12 Reproductive Health Awareness Days for Your Organisations Event Calendar -image

12 Reproductive Health Awareness Days for Your Organisations Event Calendar 

Over the last five years in the UK alone, 1 in 5 employees undergoing fertility treatment left their jobs due to insufficient support from their employers—and a further 1 million women left their workplaces because of debilitating menopausal symptoms. These are just a couple of the stats that highlight the growing importance of workplace reproductive health benefits as an integral part of employee wellbeing.  As the adage goes, knowledge is power and one of the best places to start is ensuring your employees have ample access to educational resources surrounding their reproductive health.  Awareness days offer purposeful opportunities to provide employees with education and celebration over a range of important issues. This can in turn foster your organisation’s culture whilst making your employees feel seen and supported.  This 2024, why not build some of the following key female reproductive health-focused awareness days into your internal events calendar?  2024 Calendar of Reproductive Health Awareness Days 1. International Women’s Day When: March 8th 2024 What: A globally recognised campaign that celebrates women’s achievements social, economic and political achievements whilst raising awareness for gender equality.  2. National Endometriosis Action Month When: March 2024 What: A globally recognised month of action for the 1 in 10 people assigned female at birth who suffer from the reproductive health condition endometriosis.  3. National Infertility Awareness Week  When: April 21st – 27th 2024 What: A UK-focused awareness week highlighting the challenges, mental and physical, faced by those struggling with infertility. 4. Black Maternal Health Week When: April 11th – 17th 2024 What: A globally recognised week to amplify Black female voices and raise awareness for the historically higher maternal mortality rates in Black women.  5. Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week When: 29th – 5th May 2024 What: A global weeklong campaign dedicated to awareness around mental health struggles before, during and after pregnancy.  6. National Women’s Health Week When: May 12th – 15th 2024 What: A UK-focused weeklong campaign encouraging women and girls to make their health, physical and social wellbeing a priority. 7. Fibroids Awareness Month When: July 2024 What: A globally recognised month to raise awareness about uterine fibroids that affect around 2 in 3 women.   8. Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month  When: September 2024 What: A globally recognised month to support those who’ve been diagnosed with or indirectly affected by ovarian cancer.  9. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Month When: September 2024 What: A globally recognised month of action for the 1 in 10 people assigned female at birth who suffer from the reproductive health condition PCOS.  10. Menopause Awareness Month When: October 2024 What: A globally recognised awareness month focused on breaking the stigma surrounding menopause, including World Menopause Day on the 18th of October. 11. Baby Loss Awareness Week When: October 9th – 15th  What: A UK-focused week-long event dedicated to supporting those who have suffered pregnancy or infant loss.  12. National Fertility Awareness Week When: October 30th – 5th November What: A UK-focused weeklong campaign initiated to raise awareness about fertility issues, treatments and reproductive health education.  What next? Embedding reproductive health awareness into an organisation’s event calendar is an imperative step toward fostering a supportive and inclusive workplace culture. The alarming statistics revealing the impact of insufficient support on employee retention underline the urgency of addressing these issues.  By incorporating key awareness days and campaigns, such as International Women’s Day, National Endometriosis Action Month, and Menopause Awareness Month, employers can provide educational resources and celebrate the diverse aspects of female reproductive health. This not only promotes a sense of acknowledgement and support for employees but also contributes to a workplace environment that values the holistic well-being of its people.  At Hertility, we’re shaping the future of the workplace by supporting companies to become Reproductively ResponsibleTM. One way that we do this is through a range of CPD-accredited educational workshops that focus on female fertility and reproductive health. Ultimately, our aim is to change attitudes around reproductive health, both for individuals and in the workplace, and to encourage everyone to be proactive by tracking their reproductive health. We’re calling this the Reproductive Revolution! If you’d like to take proactive steps in this direction in 2024, get in touch – benefits@hertilityhealth.com. 

How to Boost Fertility Naturally in Your 30s-image

How to Boost Fertility Naturally in Your 30s

Age is a big factor when it comes to fertility, but on the whole, people are having children much later than previous generations—some well into their 30s. If you’re looking for advice on how to boost your fertility naturally in your 30s, there are several things you can do. Read on to find out.  Quick facts: Fertility in your 30s Age is a big factor when it comes to fertility and we’ve all heard of the infamous biological clock. In other (more scientific) words, your biological clock refers to your ovarian reserve.  This is the number of eggs you have left and equally as importantly, the quality of your remaining eggs. Both of these factors unfortunately decline over time, significantly so after your mid-30s.  That’s not to say that you can’t have a very healthy and even easy pregnancy in your 30s, it’s just worth bearing in mind that as you get older, it becomes more difficult to get pregnant and to keep the pregnancy. Luckily there are many different types of fertility treatments, like egg freezing and IVF, which can help those who have more difficulty conceiving naturally.  When you’re trying to conceive in your 30s, whether you’re using fertility treatments or trying to get pregnant naturally, every little helps. Your lifestyle choices, nutrition, menstrual cycle awareness and mental health can play a crucial role in your fertility journey in your 30s, and at any age. Let’s take a look at some of the key lifestyle factors and medical factors that can help you on your journey. Medical considerations and check-ups Boosting fertility naturally in your 30s begins with a proactive understanding of your reproductive health. Regular medical check-ups, including hormone and fertility testing, can help you to understand if any underlying conditions may be affecting your reproductive health and help you address any potential hurdles to pregnancy. Lots of healthcare providers recommend only visiting a fertility specialist if you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year without success, but you don’t need to wait that long.  While some couples have no trouble conceiving, 1 in 6 heterosexual couples face fertility struggles. Knowing your body from the inside out means you can seek support and advice faster with all the facts, should you need it. When it comes to getting pregnant in your 30s, timing is everything. By taking charge of your reproductive health through regular check-ups and fertility screenings, you equip yourself with the knowledge needed to optimise your chances of a successful pregnancy.  You may also want to consider getting a pelvic ultrasound scan to give you your definitive Antral Follicle Count (AFC). This gives you a clear and accurate picture of your remaining ovarian reserve Lifestyle changes to boost fertility Despite common misconceptions, you can implement lots of lifestyle changes to help support your fertility and reproductive health. While some aspects of fertility are out of our control, there are actions you can take to improve your chances of getting pregnant in your 30s, with and without fertility treatments. Lifestyle changes can help to boost your fertility naturally. Choosing a well-balanced and nutritionally rich diet, doing regular physical exercise, managing your stress and getting enough sleep can all support your fertility. Physical exercise to boost fertility Getting at least 150 minutes of physical exercise a week is important for supporting overall health—physical and mental.  Broken down, that could look like five 30-minute workouts, a week. This can be anything from a brisk walk to a gym session, yoga, swimming—or any kind of movement that’s right for you.  30-60 minutes of physical exercise per day was shown to reduce the risk of anovulatory infertility (infertility due to an ovulation disorder). Exercise not only balances your hormones, but it can boost your mood, help you manage stress and support your energy. However, being underweight, or doing vigorous physical exercise (more than 60 minutes a day) combined with eating in a calorie deficit, can negatively impact your fertility. This can have a knock-on effect on your hormones, which can lead to irregular periods and ovulation. Your menstrual cycle relies on a delicate hormone balance, and if your weight is too low or too high can throw them out of sync affecting your chance of conceiving. Stress management strategies for fertility Stress can also throw your hormones off balance, causing irregular periods and ovulation. It might also affect your desire to get intimate and reduce your sex drive.   Manage stress to boost fertility in your 30s by identifying coping strategies that work for you. You could try relaxation techniques like breathwork, yoga, meditation and mindfulness to help you relax.  If you find that self-help measures are not helping out, you can always consider seeking professional help.  The connection between sleep and fertility It’s recommended to get between 7-10 hours of sleep every night regardless of your health concerns. Sleep is associated with better health outcomes all round, including reproductive health.  So, how does sleep affect our fertility? A lack of sleep can cause your circadian rhythm (responsible for your sleep-wake cycle) to become dysregulated. This can cause knock on affects for your hormones and in turn your menstrual cycle and fertility.  One study revealed that in a survey of nurses of reproductive age, 53% reported menstrual cycle changes while engaging in shift work. To get a healthy sleep routine, try switching all screens off two hours before bedtime, and have a wind-down routine which could include a hot bath, calming tea, stretching or bedtime yoga. Try to stick to a schedule by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day, so your sleep-wake cycle is regulated. It’s usually easier to fall asleep when it’s quiet, dark and cool, but test different sleep environments to see which works best for you. Morning sunlight is proven to improve your ability to sleep too. Exposure to sunlight in the first hour of waking for 10-30 minutes a day, and in the afternoon as the sun is setting, […]

Five Personal Accounts of Navigating Egg Freezing-image

Five Personal Accounts of Navigating Egg Freezing

For women or those assigned female-at-birth, society ensures that as we age, we’re hyper-aware of our declining fertility. Jokes about our ticking ‘biological clocks’, extended family constantly asking when we’re going to ‘settle down’ and even trying to navigate company maternity policies—it can feel really overwhelming. There are many different pathways to parenthood and for a lot of people, either for medical or social reasons, their fertility timeline just doesn’t line up with where they are at in their personal or professional lives. Luckily, advances in reproductive science are enabling many people to access fertility treatments, like egg freezing, to preserve their fertility.  We spoke to five people, all with different circumstances, who have undergone egg freezing. We hope these accounts can help you to understand a little bit more about the egg freezing experience. Recap: What is egg freezing? The egg freezing process (known medically as ‘oocyte cryopreservation’) is a fertility preservation method and medical procedure that involves having your unfertilised eggs surgically removed from your ovaries, frozen and stored in a lab until you’re ready to use them.  You may choose to freeze your eggs if you want to have children in the future, but aren’t ready to yet. As you age, the quantity and quality of your eggs decline, which means your chance of getting pregnant does too. Freezing your eggs will preserve their quality, as they are now, for if and when you become ready to use them. There are two types of egg freezing: The egg freezing process An egg-freezing cycle involves several different stages including preliminary tests, ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, storage and then subsequently thawing once you’re ready to use them. Egg-freezing can be incredibly empowering—allowing you to control your family planning timeline and focus on your personal and professional life, or any medical treatment, without having to worry about your fertility decline.  However, it can be an intensely emotional journey full of ups and downs, with financial strain, daily injections, and hormonal changes that can affect your mental and physical health.  Remember—if you’re going through this process, Hertility’s fertility counsellors can support you through these challenges. While the procedure is generally safe, there is a small risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), which is a condition that can happen in response to fertility medication. For more information, read our egg-freezing guide. Natalie Getreu’s egg freezing journey Ovarian biologist and one of our very own co-founders, Dr Natalie, had a unique egg freezing experience after having been both a fertility practitioner and patient.  “I thought I knew everything about egg freezing, at least from a scientific standpoint. I’d supervised procedures, sat in on consultations, educated women and delivered lectures on treatments.  But when it came to undergoing the process myself, as a patient, it was a completely different experience.  I definitely didn’t fully appreciate the physical toll it would take, how draining it would be emotionally, or how much I would have to relinquish control to the process and just let my body do what it needed to do in response to the treatment.  Probably the biggest thing I came to appreciate was how much I needed to slow down. As a founder, there is an enormous pressure to be available 24/7, and as a woman, for everything to be done perfectly. There often doesn’t feel like we are afforded the space to slow down, but I realise now how important that is. The whole process made me have a much deeper appreciation of the lack of education and awareness out there about alternative routes to parenthood. If you’re thinking about undergoing treatment, get as much info as possible. Support is out there no matter what your circumstance is’.” Asher’s egg freezing journey “I discovered the importance of [egg freezing] the same day that I was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and recommended for Testosterone HRT. Luckily, this is when I was introduced to Hertility – finally some humane guidance, clarity and crucially being seen and understood as a trans person. The whole process became much clearer and felt more manageable, and honestly I started to feel inspired by the gift of being able to do this. The actual process wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined, especially in relation to triggering my dysphoria.“ Georgia Habboo’s egg freezing journey “The reason I did this was that I had not had a period since coming off the pill (it had been 3.5 years) and I literally was getting no answers from doctors after 10,000 tests. I did the hormone testing kit which I’m SO grateful for. My AMH, which is an indicator of your egg reserve (ovarian reserve), was really low – within the range of a 55-65-year-old, so they recommended that I freeze my eggs straight away”. Daniella Abraham’s egg freezing journey “At age 30, I wasn’t anywhere near ready to have a baby. Although I wanted the option to have kids in the future, I didn’t want to feel pressured into trying sooner than I might have done just because of my ‘biological clock’. Honestly, the hardest part was deciding if the process was right for me, but in the end, I’m so glad I chose to do it. “Freezing my eggs has given me reassurance that I didn’t need to rush into making any major life decisions and given me peace of mind that I will have the option to start a family in the future when I’m ready to.” Mish’s egg freezing journey “As I approached 35, I knew I wanted to freeze my eggs. I didn’t want to feel pressured to have a baby just because of my biology. But I had no idea if I would be able to  – I knew you can only get screened on the NHS if you’re trying, so I assumed I would just have to wait until then. “That’s when I found Hertility. I took a Hertility test which allowed me to see if I had any issues in advance of starting […]

Research News: Real-World Outcomes of Egg Freezing-image

Research News: Real-World Outcomes of Egg Freezing

Pioneering new egg-freezing research has been published by Hertility Doctors, Dr Lorraine Kasaven and Dr Benjamin Jones. Read on for a summary of their findings on the optimal age to freeze your eggs. Quick facts: Is it worth freezing your eggs in your 40s? This is one of the most frequent questions our Doctors get asked by women over 40. The answer, to date, has been—there really isn’t enough data to answer this confidently.  So, in true Hertility fashion, where the data doesn’t exist, we make it our mission to change that. This month, two of our Hertility Doctors, Dr Lorraine Kasaven and Dr Benjamin Jones, published a new study, ‘Reproductive outcomes from ten years of elective oocyte cryopreservation,’ using data from 373 women over ten years to find out the answer to this question once and for all. Their findings suggest that women should get their eggs frozen before the age of 36 to increase their chances of successfully conceiving.  Whilst previous research focused on the number of good quality eggs successfully frozen, Dr Lorraine and Dr Ben’s research looked at the real-world outcomes. Basically—what happened when women tried to use those successfully frozen eggs to get pregnant?  The research outcomes Of the 373 women who froze their eggs, only 36 returned to use them. Those 36 women went through a total of 41 frozen embryo transfers which resulted in 12 live births.  None of those who froze their eggs after the age of 40 had a baby. 82% of the babies were born to women who froze their eggs between the ages of 36 and 39 years of age. This research therefore suggests that egg freezing is a viable option for having children later in life but it’s not a ‘fail-safe’ way of preserving your fertility.  This research indicates: One step closer to closing the gender data gap We are immensely proud to have our doctors flying the flag with such important research. This research directly arms our doctors with the most up-to-date research for patient consultations.  It’s another small step forward in our universal understanding of female reproductive health and a giant step towards empowering the lives of women everywhere to have kids (or not) on their terms.  Read the full paper here.  References:  Kasaven, L.S., Jones, B.P., Heath, C. et al. Reproductive outcomes from ten years of elective oocyte cryopreservation. Arch Gynecol Obstet306, 1753–1760 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00404-022-06711-0

Research News: Fertility Preservation Outcome Study in Cancer Patients-image

Research News: Fertility Preservation Outcome Study in Cancer Patients

Recent research conducted by some of our Hertility Team, led by one of our co-founders Dr Natalie Getreu, has been published in the Fertility and Sterility Journal. Fertility can be affected by cancer and cancer treatment to such an extent that women may have reduced family planning options once they’ve completed their treatment. Although, records of the success of fertility preservation methods in cancer patients are not routinely collected by hospitals, fertility clinics or researchers. Instead, when it comes to egg and embryo freezing, clinicians routinely use success rates from patients that have undergone fertility preservation for social reasons as opposed to medical reasons. Therefore, our research team aimed to look into pregnancy outcomes in cancer survivors who had used their frozen tissues to provide more up-to-date and relevant information for these patients. Check your fertility The results revealed that between fertility preservation methods: egg, embryo or ovarian tissue freezing, there was no significant difference between these methods for women to have live births after pregnancies. At Hertility we are so proud to not only offer new and different care pathways for women but also to be home to so many amazing researchers. So we thought in this article we would take you through the research, and the findings and explain them to you. After all – knowledge is power! First up, let’s recap on fertility preservation…. We’ve already published an article that covers all the different types of fertility preservation for people with ovaries but here is a brief sum up: There are both medical and social reasons to undergo fertility preservation.  Medical fertility preservation means preserving parts of your fertility in people who might lose their ability to reproduce due to upcoming medical treatment, for example, cancer patients about to undergo chemotherapy/radiotherapy or people undergoing gender reassignment surgery, or for some who have an autoimmune condition that want to protect their fertility. Whereas, social fertility preservation is when you are opting to freeze your eggs because of social and age-related factors. There are several different fertility preservation methods, some of which include: Egg freezing – This is what it says on the tin: collecting your egg cells and putting them on ice for later use. Embryo freezing – This process involves fertilising your collected egg with IVF using either donor’s or your partner’s sperm and then the resulting embryo is frozen until you are ready to use it. Ovarian tissue cryopreservation – This method is created mostly for younger patients who have not yet gone through puberty and are therefore not able to fully mature their egg cells. Tissue containing immature eggs is cut from their ovaries and is preserved in a tissue bank until the tissue can be re-implanted and used at a later stage, however, this is not routinely used for the general population. There are more fertility preservation options but in this study, researchers only included cancer patients who had undergone oocyte, embryo or ovarian tissue cryopreservation (freezing) What did this study do? Researchers followed cancer patients that had both fertility preservation and then had fertility-damaging cancer treatment (gonadotoxic therapy) who were now looking to start a family using their cryopreserved oocyte, embryo or ovarian tissue. The main outcomes this research looked at were if there were clinical pregnancies (clinical signs of the foetus can be either seen or heard), miscarriages (pregnancy loss) and live birth (completed pregnancies that result in a live birth). What were the results? This study found that between fertility preservation methods: egg, embryo or ovarian tissue freezing, there was no significant difference between these methods for women to have live births after pregnancies. (In science it’s all about whether a difference is significant or not!).  Also high clinical pregnancy rates and live birth rates were observed in all techniques. They also found that freezing ovarian tissue results in significantly less miscarriages than embryo freezing, which is interesting and is something to further investigate! What do these results mean? Like anything in science, there are limitations in the study and this research does report some limitations since it was an early analysis. However, this is a really important and interesting starting point in this area of research and for cancer-related fertility preservation.Researchers hope that this study helps to establish better reporting of outcomes in cancer patients and will encourage clinicians to use appropriate statistics and information to counsel women who find themselves facing a cancer diagnosis on their chances of biological motherhood. If you fancy having a read of the article yourself, have a look here! At Hertility, we are dedicated to revolutionising women’s healthcare, whether that be through improving care pathways, helping women receive answers about their bodies through our at-home tests or contributing to the Women’s Health research. It’s all part of our mission for a #ReproductiveRevolution.

Egg Freezing Process: What is it and is it Right For Me?-image

Egg Freezing Process: What is it and is it Right For Me?

Egg freezing is a fairly new procedure, allowing you to preserve your fertility. But what exactly is egg freezing and what does the egg freezing process entail? Read on to find out. Quick facts: Egg freezing There’s no doubt about it, egg freezing has become a biology buzzword. And with good reason too.  Egg freezing can be a great option for many people, including those of us who want to become parents one day but aren’t quite ready to take the plunge just yet. Or those who have a reproductive health condition that could affect their fertility.  But what exactly is egg freezing? And how do we know if it could be right for us? Before we jump into the egg freezing process, let’s quickly recap on why we even need egg freezing in the first place. What is your ovarian reserve? As people with ovaries, we’re born with all the eggs we’ll ever have—known as our ovarian reserve. Unlike men, who produce sperm throughout their life, women have a limited supply of eggs.  We are all born with around 1-2 million eggs but by the time we hit puberty, we have around 300,000 left and this slowly declines as we get older. This decline increases more sharply post the mid-30s. Unfortunately, as we age, both the quality and quantity of our eggs decline (cheers biological clock). This means that as we get older, we stop ovulating as consistently and the eggs we do release aren’t quite the spring chickens they once were. So, as we age and our ovarian reserve declines, getting pregnant naturally also becomes harder. What is egg freezing? Egg freezing is what’s known as a ‘fertility preservation method’ that quite literally involves putting your eggs on ice for later use. Egg freezing involves using fertility medication which stimulates your ovaries to produce multiple mature eggs. Those eggs are then removed from your ovaries and frozen and stored in a laboratory, until you’re ready to use them. Eggs are frozen in what’s known as an ‘egg freezing cycle’. You may want to do multiple rounds to increase your chances of retrieving a larger batch of healthy eggs.  How many eggs can you freeze in one cycle? The number of eggs you can freeze in one cycle depends on how many eggs you’ve got left, how well you respond to the fertility medication and how successful the retrieval is.  Some retrievals will, unfortunately, yield no eggs that are suitable for freezing. Whilst in others, you may be able to retrieve dozens of eggs.  The whole process is what’s called an ‘egg freezing cycle’. We will explain each stage in detail below. It’s important to note that egg freezing is not a fail-proof method and its success relies on healthy eggs. The egg freezing process Step one: Blood tests and scans First things first, you’ll undergo several different blood tests to check your reproductive hormone levels as well as testing for infections like HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.  Testing your Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) levels can also give you a good initial indication of your ovarian reserve and how viable egg freezing is for you. You will also have a pelvic ultrasound scan to assess your ovarian reserve better by having a look at the number of follicles in your ovaries, known as the antral follicle count (AFC) i.e. an estimate of your egg count.  This step is also essential for deciding if this process is right for you and whether you have enough eggs to successfully do an egg freezing cycle.  Step two: Ovarian stimulation Depending on the results of your blood work and scan, your doctor will work out the best protocol, dosage of medication and how many cycles you might need.  You’ll be given fertility medication that will stimulate your ovaries. Your ovaries usually mature and ovulate only one egg during each menstrual cycle, but this medication encourages them to mature more eggs so multiple eggs to be retrieved.  During this simulation period, which is usually around two weeks, you’ll need to attend pelvic ultrasound scans and take blood tests regularly to monitor the growth of the follicles which house your eggs.  When your doctor thinks your eggs are ready, you’ll be given a ‘trigger injection’ which matures your eggs fully, readying them for collection. The timing of this injection is important and the egg retrieval usually happens 36 hours afterwards. Step three: Egg retrieval It’s time to collect those eggs. You’ll undergo a minor egg retrieval surgery performed under general anaesthesia or sedation. A long, thin ultrasound-guided needle is inserted via your vagina to retrieve your eggs.  You can go home after an hour or two of the procedure. Some people do return to work the next day, while others also rest the day following the retrieval. You might feel slight pain or discomfort and notice some spotting after the procedure. Your doctor will guide you on aftercare. Step four: Freezing, storing and thawing Once your eggs have been collected, they’re passed onto an embryologist who checks they’re all good to go. They will then freeze (cryopreserve) your eggs in a method called vitrification. Your frozen eggs will be stored in your fertility clinic to be later thawed whenever you’re ready to use them. What happens when I’m ready to use my eggs? When you’re ready, your frozen eggs will be thawed, fertilised with sperm, either from your partner or a donor if needed, and allowed to develop into embryos in the lab before being transferred into your uterus via a thin, flexible catheter.  Sometimes people may opt to undergo add on testing such as genetic testing of the embryos before they are transferred to select the best quality embryo. This is not a required step, may not be recommended for everyone and may have an additional cost. Who is egg freezing for? Technically, anyone with ovaries. There are many, many reasons why we might decide to freeze our eggs. Maybe we’re worried about […]

How to support LGBTQ+ employees-image

How to support LGBTQ+ employees

Deciding to start a family is never an easy process, but for some employees who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, their journey to parenthood might need some more support.  Being a 21st-century employer means establishing an inclusive, progressive and supportive work environment to attract and retain employees. A 2017 study by Mercer found that 33% of UK respondents do not offer equal benefits to LGBTQ+  employees because they do not know how to implement such a benefit!  Here are some ways to provide support to your LGBTQ+ employees in their fertility journeys Partner with experts like Hertility to raise awareness about the advances in fertility treatments such as IVF (in vitro fertilisation), IUI (intrauterine insemination), surrogacy, etc., that made it possible for LGBTQ+ couples to have biologically related children. Refer your employee to resources like Hertility that may help them understand the basics of all things reproductive health will make them more confident in their reproductive journeys. Gender-affirming treatments can impact fertility, and therefore, many require fertility preservation, such as banking eggs, sperm or embryos before medical transition. With the number of NHS-funded cycles declining rapidly, LGBTQ+ couples have to fulfil extensive criteria before being eligible for a funded cycle, because of which,  many are opting for private treatment, where the average cost per cycle can be about £5,000, varying significantly depending on the treatment options chosen and the clinic (HFEA). Listen to feedback from employees,  ask them what they would want to feel more supported in their choices and try to develop policies around them. Establishing fertility benefits policies – covering proactive fertility testing, fertility treatment or egg freezing costs or providing low-interest loans – can help align your interests with your employees, supporting their individual journeys to parenthood, facilitating equality, diversity and inclusion. If you have existing family planning and health benefit policies, revisit the language and clauses to ensure LGBTQ+ employees are eligible for the equal benefits to support them as they embark on their parenthood journey, whether that be through fertility treatment, surrogacy, adoption, or parental leave. Hertility can help train your staff on all things related to policies.  About Hertility Health Hertility Health is shaping the future of Reproductive Health by giving women the ability to understand and manage their fertility and hormone health from menstruation to menopause. 1 in 3 women suffer with a reproductive health issue, yet conversations around fertility, menopause and menstrual symptoms are still stigmatised in the workplace. As employees suffer in silence – up to £4k is lost per year per employee due to reduced productivity, absenteeism and presenteeism. To learn more about our Reproductive Health Education and Benefits for Employers, reach out to benefits@hertilityhealth.com or visit our website. Trusted resources:https://www.imercer.com/uploads/dmi/2017_lgbt_sample.pdfhttps://www.bpas.org/media/3484/bpas-fertility-investigation-nhs-funded-fertility-care-for-female-same-sex-couples.pdf    

What is Fertility Preservation and What Are the Different Methods?-image

What is Fertility Preservation and What Are the Different Methods?

Fertility preservation methods can be a great way for people to put having kids on hold, or preserve their fertility if they need to for medical reasons. Here we go through the main procedures available to women and those assigned female-at-birth. Quick facts: What is fertility preservation? Fertility preservation involves freezing your eggs, embryos, reproductive tissues or sperm, so they can be used in the future and you can hopefully have a biological family. For women or those assigned female-at-birth, there are a few different fertility preservation methods available. Which one is right for you will depend on your age, medical history and personal fertility goals.  Each method involves removing either eggs or tissues, freezing and storing them in liquid nitrogen—a process called cryopreservation. When you are ready to use them, they can be thawed and used to help you conceive.  These processes are all designed to help those at risk of potential infertility or to assist those who can’t conceive naturally. Who might use fertility preservation? There are lots of different reasons why someone may undergo fertility preservation. Generally, the reasons can be categorised as either medical or social preservation.  In the UK as of July 2022, you can store your eggs for 55 years for both medical and social reasons, as long as you renew your consent every 10 years. Medical fertility preservation Medical fertility preservation is for anyone undergoing fertility preservation for medical reasons. This could include possibly losing their ability to conceive naturally because of impending medical treatment. Reproductive health conditions Some reproductive health conditions such as Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) and early menopause can affect fertility. Additionally, conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids might require surgery around the pelvic organs to manage it, your doctor may suggest fertility preservation before this in case there is a risk of damage to the ovary. Cancer Certain cancers and cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy (especially targeting the pelvic organs), or surgeries impacting the ovaries, can impact our fertility. Egg freezing may be suggested on a case-by-case basis for those who are looking to have children post-cancer treatment. Gender-affirming care If you’re undergoing gender-affirming care, you might want to preserve your fertility before starting hormone therapy or having reconstructive surgery. Although anyone with or undergoing the above may still be able to get pregnant naturally, there might be a risk of impacting their ovarian reserve, which may make it difficult to conceive. This is why considering fertility preservation is recommended before starting therapy.  Social fertility preservation Social fertility preservation is when you freeze your eggs or embryos for ‘social’ reasons. This can include if we are worried about our natural fertility decline with age, but we aren’t quite ready to have children yet. Or if we aren’t sure if we want children at all, but would like to keep our options open for the future.  As we age, our egg quantity and quality decline. This can make getting (and sometimes, staying) pregnant more difficult. Age, also increases the risk of pregnancy-related complications, like miscarriage, genetic disorders in the baby and gestational diabetes, especially after our mid to late 30s. In our early to mid-20s, we are at our most fertile—but there’s still only a 25–30% chance of us getting pregnant each cycle. This gradually reduces during our 30s to around 5% by age 40.  What are the different types of fertility preservation? Fertility-preservation options for women and AFAB people include egg freezing, embryo freezing, ovarian tissue cryopreservation, ovarian transposition and gonadal shielding. Egg freezing (Oocyte cryopreservation):  Egg freezing is a medical procedure which can help us to plan for our future fertility. It’s what’s known as a ‘fertility preservation method’, or scientifically speaking, ‘oocyte cryopreservation’. Egg freezing involves taking medicine to encourage the growth of the eggs in our ovaries, which will then be collected during a short surgical procedure. Viable eggs will be frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen (-196°C). They do not decline in quality—like they would do if they remained in your ovaries as you age.  These eggs can be thawed at a later date whenever you are ready to start a family through fertility treatment. This whole process is what’s called an ‘egg freezing cycle’.  Technically, you can freeze your eggs at any age before menopause, but eggs retrieved in your 20s and early 30s usually result in better outcomes than those in your late 30s and 40s. This is largely to do with the quality of the eggs at the time they are retrieved, as generally, our eggs begin to decline more rapidly from 35 onwards. Embryo cryopreservation (embryo freezing) This is a procedure that involves removing eggs from the ovaries, fertilising them with either a partner or donor sperm to create embryos and then freezing the resulting embryos for future use. Embryo cryopreservation would usually require an in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) cycle.  The egg retrieval process is similar to the one used in egg freezing. Once retrieved the eggs will be analysed in the lab by an embryologist and then fertilised with sperm from your partner or donor once. They are then placed into an incubator to allow the resulting fertilised egg (embryo) to develop.  The embryos are then frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen. Once you are ready to conceive, the embryo will be thawed, cultured and will be transferred to the uterus.  The number of embryos transferred is dependent on your age, the quality of the embryo(s) and if you have had failed IVF cycles in the past. It’s generally preferred to transfer just one embryo because this reduces the chances of complications associated with multiple pregnancies.  If you have good-quality embryos left over at this stage, you can opt to freeze them for future cycles, discard them or donate them to someone else. Sometimes, if a sufficient number of embryos are not collected in one cycle, your doctor will recommend another cycle. Ovarian tissue cryopreservation Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is the only fertility preservation option to help younger people who have not gone […]