The Fertility Podcast


If you’ve found your route to parenthood hasn’t been straightforward, this podcast is for you. From how to optimise your fertility to getting pregnant naturally, navigating IVF, understanding donor conception or surrogacy to how to prepare for a life without children. Whatever your situation, you are not alone. Join me, Natalie Silverman, as I open up about my own fertility treatment and my co-host Kate Davies, an independent fertility nurse consultant plus experts from around the world as well as shared experiences from men, women and people just like you. We’re here to hold your hand, on your route to parenthood x

The Fertility Podcast
Trailer 1 min 59 sec

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Continuing our series on all things to do with navigating a fertility journey whilst working, we’re delighted to chat with Natalie’s co-founder and partner in crime @fertilitymattersatwork - Becky Kearns. Sadly, Claire Ingle who is also a co-founder had tech gremlins and couldn’t join us to chat. We’re also joined by Helen Burgess who, like Kate, is a partner at Fertility Matters at Work and an employment lawyer at Shoosmiths.   Becky gives us the low down on the recent launch of the Fertility Matters at Work e-learning training and policy program, that supports employers become ‘fertility friendly’. E-learning helps employers understand what is involved in a fertility journey but also how to have conversations to support their employees. The e-learning covers all the different ways in which families can be made, including solo motherhood and same-sex relationships, and is suitable for all organizations whether large or small.   Helen shares why her firm, Shoosmiths was keen to start talking about this topic. After talking to colleagues Helen found that, like her, there was very little support in the workplace, and as an employment lawyer wanted to shine a light on employers and organizations.   Becky and Helen share their own personal experiences of their fertility journey in the workplace and the difficulties they faced. Becky experienced early menopause at the age of 28. She luckily had flexibility in her role, as an HR professional, to attend appointments but struggled with disclosing her diagnosis and the need for treatment. In particular, she struggled with the emotional aspects and juggling her workload. She just felt so alone and exhausted. Helen, similar to Becky, was in a senior position and therefore had the flexibility to attend fertility treatments and fortunately had a supportive colleague. Helen made the decision to divulge to her team, but the flip side was the need to than to tell work when a fertility treatment fails, and the difficulty of reliving it all whilst trying not to be emotionally reck at work.   Claire talks about the difficulty in disclosing your fertility journey to your employer and their worries over confidentiality and the impact on their careers, but also how often disclosing can be a relief if you are given the support you need. She also talks about the constant triggers in the workplace from baby showers and new babies being brought into the office. Fertility wellbeing is so much more than just having the flexibility to attend appointments…….   Kate asks Helen what organizations need to consider from a legal perspective. Sadly, currently, there is very little protection for employees. There is no legal right to attend appointments and it is down to the employer. Helen mentions that in some circumstances if you’re refused flexibility to attend appointments then it could amount to indirect sex discrimination. Employers do need to consider when employees are not on their A-game so that they can offer support. After embryo transfer, you are protected by pregnancy discrimination protection.   Helen is not sure if there will be a legal change in the future but is hopeful, but certainly not in the short term. Disability employment law doesn’t cover infertility but could cover some of the conditions that lead to infertility such as severe endometriosis. Helen also discusses the complexities of same-sex relationships and discrimination.   We talk about how a policy is the first step, but employers need to consider so much more such as raising awareness, recognizing the complexities of fertility in the workplace, and peer support. Employers need education on what to say and what not to say.   Becky shares her advice on how employees can start a conversation with their employer. The Fertility Matters at Work, website provides lots of guidance in relation to this but Beck recommends writing a list of points you want to raise in the meeting,...

Nov 22

49 min 46 sec

In this episode of the Fertility matters at work episode, we want to focus on the psychological aspects of juggling fertility in the workplace. We all know it’s not easy to do and certainly not a great place to find ourselves in but what really is the impact? To answer this question, we’re delighted to welcome perinatal psychologist Julianne Boutaleb @parenthoodinmind. Julianne is the Clinical Director and Founder of the Parenthood In Mind practice. She has worked for over 15 years in the NHS and private practice with parents and parents-to-be and their babies (and bumps) who have needed support with a wide variety of issues including anxiety and depression during and after pregnancy, miscarriage, and reproductive loss, attachment issues, re-emergence of childhood issues and couples’ issues. Parenthood in Mind consists of a specialist team of psychologists and psychotherapists with decades of professional experience between them in perinatal settings, CAMHs, primary and secondary care, and Early Years settings. They are experts in working with individuals, couples, and their babies in the transition to parenthood, and with parents of children up to 5 years of age. Julianne is without a doubt well placed to talk to us about the impact of juggling fertility in the workplace and consults many individuals who are struggling in silence at work.   Today Julianne shared the following on her Instagram account - Help-seeking in the perinatal period. It's so difficult to reach out. To say out loud I need help. At no other point in our lives do we need help more, and yet fear asking for it. The fear of being exposed, of being judged, Of being misunderstood Of admitting too much…  Does this resonate with your experiences in the workplace? It certainly did with us. Julianne starts off by explaining the impact of infertility and pregnancy loss on our mental health and then talks about the psychological impact of infertility, referring to the work by Alice Domar who likened infertility psychological impact of a cancer diagnosis for example. Julianne also likens it to the death of the story you originally dreamed of and that it is a moment of trauma.  She explains that in the workplace this trauma can show up as panic attacks, feeling that you can’t get up in the morning, a sense of dread or difficulty over what would have been normal work tasks, individuals feeling as though they’re not in control or trying to ‘front it out’ and not divulging what you’re going through to your employer. She also refers to the interpersonal conflict you might feel and sadly individuals facing grievance due to a negative change in workability. Julianne urges line managers to be aware of sudden changes in workability and behavior and to try to find out why this might be happening.  Julianne shares some fantastic tips on what she advises people to actively do if they’re struggling such as the importance of Identifying a colleague to discuss this and therefore start creating a little village of support within the workplace. Julianne has seen fantastic examples of where employees set up WhatsApp groups and peer support to facilitate better support within the workplace. She also recommends short sharp wins, such as stepping away from the computer, lunch outside the building rather than leaving your employment altogether, and the isolation, this can bring. Finally, Julianne shares examples of difficult situations in the workplace she has come across from both an employee and an employer going through fertility issues at the same time and the employer being able to offer support but getting no support back and the frustrations she felt with this. Julianne also refers to a friend of the podcast - Sophie Martin @the.infertile.midwife who, as her Instagram name suggests, works as a midwife and struggled with infertility and very sadly, the stillbirth of her two beautiful boys Cecil and Wilfred. You can find out more about Julianne...

Nov 15

35 min 20 sec

Welcome to episode 2 in our current series discussing the intricacies of fertility in the workplace. In this week’s episode, we’re joined by 4 teachers to find out just what it’s like to navigate a fertility journey whilst juggling the demands of a teaching job.   We welcome Caroline Biddle who worked as a secondary school drama teacher for 9 years. Caroline is no longer in a teaching role but is committed to changing the way fertility issues in teaching are managed and as a result, set up her organization – Fertility Issues in Teaching. Fertility issues in teaching Fertility Issues in Teaching are the first and only organisation to deliver specialist consultancy and training exclusively for schools to raise awareness around the impact on staff experiencing infertility and pregnancy loss and to support schools to recruit and retain the best staff by becoming inclusive, flexible, and equitable, as they move towards fertility-friendly workplaces. Claire Walker and Nic Jessop are both teachers currently working in education and Claire Stewart-Hall, who, like Caroline is no longer a teacher, is a coach who coaches people around race, adoption, and LGBTQ in the workplace.   Having to move schools Caroline starts off by telling us about her experience of going through fertility treatment in the workplace and how She moved schools between treatment and experienced two very different styles of support. Neither school had a fertility policy in place which left her feeling both vulnerable and frustrated. In one school she had to explain every appointment for the headteacher to approve and this was far from satisfactory. It was then that she started researching fertility awareness in the workplace.   Getting your Union involved Claire Walker explains her experiences of going through fertility treatment with her partner who was transitioning from female-male and how she was told by her employer that ‘IVF is elective like cosmetic surgery’ without any understanding of her individual circumstance. Claire explains how she has always been, as many teachers are, totally dedicated to her job and this comment felt her feeling undervalued. Quitting your job Claire Stewart-Hall shares with us a very harrowing experience where she experienced a missed miscarriage after being punched in the stomach by a pupil. Claire also talks about the difficulties of trying to conceive whilst juggling a busy role as a vice-principal and the taboos she felt being in a same-sex relationship and how ‘hidden’ she found fertility in general.  In stark contrast, Nic has a positive story to share about the support from her workplace during her recent successful IVF treatment and frozen embryo transfer, where she says her work environment was so supportive with her employers having a good understanding of what’s involved in infertility treatments and a leader who actively tries to understand what her employees are going through. Nic feels that her experience is an example that other schools should aim to follow.   On Caroline’s Instagram feed and her blog, she regularly talks about the need for schools to strive for compassion and thoughtfulness when discussing infertility. She shares examples with us where thoughtless comments have been made such as headteachers demanding that ‘scans are done on a Wednesday or at a specific time’. Leaders said that they ‘will offer paid leave for 1 treatment but not more, and even examples of where people have offered advice when they don’t have any understanding about fertility.    Claire Stewart-Hall is currently undertaking a doctorate on race and policy in schools and talks about how policy can be interpreted differently by individual schools, and that leaders will often ‘cherry pick’ what they want out of the policy or interpret the policy based on their own individual experience. Kate talks about the fact that she sees many teachers struggling to conceive...

Nov 8

49 min 59 sec

Male Fertility is something we have talked about on The Fertility Podcast a lot in the past and you can hear more of our conversations (here ) All too often Men are overlooked when having conversations with healthcare and medical professionals about this topic and as you will hear, they often don't want to speak to anyone about what is going on. This bonus episode being shared to support National Fertility Awareness Day and its focus on male fertility is called 'MAN UP' - an ethnodrama written from empirical research date from interviews with people experiencing complex fertility journeys by Manchester Metropolitan University. It has been written and produced by (  Follow on insta: (Jenny Berry) (Fertility Poddy ) (Fertility Network UK)

Nov 3

7 min 43 sec

It’s great to be back! We’ve had a bit of a break and we’re back with a new series talking all about Fertility in the workplace. As well as doing the podcast, Natalie’s voiceover work and Kate’s consulting; for the last 18 months or so, both Natalie and Kate have been working with organisations to help put fertility in the workplace firmly on their wellbeing agenda. How does the landscape at work look? Kate and Natalie discuss what we've heard from our work and how in light of, how in the last few months, a number of organisations have published fertility and pregnancy loss policies. Over the coming weeks we will be hearing from different organisations who are speaking out about their work to support employees on their paths to parenthood and this new series of the podcast has been created alongside an exciting launch of a brand new training and policy programme from (Fertility Matters at Work) which we'll be talking about in the coming weeks too. We’ll be sharing best and worst examples of fertility in the workplace and, as always, sharing your personal experiences, so we want you to get in touch and share yours stories which can you do ( right here ) 4 Women In the first episode of our new series on Fertility Matters at Work we’re absolutely delighted to welcome Channel 4 to the podcast. Navene Alim who is a senior lawyer within the corporate legal team at C4 and Landy Slattery, creative director of All 4, Channel 4’s(CH4) on-demand platform. Both are the co-founders and co-chairs of the 4 Women network, and we’re talking all about CH4’s Pregnancy Loss Policy that was launched in April 2021. When the pregnancy loss policy was launched, CH 4 stated that “The policy which was believed to be the world’s first is to support both women and men who have been affected: whether it happens directly to them, their partner or their baby’s surrogate mother, regardless of the nature of their loss, and whatever their length of service. It also recognises pregnancy loss as an experience not isolated to women or heterosexual couples.” Why was the policy developed? Following the huge momentum and notoriety that came from CH4's menopause policy the 4 Women network wanted to build on this. After surveying employees to find out the most important issues, pregnancy loss was identified as a huge issue for the workforce. They found that people were struggling in silence and making excuses for needing time off. CH4 were due to air a new series – (Baby Surgeons delivery miracle babies) ( quoted incorrectly in the pod ) and they wanted to get a policy in place to hit with the time the series aired. CH4 share how they implement the policy they developed and wanted to ensure that training would be available for managers and colleagues to help them, support employees, appropriately. They are actively trying to find the right solutions to provide the correct support. Their policy is the first step in acknowledging that pregnancy loss is part of a woman’s working life. Having the conversations and the educational piece is the first steps in changing organisational culture. Were people worried about being passed over for promotion? These issues did feature as a concern from their focus group of 80 employees who helped inform the policy. As the policy is so new, they are yet to have the opportunity to assess how it has landed within the organisation, however they’re finding that other conversations such as childlessness has started to be discussed, which would have never occurred had it not been for the policy. What about Men? Landy and Naveen talk about the importance that the policy doesn’t just focus on women, but it is there for men too. Any man at C4, can access the policy and take 2 weeks off without explanation or proof of pregnancy loss. How else do they support their staff, such Support this podcast

Nov 1

33 min 19 sec

In this episode, as we near the end of this current series of the podcast, we chat with Steph Phillips the founder of World Childless Week. World Childless Week is a relatively new initiative raising awareness of being childless not by choice. Steph tells us how the interest in this week, but also across the year, has increased dramatically over the last 2 years. We also talked about the differing terminology used to explain living without children and how Steph as learned to own the term ‘Childless’. The (World Childless Week )website encourages people to submit blogs and videos to get their voices and stories heard. Steph has noticed in recent weeks that this is gaining more momentum and people are wanting to take ownership of their childlessness. The COVID pandemic has highlighted the difficulties in the workplace faced by childless people – the discussions on Zoom about children, children seen on Zoom etc. However, the pandemic has also encouraged greater awareness surrounding mental health for example and Steph also sees this as a positive for sharing childless awareness. The sharing the commonality of childlessness has had a profound effect on Steph and others, providing validation and an outlet for grief. We also talked about finding the humour and laughter that can come with sharing stories and that it is possible to come through the dark days. We discuss the narrative surrounding childlessness and how frequent the insensitive comments are heard, such as ‘Have you thought about adoption’. This needs to change. Steph recommends (listening to this webinar )- which will help to highlight what not to say to a childless individual. Did you know that there is more childless men than women? Men rarely speak out, but they need to be heard more. Steph talks about the desire many childless individuals have to leave a legacy and why it is important for us not to be forgotten. Steph now tries to leave a legacy in a different way – she may compliment someone on their leggings or let a car out in front of her. This small action can make their day and never hurts to be kind. Next steps, Steph hopes to make a difference in raising awareness of childlessness in the workplace. Steph welcomes submissions on any topic for the website. See below for more information on how you can do this. SOCIALS: (Facebook) (Twitter) (Instagram) (Releasing Our Grief through the Power of Words) (good to help people find the confidence to start exploring the cathartic power of writing): (Legacy - Making Today Count) (Fertility poddy ) (Kate) Other episodes we mentioned: Jessica Hepburn (Kate Kaufmann) (Lesley Pyne) (Yvonne John) (Kelly Da Silva) (Jody Day )

Oct 4

35 min 48 sec

Today we’re talking all about what happens after fertility – parenting after IVF. What is it like to be pregnant and then parenting after you’ve gone through a fertility journey? Is it different if you’ve not experienced this rollercoaster journey and you’ve managed to conceive naturally? To find out, we’re giving a big welcome to a previous guest and friend of the podcast – Cat Strawbridge otherwise known as @tryingyears. Cat, after 7 years of trying to conceive and multiple rounds of IVF, finally became a mum to beautiful Wren, who has recently celebrated her 2nd birthday. Cat works tirelessly to break the silence surrounding infertility, has her own podcast The Finally Pregnant Podcast, consults within the fertility industry, host events and to top it all is now (at time of writing) embarking on fertility treatments to try for a sibling for Wren. We’re delighted to chat to Cat again and wanted to ask her what are the most common fears for women who have conceived following fertility treatments? Cat didn’t hesitate in answering – the anxiety. The anxiety of pregnancy, ‘scanxiety’ and once parenting the fear of being an overbearing and anxious parent. You may not have heard the term ‘scanxiety’ before but we suspect you’ve felt it. It’s that anxiety you get every time before and during a scan. Whether it be a fertility or pregnancy scan, that fear never leaves you. Cat talked about her pregnancy with Wren and her need to have regular reassurance by having a scan. Particularly as sadly, Cat lost Wren’s twin sister in early pregnancy. Cat talks about how ‘scanxiety’ starts from the moment she’s booked the scan until she’s had the reassurance that everything is OK. We talked about Cat’s experiences of how the scanning professionals dealt with her anxiety, which luckily was generally positive, however we all know that sometimes bad news isn’t delivered in the best way and many professionals seem to lack empathy. A recent guest Amber Isso termed this ‘empathy fatigue’. Kate recently had the pleasure of listening to a webinar Cat did for ESHRE week on hope and how professionals can help patients maintain hope by treating them respectfully and honestly and acknowledging that it is the patient’s fertility journey. Whilst health professionals are becoming more informed on how to speak to patients, she feels that there is still a long way to go. Cat then spoke about her decision to try for another baby with her remaining embryo and how this has been a difficult decision to make, especially as this is her last shot. She is feeling overwhelmed, excited and petrified but hopes that this time around she has more knowledge and the resilience to cope better. Kate talked about how the emphasis on a second attempt at IVF after having success is so different. The first time it’s on your having a baby, the second its on having a sibling for your child, so the pressure is totally different.  We also discuss Cat’s feelings on the COVID-19 vaccine and how she has had one but plans to delay the second one for now. Since recording Cat has shared that her FET didn’t work and has spoken about it on her socials. We send Cat all our love and thank her for talking to us.  Other episodes mentioned: (Katie Eaves) who is working to support midwives understand how to talk to pregnant women who have been through infertility We also spoke in a previous episode with ( Julianne Boutelab) about the fears we have on becoming parents.  SOCIALS: (Cat Strawbridge ) (Fertility Poddy) (Kate Your Fertility Journey )

Sep 27

42 min 29 sec

As we head towards the end of this series, we really want to make sure you know about all the other episodes we have, which you can listen to via (  We’re having a break at the end of the month and will be back in November but will be reminding you through all of our channels of other episodes so you’ll still have plenty to listen to.  This week we catch up with Not a Fictional Mum (NFM) who we actually spoke to in December 2020 and then didn’t get to publish the chat until now. If you follow her on insta you will know she has had an incredible year and is doing so much to change the narrative about Adoption especially in retail.  We start off by chatting about her decision to start her Insta, which was after her friends told her to use social media in a positive way and she threw herself into it and she has aced it. She wanted to make people stop and read to get her messages across. She has decided to stay fictional and not share photos. She spoke about the heartbreak of finding out their family wasn’t going to be created as they’d expected and how she has made a point of not sharing who had the infertility issue.  What happened after getting the diagnosis of infertility  They had a free cycle of treatment on the NHS which was all consuming and tough. They did numerous rounds, experienced a miscarriage, spent £25,000 on treatment and it was really taking its toll on their mental health. Once they were told it wouldn’t happen naturally they were already talking about Adoption. However they wanted to try everything so they didn’t have any regrets and Kate talks about talking with clients about trying everything before you ‘close the door’ Making the decision to Adopt The weight was lifted once they decided that this was going to be their route, although it had taken a long time to grieve what wasn’t to be. Every decision she had made previously was all around the treatment, she felt like a robot. Once the decision was made to stop, she felt she had a sense of herself back.  Adopting a child will not replace the loss of a biological child. These children are their own people with their own background story and their rights to know that.  How much needs to be done about how we talk about Adoption?  So much. NFM talks about how it needs to be talked about it early years at school during sex education, all the routes to parenthood should be discussed, so her little boy grows up knowing its just another route.  People are curious / nosey about an adopted child and the more we talk about it the more it will be normalised. People whisper the word to you, you can hear it in their tone of voice.  There seems to be a stigma about it which is sad. We need to understand it on a wider scale.  Obscene questions asked about Adoption Who is it with the problem, you or him?  People are obsessed with his background - his real Mum, his real parents What are you going to do when he grows up, if he wants to go and live with his real parents?  Do you think you love him as much as you would if he was your biological child?  Thousands of cups of tea with a social worker and the matching process Time is so precious when you’ve spent so many years trying.  NFM talks about how she never felt she wasn’t being asked anything necessary or obtrusive. You can find out a lot about yourself and your partner if you open yourself up to it.  Matching was the most difficult - stage 1 and 2 there is a lot of onhold support as you have to fill in a lot of paperwork and being interviewed.  Once approved it goes very quiet which is difficult to manage as then you just have to wait to be matched. You can’t rush it. Profiles that are suitable will come as and when. NFM found that part very difficult.  Wanting to adopt a baby NFM has been open about wanting a baby...

Sep 20

36 min 52 sec

This week we are discussing Surrogacy, both in the UK and abroad. Our first guest is Anna Buxton, mum of three children through two different surrogates. Anna talks us through her decision of how they reached surrogacy after a long and painful gynecological history and was told Surrogacy was her only hope as she would never carry. Not carrying your child and grieving for that loss Anna voices the fear of so many people considering surrogacy,  They were able to create embryos yet still it was v.difficult. Feels like you are giving up on the hope of ever carrying a child, your husband seeing you pregnant, you feel lost.  Ripple effect… you think you are going to get pregnant, then you realize it's not going to happen as you thought. She couldn’t find anyone to talk to about surrogacy.  Started in the UK - charities, and agencies but all had really long waiting lists and they’d already spent 5 years trying to get pregnant, and couldn’t deal with another wait of 3 years. She found a few couples to talk to but didn’t have access to the Insta community that exists today.  Anna talks about how she now realizes that Surrogacy was the light at the end of the tunnel for them and how incredible the women are who do it. She describes how Surrogacy is so complex of the process was something she buried herself in which helped her almost deal with the grief of not being able to carry. Surrogacy in India India had the longest reputation of surrogacy but had been shrouded in bad press and was halted for a while. They visited 10 clinics and found a Dr and clinic they loved who were running a lovely program all centered around the wellness of the surrogate. They started the IVF process in the UK and then had egg collection and embryos fertilized in India and then were found a surrogate. She still had nobody to talk to about this.  Complications of Surrogacy Abroad  The first step is to find a lawyer who is really experienced.  The pregnancy was difficult - people weren’t talking about it, so Anna didn’t tell hardly anyone until about 24 weeks.  It felt hard to believe She worried that people thought she was undeserved of being pregnant because she wasn’t carrying the bump. Anna describes skulking around John lewis looking at prams, terrified someone would ask her why she was there and she was asked who she was buying the pram for and she said she mumbled ‘it’s complicated’ and walked off as she wasn’t ready to tell a stranger.  Anna explained how you never know if someone is going to say ‘congrats’ or if they will ask complicated questions. She walked away and ordered everything online.  Telling Work Anna explained how they talked to close friends who were really supportive but she was worried about work as she was the first person who had done it, was concerned about her position. She told them at 24 weeks, however, they had no policy for anyone doing surrogacy.  How they talk to their children They’ve talked about how children are bought into the world. They have pictures and memorabilia of India all around. They talk about how Mummy’s tummy is broken and another mummy helped to grow her. They celebrated Divali, making sure to normalize her culture and how she was bought into the world. Isla - 5 Always say thank you to Sheparla her surrogate and India. They don’t have a relationship with her as she didn’t want to and also doesn’t speak English. Anna writes a letter every year to her clinic with a picture of Isla both to Sherparla and her children. It’s different with the twins as they are in touch with Holly, her surrogate in San Diago, and has pictures of her in their nursery. They are still in contact with her. Surrogacy is an everyday...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Sep 12

45 min 26 sec

In this episode, we’re talking about donor sperm and treatment abroad. We have discussed donor conception on the podcast before and refer throughout the episode to previous chats we’re had as we’ve spoken to egg donors, as well as organizations that help match you with donors both in the UK and abroad and we’ve heard your stories about having treatment abroad with a donor egg or sperm, for a multitude of reasons.  The idea of using a donor to make your baby can take a lot of time to get your head around and it's so important to get support and there are brilliant organizations to guide you. We’ve chatted with the Donor Conception Network who have been around for a long time, working on the narrative about how we talk about this with our loved ones.  More recently, the brilliant Becky Kearns who is @defiingmum on Instagram has launched her Paths to (Parents hub) which is to support people looking at donor conception and Becky is working tirelessly to provide webinars and an amazing support network to help answer the many questions that come with donor conception.  Our first guest is JR Silver who has created a wonderful children's book called (Sharing Seeds). JR was diagnosed with the BRCA1 and sadly lost his sister to breast cancer 9 months later. The family had realized there was a line of females that had passed away young Sister died 9 months later. It was when he went to find out about PGD testing to see whether they could take sperm and have it analyzed to see if they would only put forward healthy sperm What is Non‐obstructive azoospermia (NOA) Ended up having fertility tests - he found out that he had zero sperm which is defined as Non‐obstructive azoospermia (NOA) Definition - no sperm in the ejaculate due to failure of spermatogenesis and is the most severe form of male infertility. The etiology of NOA is either intrinsic testicular impairment or inadequate gonadotropin production. JR went on to have more tests to confirm the condition and then went on to see a Urologist and had two operations to try and retrieve sperm over the coming year. He and his wife had a strong support network and also gained more support and also funding from the Jewish infertility charity (Chana )  Chana is close to my heart as they also supported me in the early stages of our decision to donate our frozen embryo You can learn more about them What’s it like choosing a sperm donor for a guy and what advice do you have for other men?  JR explained how he was on a light dose of anti-depressants felt that might have taken the edge off the choosing a sperm donor. Once the pair had got their head around it, they found it quite good fun.  JR talked about how his wife didn’t want to see pictures, but it was one of his requirements. The pair are fair in the background and they wanted someone close to his aesthetic and he said that enabled them to pick the donors based on the pictures available. The donor was from Canada and the US from (Xytex) JR says to be wary of all the advice offered and encourages Men to work with their partner and look at if they can deal with the setbacks of how it feels, see it as a joint project. How do you talk about using a sperm donor - with your friends and family?  This is such an important conversation and once we’ve also discussed on the podcast with Jana Rupnow...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Sep 5

49 min 43 sec

In this episode, Natalie and Kate are working with Access Fertility to explain what is involved when it comes to self-funding your fertility treatment. Speaking with Professor Scott Nelson who is Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of Glasgow, consultant for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde as well as the visiting Professor at the University of Bristol, Scott is the Scientific Director of The Fertility Partnership and Medical Director of Access Fertility How do Multi-Cycle and Refund packages work for IVF?  There are several different ways to pay for private fertility, designed to make it more affordable and accessible for those who need it. The two most popular ways to self-fund are multi-cycle and refund programmes, which help families avoid escalating costs if more than one cycle is needed or get some money back if the treatment is unsuccessful. A multi-cycle programme is where a patient pays a fixed price for multiple cycles, and the cost is the same whichever cycle is successful, or if none of them is. Once the patient has had the cycles, there are no refunds. And if the first cycle is successful, the patient can’t access any further treatment under the programme. Up until now, these programmes have been provided independent from the medical clinics that carry out treatment, so there is a natural separation of medical and financial decisions. This means women and baby’s health is the only priority. A refund programme allows patients to recoup up to 100% of their money if their treatment is unsuccessful. Refunds aren’t offered if the patient is successful before the end of a full programme. How has the Pandemic impacted fertility treatment? It has been a huge impact in the UK and after the initial chaos, what is now left is the residual waiting for appointments and treatment. Many people have found their treatment has been delayed, or are worried that their fertility has declined, while others may have been "aged out" of being eligible for NHS or other treatments. This means that some may feel they need to rush their treatment or must access more aggressive treatment. Have a listen to our previous episode about the (Postcode Lottery) There has been a lot of concern about people making quick and ill-informed decisions and both Kate and Natalie were ambassadors for the (Safe Campaign), highlighting the importance of ensuring patients were making informed decisions when it comes to treatment options, despite being tempted to push their physical or mental health to the limit to get pregnant.  What we discussed: The options for accessing fertility treatment  The ways of paying for private fertility treatment including multi-cycle and refund programmes and the safest ways of accessing these programmes The importance of not rushing your decisions and making informed choices  How much of an impact has the closure of clinics at the start of the pandemic had on patients' decisions to self-fund rather than wait for NHS funding? How does it work when you are self-funding for fertility treatment?  Why would you opt for a multi-cycle and refund package?  How much money patients using Access Fertility programmes can expect to save Whether people are aware of the risks of aggressive treatment? Scott mentioned the (OPIS IVF model ) Socials: (Access... ) ( ) (See ) ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Aug 31

45 min 16 sec

Kate and Natalie discuss the Frozen Embryo Transfer, explaining what it means when it happens and how it feels when cycles don’t work.  The pair discuss how there is research to show that the success of the frozen cycle is as high as a fresh, so do not worry if you do have to freeze your embryos. With a frozen transfer, your body isn’t full of all the medication, so you’re embarking on a more natural cycle so there is also the thinking that you’re putting those previous embryos back in a more natural environment. (Amber Woodward) is a brilliant blogger and former book reviewer on The Fertility Podcast. How to prepare?  Amber talks about how she learnt about nutrition to help her get pregnant as it wasn’t happening and she had read a lot about the impact of your nutrition. Her medical records state unexplained infertility, underpinned by PCOS, Amber has had issues with her insulin and she discusses how it can make a real difference to your nutrition.  After 12 months of changing her diet, she got regular cycles and talks about how much of a difference it can make for conceiving naturally and preparing IVF. Try to improve egg quality, keep your hormones balanced which she found very difficult and food has a big impact on her emotions.  What about Eastern medicine - Chinese herbs?  Amber talked about trying eastern medicine. Chinese medicine in particular despite her partner Joe’s concerns and the disgusting taste. She said it also made her cycles go crazy. She didn’t leave herself enough space between starting it and then doing IVF as it’s not recommended when you start treatment.  Amber talked about how the pair of them had forgotten how all-consuming ‘trying again’ was and also how the treatment felt, as well as other people announcing 2nd siblings.  Working and going through FET She was at work when she had another FET, her nutrition wasn’t great and she wasn’t really exercising, so she didn’t feel very prepared. She went into it feeling like she should have put more effort in and they had 2 embryos left and the pair had decided they weren’t doing any more fresh cycles.  What about when it doesn’t work?  When it didn’t work - the clinic said ‘it's just one of those things about 70% don’t take. You can do everything and it doesn't work and you can do the opposite and not prepare.  On the final FET, she wanted to give it her best shot and have no regrets. They didn’t need to wait very long after the failed cycle as you don’t need to treat it like an IVF cycle as you aren't’ stimulated. They were due to have the treatment in April as Covid took hold of the world. She describes how it was the best thing for them to have some time to adjust. Her clinic reopened the day before her birthday.  How long does it take?  Covid changed how the clinic did the down-regulation. In January when she cycled failed, they had 1 month of downregulation and then the oestrogen for 3-4 weeks. Then you’d have a couple of scans and then the progesterone.  During Covid, the clinics wanted to limit the number of times you went there. Instead, she was posted the oestrogen (which increased womb lining) Amber was on this for approx 3 weeks and then 4 days later she had the transfer and two weeks later she had the pregnancy result. So a 5-week process.  What if it doesn’t work and how having that conversation about ‘what if’ helped Amber had shared on her socials about how the pair of them had talked about alternative life plans if it didn’t work. They had prepared themselves for the FET to be their last treatment. They talked about just being able to put it all...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Aug 29

43 min 41 sec

This week we’re talking about the TWW which is that period of time from embryo transfer to when you can do a pregnancy test. Natalie has been through it once, having had success on her first attempt at IVF however we know, for many of you it can be something of a Groundhog Day experience and we wanted your thoughts on how to cope with it.  Kate talked about how she tells her clients to set an intention for the 14 days in terms of what they want with their family and friends, so you’re in control of how the tww goes, which is sound advice.  We also spoke with author and former fertility patient and Midwife, Sheila Lamb about her experience of the TWW and her book ‘This is the Two Week Wait Sheila curated over 30 accounts from people willing to share their experiences, Natalie was one of them, talking about how she made a point of going away to the coast, which did her the world of good. Sheila talks about one thing that stuck out was people talking about how ‘on your own ‘ you are, after all the put from the clinic, it just stops.. it’s like tumbleweed.  We talk about how best to keep busy and how you need to think wisely about who you spend time with. People talked about symptom spotting and how for example their boobs were ‘buzzing’ Sheila talked about how her experience and how she didn’t want to test during the wait.  after four cycles she was very aware of what worked and what didn’t work for her. Her fourth cycle was 6 years later and was with donor egg, and additional medication after a miscarriage and she was abroad, which made it nicer as they were away and able to keep busy. She talked about doing visualization which she hadn’t done previously as she hadn’t learnt about it in the earlier days.  We’re all so different which is why we wanted to get your thoughts and had you record them for us using our exciting new software, so if you want to get in touch for future episodes we’ll be reminding you of how to do it.  We had some amazing and varied comments from you. Elyse talked about how it is so important to expect and accept that your emotions will be all over the place, if you need to shout, cry, call your friend for a bitch do what you feel, and don’t feel guilty. She advised you to keep things to yourself if you want to, you don’t have to share with family and friends. Also to Keep reminding yourself you’ve done your best and the next stage is out of your hands and your brain goes a bit wild - uf it gets too loud try and takes control back. When it comes to testing the consensus was to not drive yourself mad with early testing!!  Bilitis shared how she picked up a new hobby, during her TWW, which was during the lockdown. So she learned to sew using a sewing machine which kept my mind occupied, which she said stopped her dwelling.  Sophie talked about how she and her partner, blocked out the two weeks for themselves to go away and see something new. Or if that’s not possible just get away from every day, or go for a walk along with the coast, anything to get away from the norm. She also talked about how they treated themselves to something nice, a massage, a nice meal and focused on themselves rather than being with family, or friends. Her go-to activities were yoga, meditation, baking, and eating. Nice! Susanne shared her wisdom, after having five cycles. She highlighted how you come to realize there are no hard and fast rules. There’s no ‘if you do this it will work’. She said to follow your gut and do what feels right which we’re big fans of. You know you ultimately.  Susanne said how in the past taken 2 weeks off work, which helped her have nothing to blame, but wasn’t right, as she also worked which then gave her something to blame. Ultimately, she says to stay...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Aug 22

24 min 18 sec

This week we’re talking about egg collection and embryo transfer with former podcast guest Alpesh Doshi.  We discuss how it all works and how the hormones are used to stimulate the ovary to produce follicles.  Do numbers matter?  We discuss the importance of managing your expectation in terms of what it all means, what size means, what % of follicles will result in an egg, and what stage an egg can be at.  Alpesh explains how patients need to be informed at every stage of scans with how many follicles are in each ovary, what size are they, how many are they expected to grow, at the last scan, when they are ready for trigger - the patient should have more details chat about what to expect.  Did you know 80% of follicles result in eggs? Typically follicles that are over 14mm in diameter  What if I don’t get enough eggs?  There is often a lot of disappointment that can come because patients aren’t sure how to interpret numbers. But it’s important to remember that 15 follicles don’t mean 15 eggs. Alpesh explains how important it is that patients shouldn’t fixate on a number = it could be a number of eggs and the number of embryos. The journey from the egg to the embryo is a funnel as the numbers come down. More important to focus on the embryo number. How long does egg collection take and does it hurt?  It can take 15 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the number of follicles.  The procedure takes place under a general anesthetic, meaning you will have been nil by mouth since the night before. Alpesh explains the procedure of draining the follicles and how once it is done, and you have one round from the anesthetic you will be monitored to make sure everything is OK before you can go home. All in all about 2 hours.  When will you hear from the clinic after egg collection?  The embryologist has a conversation straight after once you are awake to explain what will happen next eg. IVF or ICSI  There will then be a call the next day to update Day 3 call - assessment  Day 5 - to let you know how many have developed into Blastocyst  Have a listen to a (previous episode) with Embryologist Rachel Cutting about ‘What an embryologist does’  What to do on the day of embryo transfer?  If you have no complicated history of ET - no sedation will be needed, it’s like a smear test. You will need a full bladder, and a catheter will be passed into the cervix, using ultrasound and the embryologist will pass another catheter to release the embryo in the middle of the uterus.  It takes about 20 minutes. You will be at the clinic for about 30 mins and then can go home. Hormones continued and then dealing with the two-week wait and talking to the clinic as much as you like.  How to deal with the Two Week Wait #TWW Natalie talked about how important it is to give yourself things to look forward to, and how she and her husband went away for a few days, so they’d done something nice even if the outcome wasn’t what they’d wanted. Alpesh talks about the importance of the emotions between couples being supported and managed.  We will be making an episode about how you cope with the TWW, so if you’ve read this far and would like to tell us please email The outcome - what if it’s not successful?  What to expect from your clinic. Alpesh talks about how they manage a...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Aug 15

28 min 53 sec

This week we’re talking about the drugs teach, which in normal terms means - how the hell do you do your injections when going through IVF, especially if you’re scared of needles.  We’re joined by Kate Pleace who is a lovely lady and part of Kate’s team of nurses at Your Fertility Journey.  Kate talks us through how it all works when it comes to taking your drugs for IVF. Unfortunately, the majority are injections and you following a plan and dosages. Kate explained how important it was to talk through the different injections how they work when you need to do them, how to draw them up and prepare them, and they have mock ones to practice with  How it all works?  You get to practice with a fake skin pin cushion which is good to know if you have a fear of needles, you get to feel more and get to see the needle, which is tiny.  If you’re scared, it’s important to spend time with your fertility nurse, have a look ad practice and find out what works, you can get your partner and have them shown. Kate mentioned breathing techniques and meditations.  It may sound terrifying for people but you soon get the hang of it, Natalie certainly did after being so worried on day 1, by day 3 she was in the loo doing it, as she was hosting an event! Where should you inject?  In your tummy, where your trousers sit - either side of your belly button.  It’s really important to rotate around your tummy, to give the areas a break, you will get brushing as it’s a side effect of the treatment, which is why it’s good to rotate the area you inject.  What about if you miss your injection?  If it’s a few hours, Kate advises you do it, if it’s the next day, Kate advises you to call your clinic.  What about air bubbles?  There is a little air bubble on the pen ( there’s minimal evidence it will make any damage ) always give a little tap before injection, make sure fluid is at the top, pre-loaded pens are ready to go.  Ways to help partners feel more involved?  Natalie talked about how she and hubby named the two injections after film/cartoon characters  What about nose sprays?  There is a nose spray for the down-regulation, but they are mainly injectables, depending on your protocol. Your clinic can reduce the time you have to take them.  Side effects of drugs?  Depends - long protocol and down-regulation, can put you into temp menopause, people may report headaches, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, but these pass when on stimulation drugs.  Stimulation drugs - These can make you feel bloated and fatigued Cetrotide - can make you feel like there is a bee sting when you do the injection but it disappears in about 30 min..  Natalie mentioned her own experience. You will need to listen to the bizarre side effect Natalie experienced… if you had the same experience, do let Natalie know.  Kate says if you do have any weird sound effects, do let your clinic know.  Kate talks about ways to tick off the injections on the calendar, Natalie talked about treating it like a science experiment. Think about how it’s not forever… Kate talks about how she helps patients celebrate their last injection with patients.  The Trigger Injection - what if you can’t do it in time?  If you’re having any problems or struggling to take it, use the videos - talk to the nurse at your scan before it. If it comes to trigger time and there is a problem, contact your clinic as soon as you can, and they can advise you on what to do...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Aug 8

31 min 26 sec

In this episode, we’re talking about what to expect in IVF which we hope you take as an overview as everyone’s experience is different. Of course, there will be some commonalities in terms of treatment plans, which is what our expert Dr. James Nicopollus will be explaining.  First up we discuss a conversation from social media that has been front of mind and that is about the latest data on the safety of the Covid Vaccine. Here’s (Kate’s post) that we discuss.  Your initial visit to the fertility clinic James talks about what to expect after you have an initial referral for a series of 2 or 3 diagnostic tests and how there should be a plan for you put in place.  We discuss:  What information should people bring with them?  How clinics will have a questionnaire, including info like the previous history ( how long you’ve been trying ) any previous pregnancies, as much info as possible about your menstrual  Any other info, surgical, gynecological, medical Important to identify any other risks complications that need to be made aware of.  If you’ve had treatment elsewhere - bring all the info What about delays due to COVID:  In terms of key investigations markers of egg reserve, transvaginal scan, AMH blood tests - if done within last 6 months Semen analysis within last 6 months - unless significant abnormality, it might need to be repeated. Other tests for IVF include HIV, Hep B, Hep C - within the first 3 months of treatment  James gives his opinion on home blood tests and whether he accepts them and he explains how it depends on where they’ve been done and who they’ve been done through. As long as he can see where they’ve come from and ascertain how accurate they are, there should be no need to repeat them.  How often should you expect to see the same Dr?  James explains how you will have a point person - you will have direct access to people via email. However due to the nature of the treatment with your embryos being ready when they are ready, so it might mean that your collection or transfer might not be at a time the Dr is available. He explains how you will have continuity with your Dr, but it won’t always be just with him.  Kate shared a great (post on Insta) about what questions to ask about IVF  Workup is key Once you have had the tests, then you get ready for the treatment itself - so what should you expect. James talks about the treatment and explains what it is going to be doing - FSH hormone in higher doses, with a daily injection ( on average this is about 12-14 days ) in the same time it takes for one egg to grow, we’re trying to get more.  In almost every cycle, it starts just after your period, then for 2 weeks you take an injection to make your eggs grow with 3/5 scans, to see when you are ready for egg collection. You may have blood tests. All help to decide when you are ready for egg collection. The second medication is to stop your body from releasing the eggs. The main difference between long and short protocol is when the medication is changed. A long and a short protocol from period to egg collection is the same, it’s just different by the medication.  Approx 2 weeks of intensive monitoring/estrogen goes up, it tends to make you feel good. It’s more likely that post embryo transfer the homes can make you feel a bit gritty.  The hardest thing is the logistics. James talks about stress and the importance...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Aug 1

42 min 4 sec

So what is the Postcode lottery?  Well we’ve been talking about it here on the podcast for years ( since we started to be honest ) and if you’d like to hear previous episodes on it here is (Susan Seenan) the former CEO of Fertility Network in 2015 Then we spoke about it in 2017 when Fertility Network launched its (Right to Try campaign). So you can see, this issue has been impacting our access to treatment for a long time.  What is going on is that your postcode impacts how many rounds of NHS funded treatment you are eligible, despite the NICE guidelines being that you SHOULD have 3 rounds of IVF treatment Natalie was fortunate to be living in an area where she did have this and had her son Phoenix, with the help of NHS funding. Sadly this isn’t the case for a lot of you.  Our first guest is Amber Izzo, a fertility patient advocate, blogger, and campaigner, founder of (Fight for IVF) and Innovation Fertility. We spoke to Amber on 6th July, ahead of her hearing from the CCG in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who had been reviewing their IVF policy about whether they were going to reinstate funding  Amber started it due to not having any access to NHS-funded treatment.. when she started there were 6 that didn’t offer any, now there are 3.  Mid Essex Bassildon and Brentwood Cambridge and Peterborough  Have a listen here to a (previous episode) we shared in 2020, where another listener Laura had success lobbying her CCG The issue is that over 80% of CCGs don’t adhere to the NICE Guidelines which is why the Fight for Ivf campaign picked up a lot of momentum. Amber’s local MP’s in Cambridge was on board as he had personal experience )had a cross-party letter to the CCG, which secured a meeting in 2021 to secure the review. She had gained great exposure with media coverage on Sky and BBC and the petition is currently on 30k signatures. You can sign it (here)  People are being refused to fund because the CCG has put in their own criteria, such as if your partner has a child already. You can appeal this. Amber has asked her GP to put on her notes if he refuses any of the tests she asks for, so there is proof of what she has requested and she can find out more about why they said no.  Watch Amber and her husband Marco hearing about the CCG’s decision (here). So what other options are there for treatment? We spoke with Marta Jansa Perez, Director of Embryology at BPAS Fertility, who are launching their BPAS FERTILITY later in 2021 Please note we do talk about Implantation failure in this episode.  Marta joined BPAS as she always felt strongly there was a need to help people and she joined BPAS to help create their not for profit service as they felt there was a gap in the market for people who can’t access NHS...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Jul 25

39 min 52 sec

Hope.. and what it means to you This week’s podcast episode is a little different as it’s Kate and I sharing our thoughts on what we’re doing for the rest of the year.  We relaunched this podcast in February as we were really keen to try and map out what we thought you would want to know if you were just starting to try for a baby.  I felt quite strongly that the podcast lacked a bit of structure and wanted to revisit topics. We also knew the by going over this information and signposting you to other episodes we’d already shared, it would be really useful if you were already trying and at different stages as we’ve shared updated info as well as recapping things that might help.  So now we’ve reached the point in our content where we are about to head through the clinic door and it felt right to stop and reflect.  Our aim with The Fertility Podcast is to educate, empower and support you at every stage and if we can help you to conceive naturally by sharing the insights of our experts, which may then to you asking more questions to your medical professionals, then we’ve done what we set out to do.. to help.  Alongside the education, Kate and I are both dedicated to supporting your mental health.  I feel like my own personal journey with infertility has affected my life much more than I realised or admitted and have done a lot of self-development ( and continue to ) to discover ways to work through certain feeling and understand myself better.   We want to create something really special and powerful for you over the coming months and talk about Hope.  What we hope to do, is to share with you some fascinating ways in which we feel you can find hope alongside you. We'd love to hear your ways to find it and how to hold on to it as we know how much it helps for everyone who listens to this pod, to hear relatable stories.  So if you would like to share what hope looks like in your life and pay it forward to anyone coming into this TTC space, who needs to find a way to find hope, please do get in touch.  Just email and use the subject matter: Hope SOCIALS: (fertilitypoddy) (Kate )   See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Jul 18

21 min 33 sec

In this week’s episode, we talk to fertility consultant Rami Wakim. Rami, among other areas of expertise, specializes in Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). We wanted to chat with Rami to find out if these days IUI is really worth it or should you go straight to IVF. Kate mentioned that, in her opinion, she has seen fewer and fewer IUI procedures performed over recent years. Is IUI on the decline? Rami starts off by giving us a really interesting insight into the history of IUI. Did you know that the first successful IUI took place in 1953? It then became more popular as a fertility treatment in the ’70s and ’80s. However, only 35 countries consider IUI as a method of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and only 30 consider it an appropriate treatment for single women.   So, is it worth it or is it just sex in a clinical room? Rami spoke about how there isn’t any data about the success of IUI in the Middle East, Canada, and Australia and how Europe only started offering data in 2002. There is currently not enough studies of IUI Did you know that only 35 countries consider IUI as an ART technique? When it comes to the (NICE Guidelines), the suggestion for people who have not conceived after 6 cycles of donor sperm, should be offered a further 6 cycles ( 2013). You can read more here ( ) In 2016 patients with unexplained or mild endometriosis or mild male factor should NOT be offered routine IUI, but should be advised to try naturally for 2 years before IVF considered Rami highlighted the parameters for success with IUI are:  Good sperm quality Treatment has to be well-timed with the cycle, either using ovulation induction or based on the LH surge. Double insemination seems more effective for the malefactor As some people are very scared of IVF,  IUI is more accessible especially in communities where there is a lot of stigma around ART. People have the conviction to go for IVF after they have tried IUI, if they have been scared about the idea of it, at least they tried it. You may be offered IUI if: 1.     you're unable to have vaginal sex – for example, because of a physical disability or psychosexual problem 2.     you have a condition that means you need specific help to conceive. For example, if 1 of you has ( HIV) and it's not safe to have unprotected sex 3.     you're in a same-sex relationship and have not become pregnant after up to 6 cycles of IUI using donor sperm from a licensed fertility unit (the Stonewall website has more information about ( IUI for same-sex couples)) Bear in mind that the waiting list for IUI treatment on the NHS can be very long in some areas. Costs range from about £700 to £1,600 for each cycle of IUI treatment. Source,safe%20to%20have%20unprotected%20sex (NHS)      Socials: (Fertility Poddy ) (Kate - Your Fertility Journey )   Rami Wakim - See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Jul 11

31 min 56 sec

Earlier in June, a hugely important review by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) was published. This review produced guidance to help fertility clinics comply with their consumer law obligations but also provides guidance for you when considering purchasing IVF treatment. The word ‘purchasing’ there is massively significant because as well as being a patient, you are also a consumer and it’s very likely that you haven’t thought about fertility treatments in that way. It’s important that fertility clinics are fair and that you know your rights when it comes to consumer law.   In this episode, we’re delighted to talk to two guests who have been actively involved in assisting the CMA in producing this guidance – Clare Ettinhauser Director of Strategy and Corporate Affairs at the HFEA, and Patient Advocate and founder of @uberbarrensclub - Katy Linderman. Later we’re also joined by the chair of the British Fertility Society, consultant gynecologist Raj Mathur, to share his views on the CMA review.   Whilst we had Clare with us, we also asked her how best for women and couples to go about choosing a fertility clinic. Clare recommends checking out the Choose A Clinic function on the HFEA website. Kate uses this with her patients and finds it super useful in narrowing down your choices and finding the best clinic for you. She also mentioned paying attention to the individual clinics Live Birth rates on the HFEA website, these are collated and ratified by the HFEA every 2 years but are unlikely to differ very much in that time. Clare also talked about the benefits of attending, either in person or virtually, clinic open days.   Now on to the CMA review: Katy worked as a patient advisor to the CMA and it’s really obvious from reading the review that the patients’ best interests are at the center of every aspect. Katy talked about the need for patients to have accurate and timely information to help them make the right treatment choices and that there is a lot of work clinics need to do to adhere to this new guidance.   Here is what you should now expect to fully understand when choosing a clinic and treatments: a) Details about what the consultation consists of;(b) The cost of the consultation and any diagnostic tests and scans; (c) The possibility that additional diagnostic tests, and costs, maybe necessary once the results of the first tests are known; (d) Whether the results of any tests and scans already undertaken will be accepted; and (e) Details of any cancellation charges if they fail to attend the consultation appointment. Claire talked about the HFEA’s involvement with the CMA review. Sadly, currently, the HFEA does not have any legal powers to ensure that clinics follow and adhere to the CMA guidance. We asked her if the HFEA had received any feedback from clinics since the review was published. As yet they have not but this is probably because clinics have been aware for some time that this review was happening, and that the guidance would be published.   As well as publishing information for clinics, the CMA has provided guidance for patients too. This also includes an informative video voiced by Lorraine Kelly and we urge you to watch this to understand your rights. Katy talks about the need to clinics to take considered action and make the legally required changes to their website, brochures, and any patient information so that there is treatment price transparency (among many of the other requirements) and a good understanding of what is and isn’t included, from the outset.   Katy also states that it is your legal right to have access to this information and if it’s not there, be your own advocate and persist in asking for it. By having this information you’ll feel more empowered on your fertility journey.   Next up we get Raj’s clinical opinion on the CMA guidance. He starts by stating that the British Fertility Society welcomes...  See...

Jul 4

59 min 4 sec

Dr. Zeynep Gurtin, a Lecturer in Women’s Health at the Institute for Women’s Health at UCL, and holds an Affiliate Lectureship at the University of Cambridge Sociology Department.   In 2020 - spoke to a sample of 457 women to find out their experience of fertility treatment whose treatment has been delayed due to clinic closures. The questionnaire was live for 6 weeks during May-June 2020   The focus was to talk about the issues from lockdown stopping treatment. It was monitored by a multidisciplinary team of 6 - clinicians, counselor, psychologist   The survey was an anonymous online long questionnaire - some quantitative, other questions asked for people to tell in their own words about the impact.   For many people, it was underlined with a sense of how important the treatment was. Dominant responses were that they were much less concerned about covid than their declining fertility.   People scared about how long this is going to last. How at the start there was such little clarity   People were saying ‘I don’t want to look back and say that this virus is what robbed me of my last chance to become a parent.     People who were essential workers, such as nurses, had a priority of wanting to undertake treatment, yet they were very aware they had to expose themselves to the virus.. and at the time we had no idea of the impact it might have on pregnancy.. and of course, it became impossible for them to take time off - issues of there not being enough clarity on what people should do when it came to having the vaccine initially.   On the other side, people who became furloughed or jobs were precarious, which made it even more difficult. People feeling anxious about how secure their employment was and what impact that would have on them having a family.   Words used to describe feelings :   Powerless, helpless, frustrated, anxious, intense feelings   ‘when i heard the clinic was going to close I was completely devastated, my partner isn’t getting any younger and further delays to our treatment was beyond belief. It was a particularly bitter pill to swallow with all the jokes about lockdown baby boom’   ‘i was so heartbroken to be so close to making it happen and then it was wiped away from us’   ‘i find the uncertainty of the wait unbearable ‘   People talked about it as ‘yet another disruption’ people having to halt treatment in the past due to losses, for financial reasons, to stop caring for a family member - and now there was this   Patients having to undergo surgery for fibroids and just at the point when they could start treatment, it was put on halt… ‘a feeling like the world is against us.’   When will we get over the Covid crisis and when will we understand the impact it is having on the TTC community   People found it really difficult to receive support - many stories of people with young children/friends or work colleagues being insensitive ‘ at least your lucky you don’t have to home school’   How the clinics let people down - lack of communication such as timelines, lack of access to staff, and also a perceived lack of care and empathy. People getting letters with black lines   When clinics did offer updates - zoom meetings, webinars were really appreciated. Having a counselor or patients supporter is an enormous help and reassurance, helps them feel connected, they have a place to check-in. Hopefully, the message will be to the sector that better communication should be implemented. Some clinics have said they’ve been using the findings. It’s so important we put these mechanisms in place if some other form of disruption is to...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Jun 27

36 min 6 sec

This week we have a bumper episode and have not one guest, but three! Our episode is all about the fact that infertility knows no colour, meaning that infertility doesn’t care about the colour of your skin – it impacts us all regardless but there are very unique challenges, and some similarities faced by differing communities.   First up we chat to (Vanessa Hay)   Talking about the issue of infertility within Black communities. Vanessa described how multi-layered up fertility issues were with other social-cultural things like faith “When you are trying to build a family, you feel like everyone else is affected. Your whole family are invested and I felt it was too much pressure to go through, so it took me a while to talk about it. Then you have to deal with comments such as ‘Why you going through IVF it’s not something that we do’ Vanessa chose to only share her experience after she was pregnant, she was 27 when they were trying..   She spoke about how Infertility has no boundaries in terms of what you go through and how it feels and how she felt she couldn’t get anything from her community as she wasn’t sharing so she needs to go elsewhere. She went on chat rooms… and realising there was the Instagram community… However the nuances in her journey -such as how to approach nosey aunties and uncles / the faith-based / they weren’t being covered in this predominantly white community.   Vanessa (spoke to Metro )about her experience of going through IVF as a black woman had so much traction. People thanking her for sharing it. People saying they were also going through it. Women were saying this is something I’m going through but don’t feel comfortable talking to my friends as it’s not something that happens with Black women - started the conversation to help us feel less alone.   Vanessa said how people talking back to her and she then seeing other black women bloggers starting the conversation helped her feel less alone. It was reciprocal and reassuring. She explained how ‘If there is already a perception in a community and you aren’t seeing people that look like you talking about it further breeds the idea that this isn’t the type of thing you might go through. ‘   There is still shame within Black communities assumption of virility Vanessa spoke about Noni Martens who has been talking about how black women are raised to be Mother - which s something we spoke more with Christine about later in the episode. There is an assumption that black women are apparently ‘hyper fertile’ Vanessa also explained her concerns about celebrity - saying how ‘There is also the perception of IVF is also that people are choosing what babies they have due to the celebrity association. As people don’t understand it. If someone is choosing it they are guaranteed to get pregnant, that she has decided to now get pregnant… like you are trying to take matters into your own hands   She is now focusing more on Reproductive and Gynacolgical - having lost babies she has realised she still has work to do in the education she is sharing.   Next, we welcome back a friend of the podcast Dr Christine Ekechi. Christine is a consultant gynaecologist at Imperial College NHS Trust and a spokesperson for Racial Equality at the RCOG. Christine is passionate about tackling the healthcare inequalities of women. We last saw, and interviewed, Christine in a very busy and noisy British Library in London, just before lockdown.   We wanted to chat with Christine about the recent paper, shared by the HFEA, on the ethnic diversity infertility treatment and how using the term BAME is no longer acceptable. Christine is against defining women by...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Jun 20

55 min 24 sec

This week to mark Men's Mental Health Week, we are putting the spotlight once again on Male Fertility issues with two conversations to share with you. We welcome back to the podcast Professor Sheena Lewis to talk about DNA Fragmentation. Sheena is the CEO of Examen and a professor in Reproductive Medicine and has been working on male fertility tests for the last 25 years. You'll also hear from Shaun, who has created an account on Instagram called (Knackered Knackers), where he has shared his story of having male factor infertility, having had mumps and ultimately had to use donor sperm.   Male infertility is on the rise but luckily, we’re beginning to make progress in the research surrounding this. Sheena talks about as well as sperm counts declining, sperm quality is also reducing and the DNA of sperm, in particular, is becoming worse, in part due to 20th century living such as environmental factors, having children later in life – the things we can’t do anything about. However, there are factors that we can influence, and we need to do all we can to start focusing more on men, rather than just the woman.   If you go back to basics, the first thing a man needs to do is to get a sperm test. This looks at the count (how many there are), motility (are they swimming) and morphology (the shape of the sperm). What you don’t find out from a sperm test, is what’s inside the sperm – the DNA. Sheena feels that we should be doing more DNA fragmentation tests. However, as fertility clinics are ‘female focused’, this is rarely offered. We need to bring urologist into the picture to also focus on men and have better joined up working.   Sheena talks about the misnomer of unexplained infertility. 25% of couples are given the frustrating diagnosis of unexplained infertility, but the reality is we’ve not actually searched hard enough for the answer because men are left out of the picture.   Sheena’s research at Queens University in Belfast has shown that 40% of men given a diagnosis of unexplained infertility have DNA fragmentation. A startling figure indeed! It may not be the only answer, but it certainly is one reason for their inability to conceive.   40% of men with fertility problems have varicoceles but as men are not generally examined this is not diagnosed or treated. As a result of male infertility women have to go through ICSI treatment but, as Sheena says, why can we not have equality in reproductive health where men are examined, tested, diagnosed and treated in the same way women are? This would put the man right back in control and be empowered to make the right lifestyle changes to improve sperm.   Sheena also talks about the importance of nutrition. Many men have a calorie rich and nutrient poor diet. Sheena recommends getting the right expert advice on nutrition and the right supplements to help improve sperm health. Sheena recommends vitamins A, C and E, with vitamin E being especially beneficial.   Natalie asks Sheena about DNA fragmentation and miscarriage. Research in 2012 and 2020 showed the association between DNA quality and miscarriage. The need for DNA fragmentation testing following miscarriage is now in international guidelines but is sadly rarely done. Sheena recommends that men should be empowered to be proactive and ask for this test to be done. It was just Natalie chatting with Shaun and the pair didn’t discuss his story in detail as Shaun has set it out brilliantly on his instagram account, talking about how he had mumps which always made him think there might be a problem. He then had to have a number of operations including a varicocele and a microtese and in the end, Shaun and his wife Jenna had successful treatment using donor sperm and Jenn gave birth to their twins Ray and Evelyn in February...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Jun 13

38 min 21 sec

Unexplained Infertility   In this episode, we’re together, in person and in the same room!! What a novelty. We’re talking unexplained infertility and whilst together we had a quick chat with the lovely Jen who is @jens_endlesshappydays on Instagram   Jen has been diagnosed with unexplained infertility and is struggling with PCOS, however, her doctors don’t feel that PCOS is impacting her cycle and therefore her diagnosis remains unexplained.   Jen tells us how she feels frustrated at the diagnosis of ‘unexplained’ and the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with her thoughts of why she’s not getting pregnant, symptom spotting, the two-week wait, and the crushing disappointment of getting her period every month.   Jen has been really open with her friends and family and feels so lucky that she has a good support network, which includes friends who have experienced a similar journey themselves. Jen decided to be open on social media and as a result as made some amazing Instagram friends. We talk about friendships and how you cope when a friend you make through a shared experience, such as infertility, then becomes pregnant.   We touch on male fertility tests and how men are often the ignored factor when it comes to fertility investigations. Jen and Alex have only been offered a sperm test, but no further testing, and Jen says she is completely unaware that there are any other options for male investigations. Tune in to next week to hear more about this with our guest expert.   Jen is soon to start IVF treatment and has been working hard to reduce her BMI. Due to her PCOS, she has found it hard to lose weight, and has found losing weight to be eligible for IVF has further added to the burden and stress she feels.   Good luck Jen – we’ll be crossing everything for you! SOCIAL MEDIA: (Jen ) (Fertility Poddy ) (Kate) (The Lister Fertility Clinic)   See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Jun 6

31 min 30 sec

This week we’re joined by Alice Rose who you may know on Instagram as @thisisalicerose. Alice is a former fertility patient, mum of two, campaigner and a mindset mentor. Alice’s ‘Think not What to Say’ campaign has been a trailblazer within the community, helping to bridge the disconnect between patients and their doctors and help friends and family to communicate better with their loved ones navigating a fertility journey.   On her own fertility journey Alice, who has PCOS, had numerous rounds of treatment, including ovulation induction. Kate explains what happens during ovulation induction. Often it is the first treatment you may be offered, particularly if you’re not ovulating. You may be offered Clomid or letrozole. These medications increase FSH to encourage the ovaries to produce follicles, one of which will mature and be released at ovulation.   In her treatment, Alice responded well to the first round of clomid but was really confused when in the second round she didn’t ovulate at all. Alice talks about not feeling very informed on what to expect during her treatment, including not being aware of the risks associated such as Ovarian Hyperstimulation (OHSS). Following a private consultation, Alice felt more informed and decided to continue with her rounds of clomid but still having varying degrees of response. Alice talks about how she felt as though she had to self-advocate which was hard to do.   We discuss egg quality when it comes to PCOS and long cycles, and how many rounds of ovulation induction you can have – which is generally 6 cycles. Kate discusses taking back control and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to optimise both your fertility and PCOS. Although Alice had been recommended lifestyle changes such as dietary changes, she wasn’t given any guidance on what to do by her doctor until she contact a nutritionist. Alice was also taking back control by working on her mindset and acupuncture which she found so helpful. Sometimes we focus on physical health and our emotional health is the last thing we consider, yet it is vitally important to find good support.   As time went on Alice felt really frustrated about not moving forward in her treatments and after 6 months of clomid, was offered gonadotropins - another type of ovulation induction treatment given by injection. Sadly, this too didn’t result in a pregnancy but happily in the end, Alice conceived her daughter by IVF.   Alice says that going through each round did bring her closer to success in the end. Each part of the experience is not wasted and was very much part of her story. Kate recommends not continuing doing the same thing if you’re not getting results, be your self-advocate and if you’re not responding to treatment go back to your doctor and discuss this. (Alice Rose:) (Fertility Poddy ) (Kate)   See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

May 30

37 min 2 sec

This week we are talking about Solo Motherhood with Mel Johnson and Genevieve Roberts, both former guests of the podcast so check out the links to those conversations at the end. Travelling as a solo mum. We last spoke to Gen - in Barbados as she’d gone to review a single mum package. Mel travels with Daisy and has been to Bali, Budapest, done lots around the UK to see friends but she needs it to feel like a holiday, so goes away with people or to see people. We talked about their decision to become a single Mum. Mel talked about how it took her 3 years to get there, and she spoke about the decision to let go of the fairy tale and how she had to think about the time. She wanted to be in a romcom! Now she has rewritten her story - she wants loads of people around her and has now bought a house near her family and has people coming and going g and how it doesn’t matter one isn’t a partner Gen talked about how funny it is looking back on it, now it is your life - she explained how she had her fertility checked, having had a miscarriage about 18 months previously, and assumed it would all be OK. However, her results weren’t good so she quickly made the decision to have treatment and was pregnant within 6 months. Choosing a sperm donor Mel had two options from her clinic, so she found the process relatively easy. Mel coaches lots of women who have excel spreadsheets to choose their donors. Mel did speak to her family about it but she had already chosen. Mel says she tells people all the time how you have to view choosing a sperm donor very differently to how you went about dating online Gen has more choices and actually enlisted her Italian flatmate to get involved. She said it did feel a bit like a dating website, which made it feel weird. You aren’t looking for a Dad you are looking for someone to pass on their genetics. The decision to have 1 or two children Gen talks about how she was incredibly fortunate to have both and how having a strong sibling relationship with her brother, she felt very open to the idea of siblings from the start. Mel talks about how her fairytale was two children, yet the practicalities are a challenge as she would love more children. She does has an embryo still left and she can’t come to terms with the fact that she isn’t going to have another child. She talks about how she doesn’t think she could manage with two and that realistically it would make her life really difficult and she is wary of getting caught in the loop of ‘if she was in a relationship she would have tried for a second’. Gen explains how having the two kids has meant she hasn’t been able to sort out toys for two years whereas Mel is a very tidy person and how it impacts her mental health if she doesn’t have a tidy house. But you can’t do everything - like she doesn’t bath Daisy every night Tips From the minute you start to consider solo mothers hood - start saving, even if it’s an inkling of an idea as it’s really expensive. The treatment and then you are the only provider so get your finances in order. A lot of solo mums are strong women and you need to explore being a bit more vulnerable women and you need to feel OK to ask for help. Mel instinctively said no to an offer of help whilst struggling with a heavy piece of furniture in the Ikea carpark! Previously Gen was a people pleaser and now she says she is more focused. She talks about being more confident and also the importance of working out your priorities Have support as back up and have a plan b. Fears Mel has coached more than 200 women and the themes she hears are that you will never meet anyone and you are signing up to be single The impact on the child. The loneliness and whether you will emotionally be able to manage. The biggest thing is letting go of the...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

May 23

37 min 24 sec

This week we welcome Laura Rose Thorogood to the show. Laura is the founder of the LBGT Mummies Tribe, an LBGT+ activist, a lesbian mother of two by IUI, and is currently pregnant again after 5 rounds of fertility treatment.   Laura’s organization supports, celebrates, and reunites the LGBT community on their path to parenthood providing information and guidance on whichever route you choose to create your family.   Laura has had a crazy few weeks of awareness days and months and is balancing this with being 35 weeks pregnant. Laura and her wife started creating their family 10 years ago. They have two children and another on the way, all from the same sperm donor from a US clinic. They’ve both carried children and have navigated failed rounds, PCOS, low ovarian reserve, and, most recently the pandemic, to get to where they are now.   Laura talks about the common pitfalls that the LGBT+ community might face, particularly that they often come to trying to conceive later in life and often don’t consider this and the benefits, for example of preserving their fertility if they’re not ready to start a family until later. Also, the importance of researching the legalities so that all parties in the triangle are covered. Some couples find private fertility treatments inaccessible and may choose to seek a known donor. Laura explains the importance of seeking legal guidance and whilst there are financial implications involved, it is likely to be less costly than should there be any legal challenges in the future.   Laura explains the difference in access to information from sperm back nationally and internationally. In the US and Europe, you have access to more information about the donor whereas in the UK the information is limited to height, hair color, nationality, etc. Sometimes the difficulties in accessing sperm donors in the UK will force couples to use unregulated donors and in some circumstances, this can be dangerous. However, there are organizations such as CoParents and Pride Angle that are regulated and offer a professional service.   The LGBT Mummies Tribe is a central point for information and guidance on starting a family but is also a supportive community to bring other LBGT+ families together. They have a private support group but also get together in person (when the Pandemic allows) for meet-ups.   Laura talks about her interaction with medical services and the microaggression she’s experienced. How, as a lesbian woman, you have to ‘come out’ time and time again. Comments like ‘Who had the baby?’ ‘How did that work then?’ ‘So, you’re the other Mother’.   Natalie asks Laura about the guidance she offers on talking to children to help them understand the make-up of their family. It’s about sitting down as a couple and deciding on how best you address this. It’s very individual and personal, but best done at various age-appropriate sections of their lives.   Laura tells us how the healthcare arena is very heteronormative and the main area where she sees disparity and lack of inclusivity. She hopes that they can one day get to a place where campaigning is not required but is currently working with the NHS and Government to support them in understanding the community better, dispel the stigma and discrimination against them, and ‘usualise’ – making LGBT families visible and the everyday. Laura talks about how she can understand how confusing it is for the heteronormative community and that the LGBT community needs help in the education so that they are better supported. Laura says the NHS and the fertility clinics she’s working with have been proactive in changing for the better.   Laura’s final advice is to take your time, explore all paths to parenthood, join support groups, research, listen to other people's lived-in experiences, and investigated how LGBT inclusive your narrowed down choice of clinics are.   Find out more about...  See...

May 16

43 min 11 sec

In this week’s episode we are discussing miscarriage and loss,so before we go any further we are putting a trigger warning firmly in place here. If you’re not feeling strong today, then maybe wait and listen another day, or make sure you have lots of support around you as our guest does go into detail of her own loss. Please know, you can always reach out to us on our socials if you need a bit of extra support and please do also have a look at our previous (miscarriage series on The Fertility Podcast website) where we detail more information about the support available. We start off by chatting about the developments around the world when it comes to miscarriage policy. New Zealand is the second country in the world to provide women and their partners with 3 days of paid leave following a miscarriage or stillbirth, which is amazing! Interestingly, India was the first country to support couples in this way. Let’s hope this is the start of more countries following suit! You may well have seen that (Tommy’s) have published the results of their survey with fascinating and shocking stats including the link between depression and miscarriage. Our episode starts with a snippet from a (previous conversation we had previously with Dr. Ingrid Granne )– researcher and associate professor in reproductive medicine at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. We asked Ingrid why miscarriage happens. She tells us that the most common cause of miscarriage is due to chromosomal problems in the early days and weeks following conception. Chromosome issues are heavily correlated with maternal age. If you’re in your 20’s you have a 1:10 chance of miscarriage but by 45yrs it's 1:2 risk of a miscarriage. Other causes are medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes and thyroid issues. Being overweight increases your risk but we don’t really understand why. There also seem to be some genetic factors that may predispose some women to miscarriage. There are also implantation factors, possibly related to hormones and immune factors.  Natalie asks Ingrid about malefactors. She says that paternal age can impact miscarriage risk but not to the same extent as maternal age. She goes on to explain that the DNA of the sperm can also impact. There is more and more information and research coming out with regards to male factors and DNA fragmentation. Next up we chat to Jessica Zucker – a psychologist who specializes in reproductive and maternal mental health. She is the founder of ‘I had a miscarriage campaign’ and has just released a book too. Welcome to Jessica!  Jessica focuses on the mental health impact of suffering from a miscarriage. Jessica shares her experience of miscarrying at 16 weeks. A traumatic experience that occurred whilst alone at home and transformed both her professional and personal life. She talks about her ‘failure to allow herself to fall apart. She miscarried on a Thursday and assumed that she would be right back at work on Monday. Jessica says that the failure to allow yourself to fall apart is, in part, survival instinct. Just to keep going. She says she at that time, she couldn’t allow herself to slow down as this would mean being closer to her pain. Professionally, having her miscarriage, showed Jessica just how much she didn’t understand about the emotions her patients would be going through and that this was incredibly enlightening. Next, we talk about sex and miscarriage. Sex can be the last thing you want to think about following a miscarriage. How do you regain that intimacy with your partner? Jessica has interviewed people about returning to...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

May 9

46 min 17 sec

This episode focuses on the impact fertility has on your emotional health and we’re delighted to have Abbie and Karen from Fertility Circle join us on the podcast.   Abbie tells us how she searched for fertility support when she was trying to conceive 7 years ago and how she felt completely lost. Tragically Abbie made some poor decisions on where she looked for support that has impacted her health for the long term. The same was for Karen, in that she didn’t know where to access support and for these reasons, this is why Abbie and Karen felt motivated to start Fertility Circle.   It’s also important to Abbie and Karen to provide women with the right expert advice and information across the whole spectrum which includes both the physical and emotional aspects. As Abbie and Karen are both now trying for their second babies, they both feel so much more empowered and informed to make the right decisions.   Karen talks about the forced break women have had during the pandemic and how it’s been an opportunity to reset and   At the time of recording, the Fertility Circle app has had over 5,000 downloads! Abbie explains that they want women to feel that Fertility Circle is their best friend when trying to conceive but with all the fertility smarts. The app provides a community to connect with peers, a platform to connect with experts, content to inform, inspire and empower and finally offering the very best in emotional wellbeing and support.   The app also includes a section on learning, the ability to watch events and tutorials, live events, ask the expert, offers, and planning to support fertility wellness and IVF.   As many of our guests start a fertility business when trying to conceive, it can be a challenge. Karen talks about the potential triggers she comes across on social media for example but with that comes the immense support from the community. Abbie says that stepping back and taking a break when you need to, is vital in enabling her to carry on supporting their community.   We talk about the amazing friendships that are made within the fertility community, especially when all around you, your friends and family are getting pregnant easily! Abbie and Karen met this way, and even Natalie and Kate met through both working in this space! Natalie is now taking on more clients teaching the Freedom Fertility Formula and if you want to learn more about how Natalie can support you with your mental health click (here )   SOCIAL MEDIA: (Fertility Poddy) (Kate on Insta) (Fertility Circle)   See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

May 2

31 min 9 sec

So what is Secondary care and what should you expect to happen?   Well, we want to make sure you understand this, as we don't want you to get to the end of the year and find there is actually a problem because you have been dismissed along the way.  There are better tests that can’t be done in Secondary Care that can’t be done in Primary Care, which means at the GP and we've discussed them with our resident expert Dr James Nicopollus.   Seeing a gynecologist: One with a special interest in fertility is key. Women often go to a fertility specialist later, because there is often a delay in referral from GP to Secondary care and then there can be a delay from Secondary Care to IVF. This has been heightened by the Pandemic.   Ideally referrals should happen through the NHS - should come from the GP to a fertility center.   What happens at the referral?   Clinics are trying to do a one-stop-shop. People will have done a semen analysis but will be asked for a report to make sure it is accurate. GP’s will have tested FSH to check egg reserve and whilst this is OK, it varies between months as well as other variables. The AMH test is more reliable, as it shows the more follicles you have which is better fertility indicator. Tubal Patency checks tubes Important to rule out pelvic issues such as thyroid, polyps, or endometrioma which might impact the outcome.  If sperm and egg reserve is OK, are you ovulating regularly, with a progesterone check if you haven’t had one?  Laparoscopy looks inside the tummy with a camera, however, this is done by general anesthetic and this is more likely if there are symptoms of endometriosis  Most people have a HyCoSy or HSG - inserting dye to screen the fallopian tubes   STI’s such as chlamydia can be silent so these tests are important to exclude them A complicated appendix procedure could have caused adhesions or any other significant pelvic surgery can cause issues.If there is any suggestion of painful intercourse or painful periods this should be done.   Next, if these tests are clear, in the absence of sub-fertility then an assessment of Sperm DNA fragmentation is needed which looks at the sperm genetic material which can impact natural fertility, IUI, IVF, and ICSI.   Urologists are still not working as much with clinics as they should be   If all these tests are inconclusive and all investigations have been done and you don’t have a diagnosis and you keep trying and it isn’t happening, then the next stage is to go to the fertility clinic for fertility treatment. You should then have your options explained: Continuing naturally, IUI, IVF with the success rates explained    A lot of people are often well informed, other times incorrectly by Dr. Google, which is why we want to always guide you. The reason people's experiences vary so much in terms of the tests they get access too, is because different clinics and trusts offer different services, and the Doctors in clinics might not map things out correctly. There might also be limitations in funding. These are all ways in which you might feel you aren’t being guided properly and this is why it is important to become a fertility advocate. You should always go into a consultation with a list of questions and never feel you shouldn’t ask them. SOCIAL MEDIA: (Fertility Poddy ) (Kate on Insta )       See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Apr 25

30 min 1 sec

In this episode, we’re focusing on Male Infertility which is still not understood well enough and it’s something Natalie has been passionate about giving a voice too. As it was her and her husband’s experience and the pair felt very unsupported when going through treatment. Since its launched The Fertility Podcast has shared numerous episodes about Male Fertility explaining the issues that affect sperm health and also explaining how Men can seek more support and investigation.   Men are often overlooked in conversations with medical professionals and we have had numerous conversations about men feeling ignored at the fertility clinic, the very fact that when it comes to IVF treatment in a heterosexual relationship is it is the woman who has to go through the procedure means men are often left to feel redundant. In the many conversations we’ve had with Men, they have talked about the shame and guilt they have felt if the issue has been a male factor and how many men struggle in silence.   Kate and Natalie discuss the factors that can affect male fertility, such as diet and lifestyle issues. Smoking and drugs are a real no-no for sperm health. It’s really important that alcohol is taken into needs to be taken into consideration and ideally should be limited but not stopped. Factors such as heat and stress can impact. So consider saunas, heated seats, mobile phones in pockets, laptops on laps as important things to think about. Plus wearing tight pants and trousers can also be restrictive for the wrong reasons. When it comes to health and wellbeing, environmental toxins can impact sperm health and there is a real argument against Protein shakes and steroids impact which can you find out more here in this great conversation with Professor Allan Pacey thanks to our friends at (Dr. Fertility)   Our guest is Kevin Button who talked about his decision to set up The Man Cave to talk about mental health and male Infertility about 3 years ago after losing his cousin to suicide unrelated to fertility. Personally, Kev has had two failed attempts with NHS funding - IVF and ICSI and he couldn’t find anything online and has learned more from being on Instagram than just googling.   Kev’s diagnosis is Non-Obstructive Azoospermia which is defined as no sperm in the ejaculate due to failure of spermatogenesis and is the most severe form of male infertility. He had to undergo a micro-tease ( sperm extraction( which didn’t work and Kev was told his options were sperm donor or adoption.   You can imagine how heartbreaking this was for him and he was told the news without any support which was part of his motivation for setting up what he has done. Kev explained how when he was younger and out dating, he’d end relationships as soon as the conversation moved on to having a family until he met his partner Nicky, who at first he tried to end things, but luckily the pair are still together.   Kev is part of Fertility Network’s Male Fertility as an Ambassador and we spoke about the new (HIM campaign )and the brilliant Rhod Gilbert documentary (’ Stand up to Infertility’ ) All too often Men won’t talk about this but they are finding their voice within support groups. We also discussed the brilliant Easy Bit documentary which you can find links to more information below;   Kev and Nicky won a competition to have treatment in California with California IVF and are waiting for current   SOCIALS: (Kev Button Insta) See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Apr 18

35 min 13 sec

We have spoken about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) on the podcast numerous times in the past so make sure you scroll down to find link to previous episodes. Kate is an expert on the topic, working with women on a daily basis to support them with their diagnosis and in this episode, we've shared a previous conversation we had with Professor Adam Balen discussing the latest PCOS guidelines. Professor Adam Balen is a full-time National Health Service consultant and Lead Clinician at Leeds Fertility, one of the largest assisted conception units in the UK. His special interests include all aspects of PCOS, Assisted Conception, Paediatric & Adolescent Gynaecology and Disorders of Sexual Development. In this conversation, you hear snippets of a ( previous episode) whereAdam explains what the symptoms of PCOS are, including being over or under weight and how to maintain the condition with lifestyle changes. He also talks indepth about the use of Letrozole over Clomofin, or Clomid are most people know it. At the time of our chat, people were still needing to change their mindset regarding prescribing Letrozole, and Adam had written papers for the RCOG to support this further. Kate said she is still seeing a mix of what people are being prescribed and explained how in the UK, heath trust policies can dictate what drugs are prescribed. However, Kate advises if you are on Clomid and not responding after two rounds to go back and ask if you can go back and try Letrozole. We discuss the link between Letrozole and Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) as well as there being a lower risk of multiple pregnancy and also we discuss the frequency of scans people should expect when they are on these ovulation stimulation drugs We also highlighted the problem with home ovulation kits. When it comes to the common issues people are still coming up against Adam explains how women are still being told they won’t get pregnant with ovulation issues or that they are overweight because you have PCOS and you can’t do anything about it. Which isn't the case. Also the fact that a lot of women with PCOS end up having IVF when they don’t need it which is why we want to ensure you know where to get more support. We also discuss howOvarian diathermy or Ovarian drilling which in vary rare cases is an operation used to stimulate ovulation. When it comes to top tips you can take away to manage your PCOS, Kate's top 3 tips are: Changing your diet to low refined carbs/sugar. Tracking your cycle tracking Become your own PCOS advocate Kate has written numerous blog post about PCOS. This one discusses (how whilst it can't be cured it can be controlled. ) You can also read about (fighting back against PCOS here ) and Kate also has a (brilliant journal you can use ) Have a listen to previous PCOS podcasts we have shared - this one with (PCOS Diva Amy Medling ) and this one (with Kym Campbell ) both amazing women who have overcome their PCOS and had successful pregnancies and now work to support women further with lifestyle changes. SOCIALS: See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Apr 11

37 min 9 sec

It’s episode number 7 and Natalie’s flying solo. She interviews Deborah Brock – Founder and CEO of Nua Fertility.   Have you heard of the microbiome? No, well you’re not alone…..   We have microbiome’s everywhere – skin, gut, vagina – you name it. The gut microbiome may not be the first thing you think about when you consider fertility but it’s HUGE. The size of two tennis courts of microbes in your body! This good bacterium supports the correct absorption of nutrients and vitamins which are so important for fertility. It also protects our immune system and offers protection against bad bacteria. Effectively it is your first line of defence.   Deborah tells us that the vagina microbiome is equally important, as the more good bacteria you have may help to improve embryo implantation and successful outcomes. There is an increase in the amount of research into the microbiome, and it’s hoped, this might just be the missing piece for many women.   As you’ll know, here at The Fertility Podcast we are always on a quest to hear about the evidence and research. In Deborah’s own fertility journey, she immersed herself in as much research as she possibly could and was blown away when she came across the microbiome. Deborah did conceive and is now preparing to get herself in the best possible place ready for her next treatment.   Deborah is working with ABC Microbiome in Ireland, they’re a research centre and are looking at how the microbiome influences our health and wellbeing. Nua Fertility is keen to be at the forefront of research and development and make a difference within the fertility field.   Nua Fertility’s first product NuaBiome Women is a blend of vitamins, minerals and good bacteria to help the overall balance of the gut bacteria, support the immune system, reduce inflammation and support the vaginal microbiome. Deborah says, that despite taking supplements, it’s still vital to eat well by eating the rainbow (lots of different colour fruit and veg) and to eat more fibre to support your gut microbiome.   Nua Fertility for men hopes to be launched at the end of June – so keep an eye out for it. Deborah’s husband struggled with male factor infertility and they feel it is vital to also include a male supplement in their range.   Deborah shares with Natalie a case study from a fertility clinic doctor in Ireland who recommends Nua Fertility and has found that it reduced bloating in one of her patients.   Deborah discusses the research in the vaginal microbiome is starting to show that women who don’t have an abundance of good bacteria are more likely to have problems conceiving. Research is also looking into implantation failure. A note from us: It’s important to note that more research is required to fully understand the role of the microbiome when it comes to fertility and the benefits of supplementation.   Finally, Deborah explains that as well as Nua Fertility being the first of its kind, their ethos is driven by their own experience and also by research and development. They’re driven by wanting to ensure their product is the best for women. Lots of exciting things to come including a clinical trial! Watch this space……   You can find out more about Nua Fertility and Deborah below SOCIALS   Nua Fertility (Instagram) (@fertilitypoddy) (@yourfertilityjourney) Come and join us in ( ) ( ) (See ) ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Apr 5

37 min 43 sec

To mark the end of Endometriosis month and we wanted to share with you a bumper episode - a guest interview with an expert and a true-life patient story. First up we chat with Andrew Horne - Professor of Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences at Edinburgh University and an all-round expert when it comes to endometriosis. Andrew is currently involved in ground-breaking research into a drug treatment trial for endometriosis. He and his team identified that women with endometriosis produce excess lactate in the pelvis, compared to women without the condition, and are trialling a cancer drug to see if this will reduce the lactate levels in these women and reduce the endometrial lesions. Lactate causes pain and therefore reducing lactate may help to reduce the pain experienced by women with endometriosis. Andrew is also currently recruiting women to be involved in a study looking at the benefits of surgery with regards to improvements in pain and quality of life. This trial will be rolled out among many Endometriosis centres in the UK. We talk about the main misconceptions surrounding endometriosis and in particular how women are often told that painful periods are normal. Pain is not normal if it impacts your relationship, work or quality of living. If you feel your pain is not being taken seriously by your doctor – keep going back. If you’re suffering from chronic pain you may find it useful to see a pain psychologist for support. The symptoms of endometriosis are not just pain. Women can also experience fatigue, pain when passing urine or opening the bowels, painful sex and infertility. We talked about the frustrations surrounding the lengthy time to diagnosis and the management using pain medications and surgery and where appropriate, complimentary therapies can offer some benefit. Many women are interested in how diet and supplements can impact endometriosis and Andrew is starting to investigate this area, and it will be really interesting to see what comes out of these studies. Keep tuned and you can be sure we’ll be the first to let you know when we hear more! You can hear previous conversations we have had with Endometriosis UK (here ) Following Andrew, is our chat with Gemma Watts about her lengthy diagnosis from painful periods aged 14 to years of missed opportunities for a diagnosis until she was 31. Gemma had been dismissed at so many points, it was her husband who forced her to go back to the Doctor as her periods were putting her in bed for 2/3 hours. Gemm had been told it was down to her being under weight, that she didn't really have enough symptoms as the pain went after 6 hours and she was told there was still no point in doing a laparoscopy and to try IUI. In Feb 2020, Gemma worked with Kate and learnt more about what was going on with her body and went on to have treatment of 3 IUI’s and on the first scan, at the fertility clinic, she was told she had Endometriosis, despite having always been told this wasn't the case. In fact Gemma had a large Endometrioma often the only thing you see on a scan.  When Gemma saw someone privately within 5 minutes she was diagnosed with Stage Endometriosis - the most excessive as it's not just in the uterus it can be all over the body Endometriosis UK says even if you just have 1 symptom - still ask. Gemma has started talking about it more as she was desperate to find more people to talk to about it and now has found 4 people in her church. She has found Facebook groups can be helpful - but stresses that as with all social media, you to need to be in the right mindset ad remember everyone’s stories are different. She is working hard to control the condition with diet, as there is some evidence that gluten/dairy-free and Gemma has found the...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Mar 28

53 min 20 sec

This week, on the pod, we’re talking about that conversation with your GP. It can be difficult to make this first step when trying to conceive and you often don’t know when you should go and what to ask. Plus we often hear from you that you don't feel heard or taken seriously when having these initial conversations.   When you’re struggling to conceive there is no reason why you can’t access your GP as soon as you wish. If you’re lucky, your GP may suggest some blood tests and, if you’re in a heterosexual relationship, a semen analysis for your partner. When it comes to a referral to fertility doctors. This is done at the 12-month point if you’re under the age of 35 or at 6 months if you’re over the age of 35.   So, what do you need to ask? Kate recommends writing down all your questions, so you make sure you remember everything you want to ask. You may like to ask for some blood tests and a sperm test. Results are generally back pretty quickly. A semen analysis may take a little longer. You can also look at home testing for both blood tests and semen analysis.   Hopefully, your results will be absolutely normal but common abnormalities could be with your hormones, your thyroid, and progesterone. It’s worth noting that sometimes the incorrect timing of progesterone can result in an abnormal result – so make sure it’s done 7 days before your next period (difficult without a crystal ball we know!).   Be prepared if you are either overweight or underweight, this might form part of the conversation with your GP. We know that it’s not always easy to hear that your weight is not in the ideal range but hopefully your GP will offer you some guidance on how you can either gain weight or lose weight to optimize your fertility.   If you’ve had a previous pregnancy, then don’t be scared to still approach your GP for these initial tests. You are still entitled to these and as secondary infertility is really common, it’s important not to delay.   Sadly, when it comes to fertility, we often need to advocate for ourselves. Sometimes it can take a long time for women to receive a diagnosis of conditions such as endometriosis and PCOS. So be empowered and persistent and feel confident to ask for what you need. Come and join (our closed facebook group )and let us know more about your experience SOCIALS: (Fertility Poddy on Insta ) (Kate on Insta )   See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Mar 22

27 min 24 sec

In this week’s episode, we’re talking all about testing your fertility at home. You’ll hear a snippet of a previous chat we had with Exseed Health founder Morten Ulsted. Exseed is a male fertility test to be done at home and you can hear the full conversation (here )   We welcome, to the podcast, Dr. Helen O’Neill – a lecturer in Molecular genetics and co-founder of Hertility. Hertility is an at-home hormone testing service for your fertility journey, which includes support from trusted fertility experts.   Helen’s motivation for starting Hertility was to provide women with a holistic expert service that takes into consideration all aspects of their reproductive health. Hertility considers 9 of the most common reproductive conditions such as thyroid, PCOS, and endometriosis, to mention just three. Hertility combines answers from a pre-testing questionnaire, that takes in to account any symptom in isolation or collection of symptoms among other aspects to decide on which hormones to check you for and then using this test information, along with your questionnaire, provides you with either a concrete diagnosis or a suspicion of a diagnosis for anyone of the 9 reproductive conditions.   Hertility doesn’t just give you your result and leave you high and dry. They then provide support in understanding what your results mean for you and your pathway to care through interaction with fertility counselors or their team of clinical experts. You can clearly choose to take your results and share these with your GP to help move you forward on your fertility journey.   Helen also chats about the concerns surrounding young women over-exercising and how this can impact significantly on their reproductive health. Over-exercising can, in some circumstances, lead to a condition called Hypothalamic Amenorrhoea (HA). With HA, women can experience the complete loss of a menstrual cycle and Helen discusses how often the lack of periods can be dismissed by a doctor when they’re not trying to conceive yet, but this delay can have a devastating impact on their future fertility. Knowledge is power when it comes to fertility and making the decision to do home testing can be a liberating, empowering, and immensely reassuring experience.   You can find out more about Hertility and home testing (here:) SOCIALS: (Hertility Health ) (Fertility Poddy) (Kate) (Exseed Health)   See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Mar 15

44 min 6 sec

 We can’t believe it’s episode 3 already! Where has the time gone? We’re loving all your messages since we’ve been back – so keep them coming.   So, in this episode, we’re still chatting preconceptual care. All you need to know to help you conceive naturally. We start off by talking in more detail about the methods that can help you….   Have you heard of Mosie Baby? Mosie Baby is basically artificial insemination at home and can be useful when traditional methods may not be working or are simply not an option – for example for same-sex couples, women trying to conceive alone and couples who are finding it difficult to perform on demand. Find out more about Mosie Baby below and listen to our previous conversation with founders (Marc and Maureen here )   Next up conception caps. Kate shares her view of FERTILILY – a hormone-free conception end that is clinically proven to increase the chance of pregnancy by 48%. It’s made of soft medical grade silicone and is easy to insert after intercourse and is designed to push the sperm towards the cervix, increasing the chances of more sperm cells making their way into the uterus. You can read more about FERTILILY below.   On to this week’s guest - Laura Robson from The Body Literacy Collective and co-founder of the Read Your Body App. Kate and Laura met through training in Fertility Awareness with Fertilityuk and as a result of her training and previous personal experience of using fertility awareness to avoid pregnancy. The idea for creating the App was born out of a desire to offer her clients a reliable and effective app without hesitation and to have no concerns over data privacy or ineffective app features.   Over the last year and a half, Laura has been on a mammoth journey to get the app released through crowdfunding, app development, and testing to 100 beta users. The app has now been live for 8 months and is available in different languages with lots of new features. Laura recommends that women use the app alongside an educator to help them understand how to chart their fertility effectively, and if trying to conceive, help reduce the time it takes you. Read Your Body has many different features that set it apart from other apps, to name just two - It is totally customizable, and importantly users have total data privacy. Check out the app and how it could help you along your fertility journey below. Here are some details of (other fertility educators) Laura wanted us to share with you.   In Ask The Expert this week we’re talking about the contentious issue of IVF Add Ons and the HFEA traffic light system with Dr. James Nicopoullos. James tells us that there is no evidence to support the use of assisted hatching for IVF making it a red traffic light. The HFEA highlights endometrial scratch and embryo glue as amber meaning that there is limited evidence and is down to individual clinics as to whether they offer this.   And finally…..we have a little offer for you. Kate is offering one lucky listener the opportunity for a complimentary 20-minute cycle interpretation chat. To be in with a chance to win email Kate on with the email header ‘Fertility Pod’. The first person that emails will win…..GO!   Don’t forget to join us for every Thursday at 2pm on Instagram and (The Fertility Podcast Facebook group) for #brewattwo   We spoke about a previous episode with Toni Weschler which you can ( ) ( ) (See ) ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Mar 8

38 min 29 sec

It’s episode 2 of the relaunched pod! This week we’re talking about what to eat when you’re trying to conceive. This can be so overwhelming, and we want to make it easy for you to understand all you need to know. So, we’re chatting to the lovely Ro Huntriss who is a registered fertility dietician. On the pod we’ve spoken to a fair few people who know what they’re talking about when it comes to fertility and nutrition, but dieticians work slightly differently. Their focus is very much on evidence-based practice and their training to become a dietician involves clinical placements and training to support people with co-existing medical conditions. So, basically they follow the medical model such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists etc. So, where do you start with nutrition when trying to conceive? Ro recommends that you consider your own diet and look at the changes that you feel will make your diet healthier. Keeping a food diary is a great thing to do and can give you a really good picture on what kind of foods you’re eating and where you might need to make some changes. Let’s talk about egg health. It takes around 3 months to influence the health of the egg and some of the nutrients to include are folate (folic acid) - to help reduce the risk of neural tube defect but also help to improve egg development and quality. Omega 3 - in oily fish or as a supplement can play a huge part in improving egg quality. Antioxidants – from fruits, veg, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and even in meat. Ro also shares with us her recommendations for sperm health and how a Mediterranean diet and antioxidants are particularly useful such as vitamin C, E, Zinc, Selenium and folate. We get the low down on whether you should go gluten and diary free – Ro makes it really clear that unless you’re a diagnosed coeliac, it is not recommended to be gluten free to support fertility as there is not the evidence to suggest that this is necessary. Wholegrain is an important part of our diet and needs to be included. If you’re worried you might be intolerant to gluten, ask your GP for a test before removing out of your diet to be sure. With regards to dairy Ro doesn’t recommend cutting it out unless necessary and if you do, make sure you get your plant based dairy alternatives in. We frequently talk about the importance of weight when trying to conceive and probably focus more on being overweight, however being underweight is also a consideration when it comes to fertility. Having a low BMI can cause irregular cycles and therefore ovulatory disorders. Ro recommends that if you’re underweight include olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado to your diet. Is it sensible to follow a vegan diet when trying to conceive? Ro says yes but encourages you to have a review with a dietician or nutritionist if you’re struggling to conceive. What about restrictive diets? Ro discourages this as these low-calorie diets are so restrictive and research shows that people that follows these diets don’t get the best outcomes. We’ll be catching up with Ro in the very near future to chat about preparing for IVF but in the meantime, you can find more about Ro here: Ro Huntriss: ( The Fertility Food Formula: ( Instagram: Registered nutritionists   See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Mar 1

28 min 33 sec

THE FERTILITY PODCAST IS BACK WITH A NEW SOUND, A NEW RESIDENT EXPERT BUT THE SAME MISSION.  We’re so pleased to be back with you, having taken some time to really work out what the best future plan for The Fertility Podcast is, and it’s to clearly guide you along the way to pregnancy. We’re going through all that we think could help and sharing previous episodes to make sure you can really get stuck in. We can’t guarantee you a baby, nobody can. But we can promise you information you can trust and a lovely community to come and be a part of.  Our first episode back is talking about what we wished we’d know before starting to conceive. To be honest it’s what we should have been taught in school. Those teenage years and when you’re in your early 20’s can be pretty worrying if you have unprotected sex. It’s drummed into us NOT to get pregnant and what you should do to avoid getting pregnant. Sadly for so many of us, we never realised as we were never told, that our fertility is so finite. That is what we’re here to do. Kate is SO passionate about empowering women to understand their cycle and the pair of us are talking through what you need to be thinking about.  Research shows that time to conception is reduced with fertility awareness knowledge so for the next few weeks we’re talking cycles and diets.  In this episode, we discuss how best to monitor your cycle with the different methods available and in particular what works and what doesn’t! We’ll be talking soon with a brilliant new app available to help you that has worked with women all around the globe. We also want to be very clear on the language we use as one of Kate’s pet hates is the fact that a normal cycle is often referred to as a 28 days cycle and that you ovulate on day 14.  FACT - Women’s cycles vary hugely and can still be normal when shorter or longer than 28 days. We want to dispel this myth once and for all.  It’s also so important that if you are trying to get pregnant in a heterosexual couple both of you understand about fertility health. Since this podcast launched in 2015 we have talked a lot about men’s fertile health and we’ll be revisiting it again, don’t you worry. The good thing is there is much more awareness today about the issue, then there was 7 years ago, but it needs to be taken seriously. We discuss the issue of protein shake use and how they can affect sperm health, as can smoking, recreational drugs and too much alcohol. It's so important that if you are in a couple you both take responsibility for this and get yourselves in the best place possible to improve your chances of conceiving. Men need to realise that infertility issues are 50/50 male to female. We’ll be talking over the coming weeks about optimising your fertility and be sure to join us to carry on this conversation in our ( closed facebook group) where you can also submit questions to Dr James our expert for next time. Be sure to check the Insta grid for details of our fab giveaway happening for launch week only. Closes Friday 26th Feb 11.59pm. SOCIAL MEDIA (The Fertility Podcast) (Instagram) (Twitter) (Kate Davies) (Instagram)   See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Feb 22

33 min 10 sec

Don't miss The Fertility Podcast relaunch as we return to guide you through all the many things you need to consider when trying for a baby. We'll be talking about cycles and lifestyle changes as well as other conditions or deficiencies that might be affecting your changes of getting pregnant naturally. Then we'll be moving onto what fertility treatment is all about, the options available for you, support, hollistic treatment and most importantly making sure you know that there is a community for you to join so you don't feel like you are going through this alone. Visit (Follow @fertilitypoddy) (Closed facebook group )  See for privacy and opt-out information.

Feb 15

1 min 59 sec

To mark Men’s Health Week, this week in the UK we are chatting with Tom Webb the Director of The Easy Bit and Morten Ulsted CEO and co-founder of ExSeed. The Easy Bit First up it’s Tom. Tom has spoken on (the podcast before) and this time joins us now that his film – The Easy Bit is finished and now available to watch. The aim of the film is to help men realise that there is help and support out there for them, particularly as more often than not the focus, when going through a fertility struggle, is on the woman. Tom has been overwhelmed by the reaction the film has had from both men and women, but he wasn’t expecting the overwhelming response from the fertility industry on how the film has opened their eyes to how men feel. Hopefully this will result in changes to care within the clinics and consideration to the language used to men and couples. You can view (The Easy Bit now on Vimeo )   Mental Health and Fertility During the film, the men being filmed used the words such as shame, upset, anger, horrific ordeal, emotional toil, to explain their experiences of infertility and all talked about the feeling of being ignored throughout their journey. The film highlighted that counselling services within clinica are all set up for women and no support is available for men. However, Tom found that men do prefer to access support very differently to women such as through podcasts, peer-to-peer support and men only Facebook groups. To visit the Men Only Fertility Support Facebook page click (here) Tom tells us how watching the film can teach men so much and validate their feelings. One of the men filmed said that being vulnerable makes you stronger COVID-19 and Men The new guidelines within clinics due to COVID-19 mean that men may well be excluded from the majority of appointments. Tom believes that excluding men will do so much damage, and he hopes that clinics will consider ways in which men can be safely including during this time.   ExSeed the Home Sperm Test Morten Ulsted is the CEO and co-founder of the sperm home test (ExSeed). Morten set about developing an advanced home test that is as good as clinic tests. The test uses the amazing computing power and camera technology we all have in our pockets in our smartphone. What ExSeed Tests Using your phone as an advanced microscope, the ExSeed test looks at sperm concentration and motility. Morten wanted to design a test that any healthcare practitioner, anywhere in the world, will look at the result and feel confident with what it says. As well as testing, ExSeed also offers a personalised programme to improve sperm based on the test. This bespoke advice supports men to work on and improve their lifestyle to optimize their fertility. Through the ExSeed App users are also able to book a chat with a doctor, dietician or personal coach When should you test with ExSeed? Morten tells us that the test can be used for men who are curious about their fertility, those who are starting out trying to conceive and those who have been trying for sometime and want to monitor any progress. The ExSeed box comes with 5 tests and Morton recommends that as sperm parameters can fluctuate on a daily or weekly basis, you should test once then wait about a week and repeat the test. It’s important to abstain from ejaculation 48 hours beforehand. ExSeed cost £149.00 for 5 tests and is available on the ExSeed website. Check out Natalie’s Facebook Group where she’s going...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Jun 2020

47 min 28 sec

Frankie Brunker – These Precious Little People Please be warned that this weeks’ episode is a hard-hitting and emotional one. It is a raw and emotional account of stillbirth and the grief that follows. Natalie chats with Frankie Brunker, whom Natalie met at a fabulous Yoga day put on by Lucy from The Rainbow Running club. Route to Parenthood Frankie’s route to parenthood started really quickly after conceiving in the first month of trying however, devastatingly their daughter was born stillborn at 38 weeks. This came as a complete shock. Frankie’s husband had to call their family from the hospital to break the news. Frankie felt so concerned about telling family and how they would feel, particularly her nieces and nephews who were excited about a new baby coming into the family. They decided that they needed to be insular and in their own little bubble to get through this difficult time, one day at a time. The Funeral  Frankie made the decision for her nieces and nephews not to attend the funeral of their daughter. At the time, this felt like the right decision but now Frankie has some regrets and is now mindful that not being included may make it more difficult for children, in general, to deal with grief. Experiencing a Stillbirth Frankie talks about her experience of giving birth at the hospital and how she felt that some of the midwives had limited experience of caring for a mother delivering a stillborn baby, and that she felt there were gaps in the bereavement care she and her husband received. Frankie’s honest account of the, sometimes insensitive and ignorant, remarks she has received along the way is powerful and arresting Precious Little People  As a result of her experience, Frankie is now the author of a beautiful children’s book to help explain baby loss to children but also Frankie says the book helps adults to come to terms with grief too. Her aim for the book is that you can talk about loss of your baby but that you can still think of them and smile. Her book aims to appeals to bereaved parents from diverse communities and cultures. Blogging as a bereaved parent  Frankie has recently written ( a blog) giving support to bereaved parents who may be finding it especially difficult going through this experience during lockdown, and urges people to reach out for support.   SOCIAL MEDIA: (Frankie Brunker) (Instagram): @thesepreciouslittlepeople (The Fertility Podcast ) (Instagram) ( Kate Davies) (Instagram)   See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

May 2020

41 min 4 sec

Welcome to another ‘Meet the Makers’ episode where we chat to Louise Zeniou from Cradle. When we spoke to Louise, she had been having a busy few days with various media interviews, and in-between her busy schedule she managed to sneak in an interview with us whilst sat on the floor outside the toilets in Pret! Louise has a personal experience of what it feels like to go through early pregnancy loss when she became ill and diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy. As she was so ill, she was rushed into hospital and had surgery immediately. She talks about the amazing care she received, but after surgery she missed the most basic of items such as a toothbrush and a hairbrush. The Comfort Bag From her own experience Louise started the Comfort Bag Project with the aim to support hospitals, so that in those early moments of pregnancy loss women and men can be provided with toiletries and other products to give them a little comfort and importantly dignity. In the bag Louise also includes a personal message to give immediate words of comfort following a loss and the ways bereaved parents can connect for support once they have been discharged from hospital. How Cradle Supports the NHS Cradle provides Comfort Bags to various hospitals across the country and it’s growing! From just starting out as one, Louise now has 73 volunteer ambassadors. Cradle also work with Hospital Trusts as the patient voice to help in the development of services and projects for bereaved parents.   Signposting The role of Cradle is also to signpost to various support and counselling services to offer parents much needed professional support.   Want to get involved? Contact Louise for information on how you can become an ambassador for Cradle. SOCIAL MEDIA: (CRADLE) (The Fertility Podcast) (@fertilitypoddy) (Kate Davies) (Instagram)        See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

May 2020

21 min 37 sec

Meet Katy Leeson, Managing Director of Social Chain who also hosts a podcast called ' (I Shouldn't Say This But') and at the time of us chatting had just been nominated for an award for 'Leading the Charge and Pushing the Boundaries' with Campaign Magazine ( a big industry title ) I spoke with Katy in real life at Social Chain's very cool office in central Manchester, in the days where you could do that, which is why Kate isn't in this episode.  Self Protection Katy spoke about her struggle with the responsibility of being a young female Managing Director. She had imposter syndrome and took herself into therapy sessions to get support on how best to deal with it. In the context of this chat, Katy explained how she made sure she was mentally prepared to talk about her miscarriage in the public sphere because she had no idea what the reaction would be and she was nervous that people would tell her it wasn't the right place or platform - something so many people fear when talking about infertility.  Baby Loss Awareness Week Katy shared her story in October 2019, a year on from her miscarriage which happened in December 2018. She spoke about the challenges of that time of year with everybody being together and how it forced her into telling people that I was pregnant, as she wasn't drinking in the Chrimbo celebrations - this was before the '12 week' point. Her family and friends knew and so she also had to share her that she had miscarried on Christmas Eve because she didn't want to get messages wishing her the best Christmas and New Year because I was going to have a baby in the next year. Katy talked about feeling that she was also ruining other people's Christmas because I'd tell them such sad news. Miscarrying Naturally Katy spoke about how she miscarried naturally the day before she was due to be put under for the operation. The first the scan she had, she said felt a good connection to someone who really cared and she said 'You look healthy, everything there on the scan looks healthy, you've just started an unfortunate experience, there was just a problem with that egg or that sperm, and you should be fine and I can't wait to see you again' which Katy said gave her such hope as every other interaction she had, felt like she was just being told to get on with things.  Breakdown in Communication. Katy explained how she was still getting letters about having scans for her pregnancy after she had miscarried due to being registered with two different hospitals and how they were ringing her partner but wouldn't speak to him so he couldn't even act as her gatekeeper for. This meant in the end, she had to have numerous conversations reliving her experience over and over/ Telling Work Katy talked about how she had spoken to others about how much of a lift it is, to be told it's not your fault, which is such a straightforward piece of information to give to somebody. We talked about how she had no follow up conversations after going through it and wasn't given any guidance on where to find support. She had stopped her therapy and hadn't told her work as she didn't want to tell them she was going through 'something so horrific' because she was worried they would think she would then be trying again and be off on Maternity. So she didn't tell anyone and struggled with it from Christmas until Easter - which is when she said the broke down. When she did tell them, they were amazing  Talking it through in Therapy Katy discussed the grieving process with her therapist and how she had been putting so much pressure on herself with her work and doing the right thing by others. She talked about giving herself permission to grieve once she had accessed support once again. She also talked about how she went to the doctors and was given antidepressants, which she is still on The Impact of Miscarriage We talked...

May 2020

31 min 3 sec

In this bonus episode,Kate and I speak with  Sally Cheshire, who is the chair of the (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) ) These shownotes are a transcript of part of our conversation with Sally. Please listen to hear the full interview: What is 'elective treatment'  It is the word that the NHS use when it's not an outright emergency. So the NHS made that decision. And it's an unfortunate name because no one chooses to go in for surgery, particularly with regard to fertility treatment, but that's the word that's been used.  So the NHS said that they would suspend all non-emergency treatment during the pandemic, so the only people who were being treated in the first stages of the pandemic after the 23rd of March, that was, were people who were in an emergency situation. What we said in terms of fertility is that patients who were having cancer surgery, for example, and needed fertility preservation would still be allowed to go ahead and our clinics would stay open for those patients to store gametes and embryos. But also, we would allow as many patients as possible to try and finish their cycles if they had started. And we know that there was a different response from clinics, and you can imagine that they were trying to manage, as well as all other NHS hospitals, some clinics carried on with those cycles, and then collected eggs or frozen eggs or embryos. But some patients we know had their cycles cancelled earlier than the 15th of April. And all I have to say is it was up to the clinic to decide whether they could go ahead. Some of them of course, had already lost staff to the front line. They'd had some of their equipment used for testing for virus testing from the embryology lab, and some of them also had staff who were self isolating or who've been diagnosed.   Counselling: We do know there's been a massive increase in patients seeking counselling support. But if you actually talk to counsellors, some patients are asking different questions. Some of them are clearly distressed, not being able to have treatment. Some of them are very fearful of the virus and what impact it might have. So counsellors tell us they've seen an increase in patients who were just seeking help to deal with their general anxiety, not necessarily ready to talk about the implications of their particular treatment and what that might mean. So we do know that there is support out there and I'm sorry to patients who didn't quite get what they wanted, perhaps from their clinic. Professional Guidance: We've had to rely on professional guidance. So from the UK bodies from the British fertility society and of and the clinical scientists, but also from Europe and America, who advised similarly to stop treatment, until we knew a few more things, and their guidance has been very similar to the UK all along. And the Royal College of Obstetricians and gynaecologists also had to think about whether they considered there was any risk in early pregnancy. And they've also issued a couple of sets of guidance. So I think everybody has issued at least two sets of guidance over the last four weeks from the professional bodies. We've issued a number of letters to clinics explaining our requirements. And we've also tried to communicate with patients as best we can. The professional bodies have issued their latest guidance, which is cautious optimism. Tough Decision: I think this is the most difficult decision the FDA has ever had to make in 30 years really and the board and the staff have tried so hard to get it right. One of one of our criteria, quite rightly, was that there was no, or that there was as much evidence as possible to say there was no increased risk in pregnancy. And when I was thinking about it this morning, as a patient, you know, pregnancy is somewhere over the rainbow, isn't it? It's a long, long time away. And if you are trying to think about having treatment, it's...

May 2020

36 min 51 sec

Welcome to this bonus episode of The Fertility Podcast in association with Medichecks, the home blood-testing company.  Medichecks have started working with the wonderful Kate Davies, aka my co-host to develop a range of fertility tests and they invited me to their headquarters in Nottingham to talk more about them. So I headed back to my home town with brand new podcasting kit to chat with Sam Rogers, Medical Director and Natasha Fernando. Head of Clinical Excellence and Kate about what the tests are going to enable you to find out.  What you will hear in this episode is:   How the tests were developed looking at which biomarkers people need to understand their fertility and the training for Medichecks doctors in how they process them How Medichecks will look at people’s medical histories, lifestyle, diet, activity and energy levels and tie in with the info they glean from blood tests. How repeat customers are getting much more informed about how behaviours affect their lifestyle and how home testing means you don't have to wait until you are over 40 (which is when the NHS do overall health checks )  Baseline Fertility Tests  FSH & LH Levels: these control periods and time of ovulation, levels of Oestradiol - the main female hormone which shows if you are ovulating Progesterone: 7 days before the first day of a period. This can be called the 21-day test. Kate explains how she sometimes gets two tests during that time AMH: and how it gives an indicator as it is a useful measurement but is no means a guarantee of a baby. A lower test result shouldn't cause panic, just talk to your doctor, look at your baseline hormone levels.  PCOS: looks at an initial diagnosis PCOS test as well as looking at the more long term effects For Men:  Testosterone: looking at the hormones that control testosterone release as the body it likes to hold on to it. We also discussed the impact on male fertility from using protein shakes and steroids and how you get irreversible, low levels of fertility or infertility as a result. We also discussed tight pants! Advice for Men  To limit alcohol and coffee and how smoking is so bad for developing sperm. Exercise - we discuss how too little or too much can have negative effects on sperm production. We also discussed Jonathan Ramsey - a Urologist and former podcast guest who has talked about how cycling for commuting is OK, but long rides put a lot of pressure on the testicles. Hear a previous chat with Jonathan ( here ) We discussed the importance of avoiding hot tubs, heated car warmers, and Natasha talked about papers on mobile phone radiation in pockets. Erectile Disfunction An early sign that the blood vessels are getting clogged up with cholesterol. Testosterone can also cause it as can the stress and pressures of TTC.  Diet Overall benefits of eating a health diet, which can help the balance of your hormones. We discuss what oxidative stress levels are and how you can manage them.  The benefits of plant based diet and how a Vegan lifestyle - has no impact on testosterone levels. There is a belief amongst Men that a plant-based diet lowers testosterone but there is no evidence available  Sleep  The importance of sleep and how many health factors it can impact How to future proof your fertility Be proactive in the conversations you have with your family. For example, ask your mother when she had her menopause. With Men, don't be afraid to talk to your doctor if you have any pains in your testicles.  Any concerns you...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Apr 2020

49 min 5 sec

Meet Janet Murray. Janet is a digital content expert, author and fellow podcaster. Earlier in the year Janet shared an article about ( secondary infertility) and we wanted to talk to her about this and her experiences of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Fertility Struggle Janet struggled with infertility and after routine tests she was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis. Treatment ensued and shortly after her diagnosis, Janet fell pregnant. Sadly this pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, and Janet, whom is normally a very pragmatic person, felt completely floored. However she did fall pregnant again but this pregnancy was thwart with anxiety and at 29 weeks Janet went in to early labour. Luckily after time in neonatal intensive care Janet was able to bring home her daughter Katie. Very soon after, Janet was surprised to find she was pregnant again. Unfortunately this pregnancy ended in an ectopic pregnancy and Janet was told that she would be unlikely to conceive again. The loneliness of the first 12 weeks Janet shares her thoughts on how difficult it is to reach out for support for after an early miscarriage, as it’s almost taboo to talk about your pregnancy until after the 12-week point. I have an excuse to talk Secondary infertility is frequently dismissed by society. Over the last 5 years Janet has run five London Marathons to raise money for The Miscarriage Association and the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust and she feels this has given her an excuse to talk about miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy in a public space. "At least you have one’ Janet felt that friends didn’t understand her desire to have another child and a sibling for her daughter. Because she was career-focused people always assumed that Janet only wanted to have one child out of choice. In her article (above) Janet talks about the agony of not being able to have a sibling for Katie. SOCIAL MEDIA: (Janet Murray) (Instagram) (Miscarriage Association) (Ectopic Pregnancy Trust) (Bliss) (Tommy’s) (The Fertility Podcast) (Instagram) (Kate Davies) (Instagram)   See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Apr 2020

31 min 14 sec

It was a bleak and dreary day.. .Kate and I connected with Eleanor Stevenson, Professor of Nursing from Duke University, North Carolina USA and Kevin McEleny, Consultant Urologist at Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust to discuss a brilliant new initiative to support men struggling with infertility. Together Kevin and Eleanor have created (All about fertility )an evidence-based resource providing couples with up to date articles, webinars and videos created by experts from the field of fertility. But they didn’t want to just stop there. From their research Kevin and Eleanor identified that men didn’t want to engage with support from counsellors and so they created a support forum just for men to access support in a way that was accessible to them and on their terms. Peer Support  In the future, Kevin and Eleanor hope to roll out other versions of this platform to include support forums for same-sex couples and women. In the US, Eleanor is seeing that professionals are becoming more aware of male fertility but as yet, US men aren’t opening up. Whereas conversely, in the UK men are beginning to talk and there are a number of men that are leading the way, some of who have been recent guests on the podcast. Educating medical professionals Kevin talks about the need for greater awareness and sensitivity among professionals. The evidence that has come out of their research shows that what men are told at the very start can have enormous consequences on their emotional wellbeing. Eleanor tells us that while men continue to feel that their problems are not real. It reinforces stigma and men get further silenced. SOCIAL MEDIA: ( (Twitter ) (Kevin on twitter ) (Eleanor on twitter ) (Facebook) (Kevin’s previous episode on The Fertility Podcast) (The Fertility Podcast)  Instagram ( Kate Davies) (Instagram)      See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Apr 2020

27 min 50 sec

In this special episode, we wanted to address some of your questions and concerns with regards to coronavirus and what this means for your fertility treatments. So over the next few weeks, we’re bringing in the experts!  First up we chat with Julie Morgan, who like Kate, is a Fertility Nurse Consultant. Julie has been keeping the TTC community up to date by sharing really useful information and updates on her instagram @allaboutinfertility Not all clinics are routinely cancelling treatments. Please check with your clinic to find out what their up to date guidance is. Don’t stop any medication until you have spoken with your clinic. Clinics are open currently and are here to help and advise you during this difficult time. Egg collection does appear to still be going ahead in many cases. To help with social distancing, clinics will be operating slightly differently with phone and video consultations, and face-to-face appointments may be staggered. If you are undergoing a stimulation cycle it is likely (although not in all circumstances) that you will be able to continue with your cycle. If you are newly pregnant it is advised that you self isolate but speak with your clinic for further advice. Clinics who offer egg donation have been advised that patients must not donate if they have recently visited a high-risk country, and must wait for a minimum of 28 days if infected with coronavirus or after being in contact with someone with coronavirus before donating. If you are having treatment abroad, please contact your clinic for further advice and self isolate if required. If you are self-funding your treatment and are required to freeze embryos in what would have been a fresh cycle, it may be that your clinic will not charge you for storage fees. However, there may be costs associated with repeat tests etc on restarting treatment again in a few months. Please bear in mind that we recorded this interview last Friday, and in this ever-changing and dynamic world, it is likely that there may be more recent updates available. Please do check with your clinic for the most up to date information for your individual circumstance. SOCIAL MEDIA Julie Morgan  Instagram  The Fertility Podcast Instagram   Kate Davies  Instagram   See for privacy and opt-out information.

Mar 2020

16 min 30 sec

Covid-19 and fertility treatments We appreciate given the current crisis you may well be worrying about what covid-19 means for your fertility treatments, and therefore at the beginning of this episode we give you an update on the current advice. At the moment, there is limited guidance out there, however this will likely change in the coming days/weeks. Currently, the HFEA recommend that you contact your clinic for advice as each clinic will likely have contingency plans in place. We plan to chat with experts this coming week and will, of course, keep you informed of any developments that relate to fertility treatments. If you are required to self-isolate over the coming weeks, then you can be reassured that The Fertility Podcast will be keeping you entertained. So, make sure you subscribe so not to miss an episode! Parenthood in Mind Next up, Natalie and Kate talk to Julianne Boutaleb who is a peri-natal psychologist and Clinical Director and Founder of the Parenthood in Mind practice. Julianne works with women and couples who have experienced trauma in relation to birth and miscarriage but also with women who suffer with fertility trauma. Typical patients that Julianne works with are couples who have concerns with regards to known genetic issues, couples who are facing assisted conception, couples who have had failed cycles or reproductive injuries and those contemplating donor conception, surrogacy or adoption to create or complete their family. Many couples who have previously experienced miscarriage come to Julianne as they have a fear – either physically or emotionally of a miscarriage reoccurring. Tokophobia Tokophobia is the fear of being pregnant or giving birth. Tokophobia may occur in women who have never given birth to a child, but it may also affect women who have had prior traumatic pregnancy or birth experiences.   Protecting your relationship Couples who don’t conceive are 3 times more likely to separate or divorce than couples who do conceive. Clinics are starting to support couples more with regards to the emotional impact Often reaching the menopause can be a trigger for women who haven’t been successful in conceiving through assisted conception. Julianne helps couples rewrite their ‘happy ever after’ story without children. Fertility Trauma* The term Fertility Trauma helps to highlight that struggling to conceive is a true trauma and this also includes ‘perceived’ trauma. Fertility trauma is not just depression, anxiety or stress but is your brain going in to ‘fight and flight’ mode. SOCIAL MEDIA (Julianne Boutaleb) (Instagram) (Jessica Hepburn)  Unfortunately, since recording this episode, Jessica’s Pond to Peak Challenge and her ascent of Everest has been cancelled due to Covid-19 but she will hopefully be making this journey next year! (Natalie Silverman)  I (nstagram ) ( Kate Davies) (Instagram)  * Fertility Trauma explanation The term ‘reproductive trauma’ was first coined by perinatal psychiatrists Dr Janet Jaffe...  See ( for privacy and opt-out information.

Mar 2020

41 min 22 sec