metro

Metro: The craziest things I did in the name of infertility

HAVE YOU TRIED…

My fourth article for Metro’s Fertility Diaries series is about infertility madness - the debate over add-ons, and the crazy lengths that many infertility patients go to in pursuit of trying to have a baby.

It also features a rather fetching illustration whereby I’m immortalised in cartoon form alongside some viagra tablets and a tube of fertility lube (bet this article is going to do SEO for my name a world of good!!). I’ve only just managed to work out what the disembodied floating hand is - I think it’s someone with an acupuncture needle (although maybe I do have a massive third hand and have never noticed)

As you’ll know if you’ve ever experienced infertility or pregnancy loss, another infertility bingo classic is ‘have you tried….’ (usually followed by either ‘blatantly obvious suggestion’ or ‘miracle woo healing therapy that their sister’s neighbour tried’)

If a well-meaning-but-clueless friend/colleague starts the ‘have you tried…’ game with me, whilst very well intentioned, I inwardly take a deep breath, as I’m thinking ‘mate, I promise you I WILL win the ‘have you tried?’ game!

This article is a light-hearted look at some of the crazy lengths that I - and a number of other women (it’s not just me who’s lost the plot) - went to in the name of infertility. This is just a highlight of a long list of wacky infertility adventures - safe to say there’s a lot more where those came from!

Including such highlights as:

  • me pretending to be a middle-aged man with erectile dysfunction on the internet

  • my (short) career as an international drug trafficker

  • blessings by a Buddhist monk with a wooden phallus in the mountains of Bhutan 

  • a litany of fertility woo therapies

  • a whole host of other women's mad infertility adventures  



HAVE YOUR SAY

Are you fed up of being asked ‘have you tried’? What’s the craziest thing you’ve tried during your infertility journey?

I’m writing a book that challenges the fantasy infertility narrative of endless positivity and happy endings, by sharing real women’s (and men’s) stories about what it’s really like to struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss.

My goal is to represent as many different perspectives as possible: if you’ve experienced infertility or pregnancy loss — whether your journey is current or past, whether successful or not — I’d be honoured if you’d consider sharing your story anonymously.

Metro: It’s not just down to infertile couples to solve the adoption crisis

Why don’t you just adopt

My third article for Metro’s Fertility Month series examines how It’s not just down to infertile couples to solve the adoption crisis

Anthony Douglas, head of Cafcass (the public body representing children in care), said in a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph that the growing success of IVF has meant fewer people will consider adopting children:

IVF used to be around 7% successful and now it’s around 30%.

So as a choice, adoption is competing with lots of other ways of having children.

My biggest bugbear with the ‘it’s all the fault of selfish IVF couples’ argument (amongst many) is that it positions the adoption crisis as an issue that’s solely down to people with fertility problems to solve.

IVF isn’t a quick and easy fix either to conception, or to solving the adoption crisis - and it doesn’t help solve the latter to pretend it does.

Adoption is about finding homes for children, not children for infertile couples. And pretending that if selfish infertile couples stopped having IVF the problem would get sorted does a disservice to infertile couples, and to children in care.

This article is deliberately provocative, as I’ve tried to challenge the hypocrisies around this issue straight on - because I’m frankly fed up of the IVF bashing (and the perpetual double standards for infertile vs fertile couples.)

Infertile couples are asked ‘why don’t you just adopt?’

To which I would respond, ‘Why didn’t you just adopt?’


Have your say

Are you fed up of being told ‘why don’t you just adopt?’

I’m writing a book that challenges the fantasy infertility narrative of endless positivity and happy endings, by sharing real women’s (and men’s) stories about what it’s really like to struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss.

My goal is to represent as many different perspectives as possible: if you’ve experienced infertility or pregnancy loss — whether your journey is current or past, whether successful or not — I’d be honoured if you’d consider sharing your story anonymously.

Metro: Why treatment for male infertility is failing both men and women

Men matter too

My second article for Metro’s Fertility Month series examines how treatment for male infertility is failing both men and women

Men are massively overlooked in the fertility experience more generally: but the inadequate care for male infertility - inadequate diagnosis, meaning inadequate treatment - is also harming women, as ICSI treatment bypasses the male problem to treat the issue in the woman’s body.

Normally I rail against articles which focus on the miracle baby success stories, but in this instance these examples - real examples, from real couples - were pretty critical for the overall argument (spoiler alert: that if treatable problems were diagnosed and treated, this might increase the chances of success, or eliminate the need for invasive ICSI altogether.) These stories are used to demonstrate tangible examples where proper care has made a tangible difference to the outcome. Which I hope will spark discussion and debate!

It’s an issue that’s woefully ignored in both public discourse and within the fertility industry itself - so I hope that this article will help to encourage more open conversations about this issue.

Male infertility is a growing problem on a global scale — so when are clinicians going to start taking it more seriously?
 

Have your say

I’m writing a book that challenges the fantasy infertility narrative of endless positivity and happy endings, by sharing real women’s (and men’s) stories about what it’s really like to struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss. My goal is to represent as many different perspectives as possible — including the male perspective.

If as a couple you’ve experienced infertility or pregnancy loss (regardless of which partner has received the infertility diagnosis, if any)— whether your journey is current or past, whether successful or not — I’d be honoured if you’d consider sharing your story anonymously.

There are questionnaires for both the female and male perspective — and I’d particularly love to hear more from the guys!

Metro: How to support someone with fertility problems

I’m really excited to have the opportunity to write for Metro’s Fertility Month series: the first article is about how to support a friend or loved on struggling with infertility or pregnancy loss.

There's lots of articles about what not to say (aka infertility bingo), but Metro wanted something that offered guidance for what you should say or do instead. They commissioned me to write this piece based on the hundreds of responses to my anonymous questionnaire for women (and men) to share their stories, - specifically, to the question that asks respondents what advice you would give to anyone who's supporting a friend or loved one with fertility problems.

There's no universal right or wrong thing to say or do, but these suggestions are based on the answers of several hundred different women, so they're hopefully at least a pretty decent start.

These are just a couple of highlights:

Say ‘I’m sorry’ Give us a hug and say ‘I’m so sorry’
Do not try to solve the problem There’s nothing you can say or do to fix this, so stop trying to do so.
Just listen & acknowledge our distress.

Don’t feel you have to do anything other than listen.
Don’t tell us what to do or what to think or what to feel.

Just listen to us, and allow us to be sad and angry at how unfair life is. Be there, let us know you care, that you’re there, and that you want to understand our feelings and needs. Acknowledge that it’s an unimaginably cruel situation and let us offload


HAVE YOUR SAY

My goal for this book project is to represent as many different perspectives as possible .

If as a couple you’ve experienced infertility or pregnancy loss (regardless of which partner has received the infertility diagnosis, if any)— whether your journey is current or past, whether successful or not — I’d be honoured if you’d consider sharing your story anonymously.

If any of these ‘infertility bingo’ comments strike a chord and you’d like to get something off your chest, or suggest some advice of your own, I’d love to hear from you!