INFERTILITY – LOCAL HELP IS AT HAND 2560 2560 The Flyer Magazine


Fertility challenges can be very daunting, especially far from the usual city services, but one local woman has used her own trials to support others going through the same thing and give them a lift.

Fertility Support Queenstown group co-ordinator Eva Hooper and her husband spent a very challenging three or so years trying to conceive a child and they know only too well the heartache couples go through.They now have a precious 18-month-old son named Leo, thanks to IVF treatment. However, Eva says she felt very isolated going through her infertility journey in Queenstown with support and clinical services all based in Dunedin or Christchurch. “I’d travelled on the infertility journey and experienced how Queenstown is really isolated when it comes to community support and clinical help. I felt really lonely,” says Eva. “Infertility is stressful enough, but we had to add to that regular travel to Dunedin. Depending on the treatment, women aren’t always sure how their bodies are tracking which makes planning ahead difficult, and the roads can be icy in winter preventing travel at the right time. It’s a real stress cocktail,” she says.

The difficulties she went through prompted her to partner up with Fertility New Zealand, a nationwide charity, to launch a local support group here in Queenstown in February where women and men going through the same trial that she did, can meet up for support and encouragement once a month. One in four Kiwi’s will experience infertility or will struggle getting pregnant, Eva says. “Everyone talks about preventing pregnancy, but nobody talks about people who can’t get pregnant,” says Eva. “It’s all quite hidden.” Eva was about 33 when she and her husband first decided to try and have a baby. “We were taken by surprise when reality hit us that having a baby is not as easy as we’d imagined it to be. We simply thought it may take about six months max.”

Fertility Support Queenstown is affiliated with the national support agency and can direct women to the right help whether that be counsellors or specialists. Eva’s advice is if a couple has not achieved pregnancy after one year they should seek professional help getting pregnant. However, if the woman is over the age of 35, or has some family history of infertility, a couple should not wait a full year but only six months before getting help.

Most of the women and men turning up to the Queenstown support group’s monthly catch ups are from the Wakatipu, but Eva says some travel over from Cromwell and Wanaka too.

Fertility NZ support co-ordinator Kate Barby says 26 percent of New Zealanders struggle with infertility. “There’s been an incline due to people putting off conceiving a child,” says Kate. “Our advice is to plan for your last child, not your first. We recommend people work backwards in terms of timing.” Much of the problem is also finding the right person to settle down with, she says. “A lot of New Zealanders have to have that house with the white picket fence, that one last big trip, all their ducks in a row before trying to conceive, then some find out they have fertility issues.” Even if people meet the criteria for public funding there’s usually a two-year wait for fertility treatment, she says. Infertility is not just a female problem. Forty percent of women and men are equally affected,” says Kate.

There are many causes, not all of them explained, but she says lifestyle and environmental factors can attribute to the problem.

For more information see:
To contact Fertility Support Queenstown check out its closed Facebook group (FNZ Queenstown Fertility Support), or email: [email protected]

Fertility fast facts:
As many as 26% of New Zealanders will experience infertility during their lifetime
IVF (in vitro fertilisation) has around a 30 percent chance of a baby per cycle of treatment
Fertility declines with age for both women and men, although the effects are more dramatic and earlier for women
Lifestyle improvement, including optimising weight; exercising moderately and regularly; and eliminating smoking, drugs and minimising toxins, caffeine and alcohol can help the chance of conception.  Some people try complementary treatments, such as acupuncture and naturopathic treatments.