From Acupuncture to Yoga: Can Lifestyle Choices Improve the Odds of IVF Working for You?
Progress Educational Trust
College Hall, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, 232-242 St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5RJ
14 June 2018
A free-to-attend public event in Glasgow, taking place this coming Thursday, produced by the Progress Educational Trust (PET). The event is supported by the Scottish Government, and will be chaired by Professor Richard Anderson (Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Edinburgh).
Speakers will include Dr Abha Maheshwari (Clinical Lead in Reproductive Medicine at the Aberdeen Fertility Centre), Isabel Traynor (Senior Charge Nurse at Glasgow Royal Infirmary's Assisted Conception Service), Dr Jane Jamieson (Nutritionist at the Natural Fertility Centre) and Dr Margaret McCartney (General Practitioner and author of books including The State of Medicine and The Patient Paradox).
Attendance is free, but advance booking is required.
Book your place now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
If tweeting about this event, please use the hashtag #IVFlifestyle
Since the world's first IVF baby was born in the UK 40 years ago, most fertility treatment has centred on a small number of key procedures - ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval and sperm collection, the actual in vitro fertilisation, embryo culture, and embryo transfer.
However, there is more to being a fertility patient than simply undergoing these procedures. Patients are often told - by their clinic, by its partner organisations, by the media, or by other figures - that what they eat, what they do, and even what they think has an important role to play in the likelihood of their IVF treatment succeeding.
To be eligible for publicly funded IVF, UK patients are often required to fall within a certain range of body mass index (BMI), to abstain from smoking, and sometimes to abstain from alcohol as well. Such criteria are in place throughout Scotland (where, unlike England, there is a consistent level of IVF provision) and are justified with reference to research concluding that these factors can indeed affect the success of IVF.
But fertility patients also encounter high-profile claims, about what they can do to improve their chances, that go well beyond these criteria. Sometimes, recommended courses of action come at (additional) financial cost. And sometimes, these recommendations go beyond medicine as conventionally defined, and enter instead the realms of 'wellbeing' or of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
This event will ask:
To what extent is fertility-related lifestyle advice simply part and parcel of promoting good health more generally? At what point should fertility patients become sceptical of such advice? Should they be willing to pay for additional guidance, therapies or supplements to optimise their chances of success?
When fertility clinics offer additional forms of support to patients, that go beyond the straightforwardly medical, is this an enlightened and helpful thing to do? Or could it potentially be exploitative?
Approaches to fertility that fall outside conventional medicine are increasingly described as 'integrated' or 'integrative', or as addressing the 'mind/body connection'. Do such approaches offer an alternative to the mainstream fertility industry, or have they become an integral (and profitable) part of it?
Are patients who use assisted conception being singled out, as targets for non-medical or quasi-medical advice and marketing? Or is it becoming the norm for all prospective parents to receive this?
Undergoing invasive medical treatment to fulfil a cherished hope, with no guarantee of success, can be a source of anxiety or stress. Is it accurate to tell patients - as some do - that their anxiety or stress may reduce the odds of their IVF succeeding, and that this problem therefore needs to be remedied in its own right (perhaps at additional cost)?
A common theme of much lifestyle/wellbeing/CAM advice is that modernity, artifice, convenience and mass production - whether in relation to food, work, travel, electronic devices or household products - are associated with stress and toxicity. By contrast, products and practices which can be presented as 'natural', or which are derived from older customs, are presented as wholesome and helpful.
Can this stance coexist meaningfully with IVF, which is by definition an artificial intervention to bring about a pregnancy when nature will not oblige?
In the PET tradition, much of the event's running time will be devoted to letting the audience put questions and comments to the speakers.