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Book Review: The Essential Fertility Guide

25 January 2016
Appeared in BioNews 836

The Essential Fertility Guide

Edited by Professor Robert Winston

Published by Quadrille Publishing

ISBN-10: 1849495408, ISBN-13: 978-1849495400

Buy this book from Amazon UK

For couples who have difficulty in conceiving naturally, the Essential Fertility Guide by Professor Robert Winston is an excellent book. It tackles the main causes of infertility in a simple and engaging way.

Professor Winston outlines what's involved in the tests needed for a diagnosis of infertility, and then goes on to describe the more commonly used treatments, their success rates, risks and the alternatives to IVF. The Essential Fertility Guide aims to help couples take control of their situation through informed decisions about their condition and knowledge of all available assisted reproduction options.

The relative success of IVF for a range of infertility cases makes it the 'gold standard' in assisted conception, but it often leaves vulnerable couples open to financial exploitation of their desire for parenthood.

Professor Winston mentions at least twice in the book that IVF treatment in some parts of the country can cost five times as much as in other parts, and he is critical of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority on this subject. 

All too often, IVF is offered straightaway to couples who are unable to conceive. Professor Winston explains, however, that IVF can only treat the symptoms not the causes of infertility, and when IVF does not work it is most likely because the root cause of a couple's infertility is hindering its success.

The irony, he says, is that had the cause been found and eradicated, natural conception may have been possible. He describes having come across a number of such cases in which the causes of infertility had not been investigated properly.

The Essential Fertility Guide dedicates four chapters to IVF, with every aspect challenged – from fertility medication protocols to embryo-freezing services. His explanations are simple and rich in scientific evidence and references, and each one is followed by an engaging example of a patient that he has treated.

Professor Winston discusses the benefits of observing the embryos through a specialised time-lapse incubator. It is an expensive technique designed to help the embryologist choose the best embryo for transfer. But he contends that there is not yet enough evidence to say whether the appearance of developing early embryos is an adequate criterion for determining their viability.

He also discusses the risks of ovarian cancer following IVF.  While there has been some evidence that it results in an increased risk, Professor Winston says that analysis of the research shows that infertile women who conceive following IVF treatment actually have a lower risk of ovarian cancer.

The main message of the Essential Fertility Guide is that you should stay informed about your fertility. Professor Winston recognises that failure to conceive after IVF is devastating for couples, with financial, emotional and physical implications. This book will help to guide people through their fertility treatment and, in doing so, either help them to conceive their dreamed-of baby or, having exhausted all the possibilities, to reach closure on the subject.

Buy The Essential Fertility Guide from Amazon UK.

16 March 2015 - by Simon Hazelwood-Smith 
This interview started badly for Professor Robert Winston. Within the first four minutes he had branded the concerns of opponents to mitochondrial donation 'trivial', and almost immediately after denied that he had done so...
23 February 2015 - by Sandy Starr 
Members of the House of Lords have expressed concern about a Government Bill that would arguably compel the UK's fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, to consider economic growth when making its regulatory decisions...
19 January 2015 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
The fourth and final session of the Progress Educational Trust's (PET) annual conference was a single speaker session: Professor Lord Robert Winston, who was introduced and chaired by Jeremy Laurance...
8 December 2014 - by Professor John Galloway 
Although the word was not actually used (or at least I did not hear it), this was a polemic making the case for 'eugenics'...
12 May 2014 - by Chee Hoe Low 
The advancement of IVF techniques could 'threaten our humanity' if it enables the rich to pay for designer babies, said Professor Lord Robert Winston, a pioneer of the fertility treatment...
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