Causes & Treatment

Knowledge Is Power – Fertility Issues Uncovered

Eloise Edington  |   16 Jun 2021

Today on Fertility Help Hub, we hear from the lovely Sophie Sulehria, about The Fertility Show’s “Let’s All Talk” Series. Sophie addresses a range of infertility topics and questions from the TTC (trying to conceive) community, concerning unexplained infertility, male factor infertility, andrologists and infertility support groups / webinars. Read on for 20% off tickets to the upcoming Fertility Show Virtual Summit.

The Fertility Show’s “Let’s All Talk” Webinar Series, The Story So Far…

Words By Sophie Sulehria

Hello, I’m Sophie, one of the hosts of The Fertility Show’s “Let’s All Talk” webinar series. As a fertility patient myself, living through the ups and down of a pandemic, not knowing what to do, who to turn to or where to get my information from, I was delighted to see the launch of The Fertility Show’s free webinar series at the start of January and I’m even more delighted to see it’s still going strong six months later. If you haven’t already discovered it, here’s some background…

As we all know, it’s been a tough old year in the world of fertility and events. I have personally attended The Fertility Show every year since 2015, so I was sad to hear it would not be running in its live form both in 2020 and 2021. All that fertility help and support unable to be accessed at a time when we need it most. So when Laura Biggs (MD of the show) told me she was putting together a free online platform of events, dedicated to providing great expert advice and fertility answers each week, and that it would be totally free for the viewer, I was thrilled for the TTC community.

I was also proud to be asked to host such an important event. Every month, we would talk to leading fertility specialists on particular topics and give time to the audience to ask questions they’d like answers to. Roll on six months, and we are in full swing. I thought I would share some of the things I have learned over this time, in the hope that it can help the readers here at Fertility Help Hub:

1. Male Infertility

Did you know the second most common issue in fertility is male infertility? Literally, 50% of the issue? No, neither did I until I started these talks. But after speaking to so many of our fertility experts, including James Nicopoullos from The Lister Fertility Clinic and Professor Sheena Lewis from Examine Lab, I was enlightened. Apparently, a diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’ can also mask the fact that male infertility needs to be investigated far more thoroughly. For so long it’s been the assumption that fertility problems are likely down to the woman – this is not so. Always check the men too, as you could be missing something VERY important.

2. IVF Success Rates

As we all know, fertility clinic success rates can feel like a minefield. All fertility clinics have their own take on the stats and how they are interpreted, so it’s always been a hard one to navigate. The great news is that regulations have become much tougher. New guidance for clinics, issued by the Competition and Markets Authority, has banned misleading information on prices and the reporting of IVF success rates, so patients can now make more informed and clear choices for the good of their health.

Fertility clinics that embellish their statistics can now face legal action and have been warned they must be clearer with their patients from now on. 

Related Article – IVF Success Rates – Measuring Yours and Your Clinic’s

3. Early Knowledge

When covering “Female Fertility” in March, the one thing all of our guests mentioned was the need for knowledge: women need to know more about their fertile health early on.

As early as possible in fact, even as early as 18-20. They need to know that unfortunately there is a very real biological clock, that we’ve been trained to ignore, but that sadly starts ticking away from as young as 28. By 35 our eggs really start to decrease, and by 40+ the decline is rapid. Our guests didn’t set out to scare with this information (although it is a scary truth) — their aim was to ensure women understand they have a time limit if they want to have a biological child.

4. Andrologists For All

When discussing “Male Infertility” in February, a number of our speakers were keen for men to have easy access to an andrologist, when facing treatment. In fact, Prof Lewis said she’d like to see an andrologist inserted into all fertility clinics across the UK. Side note: if you don’t know what an andrologist is, it’s a medical specialist that deals with problems of the male reproductive system.

Another side note: if you didn’t know this, it shows the extent of the problem. The idea that women see a gynaecologist immediately when walking into a fertility clinic, but there is not the same equivalent for a man is actually pretty crazy since men are 50% of the problem (see point 1). It feels fairly obvious that they should have their own fertility specialist checking their fertile health too, no?

5. 1 in 3

One in three people have endometriosis and / or PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). This statistic shocked me. It made me realise just how many women suffer in silence. You don’t hear one in three women telling people how much pain they’re in, or how much they suffer. It’s still a silent struggle when it comes to female medical conditions, and something I feel needs to be more widely discussed, and more money and research time invested into these debilitating, life changing, infertility causing conditions.

Related Article – This Week’s LIVES – Amber’s PCOS IVF Journey / Q&A with an Embryologist / Cryos Answer Your Questions

6) Recurrent Miscarriage

Some great scientific news was revealed while we were covering this topic on “Let’s All Talk Fertility” — it showed a strong lead into research. Scientists have managed to create clumps of human tissue that behave like early-stage embryos, a feat that promises to transform research into the first steps of human development. The clumps of cells, named blastoids, resemble blastocysts, which form within a few days of an egg being fertilised.

By studying blastoids, scientists hope to understand why so many miscarriages occur at this delicate stage in human pregnancy. I look forward to hearing more about this exciting research as it moves forward.

7. Questions, Questions, Questions

I have heard time after time how men are ignored by the fertility specialists in clinics. Even if you’re in the fertility clinic for male infertility! Patient Richard Clothier, told us that the way to make yourself seen is to be as involved as possible. Ask as many questions as your partner at your clinic, in fact more so.

Pre-plan these questions if necessary and split them between you and your partner so you both ask the same amount. Just make sure the fertility specialist knows you want to be involved and to be seen as part of the IVF process.

Related Article – Male Factor Infertility Causes and Treatments by Laurel Fertility Care

8. Pineapples

Oh the number of pineapples I have eaten! For those of you who don’t know, the hardest part of the pineapple contains bromelain, an anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulation agent that has been thought may improve implantation by increasing blood flow to the uterus. So much so that the pineapple is now an adopted symbol for fertility. It also means that women who are trying to conceive (TTC) end up eating a shed load of them in a bid to help their treatment cycles… and not even the nice juicy bit, but the hard old core! What are we doing to ourselves? Then our fertility nutritionist Sandra Greenbank put us straight. She told us that to include pineapples into our fruit and veg intake is a good idea, but that it’s unnecessary to eat “buckets of the stuff” as Sandra said, “because who wants to eat the woody bit anyway?” Good point Sandra.


Related Article – Pineapple for Fertility – Why is Pineapple the Symbol of Fertility?

9. The Importance of Support

After speaking to fertility counsellor Tracey Sainsbury, I realised how few people believe they need support while struggling with fertility. Tracey said talking things through and getting the perspective of a trained professional (fertility counsellor / coach) can really help the process, especially when considering donor conception or adoption. The place to go to find a professionally trained fertility counsellor is BICA. If counselling isn’t for you, there are other places.

The Fertility Network is always there for anyone who needs them. The national charity has advice, great contacts, and a wealth of experience. 

Then there’s Peanut, a free app for women any time you need a community. Instagram has also become an extremely important space for those facing the struggle, and I have personally met so many people facing all sorts of TTC roads, many of them I can now call my friends. If you haven’t already, do follow The Fertility Show on Instagram, I am behind the content and am often the one talking to you, so do please come and say hi.

Then of course there’s Fertility Help Hub! With great fertility resources, tips for TTC, nutrition, holistic remedies, advice on clinics, donor conception, surrogacy & also community, it’s a one stop shop for support and guidance.

10. Webinar Love

It’s been a tricky old year, but one of the greatest things about taking our content online is being able to reach an audience anywhere, from the comfort and privacy of your home. People can now access these talks for free and ask the questions they need, anonymously and without fear. In fact, we’ve been so heartened by the popularity and feedback of these events, that The Fertility Show has decided to put on a four-day online Summit across September, to build on what we’ve learned.

This extensive seminar programme is set to cover everything you need to know for your TTC journey. The speakers will include the world’s leading experts, as well as those sharing information about the newest technologies and fertility treatments in the space. Tickets will go on sale this month so make sure you sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear the latest news and some exclusive offers from our exhibitors and partners.

So, that’s ten things I’ve learned so far! Thanks for reading. For those of you who have missed our Let’s all Talk sessions, the most recent ones live on The Fertility Show’s YouTube Channel.

Meanwhile, join us at The Fertility Show Online Summit in September and get 20% off tickets using the code FHHA20 at checkout.

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