Ian HarkinModeratorMay 14, 2020 at 10:51 pmPost count: 2344
By Jenny Sinclair
Part One: Barriers to Fertility
Geva Mentor wants to have children, but, single and in the prime of her netball career, has been facing odds that are increasingly stacked against her. She recently went through an egg retrieval procedure in the hope of future proofing her dreams. Natalie Medhurst considers herself lucky. She had fertility issues, and after going through a range of investigations and assisted measures she and her partner are expecting their first child. Sonia Mkoloma is playing a numbers game, having had three miscarriages and three failed IVF cycles in the past six years. She didn’t start trying for a family until her elite career finished at the age of 35, and she’s anxious that it might not happen.
Aged between 35 to 41, the three athletes know about limitations. That their reproductive years, like their sporting careers, won’t last forever. Given little concrete information about how sport could impact their fertility, they did their own research. Each woman made a conscious decision to tread a pathway to assisted reproduction. Littered along the way were physical, emotional, logistical and medical factors that complicated the process. The trailblazers hope that by sharing some of their more intimate details, that people might gain a wider understanding of the problems they faced, and why all active females should consider their health as well as their sporting careers.
Photo Kirsten DaleyIan HarkinModeratorMay 14, 2020 at 10:57 pmPost count: 2344
Part Two: How can female athletes be better supported
Associate Professor Vinay Rane believes that the problem of infertility in female athletes is ‘endemic’. He says, “I’m finding it’s the rule rather than the exception, for physiological, medical, mental and logistic reasons. I’m treating women who want access to what is a fundamental human right, and I don’t believe our sporting systems are structured to let that happen easily.”
While he’s been encouraged by maternity provisions in Netball Australia’s and Cricket Australia’s recent Players’ Agreements, he believes more can be done. “For women to be able to have a baby, and then be welcomed back into a code is important. We celebrate that as we should. But there are still so many barriers to fertility to consider, and that we could have systems in place to manage better.”
There are a number of ways in which athletes and experts believe that the players can be better educated or supported about issues they might face with their fertililty.
Photo Marcela MasseyIan HarkinModeratorMay 14, 2020 at 10:59 pmPost count: 2344
Part Three: Geva Mentor – I retrieved my eggs
Geva Mentor is investing in her future. Looking to a life after netball, she is studying to become a teacher, learning – along with other Suncorp Super Netball players – how to invest her pennies, and has recently been through an egg retrieval process. Using technology to preserve her fertility was a big, but considered, step. Geva said, “Having a family is something that I always just imagined would come. You get married, you get a house, kids and pets, and the whole family lifestyle. But once you have sport wrapped into that things change, a different order occurs.”
It was in 2019 that Geva reached a point where she went from wanting to be a mother in the future, to worrying that it might not happen. Her marriage had ended and it was proving difficult to find the right long term partner. “One that I can enjoy life with, work with, someone who is a companion and I can share everything with. “Because for me, having a baby is about more than just bringing someone into the world, it’s about creating new life with someone you love.”
Photo Geva MentorIan HarkinModeratorMay 14, 2020 at 11:03 pmPost count: 2344
Part Four: Natalie Medhurst – pregnant after fertility treatment
It’s almost unbelievable to Natalie Medhurst, but at 36 and at the tail end of an elite netball career spanning 17 years, she is pregnant. Emotionally, she’s ‘excited, daunted, and everything in between,’ but most of all, she’s grateful. Facing fertility issues and struggling with the all-encompassing nature of elite sport, she wasn’t sure she’d ever become a mum. In her earlier years, neither Nat nor her ex-husband wanted kids. On reflection, she said, “I think it was because we realised deep down that we just didn’t want kids with each other. When that relationship finished, my whole perception changed.”
In 2018 Nat met Samuel Butler and, the happiest they’d ever been, the pair quickly realised they wanted a future together. “We’d both been through a lot in terms of previous relationships, so we spent a lot of time talking about who we were as people, our goals and so on. “The discussion around having a family came up really early, and he was the one who encouraged me to get looked at because I was on oral contraception at that point. So I made an appointment to see a doctor, and things progressed from there.”
Photo Nat MedhurstIan HarkinModeratorMay 14, 2020 at 11:12 pmPost count: 2344
Part Five: Sonia Mkoloma – multiple miscarriages
Talking to Sonia Mkoloma about her fertility is like hopping into the ring with Muhammad Ali and receiving gut-punches that leave you winded. She’s endured an unfathomable three miscarriages – one of them with twins – and had three embryos fail after implantation. It’s been a brutal process, but Sonia remains cautiously optimistic about having children. For almost two decades the English superstar was focused on her netball. She competed at five Netball World Cups – a record she shares with an elite handful – and her 123 national test caps a number that few others reach.
In 2008 Sonia moved to New Zealand, and then on to Australia in 2010, to further her on-court career. Busy with netball, and squeezing life into the gaps around it, she didn’t stop to think about her fertility. Sonia said, “Subconsciously I always thought having children would happen, but didn’t really pay it much attention. I wanted to be in a relationship before I thought about a family. “And because I didn’t come over to play in the ANZ Championship until I was 28, I was quite late netball wise, so that was my priority at the time.”
Photo Simon LeonardboogieyaParticipantMay 15, 2020 at 12:21 amPost count: 14
One word POWERFUL
So glad this topic is being aired and talked about by the experiences of 3 of Netball not just Elite but well respected players..
PROUD of U Geva: Nats: Sonia:
Well Done Jenny & Netball Scoop for having ‘the balls’ to publish these 5 articles.Ian HarkinModeratorMay 21, 2020 at 11:56 pmPost count: 2344Ian HarkinModeratorMay 21, 2020 at 11:57 pmPost count: 2344
Thanks to @traceynev for being so open in her first newspaper interview since giving birth. On how lockdown with a newborn is the "hardest thing" she's ever done, her fertility struggles and keeping her sense of identity in her new role as mum to baby Nevhttps://t.co/jYB2XXMUhv
— Molly McElwee (@molly_mcelwee) May 20, 2020
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