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Fertility Road Magazine 46 - September/October 2018

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The latest issue of Fertility Road Magzine brings you our latest Fertility Journeys update, a closer look at stress and infertility, natural approaches to endometriosis and a how your weight can affect your chances of getting pregnant plus lots, lots more.

FR News & Views

FR News & Views FERTILITY APP NATURAL CYCLES HAS BEEN TOLD TO STOP CLAIMING IT IS A ‘HIGHLY ACCURATE’ CONTRACEPTIVE 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. “Many other apps focus on getting to know your own body, but Natural Cycles is specifically targeting itself as a contraceptive, which is concerning.” Bekki Burbidge, Deputy Chief Executive at FPA aded that while apps are incredibly popular, they’re also “fairly unregulated” and it can be hard “to sort the good, evidence and researchbased 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. “At the moment there’s not enough independent evidence available about the reliability and effectiveness of apps. To use fertility awareness as effective contraception, whether you’re using an app or not, you need to be motivated and understand the advantages and disadvantages, especially the things that can make it less effective.” “Natural Cycles has been independently evaluated and cleared by regulators in Europe and the US based on clinical evidence demonstrating its effectiveness as a method of contraception.” 06 | fertilityroad.com | fertilityroadmag | follow us @fertilityroad

Sponsored by BOOK REVIEW: REVIEWED BY ANDREW COUTTS Against the Odds: A journey through the minefield of infertility By Sam Osborn As the author herself rightly states at the beginning of this diary-based account of her fertility struggle, subsequent pregnancy, and subsequent birth, it is "not the most dramatic or remarkable" story. It is however one, that many can empathise with and although not all of us can claim to have won the fertility battle the story does provide hope and represents an honest account of a period which is fraught with fear, frustration, anxiety, excitement (and for Sam Osborn), ultimately happiness. The book starts with a familiar account of how the birth pill was both a blessing and a curse. Having supported her through her young, free and single days the pill brought Osborn to the very edge of a sheer cliff, “The overriding feeling I had was of falling down a huge black hole - I was being sucked in and was having difficulty catching my breath”. Following unfruitful visits to unsympathetic GP’s Osborn recounts long periods of self-doubt and depression which lead ultimately to a physician recommending the use of the drug Zoladex which, while addressing the acute symptoms caused by the pill would have meant an early menopause and hysterectomy. This proves to be the watershed moment for the author who has to make a momentous decision between drug or a potential family of her own. Osborn decides upon the latter. A chance visit to a Chinese herbalist sorted out her irregular and painful cycle; reflexology helped balance her hormones and the adoption of a range of other complimentary therapies did the rest. Next up a partner to fill the ‘baby shaped void’ and another problem. Osborn’s new man had fathered a child in a previous relationship but had a vasectomy sometime before. There follows an intense period in the story when Osborn wrestles with her FSH/AMH levels; challenges the pessimism adopted by some of her medical team and embraces the positivism of others; undertakes her own research and adopts an holistic approach alongside traditional medicine. In parallel, her partner has a reversal of his vasectomy and finally overcomes the complications associated with it. An open mind, a favourable physical response and of course a lot of determination in the face of comments such as, “If it’s not in the medical journal, then I’m not interested” eventually channels success. The diary format then becomes testament to an anxiety ridden nine months peppered with moments of great happiness and ultimately joy with the birth of a healthy baby. The book is a good read for anyone embarking on a fertility journey or anticipating the birth of a long-awaited son or daughter. One of the main things I took from it was the fact that those of us on the journey have been increasingly educated and empowered about fertility and our own bodies. Increased access to educational and medical information; treatment options and holistic support have strengthened our arm – our fertility destiny, or a large part of it, is moving slowly into our own hands. We are empowered patients and our fertility options are to a large degree considered and ultimately decided by us. Osborn sums this up perfectly. Whilst accepting she did not always receive the responses she desired from her consultants, nurses and GP she appreciated all their help and guidance in hindsight. However, as a final caveat she says; “There is a wealth of information ‘out there’ so you also need to consider how you feel and what is right for you. Knowledge is power and even if it doesn’t work out, knowing you have done everything in your power can give some comfort to you”. 'Against the Odds: A journey through the minefield of infertility' is available from Amazon, ISBN: 1973300109. Cost £6.49 Infertility, IVF and Miscarriage – The Simple Truth By Dr Sean Watermeyer Ask the average lay person about the prospect of reading a book regarding infertility, IVF and miscarriage and no doubt it wouldn't be top of their Christmas list. If, however, you are one of the increasing numbers of people affected by infertility it is very likely that you will want to consume as much information, advice and sign posting as you can possibly grab hold of. Many people who find themselves in the fertility wilderness wonder where to turn first. There are a mountain of online and hard copy resources, guides, podcasts, vlogs and blogs to access but at a time of vulnerability, confusion and even panic it is difficult to know where to start. ‘Infertility, IVF and Miscarriage – The Simple Truth’ by Dr Sean Watermeyer successfully opens the debate for those struggling to conceive and offers a step by step guide to IVF and examines the causes of infertility, investigations, treatment and miscarriage. As a Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician, Watermeyer combines his extensive knowledge, practical application and quite obvious clinical success in this short, snappy, jargon free and sometimes light hearted guide – and before you say anything, why can’t we laugh in the face of infertility sometimes?! The guide is extremely comprehensive and Watermeyer discusses every point of the fertility journey from when to seek advice; the female and male physiological perspective; investigations and treatments including ‘add ons’; miscarriage through to the consideration of lifestyle, complementary and medical interventions to improve the chances of a successful pregnancy. In the world of fertility information which is so diverse and fragmented Watermeyer offers bite sized chapters each with a clear aim and a very useful, ’So the message is..’ section which summarises the main elements of each chapter. Using anonymous case studies of real patients’ Dr Watermeyer achieves his goal of delivering a refreshing, insightful and clear guide for the general public. For anyone who is starting or at the early stages of their fertility journey this guide is a must. It will equip you with the information and knowledge to enable you to take an active and empowered role in your own journey. In Dr Watermeyer’s own words, “Don’t be fobbed off”- use this guide to learn more about your particular situation, options and choices and use it to direct your own journey. ‘The Simple Truth’ is much more than a guide – it is a blueprint for your future and I would wholeheartedly recommend it. 'Infertility, IVF and Miscarriage - The Simple Truth, A guide for the General Public' by Dr Sean Watermeyer is available from parthiabooks.com; price £8.99 | fertilityroadmag | follow us @fertilityroad fertilityroad.com | 07

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Fertility Road Magazine 46 - September/October 2018

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