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Book Review: Making Friends with your Fertility

15 January 2018
Appeared in BioNews 933

Making Friends with Your Fertility

By Sarah Rayner and Tracey Sainsbury

Published by Creative Pumpkin Publishing

ISBN-10: 0995794855, ISBN-13: 978-0995794856

Buy this book from Amazon UK

The entire landscape of human fertility, from puberty to menopause, is the uncharted territory we tread from adolescence to middle age and sometimes beyond. It is a heady mixture of hormones, reproductive functions and barely acknowledged social and emotional narratives played out against our own and familial expectations. It involves asking difficult questions of ourselves and sometimes admitting that the common binary of children and happy families do not necessarily follow. 

This can be a confusing and stressful journey as even well-meaning friends and family can contribute to the difficulties felt by those who go through reproductive issues. For every woman whose path into parenthood is smooth and uneventful, there are several more whose trajectory is tortuous and open to physical and emotional turmoil. Those of us whose experience was turbulent and problematic could only look on in envy as more fortunate friends made it all look so easy. Fertility, or its absence, may not seem so much a friend as a foe, and a debilitating one at that.

Part of author Sarah Rayner's 'Making Friends' series, this manual offers its readers a frank and honest guide to every aspect of reproductive help, ranging from the biological to the social and emotional nuts and bolts of fertility. Rayner and fertility counsellor Tracey Sainsbury bring warmth, humour and above all a wealth of authoritative content that will satisfy readers looking for specific, scientific descriptions of the functions of eggs, sperm and other reproductive paraphernalia as well as those who want to be physically and emotionally prepared for an eventual pregnancy and birth.

Advice on avoiding 'faddy' diets during pregnancy is sensible; there is an unspoken acknowledgement that those seeking fertility treatment can be all too easily persuaded into spending time and cash on treatments that do not, in themselves, improve clinical outcomes. Here though, the writers are sensible and pragmatic, and advise that any therapy that improves well-being, provided it does not make any unfounded claims, can help in the quest for parenthood. The authors' use of anecdote helps to bring the disembodied voices of those who have tried and tested some of these remedies to the reader's attention, like impartial friends generously sharing their experiences.

It is particularly useful to have a wide range of aspects of fertility acknowledged and discussed. On the subject of deciding to stop fertility treatment, for example, the writer is clear-eyed about the financial and emotional implications. She also warns that friends and family are often unable to process this at the same speed as the couple in question. Her extensive experience as a counsellor places great importance on communication with partners, family and friends. She also emphasises that these relationships may sometimes disappoint and flounder, not out of malice but most likely through lack of a clear road-map through uncharted territory.

The text is relaxed and informal, without compromising on the science of reproduction that can become the all-consuming, all-absorbing obsession of those embarking on their journey towards conception. These sections are factual and highly informative, packing in details and diagrams that are easy to follow. It takes the reader through the stages of pregnancy in a way likely to provide reassurance and comfort to those whose confidence has been undermined by years of physical and emotional hurdles. Later in the book, the illustrations are humorous, wistful and charming, complementing the great warmth of this useful and well-written work. 'Making Friends with your Fertility' is a comprehensive manual that will be of great use to women, couples and prospective grandparents too.

Buy Making Friends with your Fertility from Amazon UK.

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