by | 4 Dec 2016

I am writing this from the tranquility of the Scottish Highlands after a crazy, busy week.

On Monday evening, I was on BBC’s Panorama programme: Inside Britain’s Fertility Business which then, inevitably, resulted in lots of other things. Radio, newspapers, and more TV. If you haven’t read it yet, do have a look at my Guardian Opinion piece on the whole shebang.

The Panorama programme explored the proliferation of fertility treatment ‘add-ons’ which are being given (for a fee) to patients trying to conceive. A study by Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine into 27 treatments has found that 26 have no good scientific proof of success. I won’t elaborate here because you can watch the programme and read my article if you’re interested in the detail.

What I will say though is that this is a complex issue. Some people – including doctors and patients – really think these ‘add-ons’ work. Some people really think they don’t. Some people think the Panorama programme was one-sided. Some people think it’s investigative journalism at its best.

I think – and I hope whenever I speak and write this comes across– that I don’t know the answer. But I do know that the world needs to get better for people facing fertility issues and therefore it’s vital that this and so many other conversations are had.

So to end this crazy, busy week I’ve come to the Scottish Highlands for my own add-on – a weekend of swimming in lochs and sea! And I know many people will think: swimming in Scotland in December, are you mad? Well, maybe, but this is an add-on that works for me.


Me about to swim…


  1. Mel

    Am freezing just watching you!!! Hope you felt invigorated by your swim! X

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      I do, but the fire I’m sitting next to right now is far far better! Jessica x

  2. Dubliner in Deutschland

    Some people swim in the Irish sea all year round, it’s meant to make you hardy 🙂 I have mixed feelings about all the IVF add-ons. I don’t like how fertility clinics push them but then I think some things such as the immune testing and natural killer cells just need to have more clinical trials done. It can be so difficult knowing what to believe though when you are going through infertility treatment.

  3. thepursuitofmotherhood

    I totally agree with you. I have a hunch that there is something in the immune testing and treatment but I just don’t understand – given that it’s been around for years – why there haven’t been any definitive trials. I really hope the panorama programme does something to shift this somehow. Jessica x

  4. Jane UK

    Excellent and informative piece in the Guardian Jessica – really good. I will watch the Panorama programme. I wasn’t offered the immune testing or anything, maybe it wasn’t around then. We had “assisted hatching”, this meant moving our frozen embryos from one clinic to another – 10 years after they were first stored. It was a massive stress from start to finish – 6 of our embroys were treated and we used all of these over two cycles – we did not have a pregnancy with this extra treatment and expense – just like the previous 4 cycles (without the assisted hatching), no pregnancy. I’ll see if I can build up the courage to add my details and feedback to the survey. Thanks Jessica for raising the awareness. Enjoy the swims – I think I need dunking in a cold lake – just can’t shake the blues at the moment! I will likely fall into prosecco at the weekend instead!

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Your experience is so common – whilst my hunch is that some of the add-ons work for some people, without knowing who or why it’s so damn difficult (not to mention expensive!). I recommend a dunk in cold water for many things but, then again, a splash of prosecco is also very pleasing! Much love, Jessica x

  5. evamg26

    I love the way you decided to be happy and I do see the attractive of going into the water in December and in Scotland. Love it xx

  6. thepursuitofmotherhood

    You are as mad as me then and the pursuit of happiness is now my middle name! Jessica x