Fertility problems are estimated to affect around 15% of all couples, a percentage which translates to a global figure of 48.5 million people, more than the entire nation of a country like Spain. Infertility and complications caused by it such as miscarriages are physical manifestations of an inability to achieve and/or maintain a pregnancy but a myriad of negative emotional and psychological effects are also triggered by the disease. According to respected journal, BMC Women’s Health, almost 87% of infertile women experience anxiety and in nearly half, this is expressed as depression. The psychological impact of infertility is not only borne by women. Multiple studies have shown men experience a range of feelings including a sense of loss, stigma and reduced self-esteem.
The loneliness, frustration, anger and sadness which can accompany the inability to achieve or maintain a pregnancy was once, only shared amongst the closest of friends and infertility was traditionally considered as a taboo subject. The dawning of the digital age however has enabled infertility and those who experience it to be able to finally step out of the shadows. Anyone who now has to consider the fact they are facing problems with conception and pregnancy can access information, talk to others experiencing the same issues, consult with professionals and book treatment in the comfort of their own home.
The expansion of support available to those who experience fertility problems has encouraged a new generation of individuals and couples who are prepared to go ‘public’, share their emotions with others and proactively seek answers to the issues they face. Online platforms. Forums, intermediaries, and influencers have helped create a fertility community that have become accustomed to speaking to others and prepared to hold their hands up and ask for help when necessary.
Unfortunately, as we are all aware not all we read and view online is a true reflection of reality and information. In particular, sensitive information aimed at the vulnerable must be considered with a note of caution. Websites, reviews and posts can be loaded and biased, open to misinformation and we all know how statistics can be manipulated to justify any point of view.
The fertility community are a close one, patient forums are great hubs where information (positive and negative) is considered and shared. It is however one that is exposed to a lot of information and promotion and it is easy to see how anyone new to the community can be totally bombarded and confused by the abundance of reading and visual material available.
With this in mind, a new online platform called FertiAlly has been created by a team of professionals with extensive experience of working with the fertility community worldwide. The aim is offer transparent, jargon free videos made by fertility practitioners (medics, scientists, psychologists, coaches, counsellors and therapists) answering questions posed by patients which are freely accessible on the platform’s website and YouTube channel.
Alex Wiecki, one of its Founders of FertiAlly explains the rationale behind the platform,
“There is a lot of irrelevant information online about infertility and it is difficult for patients, especially those recently diagnosed, to find answers to their specific situation. We have created FertiAlly to bring the close fertility community a little closer by offering the opportunity for patients themselves to lead the discussion. We offer videos involving the very best fertility experts who respond impartially to questions, concerns and doubts raised by individuals and couples going through this terrible disease.
We recognise that our service might only represent and answer one piece of the complicated puzzle which is infertility but we hope this initiative will complement existing, independent support services offered to patients which do so much to offer honest, unbiased help”.
If you search ‘Infertility’ into Google you immediately get over 57,000, 000 results which proves the point. The problem is not the amount of information out there relating to infertility, it is how you decipher what information is right for you. FertiAlly allows you to create knowledge based on your own particular requirements. Knowledge which is given freely by experts which can be considered at home and be used to start your fertility journey, hopefully leading to a successful pregnancy.
FertiAlly.com complements a whole range of independent patient support resources that provide specific information and help. These include,
https://fertilitynetworkuk.org/ A not for profit patient network offering support and advocacy for UK based fertility patients and campaigns for free and equitable access to funded fertility treatment via the NHS
https://www.fertilityclinicsabroad.com/ An independent service listing carefully selected international treatment providers based on patients’ reviews and clinic experience
Despite being in its infancy FertiAlly has brought together over 70 of the world’s leading fertility experts who now offer a growing bank of information and answers to patient questions. If you are a fertility patient looking for answers and you don’t know where to start, FertiAlly could well be the most appropriate starting point. Visit the FertiAlly YouTube channel to begin your journey as a prospective parent.
This article covers lots of feedback I have heard from patients, in the hope that it will help doctors and nurses understand how patients really feel, and also help everyone that is going through IVF know they are not alone.