How to survive IVF
Since the world’s first test-tube baby Louise Brown was born in 1978, IVF has become part of our language. Nowadays, one in 50 babies born in the UK is the result of in vitro fertilisation and the success rate, currently about 25 per cent with each cycle, increases every year. But as couples who have been through the process know, the joy comes at a cost. Journalist and broadcaster Richard Mackney, 44, and his wife Rosie Bray, 39, a TV producer, whose one-year-old daughter Molly was conceived through IVF , have written a new book, Get a Life, as a ‘his and hers survival guide’ for other couples. They explain the whole process, with advice from fertility expert Dr James Nicopoullos, and are also frank about ‘how [infertile couples] might feel at every juncture. Because what fertility clinics don’t tell you is how hard IVF can be on you emotionally and how it can severely test the most stable relationship.’
Richard was not ready for the fact that men are often ignored during the whole IVF process. ‘At most of the clinics we went to all the attention was on Rosie. I was dismissed as having “the easy job”. Not so, in fact, as I found out.’ So, throughout the book, Richard tells it like it was for him. Here are some things he learned.
Don’t wait too long to get help. 'You won’t want to admit there’s a problem, but you’ll know there is when sex becomes a chore, timed by charts and gauges to coincide with your other half’s peak fertility. I started making excuses to avoid it – too tired, busy, a headache… As hard as it is, you have to talk about it and make that appointment with the GP . It can save months of arguing, denial and blame.’
It may not be the 'fault' of either of you. I was convinced it was me – all that sitting on office chairs, all that booze. But my first sperm test was average and Rosie was fine, too. There was no traceable medical reason why she wasn’t getting pregnant, which is true of nearly a third of people with fertility problems.’
At the IVF stage, the man can experience the ultimate performance anxiety. 'After a month of the woman taking drugs to increase egg production, her eggs are removed under sedation. The man then has to produce a sperm sample in a booth, under a strict time limit. It sounded easy, but I couldn’t do it – our first go at IVF failed as a consequence, which is a lot to deal with. I later discovered that I could have frozen a sample in advance, just in case.’
• Get A Life: His & Hers Survival Guide to IVF by Richard Mackney and Rosie Bray is published by Orion Books, price £14.99*
WEBSITE OF THE WEEK; www.psoriasis-association.org.uk
This skin condition, which affects two to three per cent of the UK population, often worries people most in the summer, when they cannot hide the raised plaques under clothing. As with many problems, it helps to share. One forum thread discusses the impact of ‘watching everybody parading round in shorts and dresses while I’m in jeans and long-sleeved tops’. A correspondent recommends the skin camouflage service run by another charity, Changing Faces (www.changingfaces.org.uk).
Home delivery company Abel & Cole’s new seasonal organic Super Salad Box offers all the ingredients – except salt, pepper and olive oil – for three imaginative salad recipes. We made asparagus with sumac and sesame quinoa, curried tomato and pepper salad and spanakopita salad with baby spinach, alfalfa sprouts and fresh ewe’s cheese. The box made plenty for two scrumptious and satisfying vegetarian suppers for two. £19.50, www.abelandcole.co.uk)
Enterosgel is a new anti-diarrhoea product recommended by experts, which is suitable for all ages. ‘It protects the gut lining, removes toxins but leaves vitamins and other beneficial compounds, and does not penetrate the bloodstream,’ explains pharmacist Shabir Daya of Victoria Health. £18.43 for 10 sachets, www.victoriahealth.com.