Lets’ all Talk Fertility Dairy: January. By Sophie Sulehria
I'm Sophie from the team here at The Fertility Show and welcome to the first edition of my Let’s all Talk Fertility Diary. This is a chance for us to reflect on what’s going on at The Fertility Show (which will be back with us LIVE on the 7&8 May!) and on our “Let’s all Talk Fertility” webinar channel, plus give you some much needed help and advice when you need it most.
If you are reading this newsletter, my guess is you’re either struggling to conceive yourself, or you know someone close to you that is. For this I am so very sorry, my heart reaches out of the page to you. The team behind The Fertility Show are only too familiar with the pain that infertility can bring, and that’s why we do what we do. To ensure our visitors and followers gain the best understanding of their situation, know the options available to them, and get clear information and answers to their questions - because knowledge is power, and power means you will feel a little more in control of your situation.
This is also the reason why, during The Fertility Show’s understandable hiatus, we moved online. We didn’t want those struggling to conceive to be shut off from the world and unable to move forward. Getting our myriad of world class leading experts onto our webinar platform meant we could help from home. Now, a year on, and with our first Fertility Summit under our belt (last September) plus our free “Let’s all Talk Fertility” sessions still running (our first of the year just completed) we are proud to say we are here for you, across the year, so you never feel alone or in the dark.
We are now in full swing, both in planning The Fertility Show Live and also hosting our webinar channel “Let’s all Talk Fertility”. Each month leading up to The Show we shall bring you a top expert and new topic to learn more about.
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNT THIS MONTH…
This month we spoke to Dr Julia Kopeika from Guy's and St Thomas’ hospital. Juila is a gynaecologist with a specialist interest in female fertility, so she was best placed to answer our questions about how and why women may struggle to get pregnant.
Here are a few of my take aways…
Fallopian tubes are amazing… did you know, that despite the (very well known) drawings of the female anatomy, which lead us to believe that our fallopian tubes run perfectly from the uterus and down like two branches to our ovaries, that they in fact don’t do this at all?? They are actually a lot closer together and further round to the back! This means if one of the fallopian tubes is removed, all is not lost - the chance of pregnancy is not immediately halved. “Our body is very clever” Julia said “if the egg is released from the opposite side (without the tube) it could cleverly find its way round to the other side and use that tube back into the womb instead.” Can you believe it?? I was amazed.
It’s not all about heavy periods… haven’t we all always thought it was though? As a young woman, doctors would always ask me “are your periods heavy?” Julia herself told us that while training to become a gynaecologist, she was told to ask if the patient’s periods were heavy and if they weren’t, she would move onto the next question. In this webinar Julia clarified that all periods should be discussed - heavy or light. We can tell a lot from a woman and her periods. Any changes, from heavy to light or from light to heavy, can indicate a whole myriad of things. Indeed, Asherman's syndrome (a rare gynaecological disorder of the uterus, characterised by the bonding of scar tissue that lines the walls of the uterus) can present you with very light and sometimes non-existent periods, so it’s not always about the heavy flow. Julia said it’s always worth mentioning any changes to a doctor or your gynae.
Julia discussed many interesting facts and gave good insight into all aspects of female fertility, including of course endometriosis and PCOS. If you missed this talk, it’s available to watch for free HERE now.
NEXT MONTH ON LET’S ALL TALK FERTILITY…
We are delighted to welcome back Professor Sheena Lewis from Examen Lab. Sheena’s life research focusses on male sub-fertility; specifically sperm DNA quality. Her goal has been to identify causes and treatments. I have spoken to and listened to Sheena on numerous occasions - there is very little she doesn’t know about sperm, male fertility, causes and outcomes. She is honest, fair and passionate. If you have any concern about sperm, or an interest in male fertility, then I highly recommend you come along to listen and ask your all important questions.
THIS MONTH’S Q&A:
In each month’s diary, I am going to be Q&A’ing an inspiring selection of Fertility ambassadors. This month we are dedicating this slot to Laura Biggs. Laura is the Founder of “Let’s all Talk Fertility” and the MD of The Fertility Show. She is also the lucky lady who has recently returned from a (don’t get jealous now) midlife retreat in Madeira. Here’s what she learnt from the experience…
Why did you decide to go on the retreat?
It was very impulsive! Over Christmas & New Year I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a post from Mariella Frostrup, sharing the news there was just once place left on her midlife / menopause Yeotown Retreat in Madeira. It looked amazing and I was instantly drawn to it. With daily yoga, hikes and a diet reboot with not dairy, gluten, sugar or of course alcohol, I got hooked on the idea of going. There were lots of barriers to me going that particular week, such as work / family commitments / the Covid travel restrictions, etc but strangely, as the days went by, these hurdles started to fall away. It almost felt to me like I was meant to go. Then when I found some super cheap flights on my reward points, I knew I had to book!
What did you do there?
We hiked, bathed in forests, swam in sea pools and climbed lots of hills and mountains, covering over 40k in 5 days. We attended fitness sessions, cookery lessons, Qigong (an ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that involves meditation, controlled breathing and movement exercises) Yin yoga, and we enjoyed an incredible daily massage. It was truly wonderful.
What were your top take aways from a female perspective?
It was great to be surrounded by such an incredible group of inspirational and beautiful women who were all in their midlife. We shared our life stories and how we are feeling about the menopause. I came away with the strong notion that I must keep fit and mobile while continuing to take my HRT!
How do you think something like this would benefit women in general?
A reboot of mind and body is good for anyone. I was feeling lethargic and wanted to curb some of my eating habits. The festive period had allowed me to lose sight of my portion control and sugar / caffeine / alcohol intake - like with a lot of us, it had all flown out of the window! I realise I am blessed to be able to go away for a week on retreat, but if you can’t do something that’s as long / far / expensive as this, you could always try doing something at home. By changing some of those habits we all fall into, and making some time for yourself and your mental / physical heath every day, you will feel the difference. Do some exercise every day, be that taking a walk or doing some yoga. Read a book, sit in silence, have a bath - whatever your body needs to feel good again. As women we always do for others first, but we ourselves are so important and need to remember to take time to recharge those all important batteries.
How do you think it would benefit women dealing with an illness, or infertility?
This trip was a midlife retreat, but from my experience having previously struggled with secondary infertility, this would have been a wonderful thing to do. Firstly for the life style changes it brings, but also to be surrounded with likeminded people in the same position. It is extremely empowering and positive to know you are not alone. Plus having access to experts in nutrition, diet, mental health and wellbeing, whilst enjoying some well deserved ‘me time’ would have been hugely beneficial at a time when all I could think about was trying to conceive.
What were your top take aways from a mental health perspective?
That green space, the walking, the fresh air and all the outdoor swimming - it felt good for the soul. I’m not mad on heights to be honest, and suffer with quite bad vertigo, yet with the help and support of the group I overcame this on the trip. It made me feel like anything is achievable with the right support and mindset.
TIP OF THE MONTH:
It’s time for my top tip which I’ll share every month in the hope it will improve your life just that little bit more, when things feels a bit much. This month I suggest to set aside some time every day to do something that’s just for you, that makes you happy. Be that reading a book, knitting or playing the piano. The more “out of your comfort zone”, the better! This tip comes from experience…
Being someone who has very little time in the day, always cramming too much in and regularly back to back with jobs and life, I realised over Christmas how nice it is to stop and do something that makes me smile. This realisation came after being gifted with a ukulele by my cousin on Christmas Day! I laughed. What was I supposed to do with it? I had never played a string instrument in my life, where would I start? Then one day I just did. On the first day I learnt how to tune it. The next I learnt some of the easier chords. By the end of the week I was strumming some easy songs! I mean I’m not particularly good, but it makes me smile every time I pick it up and play. I go into a world where it’s just me and my blue ukulele! I’ve now vowed to dedicate time to it every single day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Because this random act lifts my mood, and that’s important right?
A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR…
The Fertility Show Live and “Let’s all Talk Fertility” have announced Gaia as their headline sponsor for 2022. Nader AlSalim founded Gaia after he and his wife experienced the frustrations and limitations of IVF first-hand. After 5 IVF rounds across 3 clinics and 2 countries, and spending a total of £50,000 in medical bills, Nader and his wife were fortunate enough to have a child. This was the start…. Inspired by his two biggest pain points, Nader founded Gaia to bring better access and personalised information to a process that so often side-lines the patient. In the coming weeks and months we look forward to telling you more about our important work.
UNTIL NEXT MONTH…
Thank you so much for being here for our first “Let’s all Talk Fertility” Newsletter. Please be sure to follow us on our Social Media channels @thefertilityshow where you’ll find regular posts, tips and updates about what we’re doing. Please also share our work with others you feel may benefit. Plus, of course, don’t forget that this year The Fertility Show will be LIVE on the 7&8 May and tickets will be out to purchase in February! To find out more, head HERE
But for now, thanks for reading and I’ll see you next month!