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Infertility In The Digital Age



Infertility In The Digital Age

Throughout my struggle to conceive I frequently asked myself if I was better or worse off being infertile in a modern, digital age than in a previous era. Although infertility is not a modern problem, and history is full of women who were abandoned, divorced and even beheaded because they couldn’t produce a child, there is a commonly held belief that it is somehow easier to live with it nowadays. Before the 1980’s there was very little that could be done about infertility other than a vague procedure, referred to as ‘blowing out the tubes’, or going down the adoption route. Heartbreaking as it was, many couples had to accept their fate and get on with life.

Women of my parents’ generation could at least work and have a purpose aside from home-making and child rearing, but going back even further in time I can’t even begin to imagine how infertile women, when childrearing was seen as a woman’s main function, coped with the situation.

I, on the other hand, am part of the first generation not to know a world without IVF. The first test tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1979 – two years before me. Although I had always worried about infertility due to my medical history, IVF treatment was always there as a safety net in the background, or so I was led to believe. I remember hearing once that if you do IVF enough times, statistically it eventually works. At the time I took this information to be fact and stored it away in the back of my head somewhere with the label ‘Plan B’.

These days, infertile couples have access to a suite of medical interventions including IUI, IVF, ICSI, surgical sperm removal, embryo freezing, blastocyst transfer, assisted hatching, egg donation and surrogacy. Having gone through the emotional, physical, financial, ethical and practical side effects of some of these treatments I can’t help but question if I am better or worse off having access to them. In today’s world, more than ever, our fertility is something we mistakenly think we can control. We feel pressurized to exhaust every possible option out there so that we won’t have any regrets. I often wonder if it is the fear of regret that drives infertile couples, more than their belief that these treatments will work. There is a sense that you need to tick a box before you can even begin to try to move on.

We are willing go into debt, put our relationships under strain, jeopardize our careers, lose friends and push our bodies to the limit, all because we have options open to us that were not available to other generations. We believe that science and technology must have developed for a reason, so we feel we owe it to our foremothers to take advantage of it.

In most cases, the statement ‘knowledge is power’ rings true, but when it comes to infertility too much knowledge can be damaging. Although it must have been incredibly frustrating for previous generations not to have access to any information about their condition, these days we have more than we can cope with. An infertile woman can now spend hours on the Internet reading infertility horror stories, most of which are not written by medical professionals. As a result, we can’t switch off from it, even when we try.

Thanks to my search habits, I found myself bucketed into an infertility category and wherever I went online I saw adverts for fertility clinics, support groups and all sorts of other pregnancy aids enticing me to persist with my plan, each offering me a chance to achieve what I so desperately wanted. On the darker days, when I was already feeling low, these adverts would taunt me; they were a constant reminder of my failure.

If you are self conscious and embarrassed about the practicalities of trying for a baby, the digital age offers you lots of alternatives. There are online pharmacies where you can purchase ovulation kits and pregnancy tests in bulk, apps you can download to help accurately calculate ovulation, YouTube channels where you can learn how to correctly administer IVF medication and fertility ebooks galore that you can download and read furtively on your e-reader. There are even fertility clinics overseas where much of the communication and diagnosis is done virtually.

The digital age also makes it harder to avoid people who have children. Social networking sites like Facebook are the perfect platform for besotted mums and dads to share continuous updates about their offspring. I came to fear logging on to Facebook in case I was confronted with a picture of a baby caught in some comical pose or posts from the mummies boasting about the complete and utter joy that motherhood brings. There were many times when I resolved to shut down my Facebook account for good or set myself challenges not to Google anything infertility related for one whole day, but I always failed.

Despite the additional pressures it heaps upon them, infertile couples do have better odds at getting pregnant in this era than in any other, but it takes just as much courage to step away from all the options as it does to pursue them.

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Fertility App Natural Cycles Has Been Told To Stop Claiming It Is A ‘Highly Accurate’ Contraceptive



Natural Cycles

The app claims to show you when you can have sex *without* getting pregnant but there’s controversy over its effectiveness.

Natural Cycles, the fertility app, will no longer be allowed to claim it is a “highly accurate” and “clinically tested alternative to birth control” by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA has banned a Facebook ad which made the claims on the grounds they were “misleading” and has told Natural Cycles not to repeat them.

The ASA received three complaints about the ad, which was shown in July 2017 and read: “Natural Cycles is a highly accurate, certified, contraceptive app that adapts to every woman’s unique menstrual cycle. Sign up to get to know your body and prevent pregnancies naturally.”

It also claimed the app was a “clinically tested alternative to birth control methods”.

Natural Cycles said the claims were based on clinical studies. It said when a person used the app exactly as instructed it had 99% effectiveness. But the ASA pointed out that the app requires users to input accurate information including hormone levels – which could lead to errors – and said that taking into account “imperfect” use of the app brought it to around 91.7% effectiveness in preventing pregnancy.

While some feel it has revolutionised contraception by freeing women from needing to take hormonal contraception, there have been widely-reported concerns over the accuracy of the app. In Stockholm, 37 women reportedly fell pregnant while using it.

“We told Natural Cycles not to state or imply that the app was a highly accurate method of contraception and to take care not to exaggerate the efficacy of the app in preventing pregnancies,” the ASA said.

The Family Planning Association also expressed concerns about the app. A spokeswoman said: “The use of the word ‘certified’ suggests that there is independent evidence supporting these claims, whereas in fact the only evidence is from the company itself. It has amassed a vast database, which is very interesting, but that is not the same as verified independent evidence.

Natural Cycles

Bekki Burbidge, Deputy Chief Executive at FPA added that while apps are incredibly popular, they’re also “fairly unregulated” and it can be hard “to sort the good, evidence and research-based apps from the bad”.

She said: “Fertility apps can be particularly helpful for planning a pregnancy, but we’re still cautious about using them to prevent a pregnancy without initial support from a trained fertility awareness teacher. A teacher can support you while you learn to track your cycle and can help you understand the things that can make fertility awareness less effective. Things like travel, alcohol, stress or just not having enough sleep, can all affect temperature readings for apps like Natural Cycles.

More information on the Natural Cycles website

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Top 15 Fertility Products for 2015





brainwave power music blog

Here at Fertility Road we are advocates of anything that can reduce stress. Meditation in all its variant forms is a great tool for de-stressing and focusing your mind, in a positive way, on your goal of creating a new life.

You can enhance that process with Isochronic Meditation Music, produced by Brainwave Power Music and available for streaming and downloading. Their track, ‘Enhance Fertility with Isochronic Meditation Music’, is a melodic combination of beats and tones based on sound frequencies associated with the ovaries, and the ‘Earth’s pulsation’ of 7.83 Hertz, considered by some to constitute the Earth’s heartbeat.

BPM recommend daily listening – with no headphones required, this music can be used as an audio accompaniment to sleeping, relaxing, or even baby-making!

If you want to find out more about the sound therapy and healing properties of isochronic and binaural beats, you can also visit their blog – just Google ‘brainwave power music blog.’


Wink Reproductive Health

Ah, the wonderful world of apps. These days, there really is an app for everything and this crack husband-and-wife team – “devoted to giving women the knowledge” – have created one to help women get pregnant.

Wink, by Kindara, harks back to the age- old Fertility Awareness Method which looks at BBT (basal body temperature) and cervical fluid to gauge fertility.

BBT tells you when progesterone has kicked in – and the viscosity of cervical fluid informs when your oestrogen level is rising. In other words, when ovulation is about to rear its head.

Great for smartphone obsessives and tech-heads, who will also be pleased to hear that this app is top-rated.


The Fertility Code by Dermot O'ConnorLive your life by this baby-making bible and increase your chances of creating a new life. This step-by-step guide, written by bestselling author and acupuncture specialist Dermot O’Connor – who has years of doling out fertility advice to hopeful couples – will take you by the hand and hopefully lead you down the path to pregnancy.

Detoxification is key, but O’Connor also places emphasis on the psychological aspect of baby creation, where making sure you’re in the best possible head space is invaluable.


AndrofertiGiving the issue of male fertility some attention is this dietary supplement. It’s available to buy over the counter and is packed full of sperm-upping selenium and zinc – favoured for its antioxidant properties – as well as providing a balanced formula of other vitamins and minerals.

All he needs to do is dissolve the sachet contents in water, squash or juice, drink a glass every day for six months and watch as his little swimmers grow forth and conquer.


Self Fertility MassageGive your own body some well-earned TLC and make that twinkle in your eye become more than just a twinkle with this comprehensive DVD. And what’s cheaper than doing it yourself?

Not only does this DVD take the form of a step- by-step guide, it also has informative segments on reproductive anatomy and reflexology. Perfect for anyone with an irrational fear of massage parlours or tight purse strings.


Duofertility Fertility TrackingWearable tech is all the rage and this self-styled ‘fertility sat nav’ from DuoFertility really plugs into that trend. Rather than fumbling around with temperatures and urine tests to work out when you’re most fertile, this clever little gadget – a tiny sensor worn on the skin accompanied by a wireless handheld reader – can give you all the info you need. It lights up when you’re good to go, and even gives you six full days advance warning.

There’s also an added human element too – expert advice and feedback after every cycle, a 24/7 support line plus a confidential medical report you can share with your doctor.


Vaginal SteamLive snail facials, Godiva Chocolate Body Wraps, fish pedicures; there’s a whole world of weird and wonderful spa treatments out there but one in particular got our attention. The vaginal steam – commonly practised in both Central America and Korea – before you start imagining all sorts of scenarios, works a little like steaming your face, only this time you’re naked and your whole body’s wrapped up in a towel as you sit on top of a bowl of herb and essential oil-infused water.

Either DIY at home, or enjoy two rounds
of 15-minute steams followed by a gentle abdominal massage at the Yinova Center in New York City, this new technology is perfect for treating your nether regions to a whole lotta love.


Spermcheck Home Test For MenAlthough male infertility is the cause of 50% of infertility problems, 80% of men in infertile couples will not receive a fertility evaluation. If you’re having trouble getting pregnant but are not quite sure if his sperm are the reason, then this home test – the only one of its kind – can hopefully give you some answers.

SpermCheck is a quick, easy, painless process – with results in less time than it takes to drink a cup of tea – and it’s a lot cheaper (and less embarrassing) than going to a clinic.


SasmarLet a little lube into your life and put the fun back into baby making (because nobody ever said getting pregnant was meant to be all hard work and no play). Sasmar Conceive Plus lubricant will make sure you have a smooth ride but can also up your chances of conceiving, by maintaining sperm viability and motility so that they are given a serious head-start in reaching that finish line.


OvusenseOvuSense is an accurate way to stay in control of your fertility and it won’t break the bank. Aimed particularly at women who suffer from PCOS, this real-time fertility monitor can predict the onset of ovulation, and it’s 99% accurate, because when it comes to conceiving, timing and planning are key. Its USP? It can also tell you when you’re not going to ovulate.

There are two components to OvuSense – the reader, and a sensor which handily resembles a tampon. This works by downloading your own personal data to the reader. All that’s left for you to do is consult your personalised fertility chart before heading upstairs and jumping underneath the sheets…


ytestressStress is a modern epidemic – according to Bupa, over six million of the UK’s population suffered at the hands of it in 2013. The effect of stress on both our physical and mental health is manifold and it can certainly get in the way of your baby-making pursuits, delaying ovulation or, worse, putting a stop to it completely.

The science bit explains that stress hormones (cortisol) prevent the LH rise that occurs prior to ovulation. You can turn to yoga, massage, even tea for chill-out time; but this pill – made from fertilised hen eggs that have been incubated for exactly nine days – is an even simpler way to suppress stress.


The Stork Home Conception KitFar removed from the little white pregnancy lie told to children, this kit is in fact very real and very adult. The Stork can help counteract issues of low sperm count, sperm motility issues, unfavourable vaginal environment and ovulation timing, using the method of cervical cap insemination.

The uninitiated should not be alarmed by this – it’s simply a halfway point between good old-fashioned intercourse and in- clinic treatments, using a condom-like sheath to collect sperm and a tampon-like applicator to deliver to the cervix. Hey presto! So you need not be put off by strange looking gadgets…


SpirulinaSpirulina is one of those ‘superfoods’ that possess special magical powers of nutrition. This one is a form of blue-green algae that springs from warm freshwater regions, and sits at the top table of complete protein sources. It can tighten up your immune system, help control high blood pressure and do what we’re most concerned with here – boost fertility. Knock it back in tablet or capsule form, or use the powder to mix in with a smoothie.


A Tea For conceptionTime for tea now, because pre-conception can be a trying time for everyone. FertiliTea is a concoction of chasteberry (vitex) – good at stimulating progesterone, aka ladies mantle, which is known for easing painful periods – as well as nettle and peppermint leaf giving it an overall invigorating, minty taste. It’s is easy to drink and does wonders to maintain hormone balance, and is the brainchild of leading US fertility supplier Fairhaven Health. At under £15, it’s a pre-pregnancy must-have.


FertilmateRecent stallholders at London ExCeL’s annual Baby Show ‘Purple Orchid’ have devised their aptly named babystart range to help kick-start your journey. They’ve created a medically tried and tested portfolio of pre-pregnancy tests for both men and women, with the onus always on the natural. Options include a saliva-based ovulation predictor and “a cooling hydrogel patch for the scrotum which maintain optimal temperature for healthy sperm production”, aka FertilCount.

They’ve even come up with a pregnancy test that can detect results just seven days after intimacy. So with all bases covered, you need only focus on the fourth.

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My Fertile Food App from Bridge to Baby




My Fertile Food helps women trying to conceive, going through IVF or egg donor cycles, to take better control of their odds of conceiving a baby by boosting their fertility through the foods they eat. Eating certain foods for fertility can vastly improve egg quality, optimize conditions for implantation, improve quality of sleep, overall health, and optimize conditions for a healthy pregnancy. This app will inform you of foods to eat and not to eat for fertility and pregnancy and allow you to set goals and track your progress.

Eat your way to better fertility and pregnancy on the go! Tracking, fertile food info, what to avoid, and recipes and progress reporting (now available!).
Are you trying to conceive naturally? Are you struggling with PCOS or unexplained fertility? Download the ONLY fertility app customizable for you to improve your fertility through the food you eat.

  • Track daily intake of food, water, vitamins and supplements
  • Tailor goals based on personal needs
  • Learn which foods to eat and avoid
  • Direct, mobile access to My Hopeful Journey. Mobile Infertility Organizer
  • Get and stay motivated throughout your journey
  • Fun easy and fun tracking on the go!
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