Fertility treatments for single women

If you missed our live webinar for solo mums, catch up on it here to listen to RHG’s Professor Nardo and fertility coach Mel Johnson who has been through this journey herself chat about fertility options for anyone considering solo motherhood, answering questions on both the medical and the practical and emotional aspects.

You can also hear details of how you can book a free mini consultation with Professor Nardo to explore your individual options in more detail and about courses that Mel runs for anyone thinking of taking this route to becoming a mum.

Explaining Unexplained Infertility - Podcast

What does a diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’ really mean? Does more advanced testing available now mean that a cause can be found for subfertility that would have been labelled ‘unexplained’ in the past? What part do emotional factors play in subfertility?

RHG’s Clinical Director Professor Nardo was recently invited to talk about these issues with Natalie Silverman of ‘The Fertility Podcast’ and Kate Davies of ‘Your Fertility Journey’.

The discussion was also broadcast on UK Health Radio:

 

How to plan your egg donation cycle - Webinar

Are you considering an IVF cycle with egg donation but have some questions you would like answering?

Our webinar on ‘How to plan your egg donation cycle’ recorded in conjunction with Dr Maria Arque of Fertty International and fertility coaches Andreia Trigo and Mel Johnson, who are both part of our Patient Support Partners programme, can help with some of the most common queries:

Fertility Nutrition (preconception advice)

When we spend so much of our early life trying not to get pregnant, it is natural to assume that getting pregnant will be a piece of cake – but that is not always the case. Around 1 in 6 couples struggle to conceive – ‘struggling to conceive’ is defined as 12 month of unprotected sex with no pregnancy.

Advice you often hear when trying to conceive is ‘relax and it’ll happen’ and although there may be an element of truth to that statement, it is not the whole picture.

Fertility can depend on many factors –  physical, environmental and emotional. Couples often spend years planning weddings, buying houses, building careers and relationships and yet we often expect pregnancy to just happen.

It is ideal to do some preconception preparation before conceiving and I will generally recommend at least 3 months of preparation prior to conceive as 3-months is the amount of time it takes for new sperm to form and for eggs to mature.

If you are feeling anxious about your fertility, the below 6 steps might help you:

  1. Get a basic fertility MOT. That means gents go for a sperm test and ladies track your period and ovulation to ensure they are regular and get some of your basic hormones tested on day 3 of your cycle (FSH, LH, oestradiol, prolactin and testosterone). Then find a practitioner who can support you with the interpretation of these results.

    Then regardless of the above results, the below nutritional and lifestyle advice can support everyone:

  2. Ensure you have complex carbs (wild rice, oats, root vegetables, quinoa, buckwheat, legumes, lentils, spelt pasta and bread), protein (meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and nuts), healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, olives, nuts, seeds) with each meal.
  3. Eat 5 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit a day – preferably organic.
  4. Get rid of hormone disrupting plastics in your life. Replace plastic water bottles with glass. Replace plastic Tupperware with glass.
  5. Stop smoking, reduce sugar and refine (beige) carbs, stop drinking alcohol and reduce caffeine as much as possible.
  6. Make sure you ladies are taking a good quality pre-natal that includes folate (much better than folic acid). Brands for different budgets, include; Together Prenatal, Cytoplan prenatal and Optimal prenatal.

Rosie Tadman is a registered Nutritional Therapist (CNHC and BANT registered) and specialises in fertility, pregnancy and postpartum Nutrition.

She is also one of our RHG Patient Support Partners.

To view Rosie’s profile and contact details please see here.

The 7 things I have learnt since becoming a solo mum

If you’re single and looking to start a family, we can help. Our supportive and experienced staff will guide you through choosing the best process for you, using donated sperm with either intrauterine insemination or IVF treatment. Through our Patient Support Partners network, we also offer support that goes beyond clinical advice with access to counselling and fertility coaching services which may be of benefit when considering the wider emotional aspects that go with considering starting a family as a solo parent.

Fertility coach and RHG Partner Mel Johnson created The Stork and I to empower single women to understand their options for starting a family following her own experience of IVF with donor sperm which resulted in the birth of her daughter Daisy.

‘Going Solo’ is an online group coaching course which Mel runs remotely for women considering the journey to solo motherhood, for up to eight participants at a time, covering topics such as making the decision to start the journey to solo motherhood, grieving for letting go of the traditional route to motherhood, getting your friends and family on board, reviewing your finances and your options, choosing a clinic or alternative path, choosing a suitable treatment or method of conception, choosing a donor, preparing yourself and your body for your fertility journey, managing treatment solo, your support network and planning for the future.

Find out more about ‘Going Solo’ courses here: https://thestorkandi.com/groupcoaching/

Read Mel’s blog on ‘7 things I have learned since becoming a solo mum’ here:

At 37 I found myself ‘socially infertile’. I was more than ready for motherhood, but had been single for most of the previous 10 years. With no partner to try to conceive with naturally, I decided to become a solo mum using IVF with donor sperm. I certainly did not make this decision lightly, it took almost 3 years of consideration to be sure I wanted to take this path. I had to allow myself to grieve for the loss of my dream of following a more traditional route to motherhood.

I chose solo motherhood based on the fact that I was approaching forty and was worried that due to my age, there was a strong possibility that my fertility would be in decline. I felt that I may lose out on the opportunity to become a mum altogether if I waited any longer to meet a suitable partner.

After disappointment following the first embryo transfer, the second frozen embryo transfer resulted in a positive pregnancy test. 9 months later saw the arrival of my beautiful daughter Daisy.

Since having my daughter I have been contacted by numerous women in the same situation looking for advice. I run an online course called Going Solo, that specifically helps to support women considering this option. I have also collated 7 things that I have learnt that will hopefully help others who find themselves single but ready for motherhood.

1. Your support network is key

You can do it alone. I’ve known people who have. But it will be significantly easier with a support network around you. Identify who your ‘tribe’ is and ensure that you share with them how they can best help you.

 2. Don’t worry about what other people will think

One of my biggest concerns was what other people would think of me. What I’ve come to realise is that everyone will always have an opinion about your situation whatever you do. I’ve been lucky that everyone so far has been positive, but if I encountered negative opinions I would try to ignore them and focus on what I am doing, not what others think.

3. Adult company is important

Most women who are in a partnership get to spend the evenings and weekends with their partner or at least have them at the end of the phone for support. As a solo mum, you might find that many evenings are spent alone, once your little one has gone to bed. The more people you can find who are happy to come and hang out with you at your house the better, so you can still have adult company in the evenings. You might need to plan ahead more often to ensure this happens.

Going Solo4. Don’t write off meeting a partner

It is still possible to meet someone after becoming a solo mum. You can just look at having done things in a different order.

I went back to online dating when my daughter was 4 months old and found it much easier than previously as all time pressure has disappeared.

My profile clearly says I have a young baby that I chose to have on my own and many men say it is easier with there being no ex involved and are happy to date someone with a baby. I’m hopeful I will meet someone to settle down with now the pressure of having a baby has been lifted.

5. Learning to ask for help will make your life significantly easier

If you have always been fiercely independent, now is probably a good time to learn how to ask for help. If you accept you don’t need to be super woman and do everything yourself, life will become a lot easier.

6. Don’t be fooled by other peoples ‘perfect’ situations

It might seem like everyone around you has the perfect family life, but that is very rarely the case. Everyone has their own circumstances to deal with. It’s best to focus on making the most of your own situation rather than comparing yourself to others.

7. It’s not as difficult as you might worry about

Once you are responsible for a baby, the likelihood is you’ll step up to the mark and nail it. You will never have known any other way, so it will just be the norm for you. There are also some advantages that come with doing things on your own that you will discover. If you need support Thriving Solo is a course to support how to best manage on your own.

 

Mel Johnson is the founder of The Stork and I, a support group for single women considering solo motherhood. She run’s Group Coaching Courses and a solo mum support group as well as offering 1:2:1 coaching.

Photo Credit: N C Hope Photography

When trying to conceive, NHS and healthcare professionals often recommend that both men and women stop drinking alcohol. But is one glass of wine too much? Here’s what research has shown so far:

Alcohol affects both male and female fertility, but the level of consumption associated with risk is unclear. High levels of maternal alcohol consumption are known to be dangerous to the unborn child, but the effects at lower levels are less certain.

Drinking between one and five drinks a week can reduce a women’s chances of conceiving, and 10 drinks or more decreases the likelihood of conception even further.

In women, drinking more than one to two units a day during pregnancy, there is increased risk of low birth weight, preterm birth, and being small for gestational age.

Men’s fertility can be affected by alcohol as it lowers testosterone levels, it can cause impotence, reduce libido and affect sperm quality.

The effects of alcohol on fertility are:

  • Lowers testosterone
  • Impotence
  • Reduce libido
  • Affect sperm quality
  • Reduce chance of live birth
  • Increase risk of miscarriage
  • Increased risk of pre-term birth
  • Increased risk of low birth weigh

Image source: BBC

How much is too much?

Current general advice for people not trying to conceive is for both men and women is not to exceed 14 units per week.

Even though there is uncertainty about the effects of low levels of alcohol on fertility and pregnancy, for the reasons mentioned above, it is recommended that women trying to have a baby should not drink alcohol at all to keep health risks to the baby as low as possible.

Where can you get help?

If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, the advice is not to drink alcohol at all

If you want to reduce or stop alcohol consumption, you can speak to your GP.

A fertility counsellor or coach trained on managing addictions can also help you.

You can also find more information at:

If you are worried about the amount of alcohol you are drinking and would like to reduce and find a healthy alternative or learn more about leading a healthy lifestyle for fertility, book a Free Fertility Coaching consultation with our awarded Nurse Consultant and NLP Coach Andreia Trigo.  Book your appointment here.

About Andreia Trigo

Andreia Trigo (RN, BSc, and MSc) is the founder of inFertile Life, multi-awarded nurse consultant, fertility coach, author and TEDx speaker.  Combining her fourteen-year medical experience, CBT, NLP and her own eighteen-year infertility journey, she has developed unique strategies to help people undergoing similar challenges achieve their reproductive goals. The Enhanced Fertility Programme is helping people worldwide and has been awarded Best Innovation in Business 2018 and E-Business of 2018. Check her out at www.infertile-life.com

Andreia Trigo
Nurse Specialist | NLP Coach of 2017 | TEDx Speaker
www.infertile-life.com

How to prepare for fertility treatment in the New Year

If you’re thinking about starting fertility treatment in 2019, there are lots of ways you can begin to prepare yourself now both physically and emotionally.

Here are a few helpful suggestions but don’t forget you can always contact us at any time for more in depth advice about any of our treatments or services:

Think about the type of treatment that you might need

The types of fertility treatment you might be considering will be determined by your personal circumstances – at RHG our patients include both couples and individuals – and whether or not you have undergone any tests or treatments previously. Different options available to you could include IVF, with or without the use of donor eggs or sperm, IVF with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), intrauterine insemination, egg or sperm freezing, surgical sperm retrieval or surrogacy.

Consider fertility assessments

If you’ve never previously had any checks on your fertility, RHG offer a full range of fertility tests for men, women and couples. Our male fertility assessments offer not just a standard semen analysis but also a sperm DNA fragmentation test, to look for any genetic abnormalities in the sperm, and a sperm aneuploidy test which assesses the ability of the sperm to fertilise an egg. Blood tests for chromosomal and genetic abnormalities are also included. Our female fertility check starts by looking at ovarian function and the couples check looks at male and female factors combined.

Get in shape physically

Lifestyle factors can influence fertility and whether you are aiming to conceive either naturally or via fertility treatment it is advisable to avoid either under or over exercising and to maintain a healthy weight, being neither over nor under weight for your height. Smoking, drinking and recreational drugs can have an adverse effect on fertility and the use of steroids can be harmful to male fertility. The advice of a specialist nutritionist can be helpful not just during the period of trying to conceive but during pregnancy as well to help optimise the chances of a healthy and successful outcome.

Get in shape mentally

There is no doubt that IVF or any kind of fertility treatment can be a gruelling experience emotionally but there are various complementary therapies available which can help to manage the stress. At RHG we work in conjunction with a team of holistic experts to offer a range of therapies to our patients. Acupuncture and reflexology are amongst the most popular that we offer access to but doing some background research on the different therapies before you start your treatment may help you decide if this is something you think may be helpful to you. In some cases a course of complementary treatment may start ahead of any clinical treatment so that you benefit from being more relaxed and less stressed when you begin. RHG patients also have access to support counselling through our specialist fertility counsellor.

Research fertility clinics

All HFEA-licensed clinics are required to include a ‘Success Rates’ page on their public websites, however these can often be somewhat confusing due to the amount of time that elapses between the the data being gathered and being released to the public. A perhaps more accurate picture of the clinic’s recent activities can be gained by reading up to date reviews by current and former patients. At RHG we also have a ‘Patients Stories’ section on our website which gives a good overview of what to expect from a patient’s perspective and these are all genuine testimonials from patients who have undergone treatment with us. It is also vital when considering treatment that you choose a clinic where you feel you can have complete confidence in the clinical team. At RHG our team are led by Clinical Director Professor Luciano Nardo and all are experts in their own fields.

Visit the clinic

It can be helpful when researching a fertility clinic to have the opportunity to visit the clinic to meet some of the staff in person and see the facilities. At RHG we offer a personal tour of our state of the art centre by our dedicated care coordinator and this is followed by a 15 minute meeting with Professor Nardo himself. It’s very easy to book a tour, just give us a call on 01925 202180 or book online here.

Ways To Support Your Pregnant Partner

Stress and pregnancy go hand in hand. While it has not been proven that stress can affect fertility, it has been found that the effects of stress on pregnancy can affect the health of the mother and the foetus during pregnancy.

Most mothers will confirm that the changes that happen to their bodies when pregnant for the first time, or even the second time, can be very disconcerting. So as the partner of someone expecting a baby, we thought you would want to know everything you can about pregnancy and what you can do to make things easier for her and the baby during the next 9 months.

We’ve written a brief pregnancy guide that will help point you in the right direction and help you support your pregnant partner.

What to expect while she’s expecting

Knowing that the first and final parts of the pregnancy are the most difficult will help you prepare yourself mentally, so you can respond in the most helpful ways possible.

The early weeks of pregnancy

You’ll have heard of the term morning sickness. But, the name is misleading, because morning sickness tends to last all day and involves vomiting and nausea prompted by certain tastes and smells.

During this period, your partner is likely to be low in energy and you’ll find that she needs much more sleep than usual. Morning sickness and low energy will usually last for up to 14 weeks, after which her energy levels will be closer to normal.

The later weeks of pregnancy

After 27 weeks and until she gives birth, her tiredness may return, and there’s a chance your partner could be, or become quite irritable.

Pregnancy guide for partners

Here’s what you can do to make her life easier and less stressful during the months of pregnancy.

Embrace the lifestyle changes

She’ll have to make numerous lifestyle changes to ensure she and the baby are as healthy as possible. Embracing these changes with her shows her that you fully support her. These changes include stopping smoking, stopping drinking and eating healthily.

Emotional support

Be available when she needs to talk or vent to somebody. Letting her share her experience with you will help her feel less isolated. Even when there is nothing that you can do to ease any of her aches and pains, having somebody to talk to can be very cathartic.

If there’s something that worries her about the health of the baby, take her to her doctor or midwife.

Do your research

Read as many baby and pregnancy books and blogs as you can. Two heads are always better than one, and when the big day comes, everything will be much less stressful if you know how to take over and let her rest after the birth.

Be there for check-ups, scans and classes

The parent who doesn’t carry the baby is sometimes left to feel like they are on the bench. But this can be avoided by being involved in absolutely everything. Tailored maternity packages can be great for giving you access to scans and tests whenever she needs reassurance, or in an emergency, and you’ll have more freedom over when they’re scheduled for. In some cases you can arrange home visits by private midwives, which takes away the stress of having to leave the house.

Help her relax

Run her a bath, give her a massage and reduce stress by not burdening her unnecessarily. If you see her trying to maintain her same levels of productivity despite her tiredness, let her know that you can take care of it.

Do things together

You’ll be squeezed for free time once the baby arrives, and this includes having time to yourselves. So, while you can, go on holiday, sleep late, and take spontaneous trips.

The Relationship Between Stress and Infertility

There is a relationship between stress and infertility, but it’s not what you think.

Women who are experiencing infertility report feelings of anxiety, depression, loss of control and isolation. Self-blame is also common, as are shame, guilt, and low self-esteem.

However, the relationship between stress and infertility has buried in it a common misconception – just because infertility causes stress doesn’t mean that stress causes infertility.

Can stress prevent you from getting pregnant?

Research testing the relationship between stress and infertility has found that infertility causes feelings of stress, but have failed to find conclusive evidence that stress causes infertility.

Researchers from The Ohio State University College of Medicine carried out a study examining the relationship between levels of stress hormones in saliva (cortisol and alpha-amylase) and chances of becoming pregnant.

The results, generally, told of a very slight relationship between the presence of alpha-amylase levels and chances of conception. They found that women with alpha-amylase levels in the top third were about a third less likely to fall pregnant compared to the women in the lowest third.

However, there were no differences between women in the middle third and the lowest third, and no significant associations between cortisol levels and likelihood of pregnancy.

So why is the idea that stress causes infertility so commonly found?

Psychology Today writes that self-blame and the stress-equals-infertility narrative is a way of letting a woman who blames herself feel like she can undo the problem. That she did it to herself by waiting too long, by having an abortion earlier in her life, for working too hard, or for worrying so much about being financially stable before having a child, that she’s worn her body out.

Professor Nardo believes that this kind of self-blame is unhealthy, especially when it’s been proven that worrying, or not worrying, is really very unlikely to change your chances of conceiving.

We do have a few suggestions for ways to help you cope with feelings of stress during the infertility journey, as although it might not necessarily help or hinder you from conceiving, looking after your own mental health is always key.

Coping with Infertility

Seek professional help

The internet can be quicksand with its contradictory messages and anecdotes and. As you’ll probably have experienced by now, the internet can amplify worries when it comes to health and wellbeing.

Without the right tests and checks by a fertility expert, you’ll drive yourself up the wall trying to work out what the problem is, and in the process, waste time worrying about your fertility while a real expert could have helped you find and fix the problem.

First visit your GP to see if there is anything obvious that is stopping you from conceiving. Chances are they will give you a referral for a fertility assessment and then to a dedicated clinic who will talk you through treatments such as IVF, ICSI, ovulation induction and IUI.

Consider your options

If you have not sat down and seriously considered the possibility that you might not be able to conceive naturally, we’d say you should do this sooner rather than later. Worrying about something you don’t have much control over without planning how to deal with it could negatively impact your mental health.

If you’ve spent a long time trying to conceive naturally, seeking help from a fertility clinic like Reproductive Health Group could provide you with an alternative route to pursue, rather than continuing in the hopes that lower stress levels might increase your chances.

Whichever stage you are at, you’ll feel less stressed if you know what your options are and where to go from there.

Ways To Manage Stress When Pregnant

It’s normal to feel stressed during pregnancy. There are so many things that can make us feel overwhelmed. Anything that puts high demands on a person can be considered a stressor, and pregnancy is no exception.

Constant feelings of stress and worry can colour the whole experience of pregnancy negatively, and if left unchecked, cause concerns for the baby and the mother’s health. If you are experiencing this kind of stress, we suggest you visit your GP as soon as possible.

The stress we are concerned with managing, is the kind that takes away from the joy of pregnancy. This is, after all, a time like no other, so why not make it worth remembering?

Stress can be used by our minds as a way of signalling when something in our lifestyle needs to change or that we’ve taken on too much, so it’s normal to be stressed while pregnant. The key is to take stock and manage it before it turns into an endless cycle of worry.

For these milder forms of stress and keeping a cycle of worry and negative thinking at bay, we have a few useful suggestions.

What causes stress during pregnancy?

Sometimes, there isn’t any one thing that causes stress during pregnancy. But most of the time stress and worries are related to very real things, often the same things that worry us when we’re not pregnant, such as a lack of time and money. Anyone who’s been through a pregnancy knows that a new born baby will stretch these resources even further.

The trick is to prepare as much as you can for the arrival of the baby by making changes and preparing where you can. Where you can’t change things, trying to change your thought processes to see things more positively, or at least see the silver lining in negatives, can help you to avoid negative spirals.

Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery or a bit of self-care to be able to turn negative thoughts around. Small things like making time for ourselves or budgeting can alter our perception of a situation enough to turn it from a negative experience to something more positive.

How to relieve stress during pregnancy

Most of what we suggest here are relaxation techniques, punctuated by preparatory steps that will give you some peace of mind during pregnancy.

Take time out to focus on yourself and your baby

Your body will be making significant changes to accommodate your baby. Taking the time to recognise and accept this will help you process these changes, rather than letting them affect your mood subconsciously. Most people will refer to this as mindfulness practice, and countless pregnant women will vouch for it.

Other complimentary therapies and relaxation techniques such as massage and aromatherapy will also help your mind slow down enough for you to notice the things that are getting you bogged down.

Sleep when you’re tired

You’ll feel a significant drop in your energy levels during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. You’ll find yourself needing to sleep much more than usual. When you can, we recommend trying to sleep, and spending as much time doing so to help you maintain your energy levels.

Let others help

During pregnancy your body will need all the rest it can get. Fighting the need to go to sleep to keep the rest of your responsibilities ticking over is a stressor. However, one way to address this is by letting your partner take on more of your shared responsibilities and asking your family or friends for help.

Face any money worries

Make a list of everything you’ll need and prioritise them. Decide what you can afford to buy and consider your options for getting the things you can’t.

You might find that you won’t have the financial flexibility to buy everything brand new. But there will be lots of things you can get from friends and family, or buy second hand, like car seats, cribs and strollers.

Having a baby shower and making a list of things you need is another way of letting friends and family help you provide things like clothes, bottles, sterilisers and nappies. All of which are undoubtedly essential and can reduce stress caused by finances.

Prepare for birth and your baby’s early days

This is fun when doing it with your partner, your mum, sister or another expecting person. Meeting up regularly to discuss what you have learned about the stages of development of your baby will help you prepare mentally and get you excited about their arrival.

Do this by joining antenatal and postnatal care classes, reading everything you can, and speaking to your own mother, doctor, midwife and other expecting mums about what it’ll be like.

Gentle exercise

You’ve probably heard this one before, and for good reason. Exercise is a tried and trusted stress reliever and endorphin booster. We would recommend light exercise like pregnancy yoga and swimming if you are new to exercise. Swimming is a great light exercise to do whilst pregnant as it places very little strain on the joints.

Ask for advice

The internet can be full of worrying advice so if there’s something about your physical or mental health that bothers you or something you are uncertain about, speak to your doctor. Women who have had IVF or any other fertility treatments should speak to someone from their clinic. If there’s something specific that worries you, healthcare professionals will be able to do the tests or checks that will help settle any worries you might have.