have about a 13% chance of conceiving from each round of IVF.

A new IVF technique that has been studied  has increased this a 6 in 10 chance. The new approach involves testing the embryos for genetic abnormalities ( a common cause of failed IVF in women in their early 40’s) The gentically normal embyos are then frozen for between one and two months. (this gives the womens hormones time to return to normal after the IVF treatment) The normal embryos are then inserted into the womb. This technique is not widely available in the UK currently but it is hoped that it will be soon.

Source http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/9624688/Doctors-may-have-unlocked-secret-of-IVF-success-for-older-mothers.html

INFOGRAPHIC: Egg Sharing Results at CRM London

Following on from CRM London’s recent post detailing the results of their egg sharing programme between 2007 and 2011, they have now released an infographic visualising these statistics:

Please feel free to use our infographic on your own website or blog using the code below:

Coping with infertility

At any given time, there are around 3.5 million people in the UK who are having problems getting pregnant, but it doesn’t always feel that way when you’re trying unsuccessfully to conceive. Infertility is lonely and isolating, and it’s very common to start to feel cut off from friends and family.  You may worry that you’re the only one who feels this way when you find yourself dreading pregnancy announcements or avoiding events where there are bound to be lots of children.  Many of us end up feeling almost ashamed about our fertility problems, and there can be a sense of guilt too and worry that maybe we’re somehow responsible for what is happening to us.  Infertility can erode our self-confidence and leave us feeling depressed and miserable, but there are things you can do to help yourself get through it.

The more you know about your fertility and treatment, the easier it is to cope. When I went through IVF for the first time, there was very little information available about what it would be like to have treatment from the patient perspective, and that’s why I started writing books about it!  Now, there’s a huge range of sources of information and advice, and making sure that you are well-informed can make all the difference.  If you’re having IVF, do take a look at my book The Complete Guide to IVF which is a simple guide to the basics of what’s involved and includes the experiences of lots of people who’ve been through treatment.

The other key tip for coping is to seek out others who are experiencing similar problems.  You may feel you aren’t ready to open up to people you don’t know, but it can be so helpful to be in a roomful of others who know just how you are feeling.  Some clinics run support groups and the charity Infertility Network UK  http://www.infertilitynetworkuk.com/  have many of their own too.  If you don’t want to meet people in the flesh, talking to one another in one of the many online forums can be incredibly helpful too.

Perhaps most important of all,  do remember that infertility isn’t easy.  No one sails through fertility problems and treatment in a calm, relaxed state.  Infertility makes you feel stressed, and it’s inevitable that at times you will find it tough going.  Try to find space to do some of the things you’ve always enjoyed, and don’t force yourself to go to social functions that you know are going to be difficult.  Above all, be kind to yourself – you’re going through a difficult time, and you deserve it.

Website http://www.katebrian.co.uk/

Kate Brian on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/katebrian

IVF News & Research

IVF has been in the UK news twice this week following the publication of two recent studies on IVF. Here is the BBC news coverage of the IVF research findings below

Being overweight doubles IVF miscarriage risk   28th June 2011 BBC news

Overweight women undergoing fertility treatment have double the risk of miscarriage of normal weight women, a UK study says.

More than a third of overweight and obese women had a miscarriage compared with one in five of normal weight women, a fertility conference heard.

Previous research has shown that women who conceive naturally are also at a higher risk if they are overweight.

Experts warned that obesity is putting women’s fertility at risk.

The study in more than 300 women was carried out at the fertility clinic at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Read the full article here at BBC news    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10434138

 IVF procedure ‘may increase risk of Down’s syndrome’ 4th July 2011

Drugs used in IVF for older women may increase their risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome, experts say.

Doctors already know that the chance of having a baby with the genetic condition goes up with the age of the mother, especially for those over 35.

Now UK researchers, who looked at 34 couples, think drugs used to kick-start ovaries for IVF in older women disturb the genetic material of the eggs . Work is now needed to confirm their suspicions, a meeting in Sweden heard

Read the full article her at BBC news http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-13992232

The Fertility Focus Telesummit is underway. but there is still time to join in!

The second interview of the Fertility Focus Telesummit was mine, on how “Creating an Effective Support Network Can Make All the Difference When Trying To Conceive.” I’m really excited by the response I have had, with many listeners emailing me afterward to thank me and/or tell me that what I shared really resonated with them. The Telesummit is completely free to listen to the live presentations, and the replays for 24 hours after each interview. If you didn’t know about it before, it’s not too late to get involved.

The 2nd Fertility Focus Telesummit, created and moderated by Sarah Holland, is running this week.  Twelve fertility experts from around the world, and 3 fertility bloggers, are speaking throughout the week on various aspects of fertility health and support.  Sarah started things off on Sunday, the 20th of March, with an introduction to the Telesummit and an explanation of how to get the most out of it.

Yesterday, Monday the 21st, saw the first two interviews; Dr Marion Glenville spoke on the nutritional aspect of fertility health, giving much of her hour-long presentation over to listeners’ questions and providing really comprehensive responses.  The second interview of the evening was mine, on how “Creating an Effective Support Network Can Make All the Difference When Trying To Conceive.”  I’m really excited by the response I have had, with many listeners emailing me afterward to thank me and/or tell me that what I shared really resonated with them.

The Telesummit is completely free to listen to the live presentations, and the replays for 24 hours after each interview. If you didn’t know about it before, it’s not too late to get involved.  Click here to register for the Fertility Focus Telesummit FREE!  You can listen live, and submit questions for each of the speakers, or listen at your leisure to the recordings afterward.  If you are really busy this week and know you won’t be able to listen in, OR you just want to have all 17 audio files to refer to over and over, Sarah provides the option of upgrading to a Golden Ticket so you can purchase the whole Telesummit’s talks, which will be emailed to you as an MP3 file afterward. This is an incredible value, this week only while the Telesummit is running, at US$67, including several bonuses. You can find all the information at the Telesummit website.

Because I’m a bit late in letting you know about the Telesummit and my own presentation on creating a support network, I’d like to share some of that information with you here.  Having been through several challenging years of recurrent miscarriage and secondary infertility myself, I have the benefit of hindsight telling me that I really could have coped far better if I had been more proactive about getting myself, and my husband, the right balance of emotional and practical support.  Infertility put a big strain on our marriage, and I felt very alone and fearful that I would not be able to have the children I had always dreamed of having.  We are fortunate to have come through those rough times, and to have our two children.  Using my training and experience as a fertility coach, I have developed a system to help each of my clients create a support network for their unique needs, thus easing their experience of infertility and efforts to conceive and helping them to feel less isolated and stressed.

During the call, I explained:

  • Why infertility support is so important;
  • The 5 most essential types of support every infertile person needs;
  • Why your partner is not always the best source of support;
  • How you actually create your personal support network;
  • What you can do is someone you expected to be supportive has turned out to be the opposite; and
  • How to maintain a really effective support network over a long period of time.

I’m also offering a Free Bonus to Callers from the Telesummit! I’ve created a comprehensive Worksheet that takes you through the process of creating your own infertility support network, step by step. So, if you haven’t already registered, don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

I’m listening to the other speakers throughout the week myself. I have to say, I’ve been very impressed so far. I’ve learned a lot already from both Dr Glenville and Andrew Loosely, Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist. Other expert speakers during the week include Sarah Holland on using EFT for conception, Kristin Hayward, Zita West, Gabriela Rosa, Toni Weschler, Sue Dumais, Nicola Smuts, Deirdre Morris and Cindy Bailey. Then, you can listen to talks from 3 prolific bloggers, including the authors of “From IF to When,” “Eggs and Sperm” and “Survive and Thrive.” I’m really looking forward to the rest of the week.

Little miracles

Well it has been ages since I have managed to find something to write about – Although in all honesty what I have actually wanted to blog about was the birth of miracle reiki baby. And finally through the madness of christmas, I have had chance to sit down and get writing.

He was due on christmas day but because of the complications involved in the entire pregnancy, as well as her diabetes, they decided they wanted to induce and make sure all was well before staff started taking holidays.

So on Monday 13th they set off to the hospital and after a long and arduous attempt at induction, little baby Dylan was born by c-section at lunch time on the 15th.

I had to look back over the initial review she wrote for my website to really get my head around just what a miracle he is. As I wrote about before, she was pretty much told there was only a small amount of chance that she would get pregnant with IVF – never mind with no interventions.

There is no proof that Reiki caused all this – but the reiki treatments she has recieved prior to her pregnancy and during it certainly have helped her to relax and ultimately helped her become a mummy.
I have been lucky to see him twice, the first visit being a very emotional and special occasion. Holding the little man was perfection itself. He has such positive energy and is totally chilled out and happy with his mummy and daddy.

I don’t want anyone to feel I am promising false hope – but in the new year, perhaps you can make a resolution to be good to yourself- to give yourself chance to relax – and no better place than that is with a holistic therapy of any kind – be it yoga, reiki, reflexology, massage or some simple meditation cd’s to do at home. A small amount of time out can have a huge beneficial effect on your mental and physical health.

If you are going through cycles of IVF and taking the emotional journey that goes with it, it is the perfect time to ensure that you are as relaxed as can be. Sometimes there is no getting away from the fact that you do need the medical interventions and benefits of science to help – but getting yourself as relaxed will get you through the roller coaster of emotions and may increase the chances of success in reaching your pregnancy.

Take care of yourself and wishing everyone the best for the new year to come.

Namaste

Reiki baby

Information about possible birth defect risks from assisted reproductive techniques; scare tactics or essential disclosure?

There was a report in The Sunday Times yesterday that Prof Lisa Jardine, of the government’s regulatory body the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), is to recommend that fertility clinics warn prospective patients of the risk of birth defects associated with IVF, ICSI, twin pregnancies conceived using assisted reproduction and embryo screening. What does that mean for you, if you are in the midst of or have already availed yourself of one or more of these treatments?

We have heard this before – The first thing you should know is that this is not strictly new news. Eleven months ago, the Daily Mail carried an article stating that “IVF children have higher risk of infertility, obesity and diabetes.” In June of last year, it was reported by the HFEA that a study in France showed that there is a small increase in risks of congenital abnormalities in children born as a result of IVF or ICSI. More recently, The British Medical Journal has recently published information from a study that shows women who have one embryo transferred during IVF treatment are five times more likely to give birth to a healthy baby than those who receive two embryos.  This is not meant to frighten you further, but to show that there are reports in the news all the time and they need to be read carefully and validated.

Risks associated with assisted reproductive techniques – The next thing is to be aware that the HFEA is merely saying that there is a greater risk of health problems associated with assisted reproduction, but not definitively how much greater the risk is. Their intention is merely to be as open as possible with women about any risk before they give consent to starting an assisted reproductive procedure. I am absolutely in favour of that, as the process in which individual women, or couples, go through should be one of fully informed decision-making. What I want, however, is enough specificity to help people understand the results of the studies, as well as a user-friendly explanation of how likely it is that those conditions may affect the health of their child. The Sunday Times article only alludes to possible side effects of IVF and other fertility methods, but gives no statistics. The list of potential health problems in children born of assisted reproductive techniques (A.R.T.), including:

·        heart defects, cleft lip and neurological flaws;

·        low birth weight;

·        cerebral palsy;

·        cancer of the retina;

·        undescended testicles in boys born of IVF; and

·        Infertility in children born as a result of ICSI, a procedure in which a sperm is artificially inserted into an egg.

Risks associated with embryo screening – Additionally, the HFEA wants patients who choose to have their embryos screened for genetic defects before implantation, to be informed of “potential high risk of neurodegenerative disorders,” or brain disorders in their children.  Apparently, embryo screening which uses one cell rather than two cells is of less danger.  It’s important to note that “before issuing new guidelines, the HFEA is to carry out a further review of scientific papers on the health outcomes of assisted reproductive technology children.” That means that no guidelines have been issued yet and that fertility clinics are not yet required to provide this type of information.  Most people who have IVF will not feel the need for embryo screening as a matter of course. I assume that a fertility specialist would recommend the procedure only in such cases as when a genetic condition has already been identified as a possibile outcome. Consequently, the risk of the screening may be offset by the risk of the suspected defect which could already present. Still, I believe that this information should be included with all of the factors relevant to the patient’s decision-making, as it may make a difference to the type of screening undertaken.

What should you do? By all means, you should feel free to ask your medical practitioner for an explanation of these risks. It is worth mentioning that even if the risks of birth defects are somewhat higher in assisted reproductive births than in naturally conceived births, the incidence will still be relatively low. A good analogy might be the risk associated with amniocentesis. There may be a higher risk of miscarriage in pregnancies in which amniocentesis is performed, however, the risk is still less only about 1% of pregnancies in which the miscarriage will actually occur as a result of the procedure. The patient and her partner are the only ones who can decide whether the risk is a reasonable and acceptable one, given the context in which they are operating.

Weighing and balancing – If you cannot conceive naturally, you must decide whether a greater risk of birth defects in A.R.T. births is acceptable to you, relative to your desire to have a baby by any means. Weigh it against the chance that no birth defect will occur, but make sure to discuss how you would feel about having child with a condition like the ones listed above. I don’t have any overall statistics for you because they have not been issued yet, and may never be; you would have to take each study separately. The best way to make any sense of them is to restrict your exploration to those relating to the specific procedure  you will undergo.

Doing your own research – In order to fully explore these issues, you may want to do some of your own research, starting with the HFEA website, which has an excellent section for patient information. Then, if the information you discover leads to questions that you and your partner find difficult to resolve, you may want to talk to a fertility coach who can help you explore your values and priorities specific to your proposed fertility treatment. Just remember, the HFEA seeks to hold the fertility industry accountable, in line with public policy and to the patients that use it, for the protection of all concerned. While the media reports the findings of studies and government reviews of those studies in a way that sometimes makes them seem of greater or more immediate importance than they actually are, it is better to have that information available to us than to be kept in the dark.

Blog http://yourgreatlife.typepad.com   Follow me on Twitter.com/yourgreatlife

Best Fertility & Infertility Blogs | Trying to Conceive Blogs

We wanted to compile a list of the current best trying to conceive, IVF infertility & fertility blogs to follow, when you are on the sometimes bumpy journey of trying to conceive.

This list is by no means complete and includes those TTC & infertility blogs that we have come across and found helpful, or had recommended to us. If you know of other great fertility, infertility, ttc, or IVF blogs that you would recommend to others, or if you write a fertility or infertility blog then please leave the link in comments.

We are not suggesting that you follow all these fertility blogs, but you may find some of them helpful.

Personal Trying to Conceive Blogs

IVF Blogs

http://tertia.typepad.com/so_close/2004/10/surviving_infer.html

http://ivfgirl.com/

http://invitrofertilitygoddess.com/

TTC after miscarriage/ babyloss

http://nongeordiemum.blogspot.com/

Information & support for infertility blogs

http://www.yourgreatlife.typepad.com/

Humerous look at infertility blogs

http://www.999reasonstolaugh.com/2010/05/758-you-read-infertility-blogs/

http://www.bustedplumbing.com/

Infertility & IVF information blogs

http://www.ivfauthority.com/

http://infertilityblog.blogspot.com/2010_10_01_archive.html

Blogs about infertility success stories

http://chasingamiracle.com/

http://jennandtonica.com/

http://www.roadtohappilyeverafter.com/2010/12/one-where-i-let-it-all-out.html

How do you begin again after a miscarriage or failed IVF cycle?

How do you begin again?

After a miscarriage or failed IVF cycle, there is the inevitable question hanging in the air: Are we going to try again? It may be a given that you still want a baby, however the criteria for whether you are going to try to conceive and carry a pregnancy will have been affected by the recent lack of success with IVF, or the terrible end of your pregnancy. Whether you are on your own, or with a partner, the criteria you use to make your decisions may have changed and need to be looked at again.

If you are on Twitter, or you follow some of the infertility blogs, you may be familiar with some of the abbreviations used by women who are trying to conceive and have a baby. One that frequently tears at my heart is BFN:( . It means “big fat nothing,” as in not pregnant this month.  You examine and re-examine the dates on the calendar, plan your activities around the possibility that you might be pregnant by then, and spend money on pregnancy tests that you know are going to come out negative.  You may also have experienced the elation of finding out you were pregnant and whispering it to the chosen few you trusted to support you through those intial, very secretive and exciting days, only to have to return to them weeks later and explain that the pregnancy was over.

How do you begin again?

After a miscarriage or failed IVF cycle, there is the inevitable question hanging in the air: Are we going to try again? It may be a given that you still want a baby, however the criteria for whether you are going to try to conceive and carry a pregnancy will have been affected by the recent lack of success with IVF, or the terrible end of your pregnancy. Whether you are on your own, or with a partner, the criteria you use to make your decisions may have changed and need to be looked at again. You must consider your current health, age, fitness, need for medical intervention, financial position, other commitments and your doctor’s advice. Assuming that you have decided that you do want to try to conceive again, naturally or with assisted reproduction techniques, the next set of decisions will be about when you begin trying.

Your timing

“When can I try again?” is one of the first questions that will come up in a woman’s mind once she has determined to pursue another pregnancy. Opinion, even among medical professionals, varies. Some doctors will say that, all being well, 3 months is a good amount of time to wait after a miscarriage. Others will suggest that an otherwise healthy patient wait until after she has had one menstrual period before trying to conceive. I believe that readiness is a combination of having had a check-up by the doctor or nurse a few weeks after your miscarriage or IVF procedure, feeling well in yourself physically and determining that you and/or your partner are both emotionally prepared to take the risk again. Why do I use that word “risk?” While many women go on to achieve a healthy pregnancy after a miscarriage, and IVF can certainly be successful on a subsequent attempt, there is a risk that they will not be successful. Can both of you gather all your resources together and steel yourself against that possibility or do you feel painfully vulnerable?

Are you up to it?

Miscarriage and fertility treatment are both hard on the body and can cause you to feel physically depleted.  This is exacerbated by the emotional toll that they take. It isn’t unusual for a woman to feel that she wants to, or has to, jump right back in and try again and simultaneously think that going through this process again is the last thing in the world she wants to do at that moment. Have you ever felt torn in that way? The reason for this dichotomy can be that you have not recovered fully and need to build up your strength and stamina. It may be worth asking your GP for a once-over health check, paying attention to your appetite, sleep, energy levels and hormone levels.

Your emotional wellbeing

It could also be that you are putting on a front, trying to fool yourself and others about how you are really coping. What you say and what you truly feel must be congruent, or the result could be additional stress, sleepless nights and high emotion.  There may be no doubt that you want a baby, but being pregnant may be another matter entirely. Do you feel resilient; as if you have been able to pick yourself up, put your disappointment aside and look forward to the future? Or, do you feel fearful or hopeless? Your thoughts will affect your behaviour and very possibly, your outcome.

If you are trying to conceive, while simultaneously thinking that it will never happen, or that it will end disastrously, you are draining your positive energy away from your goal. You are literally telling your body, that it will not function the way it is meant to do and reinforcing that message every time you let your mind obsess in this manner. Ovulation does not occur in a vacuum; it is dependent upon signals from your brain to your ovaries. Additionally, the stress caused by negativity has been known to interrupt reproductive function, which may affect your periods, ovulation, fertilisation and/or implantation of the embryo.

Your negative thoughts, sadness, anger and stress are all understandable responses to either a miscarriage or the disappointment of a failed IVF cycle. How quickly you move through various feelings or thought processes to a state of readiness is unique to your circumstances and how you respond. You may feel conflicting emotions and be confused as to whether you are ready to try to conceive again. If so, a fertility coach can help you isolate your feelings about your miscarriage or IVF experience. This can help you prevent or reverse the spill-over into your abilities, body, medical treatment, relationship and future.

Are you both ready?

It isn’t unusual for two people in a relationship to have different ideas about whether they are ready to try to conceive again. On the one hand, the woman may (erroneously) believe that the previous attempt is her fault and feel the need to make up for it or prove herself. She may be itching to try immediately, in contrast to her partner’s more measured approach. Even if this self-blame is not present, she may feel there isn’t any time to waste. Only she can truly know how strong and physically healthy she feels, so her partner is reliant upon the information she provides.  A partner may be concerned about her health and want to ensure the safety of a subsequent attempt to conceive.  On the other hand, I have had female clients whose partners want to sweep it all under the rug and move forward as if nothing has happened. She may be unready; lacking in self-confidence and feeling unsupported.

Marriages have broken down from the stress of trying to conceive. One party may feel less committed to the idea of having a child than the other, so that when the disappointments, difficulties and costs are tallied up, they decide that they don’t want to put everything into the attempt.  The sacrifices necessary to divert money from other dreams to fertility treatment may be more than one is willing to make. To contemplate trying to conceive only for your partner’s sake, or while you are unsure, will only add to the stresses you will have to endure.

The best advice I can give any couple in this situation is to talk. Be open about how you feel, what the loss meant and how you want to proceed now. If either of you are unable to communicate effectively without someone teasing the words out of you, get someone to act as a facilitator. A good fertility coach will help the two of you say what you really think and feel; not imposing her own ideas or taking sides. Perhaps a joint visit to your GP or gynaecologist will help the two of you find mutual ground.

Just knowing when it’s right

As quickly as it came over, an emotional cloud can lift. A new day, an overheard inspiring word, reassurance from someone you trust or just some release inside of you; any of these can shift how you feel about beginning the process of conception over again.  You may not be able to explain it to someone else, but you just know you are ready.  If trying again feels right and you can maintain that feeling for a few calm days (no roller-coaster emotions and changing of mind), trust your instincts. Only you can know for sure.

Lisa Marsh is the owner of Your Great Life, a fertility coaching and advocacy business in Stanmore, North London. She also writes for her own blog; http://yourgreatlife.typepad.co.uk.   You can follow her on Twitter @yourgreatlife. Contact Lisa for individual or couples fertility coaching, via phone or office visits, or to find out about educational workshops on fertility issues from menstruation to menopause: Tel #011-44 (0)20 8954 2897 or email lisa@yourgreatlife.co.uk

IVF advice

I recently visited a really great blog called Stress Free Infertility that I wanted to share with you.

The blog is written by Krissi who in her own words is an  ‘IVF survivor, a mommy of 3 miracles, and an advocate for going through infertility as stress free as possible.’

Anyone who has gone through IVF knows how incredibly stressful the whole process can be. This blog gives lots of information, advice & success stories that can help you through. Highly reccomended reading for anyone going through IVF now or in the future.

My journey to motherhood and becoming a fertility coach

As I sit at my kitchen table and write this blog I am incredibly aware of just what a lot has happened over these last few years . And how , for all the noise , tantrums and lack of sleep I will never cease to be amazed that I have finally got here .That I can finally be a mum .I guess thats one of the only advantages to having had such a fight to get my family . I will never take it for granted .Change the scene to about 8 years ago and the situation was very different and in a sense  where our  journey began  . 

I had met my husband at university and always had a strong friendship as well as romantic hope for him . So it was with little suprise that we finally told family and friends that we were getting married in 1997 . We were very much in love and talked from early on about how great it would be to be parents .The summer before we officially started trying I remember being on holiday and writing a list together of our top girls and boys names for the family which lay just within our reach . There was such optimism and such hope . It was to be over so soon .We tried for a family for about 9 months before I could take it no longer and assumed there was something wrong .

I was never known for my patience and thus nearly everyone told me to calm down , stop trying so hard etc etc ….the usual . But deep down I really just wanted reassurance . And so I persuaded a doctor to do some initial tests on both of us . Fully expecting the results to match the helpful comments of friends and family . That we would be fine and to just relax more .However the results for my husband were utterly devestating . He was Azoospermic , there was no sperm whatsoever  present . The ” kindly ” doctor pronounced we would never have chidren and we were sent on our way .

And just like that our world crumbled and a new chapter began .We then went through every test we could do , choosing to use my savings rather than wait ..again that old impatience . I found out information about my inner workings that I never thought I would know . And certainly more about my husband than is common in most marriages !Finally we saw one of the top specialists in the country and were told in no uncertain terms that ours was one of the worst situations a couple could find themselves in .” If I were you mr Sizer i wouldnt put my wife through IVF but would look at Donor or adoption . You have a 1 in 125,000 chance of this ever working “To say my husband was crushed would be an understatement . And I grieved that day as Much for what it was doing to him as  for the loss of our dreams .

Over the next few weeks we re emerged from the duvet and began to talk . ..and talk ..and pray and talk . Until finally , and for no good practical reason we chose to give that 1 in 125,000 chance a go . Not good betting odds but I guess we needed to close the door before moving on .And so we started IVF number one at the lister clinic , a wonderful warm enviroment who supported us all the way , even when they felt it was a run to nothing .The cycle went badly to begin with and then got worse with the realisation that I was what they called a “poor responder ” ( how I hate that phrase !) and probably early menopausal ..just to add to the tension !!Finally however 4 eggs were obtained , my husband had a very painful op to remove the few sperm he did have and the wonderful world of science miraculously made 4 embryos .Just 3 days later 2 little bundles of potential were lit up on a screen and shown going into my womb …and so began the dreaded 2 week wait .Again we were so low on hope that I almost didnt do a test on the set date . But eventually we did . And amazingly 1 little ball had made it .I was pregnant !! 9 months of  elation and anxiety ensued until finally on April 26th 2003 our first miracle was born and Hope Sizer came into the world .We were literally over the moon to become parents and loved those early days with our new daughter .

And yet our dreams of a family had always been of two or more children .And though family and friends pretty much begged us not to keep going we entered the wonderful world of ART once again when Hope was just over a year old . The abridged version of what happened next was that amazingly , our odds actually seemed to get worse ! I was diagnosed with High FSH , and an over active immune system as well as the initial poor responder bit !  We went through 3 more cycles and two miscarriages before our final attempt at the ARGC clinic .This was to be it . Enough of the battering .And so a new regime was started ,new protocol and an immune suppresant drug for a mere £2000 extra .Two embryos put back in and …..well lets just say Barnaby sizer is a very meant little boy !

We finally felt like a family.I have done many things in my life that I am proud of and many things make me grateful . none of them howehver come close to the pride I feel personally and as a couple, in fighting for our family .It was without doubt the hardest thing I have ever done , possibly ever will do  , and amazingly it was worth it .During my time going through IVF I retrained from a counselling background , into Life coaching and began to specialise in supporting encouraging and resourcing couples through Infertility .

To come up with specific coping tools  through this most emotional of times .One of the key things I always say to people is to never belittle what you are facing . Infertility has recently been given a stress point reading akin to Cancer and Bereavement and as such a person dealing with fertility issues needs support . A new chapter has again then started for me through this work . A new chance to help support and encourage other people facing the difficulties of Infertility . Whether it is running the support group , running workshops or speaking to the media I remain passionate that people facing Infertility should be as best looked after as possible .

Best of luck to everyone reading this 

Anya Sizer

www.thefertilitycoach.co.uk     

Facing Many Crossroads, Together

Part Two: Coming upon a Crossroads, What You Need To Make Your Decisions

The first crossroads is likely to be when you decide to see the doctor because, despite your efforts, you have not conceived.   It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, or culture, to expose their intimate life to the scrutiny of doctors or undergo blood tests and scans, checking for something “wrong.”  Some uninformed men may be unwilling to provide a semen sample, for fear of what the results may suggest about his manliness.

Both the woman and man may feel some anxiety about whose family line may be to “blame” for their inability to become pregnant.  If this pertains to you or your partner, you must cast these outdated stigmas aside and take some relatively simple tests to discover the cause of your infertility.  If having a baby is your ultimate goal, your value system may have to adapt to accept the help that modern medicine and technology offer.

The second crossroads is deciding whether to pursue more invasive medical investigations and/or treatment.  With a clear diagnosis and readily available treatment, it is easier to decide what to do because the options are more clearly set out.  Your personal life may present the deciding factor: your relationship, finances, career, religion or emotional wellbeing may all be taken into consideration.  Many couples have to contend with unexplained infertility, where early test results were ambiguous.  If you (or your doctor) are operating in the dark, it won’t do much for your confidence.  In this case, the dilemma about which treatment to pursue may be decided by not knowing what else to do. 

Whatever your decision, the most important factor is agreement between the partners, not only because cooperation, understanding and support are vital to keeping stress levels down, but also because it could mean the difference between having a genetic child or not.  From the point that you choose assisted conception you enter a different world; one where your daily life centres on the fertility clinic. For working men, the clinical, inconvenient scheduling, financial and sexual aspects of trying to conceive while being treated, put them into unfamiliar territory and cause stress.  Women will physically experience all of that, and possibly, mood swings, pain, invasive procedures and fear that time is running out as well. 

The decision-making shifts to:

  • Are you happy with the doctor/clinic you started with?
  • Should you try less invasive treatment first, or go straight to IVF?
  • Should we try complementary therapies before, or alongside, traditional medical treatment?
  • How will you pay for your treatment?
  • When should you begin treatment?
  • Can this be managed around your work and/or other obligations?
  • How many embryos do you want to implant? 
  • How many times will you undergo treatment?

These questions may have the two of you at a new crossroads every week. While some people may sail through and others agonize, it’s more likely that some decisions will bring up unexpected issues.  Pay really close attention how you are both functioning.  Your emotional state is important: Do either of you feel stressed, resentful, guilty, desperate, depressed, or hopeless?  Is one of you leaning one way and the other in another direction?  Are you fighting? That is where mutual respect, communication and agreement come into play.

Lisa Marsh is a Fertility Coach working with people on all aspects of fertility, including female and male infertility, pregnancy loss, assisted conception, alternative means of family-building and menopause.  Visit her blog http://yourgreatlife.typepad.com or her website http://yourgreatlife.co.uk for more information.  For coaching, email lisa@yourgreatlife.co.uk

Facing Many Crossroads, Together

Part One: How Do You Function as a Couple? 

Infertility is no picnic. There are months or even years of suspecting a problem, opening up about it, asking for help, educating yourselves about issues, medical terms, finding acceptance and making decisions about how to proceed.  It’s not entirely straightforward for most couples.  How can it be, unless you are incredibly agreeable, immediately find the right doctor and receive an unequivocal diagnosis and solution?  Often, I get annoyed by the over-used term “fertility journey,” but it fits here too perfectly to cast aside, as I describe various crossroads you may reach on the way to creating your family.  A crossroads, in this context, is one of those times when you have to stop and deliberate a big decision that will affect the way you pursue parenting and its success.  You may have a possible diagnosis, a medical opinion, and/or the opinions of family, friends and forum members to contend with, fighting for attention in your head.  You have to pay attention to what your body is telling you as well.  Primarily, if you are in a relationship, you must come to an agreement with your partner at each of several crossroads. 

How will you get through these rather large bumps in the road? For the most part, that will depend upon how your relationship already works.

For a couple whose communication skills are quite healthy, facing these decisions may not be too difficult. Secure in their relationship, they may sit down together and have private, peaceful conversations every step of the way.  They will lay out the pros and cons very efficiently, really listening to each other and reading the subtext (that which is not actually spoken) to arrive at a decision that both find acceptable.

The couple who do not talk about much may just launch into medical investigations and treatment without much forethought.  That may seem unbelievable, considering the physical, emotional and financial costs, but it works for some.  This is the couple that knows they want children, want their “problem fixed” and allow their doctor to run the show. “It seems like everyone is having fertility treatment these days,” so why shouldn’t they? One concern is that if they don’t talk about huge issues like fertility treatment, they may not know when they need to be supportive of each other.

Where one person in the relationship is clearly dominant, the person who is in the power seat makes most of the decisions and their partner follows the lead.  When it comes to fertility issues, I would lay a bet down that the woman is making the decisions. This is actually more effective than you might think, in that traditional relationships assign matters of health, wellbeing and family planning to the woman. Her man goes off to work, doesn’t accompany her to the doctor’s office and understands the need for scheduling tests, scans, injections, sex and, well, life.  She only has to tell him where and when to show up to fulfil his parts of the equation. 

 Finally, there are the couples who discuss EVERYTHING in minute detail, who I divide into two camps:1)  The couple who talk about everything with each other and everyone else. Copious research, note-taking, question-asking, Google-obsessing, and forum-hopping is normal for them, but they do finally come to a decision and eventually take a step forward and 2) The couple that goes round and round the issues in circles, saying “What do you think? No, you say what you want first. Please just tell me what you want to do. Maybe we should discuss it more.”  This couple is in danger of losing valuable time in getting their treatment started or moving on to the next available spot with the clinic.

This is Part One of a Series. Please look for the next Part: Coming upon a Crossroads, What You Need To Make Your Decisions.

Lisa Marsh is a Fertility Coach working with people on all aspects of fertility, including female and male infertility, pregnancy loss, assisted conception, alternative means of family-building and menopause.  Visit her blog http://yourgreatlife.typepad.com or her website http://yourgreatlife.co.uk for more information.  For coaching, email lisa@yourgreatlife.co.uk

NHS access to IVF ‘improves’

 Just read this article at BBC online. What really surprised me was the statistic that only 27% of NHS trusts offer 3 cycles. Talk about postcode lottery for IVF

Here is the link to the article-extract from article below

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8106828.stm

 

Over a quarter of local health bodies are offering the recommended three free cycles of fertility treatment to couples trying to have a child.

The Department of Health said 27% of English primary care trusts offer three cycles – up from just 5% in 2007.

Health minister Gillian Merron said the health service was making “excellent progress” in improving IVF access.

Patient groups welcomed the increase, but said there was still “a long way to go”.

Have you visited the HFEA website yet ?

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA for short) is the UK’s independent regulator overseeing the use of gametes and embryos in fertility treatment and research.

The HFEA licenses fertility clinics and centres carrying out in vitro fertilisation (IVF), other assisted conception procedures and human embryo research.

If you want to find out more about assisted reproduction and IVF this is a good place to start.

They have a ‘find a clinic near you’ search in which you simply enter your postcode to find out about clinics and services in your area.

 There is also lots of information about IVF and assisted reproduction including IVF success rates, frequently asked questions, who is eligible for NHS treatment and lots more

I am going to add the website to our blogroll

http://www.hfea.gov.uk/

Changes to fertility services in Norfolk

Just read this stroy online at EDP (Eastern Daily Press)

Infertile women now faced with long journeys to London for treatment may soon have their lives made easier.

As a result of changes to fertility services in the East of England, a Norwich clinic has closed and some women have been told they will have to make repeat journeys to London for scans and in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

But there is a light on the horizon – the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge are in behind-the-scenes negotiations to bring an outreach clinic to Norfolk.

Read the full story at the EDP online

 http://www.edp24.co.uk/content/edp24/news/story.aspx?brand=EDPOnline&category=News&tBrand=EDPOnline&tCategory=xDefault&itemid=NOED11%20May%202009%2015%3A12%3A50%3A927

HFEA statement on the risk of birth defects associated with assisted reproductive technology

There has been a lot of coverage in the UK press in the last week about the possible increased rate of birth defects associated with assisted reproduction techniques such as IVF

The HFEA (Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority) has issued a statement last week that helps to clarify things:

24 March 2009

Recent publicity regarding the risks associated with assisted reproductive technology (ART) has prompted patients to contact either the HFEA or their clinic.

We fully understand people’s concern, however it is important to put information of this type in context.

Part of the role of the HFEA is to keep research under review and it is assisted in this role by its advisory body, the Scientific and Clinical Advances Advisory Committee (SCAAC). At its most recent meeting in January 2009, the Committee reviewed the most recent data on risks associated with ART, specifically around the chance of ART babies having birth defects. This report was published on our website prior to the meeting in January. The minutes of the meeting have also been made available on our website.

As can be seen from the papers, our advisors recommended that we revise our existing patient information on the risks associated with ART, to provide more up to date advice that reflects the latest research.

The risk of birth defects in the general population is low. Two per cent of children in Europe are born with birth defects. Some research suggests there might be an increased risk of 30 percent for babies born as a result of ART.  This would mean that the risk rises to 2.6 percent, which is still low. There is not enough data to be more precise but this is the best estimate currently available.

Research to date cannot say with absolute certainty that this increased risk is due to ART. Other causes including the original cause of infertility, the age of the patient or other unexplored factors cannot be discounted. 

In order to make sure patients understand the risks of ART as well as they can we keep research of this kind under review. And where it suggests there may be a greater risk we share this information with patients in a clear way to help them understand the risks associated with the choices they are making.  

However, we still do not know the complete picture. All we can say with confidence is that there is a small risk associated with ART in general.

We will be revising our guidance and the information we give to patients during April. This information will be available on our website.

Click here to visit the HFEA website

Revised lifestyle guidelines for IVF

Just read this article at times online fron 20th Feb 2009. It seems that the governement guidelines on who is elligible for IVF under the NHS are about to be revised.

Currently many primary care trusts refuse to treat smokers or obese women (BMI over 30). Under the revised guidelines PCT’s will not be allowed to refuse IVF treatment on the basis of these lifestyle factors.

Here is an extract from the article:

The new guidelines  will reinforce NICE recommendations that a woman should be aged between 23 and 39 to qualify for IVF will also recommend that clinicians have the final say on treatment. Older people, the overweight and those who smoke should not be excluded, but be considered case by case.

Click here to read the full article

IVF success rates might be improved dramatically by new test

Just read this really interesting article online about a new procedure called Array Comparative Genomic Hybridisation (Array CGH) that has been developed by british researchers at CARE fertility in Nottingham.

It seems that the procedure involves selecting the most viable eggs for use in the fertility treatment, and  screening out eggs with genetic defects ,that would cause them to fail.

 It is hoped that the new IVF procedure will help thousands of infertile couples to start a family.

 It is hoped it will be particularly useful for older mothers where the risk of genetic defects in the eggs is higher and for those with a history of recurrent failed IVF attempts or recurrent miscarriage.

The test has also been licensed for use in younger patients.

 Click here to read the article

Embryo ‘quality check’ could double IVF success rate

Just read this article from The Times today

Here is an extract from the article

Infertile couples could double their chances of starting a family by IVF, with an embryo quality test developed by British and American scientists.

The first trial of the procedure, which identifies embryos with the best chances of developing into healthy babies, delivered remarkable results that suggest it could transform IVF success rates, while helping to prevent damaging multiple pregnancies.

Of 23 women to have their embryos genetically screened with the technology, two have given birth while another 16 are currently pregnant and have passed the point at which miscarriages typically occur. Another two became pregnant but miscarried.

The 78 per cent success rate is particularly outstanding because all the patients had a poor prognosis, with an average age of 37½ and a history of failed attempts at IVF or miscarriage.

Dagan Wells, of the University of Oxford, who leads the research team, has applied for permission from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to offer the test at the Oxford Fertility Unit, and a British trial is expected to begin next year. The test will eventually cost about £2,000.

It could raise success rates when only a single embryo is used. The HFEA has launched a strategy to promote single embryo transfer, to guard against twin and triplet pregnancies – the biggest health risk of IVF.

Dr Wells said: “The pregnancy rates we’ve got so far are absolutely phenomenal.” The probability that one embryo leads to a pregnancy is doubled, he said. “That means that you’ve got a much better chance of a pregnancy if you do a single embryo transfer.”

The new procedure to detect chromosomal defects called aneuploidies was developed by Dr Wells with colleagues from the Colorado Centre for Reproductive Medicine near Denver.

Click here to read the full story

Click here to read related article ‘Twins on the way after more thorough testing’

Click here to read the fertility docotrs response to the new IVF embryo test

I Froze My Eggs-From The Sunday Times October 12, 2008

Pending Mr Right’s arrival, I had my eggs frozen. But will putting a baby on hold be worth it?

 

 

Does accupuncture help women having fertility treatment to have babies ?

A friend of mine who has recently been undergoing IVF has been having accupuncture to aid conception. When she told me I was initially surprised and maybe a tiny little sceptical, but I have since been researching it and found quite a lot of support for this alternative therapy.

A recent study at University of Southampton has discovered that one in three women given accupuncture alongside their IVF treatment successfully conceived. The success rate for those who did not combine fertility treatment with acupuncture was one in five.

When I read this the first question I asked was :How many women were in the study ?

The answer : more than 2000 women.

To me that seems a fairly significant number. The study discovered that the chance of the embryo implanting successfully & triggering pregnancy, increased if the patient was treated with acupuncture at about the same time as the embryo transfer. However if the acupuncture took place days after the fertility treatment the benefit was lost.

And how does the accupuncture help ?

No-one really knows how the accupuncture helps conception. One idea that has been put forward is that it may help to reduce the stress that the women is going through, and help her to cope with the treatment. Acupuncture appears to reduce stress by releasing endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are chemicals that the body releases that suppress pain naturally, as well as affect hormones that influence the menstrual cycle.

One thing is for sure in my opinion, anything that improves the outcomes from fertility treatments has to be a good thing. And the really good news is, my friend conceived in her first cycle of IVF coupled with accupuncture.

This subject has been covered quite a lot in the national press-here are some links below

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/health/3042006/Acupuncture-helps-women-have-babies.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/sep/21/medicalresearch.health/print

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1059549/Acupuncture-helps-IVF-women-babies.html

Here is some older research finding on the same subject

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1933901.stm

http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/archives2002/jul/07ivf.html