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Thirteen fertility stories of happiness, heartbreak and hope in Essex

Healthwatch Essex has published a book and short film series of people’s stories of fertility and baby loss, as part of a project named “Happiness, Heartbreak & Hope: Experiences of Fertility in Essex”.

The project began in May 2022 with the charity speaking to families and individuals who have a wide variety of different experiences of fertility. The primary aim of the piece of work was to raise awareness of different fertility experiences ranging from IVF to surrogacy and including baby loss – giving a voice to topics and issues which are not always made so visible.

The project explores 13 people’s stories through interview-based study investigating themes of stigma, mental health, self-perception and support and advice.

Healthwatch Essex spoke with people who completed their fertility journey with their desired outcome as well as families who unfortunately did not. The study included speaking to females who live with conditions that could affect fertility, including Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, as well as men and same sex couples, to ensure it was fully representative of all family types and people’s different journeys to parenthood.  

The stories throughout the book and films explore how the journey impacts the way people view themselves as ‘male’ and ‘female’ in relation to parenthood and the impact it may have on other factors, including on relationships and further treatment.  

Participants from across Essex took part in the project; including heterosexual couples, same sex couples and a single gay man who experienced having children through surrogacy. 

Samantha Glover, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Essex, said:

“Fertility journeys can be complex and sometimes difficult experiences for many people and there are such a wide variety of different stories out there – all with different issues, themes and experiences running through them.

“We hope that the book, films and podcast will go some way to supporting people on their fertility journey, with all of the variations and unique intricacies that might involve.”

 Healthwatch Essex Information and Guidance Service can be contacted at 0300 500 1895, by text on 07712 395398 or 

 Photo: Healthwatch Essex