Living with infertility is many things but, I’m sure anyone who has ever been there will agree, it can feel incredibly overwhelming. Not only is it an emotionally frightening void of heartbreak, pain and the unknown, it’s also utterly and completely petrifying, when faced with the medical science side of things. It’s as is, overnight, we have to go from knowing nothing, to having a PhD in reproductive methods. The terminology doesn’t make sense, initially, and don’t get me started on the acronyms! It’s a huge learning curve, in an abundance of ways.
Before my foray into the world of fertility treatments I thought I, pretty much, knew all there was to know about how babies are made. And, whilst yes, I’d worked out the basics (!), what I’ve now discovered is something far more beautiful, and magical, than I’d ever imagined. Assisted conception might be a clinical, scientific and brutal experience, yet I’ve seen a side of conceiving which is wonderful too. I now know how truly miraculous cell division is, I’ve discovered the unique stages an embryo takes on its amazing journey, right from that very spark of fertilisation, and I have been privileged to see awe-inspiring, microscopic photographs, and videos, of embryos; of life developing, in its earliest form.
And all this from the girl who hated science at school.
However, as mind-blowing as it is, actually knowing where to get unbiased information from is not always simple, or straightforward. Clinics can have their own agendas and, even though there is a lot of knowledge to be found on the worldwide web, having access to specialists is not something which is easy to come by. I often felt frustrated that I couldn’t increase my knowledge bank by having additional time with consultants. However, when patients are paying, heavily, for access to Medical Directors, and appointments can be limited to twenty minutes, it’s often a huge rush to even get through just the basic questions required.
I’ve recently been working with fertility organisation Egg Donation Friends and, as part of their service, they offer free webinars, run by an array of clinics, prepared and presented by specialists, in the fertility field.
The webinars are medically orientated and offer an opportunity for anyone, experiencing infertility, to have access to scientific information, research and, highly importantly, the specialists themselves. Each webinar ends with a Q&A, in which participants are invited to ask personal questions, pertaining to their specific treatment, diagnosis and history, which are then answered by the medical professionals who have hosted. A resource I truly wish I’d had access to during my days, and nights, of scouring the net, trying to make sense of what our fertility diagnosis really meant, or what options might be available for us, and offer the greatest odds of having a child. The chance to learn, whilst also being able to discuss our case with medical experts, is a resource I would have welcomed, and something which would, hopefully, have helped to clear the confusion experienced, when surrounded by the, often, mind-boggling choices we were faced with.
The webinars cover a whole range of topics, from the widely debated, and controversial, three-or-five day transfers, to PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) of embryos, just to mention a couple of those available. And, rather impressively, there are 60 free webinars currently scheduled to take place over 2019; that’s the biggest project in the world to date.
Egg Donation Friends have been working tirelessly to secure the Doctors and Professors involved, and produce these webinars, so that those struggling to understand their prognosis and situation, can find encouragement, knowledge and specialist support, without having to book appointments months in advance, or pay heftily for access to information.
It’s tough enough living with infertility, let alone having to learn how to become your own advocate, and amass the knowledge required to fight for treatment options, which aren’t always offered as the norm. I’d highly recommend anyone feeling confused, or uncertain, about their next steps, on the infertility route, to take a look. I always found that, as with many things in life but especially with infertility; knowledge is power, and having this amount of information, in one place, is indeed a great resource.
For the webinars, Egg Donation Friends are partnering with the Donor Conception Network and also Eizellspende, the biggest internet forum, in Germany, for patients looking into egg donation treatment.