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National Fertility Week: ‘My story of unexplained infertility’

29 October 2018

Infertility is more common than you might think: around 3.5m people (1/7 couples) experience difficulties conceiving.

Very rarely, however, is it a topic of conversation around the watercooler. Well-meaning attempts at advice or personal connection – like ‘You should try holding a newborn baby’ or ‘My friend tried for years, then drank loads of wine on holiday and got pregnant naturally’ – often backfire.

As part of National Fertility Awareness Week, BBC Producer Laura-Jane decided to share her own experience.

Laura-Jane’s story...

Once my husband and I had been trying to conceive for about 18 months, we were referred to the Assisted Conception Service in Glasgow.

We sat in the stark waiting room, complete with two-month-old magazines and cheesy 80s tunes. How normal everyone else looked. They were just like us ...but what did we expect couples getting IVF to look like?

We’re taught from an early age how to prevent unwanted pregnancy, but we’re never taught how difficult it can be for some couples to get pregnant.

Laura-Jane’s story

The director of Making Babies shares her experience of trying to conceive.

We have what is called ‘unexplained infertility’, which means the doctors can’t find a clear reason why it’s not working.

After lots of (for me) quite invasive tests, the doctor sat us both down and explained, ‘You have a healthy womb, you have great sperm. You should be making babies and we don’t know why.’

It can be incredibly frustrating and we have tried everything:-

• eating pineapple core to help implantation
• ovulation sticks
• tracking temperature
• forgetting about it all together
• going on holiday
• cutting out alcohol
• cutting out caffeine
• legs up afterwards
• wearing socks to bed (ancient Chinese medicine believes it keeps the womb warm)
• one round of IVF
• about a dozen other things I’m too embarrassed to write down

When you can’t find the problem, it’s hard to find a solution.

During all of this, it was difficult to share what we were going through with those around us.

We were always very open when asked about starting a family: “Oh, we have unexplained infertility, so we’re probably going to be getting IVF” and always received the same ‘sorry to have mentioned it’ responses — followed, of course, by one of those advice or personal connection stories.

Share your own story

Laura-Jane is currently working on Making Babies, a documentary on unexplained infertility which follows couples who are struggling to get pregnant.

If you would like to share your own story, please get in touch 📧.

From BBC Radio 4’s PM

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