It just so happened that I caught on Instagram a hashtag going around the IF community – #RELAXGate. Hmmmm what’s this about?
Well on a day time TV programme in the UK, Lorraine, a TV Doctor was talking about IVF and apparently he said that “couples need to just relax.
Ummmm Yeh, NO….everyone going through infertility knows that this is the complete opposite of what you should say to someone going through infertility. And for it to come from a medical professional?
Relaxing is not going to resolve male factor issues, women who don’t have Fallopian tubes, women with endometriosis, couples with unexplained infertility…and many more. relaxing wont suddenly fix all those issues. Because infertility is a disease.
Now, I can see that suggesting that couples going through infertility treatment should find time to take care of themselves, that is good for the mental soul. It IS stressful – pregnancy loss, drugs, tests, invasive procedures, juggling finances, time off work, bloating, weight gain, needles. It’s a lot to deal with.
So I thought I’d go find out exactly what the TV doctor suggested. (Unfortunately, I cannot find a link on YouTube yet to share with you. Hopefully someone will share it soon, although with the negative attention surrounding this episode I doubt it will be released by ITV anytime soon. So you can only see this episode of Lorraine if you live in the UK (search Wed 18 Apr 18 episode on ITV hub))
The purpose of the section within the TV show was to raise IVF awareness as it had been in the news this week (Apparently I missed that). First of all someone famous announced they conceived twins from IVF (Chris Evans). Second of all, an MP was making calls for the British government to ensure that everyone across the UK get equal access to IVF. Currently in the UK the NHS the guidelines for access to infertility treatment differs depending on where exactly you live. Some places don’t even offer IVF at all. People are moving across the country so that they can get treatment! So this is all good stuff.
So the show introduced this and then moved on to taking questions from three ladies and the doctor attempted to answer them. Boy, did the show pick some women who have very challenging questions. These women have been through a lot. It was always going to be awkward.
The first woman had already been through 5 rounds of IVF (considering the that the NHS only offers a maximum of 3 rounds I am guessing she went private, out of pocket. She has suffered two miscarriages and will be going through their 6th round later in the year. She asked a question about whether there are things that she can do health living wise and whether it would help with treatments as a positive outcome. He said, yes it’s a good idea to be healthy and to Check for nutritional deficiencies anemia, thyroid issues, immune factors (all NON standard infertility tests by the way and often tested after multiple failed cycles) he also talked about importance of thinking about healthy foods and supplements (on doctor’s advice). OK, so not too bad of an answer….
The second lady has been going through treatment over 5 years, and is about to try IVF for the third time. She asked about the effects of the IVF medications on health in the long term. The doctor answered that there are no effects in long term. So that was quite easy. Actually, that isn’t entirely true. The fact is that really we just don’t know, the research is lacking in this area. Some studies have indicated increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes (from an increase in weight due to the hormones).
The third and last lady has been through 3 rounds of IVF, 2 FETs and 2 miscarriages. Her question was if she decides to try again, what could she do differently. His answer? He said the best thing you can do is just RELAX.
WHAT???? Say again? Did you just tell this woman to JUST RELAX. he also said ‘JUST’, which negates her struggles even more.
He continues…”Just get on with your life, relax, forget about whether it will work or not…..forget about the statistics of success as you get older, there is no reason it wont happen, be positive and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.”
Some sound medical advice right there. NOT.
I should add that THIS DOCTOR IS NOT A REPRODUCTIVE ENDOCRINOLOGIST he is a General Practitioner. He is a famous TV doctor. WHY did they not bring on the fertility specialist? Especially with women asking questions who are way into their infertility journeys with multiple failures.
And so #RELAXGate began.
The Dr – Dr Hilary Jones (@DrHilaryJones) apologised on Twitter, but he digs himself further into a deeper hole in my opinion:
He then also spread a false perception that when people stop trying they get pregnant. I wrote a whole post on this and I cant find the link. But really? Why are you still speaking??? When you apologise you NEVER say…”but”…you just negate everything you said before.
BTW – I am loving this tweet from @IVFBuddies….
6 thoughts on “#RELAXgate”
Wow! The truth is that those IVF warrior women who were asking questions probably know more about the science of conception than this doctor. That was a really bad choice not having a RE on there. Relax! What an idiot.
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Ha! Yes that is so true, I think the programme didn’t really do their research :-s
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As someone who went through infertility and multiple miscarriages, I usually hate it when someone says relax. But after reading the entire question and the answer to it, I say he worded it poorly, but the heart was in the right place. She asked what else can I do to improve my chances, he basically said, the max you can do is not to stress about it. If it work or not, no one knows, you are already doing the best you can, sometimes, it just works and sometimes unfortunately, it doesn’t.
I feel sorry the Dr got trolled for saying Relax, but yes, I agree, he worded it poorly. He could have said it better defenitely.
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and yes, his second part defending his first answer is worse! Seriously, its a pity they don’t teach empathy at med schools.
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My RE had a pretty bad bedside manner – she was just awkward – but we could tell she meant well in the end. But I’d take a doctor with bad bedside manners and the best expert knowledge any day 🙂
Yes, when I watched it, he wasn’t really dismissing the lady’s struggles, but I think he genuinely had no detailed medical advice to give because he was a GP (and it was a brief 90 sec Q&A encounter!) so resulted in this advice which is definitely ironic to the IF community in general. Finding ways to de-stress is definitely an important part of infertility treatments and I am willing to bet doctors who treat the whole body and mind get a better success rate.