Isabelle Durieux is a collaborator of Ovoclinic and the founder of Fertility Boost. She helps patients with reproductive issues to overcome the challenges they face during the infertility process with personalised techniques and programmes. Isabelle became a mother thanks to assisted reproduction, and her more than 10 years of coaching experience make her a reference to follow. Don’t miss the interview! 😊
INFERTILITY IS A GROWING ISSUE IN TODAY’S SOCIETY. IN YOUR TEN YEARS AS A FERTILITY COACH, HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY CHANGES?
In 2014, at the age of 31, I began my assisted reproduction treatment in Australia. During this time, I also underwent check-ups at the assisted reproduction centre in Aix-en-Provence. Over the past decade, I’ve noticed a positive shift in conversations surrounding assisted reproduction. Although change takes time, we’re moving in the right direction. I’m optimistic about the future.
For instance, a lovely community has emerged on Instagram, where women support each other in their experiences with assisted reproduction. Not feeling alone in this struggle provides certain comfort, and ten years ago, this wasn’t so common. Women going through this process can find a professional space in my Instagram account @fertilityboost_bella.
IS FERTILITY STILL A TABOO SUBJECT, OR IS IT BEING DISCUSSED MORE OPENLY?
The feeling of taboo can appear in various contexts, but it’s most often associated with our closest and most intimate circles. However, the taboo is gradually being lifted, because it’s now widely known that one in four couples have difficulty conceiving even after 12 months. Being aware of this fact helps to alleviate the guilt felt by many couples who’d previously felt isolated.
It’s becoming more and more common for prospective mothers to seek emotional and nutritional support during their fertility journey. In the United States and Australia, my fertility coaching service is widely used and culturally accepted. This trend is also gaining momentum in European countries, including France.
Another situation comes to mind which reinforces the taboo factor that exists within the subject. Conversations about having a baby through assisted reproduction are often marked by insensitive comments, not only by family and friends, but also by medical staff. This is a reality. In almost all of my consultations, patients report receiving at least one inappropriate or unpleasant comment, which they’ve had to deal with on their own. These unwarranted negative judgements cause them feelings of deep sadness, anger, and frustration. For example, one patient was told, “You’re 40 years old. What have you been doing until now? You’d better hurry!”
Therefore, prospective mothers undergoing assisted reproduction treatments tend to protect themselves by avoiding conversations about the subject. These negative emotions can build up and add to the stress and anxiety associated with the treatment.
That’s why I’ve created an emotional support programme focused on assisted reproduction, so that prospective mothers can receive real support from a fertility expert on a holistic level. I guide them with personalised advice, in an empathetic, positive and non-judgmental way. They feel safe in an atmosphere of trust, creating a context that is conducive to successful conception.
IN ONE OF YOUR PROGRAMMES, YOU ACCOMPANY PATIENTS FROM THE EMBRYO TRANSFER TO THE PREGNANCY TEST. HOW CAN THIS WAITING PERIOD AFFECT THEM EMOTIONALLY? WHAT’S THE COACHING KEY TO GIVING THEM MORE PEACE OF MIND?
According to a recent study, the waiting times involved in the various stages of assisted reproduction treatment prove to be a challenge for 90% of patients in France. This journey is often accompanied by feelings of stress, fatigue and disappointment.
Waiting for the result of the pregnancy test is often a genuine cause of anxiety for future mothers. Immediately after my embryos were transferred, I remember asking: “What should I do during the wait? Do you have any advice?” The classic answer is always “Get on with living life as usual”.
Do you really think it’s possible to resume a normal life with a recently transferred embryo, after undergoing a stressful, difficult process? I was convinced that it was possible to provide personalised support until the pregnancy test. Having had first-hand experience helps me to understand how these women feel, and I’m delighted to be able to offer them this emotional support, which is clearly crucial. The key to giving peace of mind, in my opinion, lies mainly in customising the programmes I offer. The goal is to provide specific advice that resonates uniquely for each woman going through assisted reproductive treatment.
IN FRANCE, WHERE INFERTILITY IS A MAJOR CONCERN, WHAT INFLUENCE DO SOCIO-ECONOMIC FACTORS HAVE WHEN IT COMES TO HAVING A FAMILY?
Socio-economic factors comprise various parameters, such as the woman’s occupation. According to a study carried out by The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, the fertility rate of French women over 40 has tripled since 1980 and is still rising. Motherhood later in life is becoming increasingly common, with more and more women postponing starting a family. This trend is particularly noticeable among women in professional settings, who choose to have a stable career before having children. Other factors, such as continuing their studies or separating from a partner, as well as different viewpoints within the couple with regard to having children, help us to better understand the socio-economic influence.
On a daily basis, I accompany women aged 40 and over on their fertility journey, and many of them achieve their dream. Along with emotional support, I provide them with specific advice, including “Fertility Food”, which is a dedicated fertility diet to strengthen egg cell quality and provide energy for the future baby. For those undergoing egg donation IVF in Spain, we prepare the best possible conditions for the arrival of their baby.
YOUR PRACTICE IS MAINLY FOCUSED ON THE PATIENTS’ EMOTIONS. HOW CAN COACHING CONTRIBUTE POSITIVELY TO THE EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING OF PATIENTS UNDERGOING FERTILITY TREATMENT?
According to a recent study carried out in France, assisted reproduction affects all aspects of women’s lives. Specifically, 92% of women reported an impact on their daily life, 84% on their professional life, and 80% on their relationship and sex life.
Therefore it’s important to seek support and not hesitate to reach out to a fertility coach or programme. Coaching is effective when it’s personalised, and this is what I offer prospective mothers. My approach involves positively impacting the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes calmness and serenity. This helps regulate the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and in doing so, a better hormonal balance is achieved. This in turn has a positive effect on the future mother’s neurotransmitters of well-being, such as serotonin, which is crucial for a better experience of assisted reproduction treatment. The participants in my programme feel empowered and have more control over their emotions, which is highly beneficial in this process. The advice I offer aims to reduce stress, allowing you to regain peace of mind, confidence, and positivity.
OVOCLINIC HAS PERSONALISED PROGRAMMES TAILORED TO SUIT EACH PATIENT AND ACHIEVE THEIR DREAM. THEY COVER TWO YEARS OF UNLIMITED ATTEMPTS, PROVIDING PATIENTS WITH PEACE OF MIND AND SECURITY THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS. IN THE EVENT OF NOT ACHIEVING PREGNANCY OR BIRTH, WE COMMIT TO REFUNDING THE TREATMENT COST.
DO YOU THINK THAT HAVING MORE TIME AND FLEXIBILITY ARE FACTORS THAT HELP COUPLES FEEL MORE CONFIDENT WHEN IT COMES TO CHOOSING A CLINIC?
The term “Pregnancy and Birth Guarantee”, along with “unlimited attempts” have a reassuring effect on the prospective mother who dreams of holding her baby in her arms. This clearly removes certain psychological pressure from the outset. In addition, the proposed protocols are often limited to a certain number of attempts, leaving the possibility of additional expenses up in the air. With this guarantee, you have financial visibility from the outset, with the possibility of reimbursement, depending on the circumstances. These conditions enable patients to achieve a calmer and more confident state of mind.