‘I’m glad Vicky Pattison has spoken about fertility struggles – we must break the stigma’

‘I’m glad Vicky Pattison has spoken about fertility struggles – we must break the stigma’

Since rising to fame on Geordie Shore, TV personality Vicky Pattison has become known for being open and honest with her fans.

Most recently, the 35 year old bravely spoke about her fertility journey and revealed that she couldn't move forward with freezing her eggs due to a an ovarian cyst. However, after finding out that the cyst is now gone, Vicky shared the news that she is now taking the "next steps" towards motherhood.

So, as the TV stars continues to raise awareness of her fertility journey, certified fertility practitioner Raquel Monroy commends Vicky for helping break the stigma surrounding the topic…

"Infertility is one of the most heartbreaking challenges a person can face. As I sit down to write this, I can feel the weight of this topic on my shoulders. It is not an easy subject to talk about. But why?

1 in 7 couples are struggling with fertility issues in the UK. According to the charity Fertility Network UK, 3.5 million people are battling with fertility challenges, and this statistic doesn’t include same sex couples or individuals. So it’s a topic which deserves our attention, yet we still don’t talk about it nearly enough.

Vicky Pattison speaking about her fertility struggles could not have come at a more serendipitous time. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week – a campaign which started in the US but has spread to the UK and beyond. You only need to search the hashtag on social media and you will see a number of people telling their stories of infertility. This week is an opportunity to break the stigma around this topic and for anyone experiencing this to feel seen and to know you are not alone.

The NHS defines infertility as: “Infertility is when a couple cannot get pregnant after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sex”.

For anyone right now traversing the pain of infertility, I see you. You don’t have to be going through fertility treatment to find this difficult. Scheduling sex, tracking ovulation, symptom guessing, peeing on a stick, negative results month after month. It’s hard. And for those watching their partner go through this, it’s hard for you too. I am a fertility practitioner and I can tell you from working with numerous couples and individuals trying to have a baby, infertility is anything but black and white.

For many, trying to have a baby is a rollercoaster of hope and heartbreak. The financial, emotional and physical toll. The impact it can have on one's mental health – the sadness of seeing yet another pregnancy announcement, the feeling of being left behind in friendship groups. Aside from the physical difficulty of having a baby, one of the most challenging aspects is the feeling of isolation. When everyone around you seems to be getting pregnant effortlessly, it's easy to feel like something is wrong with you.

It’s even harder when people start asking you when you’re going to have children or why you haven’t had any yet. For those good intentioned friends or relatives, please think twice before bringing up this conversation. The truth is, we don’t know what people are battling with behind closed doors. For those struggling to have a baby, questioning along these lines can make your stomach tie itself in knots, as you fight back tears while trying to formulate an appropriate response. (FYI an appropriate response is ‘it’s none of your business’. However, we’re British, so we will reply in a polite manner, through gritted teeth). The truth is, unless you’ve experienced infertility yourself, it’s impossible to understand how devastating it can be.

Perhaps the hardest part of trying to have a baby is the uncertainty. There are so many unknowns in the process. By raising awareness of infertility I hope to have an impact that ripples beyond just the clients I help. As a fertility practitioner, my ultimate goal is to empower individuals on their fertility journey, and I believe my expertise in nutrition and lifestyle strategies along with investigating root causes for fertility issues, can make a meaningful difference in their journey. Evidence-based research shows the positive impact diet and lifestyle strategies can have on fertility outcomes. I do not intend to gloss over how painstakingly difficult infertility can be nor am I seeking to minimise the effort that goes into trying to start a family.

However, there is a huge area of nutrition, lifestyle and identifying the root causes of infertility that goes unexplored. Nutrient deficiencies, gut health, thyroid function, sperm and egg health, male factor infertility, hormonal imbalances, addressing inflammation or infection etc. All of these areas are not routinely investigated but can often be the root cause of fertility issues. There are many factors that can be investigated further or worked on to not only help you feel more in control over your fertility but also improve your physical and mental health which would put you in good stead for your path to parenthood.

I hope in the not too distant future the stigma around infertility will be lifted. If you are going through this I encourage you to talk and share your experience. However, I also appreciate that no two people will experience infertility in the same way and perhaps sharing your story is too hard. That’s OK too. Just know you are not alone and there is support here for you."

Raquel Monroy is a certified fertility practitioner, helping couples and individuals identify the root cause of their fertility concerns and optimise their fertility through diet and lifestyle strategies. For more information visit www.raquelmonroy.comor visit Instagram @raquelmonroynutrition.


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