Our founders, Adam Balen and Grace Dugdale, have been passionate about educating men and women about their reproductive health and fertility for many years. Indeed, this is how they first met.
The rest, as they say, is history!
Why fertility education is so important
Reproductive health is fundamental to general health and wellbeing. Whether you want to conceive, avoid pregnancy, understand how your fertility might decline with age or manage underlying health and menstrual symptoms, there is no greater form of disempowerment than feeling out of control through lack of knowledge about your own body. Women suffer for years before having a diagnosis for common health problems including polycystic ovary syndrome (POCS) and endometriosis, and a lack of knowledge, including amongst GPs and even some gynaecologists, can at best extend pain and suffering for many years and at worst cost women the ability to have their own biological children. This is why Adam and Grace also provide training to GPs to ensure they are up to date with the rapidly evolving scientific research in the field.
Adam Balen founded the Fertility Education Initiative
The stakes are high, which is why Adam and Grace have given so much of their time freely over many years to educating the public about reproductive health based a long history of clinical experience and working directly with patients day-to-day. Recognising the clues your own body is giving you about your wellbeing is the one of the most important tools for protecting lifelong health.
Adam single-handedly founded the Fertility Education Initiative (FEI) whilst Chair of the British Fertility Society after bringing together numerous disparate groups with a common interest via The Fertility Summit at The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists – a one day conference presenting research into fertility awareness amongst young people and experiences from international partners and related organisations. After a substantive amount of work had already been done, Adam went on to appoint two deputy chairs to support the aims of the group, Professor Jacky Boivin and Professor Joyce Harper. Adam also co-founded The Fertility Forum – another event at The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists this time providing patients with the opportunity to listen to leading experts talk about fertility and reproductive health.
As one of the UK’s most highly qualified doctor’s and a world-leading fertility expert with a high profile globally, Adam is a much sought after media commentator on the topic and routinely appears on TV and radio including BBC, ITV, Sky, Radio 4, and LCB radio. His commentary on current issues in fertility and reproductive medicine and the latest scientific evidence appear regularly in the national press. His pioneering research into PCOS has informed clinical practice globally and his numerous books have reached a huge audience, been translated into several languages, including Chinese, and considered to be the standard text on infertility for doctors in numerous countries including India.
Fertility education on the national curriculum
A huge achievement of Adam’s is that he coordinated feedback from the various interested parties of the Fertility Education Initiative to the government’s sex and relationship education consultation exercise resulting in fertility education becoming a mandatory part of the national curriculum. This will help educate the next generation about the importance of understanding their own reproductive health. Fertility matters and it’s important we teach young people how to protect it.
Grace Dugdale’s passion for fertility education and women’s health
Grace has spent many years researching sex and fertility and has spoken at a wide range of events including The Fertility Show, The Fertility Forum at The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Verity events for PCOS patients, Latitude Festival, Festival No 6, Harrogate Festivals, and Salon London. She has given her time freely to educate the public on these important topics before founding Balance Fertility. Her media appearances include Sky News, BBC 1, and LCB radio and her work was featured in the prime-time BBC documentary ‘The Truth About Carbs’.
Teaching men and women about their own reproductive health and fertility
Recognising that not everyone can afford the private consultations she offers, Grace developed a free fertility and preconception care course for patients in Leeds to educate men and women about the numerous factors that are under individual control that can impact reproductive health, wellbeing and ageing. As part of this four-week course, Grace was the first person to develop a dedicated fertility cookery class for patients to encourage people to cook from scratch using healthy, fertility-boosting ingredients. The overall aims of the course are to teach men and women about the fundamentals of fertility and use this vital knowledge as a basis for interpreting scientific evidence about reproductive health and also to understand the signs and symptoms in their own bodies that can help identify any problems they may be experiencing. A major motivating factor in converting this course and her clinical work to an online format came from patients, many saying the fertility course should be mandatory before undergoing IVF. Her clinical work goes far beyond simple diagnostics and existing medical treatment. Both male and female infertility are linked to health problems later in life and undertaking a programme to address underlying health issues and biological dysfunction that can contribute to infertility act as a preventive medicine intervention for the father, the mother and the lifelong health of any baby born.
Grace has been speaking about the link between general health and reproductive health at events including The Fertility Show for several years.
Grace Dugdale’s role in the Fertility Education Initiative
After attending the Fertility Summit, Grace joined the Fertility Education Initiative committee and has contributed significantly to this cause since its inception. Combining her skills as a writer and a biologist, she has written two animations for The Fertility Education Initiative to educate young people about the menstrual cycle and natural fertility, and the fertility technologies available to treat infertility and create modern families.
Making a difference
Women often lack knowledge to effectively deal first with menarche (the onset of periods), then the challenges and complexities of the menstrual cycle and fluctuating hormones through the reproductive years, followed by a sharp decline that comes with the menopause. Understanding the biology is the foundation for changing the status quo.
The next step is to know what to do with that knowledge. Whether couples are trying to conceive or individuals are grappling with the often debilitating symptoms of conditions like PCOS, patients experience significantly improved general health and wellbeing as a result of working with Grace. This sets them up to protect their long-term health – both physical and mental. Following the huge success of this work, the demand from patients for Adam and Grace’s combined work integrating holistic evidence-based dietary and lifestyle interventions with medical treatment helped to give birth to Balance Fertility.
Understanding your body is skill for life and this is very much the basis of Adam and Grace’s work.
The Fertility Book
Adam and Grace have written a book on the subject to continue educating the public about reproductive health. The Fertility Book is published by Penguin Random House and is out next year.