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By Kate Brayden

If you have any knowledge at all about ‘alternative’ medicine, you have most likely heard whispers about crystal healing. Some refer to it as a pseudo-science, others call it life-saving. Either way, it can be an incredibly fascinating experience to try.

Before I had tested it out for myself, all I knew about the fad was that the crystals are used are normally minerals or fossilized resins, believed to have beneficial properties for both physical and spiritual wellbeing. The use of crystals as a form of medicine goes back centuries, though today this has mostly transitioned to modern or conventional forms of medicine. The practitioner of crystal healing places the crystals on different body parts based on their intuition of the client’s needs, and often corresponds to the seven chakras. Other types of practitioners place crystals around the body to construct energy grids, and surround the person with a type of healing energy.

When it comes to crystal healing and science, the topic becomes contentious. Scientific investigations have yet to validate claims that chakras or energy grids exist, and any scientific arguments for it have not been peer-reviewed; meaning they maintain unconfirmed. Other researchers argue that the crystals have the placebo effect, hence why it’s considered a pseudoscience when it comes to medical journals. Stuart McClean examined folk medicine in the past, and alleges that crystal healing contrast with other forms of alternative medicine because participants view the practice as "individuated", in other words; dependent on extreme personalisation and creative expression. Make of that what you will, but essentially it suggests that each of us can have completely different experiences when it comes to alternative medicine, dependent on our minds and spirits. If we refuse to accept it, then we can achieve no positive energy, for example. In the same way as physical, medical treatments in the modern field, not every drug or surgery will heal 100% of patients. When it comes to healing, we are all unique.

However, just because those in the medical and scientific communities who go on concrete facts alone cannot physically see the effects does not mean that the crystals don’t have any basis behind them. None of us can ever experience the physical emotions or feelings of another person, and just because the trend can’t be understood by all doesn’t mean there isn’t any validity to it. I decided to interview a crystal healer and attend a healing in order to greater comprehend the interesting practice, get a more rounded view of the type of clients who visit these practitioners and ask a healer about their experience.

One of the things which struck me when I was conducting background research into the matter was the feeling that some forms of alternative healing ‘take advantage’ of a patient, or vulnerable person, in a way. I’m assuming these people imagine tarot card readers who read a person’s pain and tell them exactly what they desire to hear in order to profit from them and their emotional needs. When I met Rebecca Singleton, I immediately knew that, at least with my chosen crystal healer, she was not using her profession to profit from the pain of others.

Rebecca Singleton
Image credit: Metta Healing

I felt a connection to her straight away, and she was both kind and empathetic, as well as noticeably calm in her demeanour. She refrained from pushing her practice or beliefs onto me, she never encouraged me to spend my hard-earned money on healing; I was there to gain a sense of relief and energy release in any way possible and she most definitely wanted to help me achieve this. Hearing about healers who are unqualified, or simply capitalising off the pain or vulnerability of others must be difficult for healers like Rebecca who aim to work with integrity; “You’ll see that a lot. Some people can be a bit pushy sometimes. I never try and be forceful, or say you have to do ten sessions or anything. I also say to them that there’s no need to come back if you don’t want to.”

I was drawn to a crystal healer for the dominant reason of my own personal experiences with the Irish healthcare system. After it took three years, three countries and thousands of Euro to find a diagnosis for my own physical pain, I felt massively disconnected from my own body. I went through rigorous physical therapy, testing, physical exams, surgeries, injections, hormones and multiple types of medication in order to find some sense of relief, most of which failed. Suffering immense pain in silence and having your voice stifled in every single GP clinic, every consultant’s office, every hospital waiting room can take it’s toll on a person. It’s easy for others to ridicule alternative healing when they haven’t been failed continuously by modern medicine. So what exactly do these other forms of feeling have which draws in hundreds of clients? I decided to experience it for myself to find answers.

Image credit: Metta Healing

According to Rebecca’s website Metta Healing, she studied numerous forms of energetic healing from; Reiki, Angelic, Seichem, Elemental, Crystals and Rahanni, using her experience to help clients individually. She ascertains that channelling energy flows brings the most dynamic healing experience possible; “It is for many a space and time just to be.” According to Rebecca, she works “intuitively” by channelling the high healing frequencies of crystals and angelic healing. It’s about peace, compassion and achieving a sense of balance.

During my healing session, I laid down on a table underneath a blanket, in a warm and dimly lit room with candles. It’s a relaxing space, with scents and an indescribable calm. One of the first questions I asked Rebecca was about cures, whether she is expected to totally cure a patient or if she ever claims to;  “I’d never claim to cure anybody of anything – never- but it would sort of speed up the healing process. If you broke your arm and the regular physical healing was two months, but you came for regular (crystal) healing, it might heal in one month. It helps your body work faster.” She works with “imbalances” in the body; alternating energy levels and the seven chakras. ”What I’d be doing is going to the root causes of pain. Let’s say you were holding emotional trauma, you’d be trying to release that. This would have a knock-on effect in terms of pain relief.”

I was intrigued by her background as a healer; how long she had practised the trade and her path from discovering crystal healing to the present day.

Image credit: Metta Healing

”I started training, doing healing, in 2006. 14 years ago, then I started practising full-time in 2009. As part of the healing training you do a bit of counselling. I was a practising yoga teacher as well. I have crystal healing, spiritual healing, angelic healing, naturopathy, homeopathy.” Fascinatingly, Rebecca’s background was in the corporate world after studying arts in college. “I found it really difficult. The company I worked for shut down and we were made redundant. I hard started doing the healing part-time. I worked in gaming, and got offered a job pretty much immediately from a big company. Everyone said I was mad when I turned it down, but I just thought that if I don’t do it now, I’d never do it. I could never go back to a 9-to-5 office situation. Even when I was on maternity leave, it’s hard coming back but I love my job, and there’s not many people who can say that. It’s traumatic, you see a lot of people who are experiencing trauma, which can be very humbling.”

How does she begin with a brand new client, who may be nervous or sceptical? “With clients, I’d sit down and try and get a background of where they’re coming from while having a chat. There are clients who just come to see what it’s like and don’t want to open up, it takes them a couple of sessions to really open up to me. “After chatting to them and doing a couple of healings with them, other stuff will come to the surface.”

The long-term healer ponders the reasons why sleep problems, fertility issues and stress are the most common notions plaguing some of her visitors. ”I have quite a few clients coming with fertility issues; it’s the stress of that. They come not necessarily for me to heal their fertility issues, but ultimately they end up getting pregnant, which is great. Of course, I’m not saying that’s just down to me, but it’s the relief of stress.” Healers can see an upsurge in business during unusual times in Irish life. “In the recession I was quite busy. I kind of thought that this was a luxury and people wouldn’t come to me, but people were stressed. People want different options nowadays; they’re getting disillusioned with modern medicine. With social media as well, people don’t get a break. There’s also disillusionment with the institution of the Church, and are seeking peace elsewhere.”

I was also curious about gender and healing, whether some are more open-minded than others about the trade; I have seen men, but most of my clients are women. I certainly have male clients though. Women are just more open to it, I think men are just a bit more cynical, and that’s fine. Usually you’ll find that if a man gets into it then they’re really into it.”

As far as the recommended length of time for visiting a healer goes, the process is intended to give you the tools to balance your own energy after seeing a professional; ”I’d usually recommend to a client to come four or five times, because the healing energy builds up over time. It might take four or five sessions every two weeks, and after that they may come every couple of months. It depends on the person, how open they are. Some people release loads of energy in the first healing, and others take three sessions to start releasing anything. It’s about trusting me and feeling comfortable, and it also depends on the issue. Some people have inner-child things going on, trauma, which can be difficult to be release. The release of it is stressful and upsetting, because it’s bringing it up again. Every day it’s a different scenario,” Rebecca muses.

Dealing with the emotional energy of another can be incredible exhausting, so the prospect of employment which features the release of a client’s burden arguably puts a strange sense of responsibility on a healer’s shoulders. “Quite often people get upset. I’d much prefer for someone to get upset and cry and release it than holding it in, because by crying you’ll release it. People often say they have no idea why they’re crying, they might have come here for something different and then they’ll end up crying. People often don’t know why they’re upset or why they’re stressed. They just think life is busy. I embrace people crying. You might find when somebody leaves, that they become emotional in the evening. I usually tell them that they might experience emotions that evening, but that they’ll feel better tomorrow.”

How does she explain her actions to new clients who are experiencing crystal healing for the first time?

“People aren’t always relaxed in the first session, they’re often wondering what exactly I’m doing. For crystal healing, crystals absorb negative energy. Let’s say there’s an imbalance in the body, or a disease in the body. If an organ was overstimulated or overactive, you’d use the crystals to sedate the organ. You’d use the organs to stimulate an underactive organ alternatively. With women who have fertility issues, I’d stimulate the reproductive organs and that area, release any heaviness or sadness that they may be carrying in this area. You might find with some women who have had a miscarriage, they are carrying huge sadness in the reproductive area, and can’t get pregnant because there’s a complete blockage in that area that I’d work on releasing. I try to make parts of the body work to their optimal levels, and you’d work with crystals and chakras. We have seven chakras in the body, they’re like energy centres. They spin with a certain amount of energy, they all should hold equal amounts of energy.”

What are the use of these mysterious crystals, and why are they unique to an individual’s needs?

”For millennia, they have used crystals in healing. In Ancient texts, they used crystals in ancient Chinese medicine. It’s transferred down over time in healing practices. People are naturally drawn to crystals. You can also use any crystal and programme it to your need. One client was going through a really bad break-up, and I gave her a big rose quartz to put beside her bed, and it actually shattered. They draw out any negative energy but they hold it as well, so you have to keep cleansing crystals. They’re like sponges. You can’t use those same crystals on other clients, you’d be putting negative energy on them. It’s so important to clear them. You can also programme crystals to do whatever you want, it sounds daft but you’ll find people get attached to them and put them in their foundations of the home or under their pillow. It’s very individual.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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I’m intrigued by her loved ones and their reaction to her trade; especially seeing as certain forms of alternative healing are ridiculed online or in the medical trade. It has garnered quite a strange reputation, which does not always match expectations. Many people envision Professor Trelawney from the Harry Potter franchise when they picture a crystal healer; armed with crystal balls, horoscopes and bohemian-styled attire. Rebecca doesn’t exactly fit this mould, she is simply a woman trying to explore unconventional ideas of peace, with the support of her family; ”My friends and family are so used to it. My own daughter is only eight months but I have four nieces and nephews and they love the crystals. They’d be asking can I do crystal healing on them, and they’d come in and play with the crystals. They’re just used to it. My own husband wouldn’t have ever had a healing before I met him, but he loves it now. He works in the corporate world and it’s very different. He begs me for healings even when I’m incredibly busy.”

Does she take offence when the media or those who work in conventional healthcare fields manipulate the idea of healing, or patronise her about modern medicine?

“My own GP is quite interested and says she wouldn’t mind coming to see me herself. My friend is a GP and she says I’m mad, so it’s all individual. Personally, I’ve had clients with really bad skin conditions, for example, and they’re just prescribed an antidepressant. That’s sort of upsetting for them, many clients are just prescribed medicines instead of holistic methods. Obviously there are times when you need modern medicine, without a doubt, but there’s a certain amount of misunderstanding with GPs. Look, they’re just looking at what’s wrong with you and then giving you a prescription, they’re not looking at the root cause. That’s what I’d be doing, trying to go to the source of the problem.” It can be argued that a large proportion of the healthcare industry only see you as the body part that you are complaining about. There is often a sense of coldness, of clinical apathy when it comes to doctors, in my own experience. A ground-breaking series of books released by Dr. John Ernest Sarno in the 1980s and 1990s changed the belief that pain was entirely physical. He consistently maintained that most non-traumatic instances of chronic pain (e.g. back pain, gastrointestinal disorders, headaches and fibromyalgia) are actually the human body manifesting of deep-seated psychological anxieties. His best-selling book, Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection, sold millions of copies and connected pain to emotions. Of course, pain is not psycho-somatic, but Sarno claimed many of his patients improved by learning and thinking about the psychosomatic connection to pain, and undergoing therapy. Our mind is extremely powerful; in my experience of pain flares, my chronic pain improved after seeing a pain counsellor, therapist and practising meditation and self-care.

Rebecca Singleton
Image credit: Metta Healing

Rebecca is skilled in multiple forms of healing, many of which are completely new to me. Soul healing immediately grasps my interest, as the idea of one’s spirit seems so inescapably difficult to understand. Rebecca has a relationship with the supernatural which appears simultaneously powerful and honest;

“Spiritual healing is a deeper level, you’d be focusing on childhood trauma, soul healing, even past life healing. I’ve often have clients who have past life coming up. It’s a bit out there, but yes I certainly believe an aspect of it. Oftentimes I would see and be aware of things during healing and I wouldn’t tell people. You know they’d be frightened or think I’m mad. There’d be people who are really open to it. My intention would never be to frighten anyone, but some people are more open than others. I’ve been practising nearly ten years full time and I definitely think people have become more open-minded and more disillusioned with modern medicine. Certainly, I’d often see things in a healing session or be aware of loved ones present in healing.”

While you can forgive the sceptics, there is something undoubtedly sincere about Rebecca and her beliefs. Whether it’s her energy, or a type of calmness and compassion which she transmits, I never had a doubt that she was intentionally misleading me with her answers. Whether or not healing is ‘the placebo effect’, or the power of the brain to connect to emotions and senses, is another story which one person alone cannot answer.

Image credit: Metta Healing

So what did Rebecca report after my 45 minutes of crystal healing? After almost an hour of quiet contemplation and meditation while she placed crystals all over my body, I was extremely curious to hear her prognosis.

“I used the amethyst to clear the third eye, first of all. Your third eye is your psychic, it’s connected to the sacral block between them. I placed a clear quartz to clear it. Funnily enough, your throat showed up. It was like a blockage of energy over the throat. It felt like, the throat shows up when you can’t communicate. I suspect it’s because people weren’t listening to you when you were saying you were in pain, and you couldn’t express it. It was being blocked. I used blue lace agate, which is good for communication. If you needed to do a presentation, blue crystals are great, they help you speak your truth. I placed rhodonite over the heart. There has never been a client I have treated who didn’t have heart stuff going on. I used a lot of rose quartz over the reproductive area. You poor thing, you’re red raw." This certainly fit with my diagnosis of having been born with far too many nerve endings in my cervix, causing intense pain in my stomach, abdomen, spine, pelvis and legs."

"Even when I was scanning the energy, all I could see was red. It was just really inflamed. I know you know this already, but even on a spiritual level, you poor thing. The crystal that I used was nearly channelling tubes of light into all your organs. It was like a blockage of energy. Whatever’s going on with your spine is causing secondary pain in the legs. You’re not grounded, so I did a good bit of grounding, I used carnelian, a dark red crystal. All seven chakras should be spinning and vibrating a similar amount of energy. Some of yours are spinning so fast, trying to keep everything going. That’s why you’re getting hot flushes, they’re just working so hard. You have a complete imbalance, so I rebalanced the area. You’d need more than one healing to sort out that area, but I would hope that you’d notice a difference, even for a couple of days."

"You get one healing, and usually lasts a few days, but it lasts longer the more healings you have.You are quite sensitive energetically, I’m sure you’re working with different people and we’re like sponges; we absorb negative energy and release it. If you’re around people who are zapping your energy, we can feel it sometimes. Shield your energy if you can. Focus on yourself, you’re great at giving out your energy but aren’t great at accepting it when others give it to you. Giving and receiving is a balance. By cooling the area down, it should give you pain relief. Every morning, visualise a blue light within your whole pained area. The power of the mind can do anything.”

For my experience, it’s about empathy. I was never believed by doctors who couldn’t physically see my pain, there wasn’t a hole with blood pouring out, there wasn’t a broken bone, signs showing on scans. If they couldn’t see it, especially from a young woman, they simply didn’t believe it. To enter a space where I was immediately relaxed, where I felt listened to and comforted, was massively valuable to me. For someone to look at my words and my emotions and spirit, and say, “You are in a great deal of pain” was monumental, it was a relief like no other.

Belief is also half of healing, and if a person attends crystal healing and truly has faith in their power, then what harm are they causing? There is no black and white when it comes to pain, whether it’s physical, emotional and spiritual.

Everyone is unique and finds peace through different methods. To only see a human body clinically, in my view, totally undermines your emotional and spiritual pain. 

Check out Rebecca Singleton's website Metta Healing if you are interested in exploring the world healing.

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Jessie J has opened up about her hopes for a miracle baby with Channing Tatum, despite battling infertility for the last five years.

The singer was diagnosed with infertility and told she'd need an immediate hysterectomy, but refused the treatment and chose instead to overhaul her lifestyle and diet.

The 31-year-old believes that her body will one day allow her to conceive naturally, and is doing everything possible to get there.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Speaking to Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden on today's Heart Breakfast show, she got candid about the difficulties she's experienced emotionally;

"I've always been someone that is open and honest. And from a very very young age I've always stood in the middle of my pain and my battles with everything. And I think it's basically made me who I am today and the artist I am and the music I make.

"So four and a half, five years ago I was diagnosed with this disease that, you know is making it harder. I was told I couldn't have children, I don't believe it. I believe in miracles. I haven't given up," she added.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Voice Kids presenter continued; 

"For the last four years I've changed my diet, I've changed the way I've live, I've done a lot of self-work and just to be open about it and start a conversation that could help someone that doesn't know how to talk about it, and start this conversation.

"Being on the show, I had some people ask me you know 'is it really hard?' and I'm like, 'no'. I love kids and I'm so grateful. Whatever happens will happen. I've had great blessings and success in my life and I believe that balance has to happen for everybody."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Of course, seeing as she's dating actor Channing Tatum, Jessie J has faced many questions over possible baby news with her new boyfriend.

Tatum already has six-year-old daughter Everly with his ex-wife Jenna Dewan, but Jessie hinted that she'd be ready to become a parent alone if he didn't want more kids.

She heavily denied queries over whether the pair have discussed babies yet;

"No, just because he’s Channing Tatum everyone’s kind of sped us up in to this, like, 'are you getting married? Are you doing this?' I mean, I've been in relationships for a lot longer than Chan and I have in the last four, five years but they're not famous so no one really cares."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Jessie continued: "We're having a lovely time. And I'm very, very respectful of his situation and his privacy."

This new revelation comes only a few months after an emotional Jessie told an audience the true meaning behind her song, Four Letter Word;

"I was told 4 years ago I won’t be able to have children. I was also told I would need a hysterectomy immediately and to be put on medication. I refused the hysterectomy and I'm off all medication through natural medicine and diet change.

"I haven't given up hope. I am doing all I can to make it happen the best way my body will allow."

Feature image: Instagram/@youngtribune1

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Taylor Swift is set to turn 30-years-old on December 13 and apparently this means she has to settle down and have kids.

When women reach a certain age they are bombarded with questions about their family plans, how many kids they want to have and when they’re going to get married.

We’ve all experienced this at some point in our lives, whether it’s the awfully nosey aunty asking when you and your beau are going to tie the knot or the obnoxious neighbour passing remarks about how you ought to hurry up and ‘squeeze a few puppies out’.

During an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur, a journalist asked the Shake It Off singer if she was planning on settling down to start a family now that she is approaching her 30th birthday.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Swift replied with grace and simply stated: "I really do not think men are asked that question when they turn 30. So I'm not going to answer that question now."

The presumption that every single woman on the planet wants to have a bump and ring on her finger by the age of 30 is beyond dated, and extremely sexist.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Did it ever occur to those who ask these absurd questions that some women don’t want to get married, others may be happier single or simply don’t believe in marriage?

Marriage is one thing, but quizzing women about their family plans and ‘advising’ them to get pregnant at this age is simply ignorant. You never know what is going on in someone’s life, especially when it comes to their fertility.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Millions of people struggle with infertility around the world. An estimated 10 percent of Irish women suffer from polycystic ovaries, which makes it harder for women to become pregnant and increases the risk of developing complications during pregnancy.

Other women simply don’t want to have children and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that decision.

Taylor Swift’s response to this rude question was completely fair and I couldn’t applaud her more for it. It is a personal question that can make women feel pressured, uncomfortable and distressed.

I’m sure the interviewer didn’t mean to cause offence but his ignorant notion has certainly highlighted a vital conversation about the expectations placed on women when they reach their 30s.

Feature Image: Shutterstock

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A gorgeous and powerfully vivid collection of essays written by Emilie Pine has won the An Post Book of the Year for 2018.

Notes to Self sees Pine writing on a variety of important moments in her life, including sexual assault, fertility problems, sexism in the academia sector, feminism, depression and addiction.

Published by Tramp Press, the book has been widely read around Ireland since it's publication, and has deeply resonated especially with women nationwide who relate to the stark and emotional work.

Emilie tweeted her joy at hearing the news, writing on Twitter: "Delighted and honoured to win Book of the Year 2018….Thank you to everyone who voted."

She also paid tribute to Tramp Press for commissioning the work, which tugged at the heartstrings of Irish women and men nationwide with it's brutal and visceral honesty.

The An Post Irish Book of the Year 2018 was handpicked by a public vote from a list of category winners which were recently announced at the An Post Irish Book Awards.

The esteemed prize boasts previous winners such as John Crowley's Atlas of the Irish Revolution, written with Donal Ó Drisceoil, Mike Murphy and Dr. John Borgonovo, Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, Academy Street by Mary Costello, The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan, Belinda McKeon's Solace, Staring at Lakes by Michael Harding and Asking For It by Louise O'Neill.

Chairperson of the An Post Irish Book Awards Maria Dickenson said; “Emilie Pine’s Notes to Self was one of the great stories in Irish bookselling in 2018 and I’m delighted that the voting public has chosen it as the An Post Book of the Year."

"The power and honesty of Emilie’s essays have captivated readers, and it’s truly gratifying both to see her talent rewarded and to see an Irish publisher like Tramp Press receive this well-deserved recognition," she continued.

Readers of the book couldn't put the engrossing work down. David McRedmond, CEO of An Post, commented on Emilie's wonderful win,

“2018 was a huge year for Irish writing and no book illustrates better why An Post is delighted to sponsor the Irish Book Awards: Emilie Pine’s book, a challenging read, is deeply human and Irish, emotional and clever. An Post thanks all the voters for engaging with the Awards in such large numbers.”

The An Post Irish Book Awards celebrate and promote Irish writing to a wide range of readers, bringing together a massive community who are passionate about writing. Readers, authors, booksellers, publishers and librarians unite to recognise Irish talent.

Congratulations to Emilie on her deserved achievement, we can't wait to consume her next piece of beautiful and fearless writing.

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Amid shutdowns in commercial surrogacy programmes in some of Europe's most notable destinations, parents from abroad are turning their hopeful eyes to Ukraine. Would you?

While it’s rarely the first choice of any hopeful family, surrogacy can sometimes be the last viable option available to couples in need.

While contemporary medicine has be able to address a myriad of infertility issues, there are still some that are insurmountable. Leaving parents in need with few options.

Surrogacy is a hot debate in the media right now and has been for at least the last decade. Few countries have ideal legislation concerning the practice while others outright ban it.

Countries that were prominent for commercial surrogacy practices, such as India, Thailand, and Nepal, have closed extra national programmes due to reports of exploitation.

So where does that leave parents hoping to secure the future of their families? “Most of our clients are heartbroken when they come to us,” a spokesperson for a prominent multinational surrogacy company explains.

“Surrogacy is rarely anyone’s first choice, and the faith that the process requires is monumental.”

Dr. Rashmed Tounsend, has been working with the Valencia based company Ilaya since it’s advent in 2011. Ilaya services Ukraine surrogacy programmes but operates out of Spain.

“I think that most couples would prefer to work with a surrogate that was local to their home country, but due to legislation and cost, that option is largely unavailable to them," Tounsend tells us.

Ukraine has seen a surge in their surrogacy numbers since larger countries have been forced to ban the practice, but booming business hasn’t been enough to curb some couples concerns about exploitation and treatment of surrogate mothers.

Following the terrifying reports of the exploitative practices of surrogacy industry leaders, many intended parents hesitate to look abroad for their possible options. However, many are left with no choice.

With the rising costs of surrogacy programmes at home, or strict laws that don’t allow for a reliable avenue to pursue such procedures, families aren’t given many options.

The average cost for a surrogacy program in the US starts at around $90,000. Prices continue to rise should patients require multiple IVF attempts or run into other complications.

And that’s only if you live in a state where surrogacy is legal. “Couples from states that do not allow for surrogacy can see an increase in their total costs due to travel arrangements and necessities.” Tounsend reminds us.

For families from such countries as the UK or Australia, travelling to a country like the U.S. for surrogacy is completely out of the question, due to financial constraints.

This leaves these families searching for options that are closer and much less costly. “Ukraine then becomes a much more viable option, because it’s located in mainland Europe, so no specialised visas are required for travel.” Tounsend says.

Flights from the UK to mainland Europe can be obtained at a fraction of the cost of those to the US.

Surrogacy: The Only Choice for Some

Surrogacy in the Ukraine has been strictly regulated since 2000. Laws outlining the rights of intended parents, as well as setting parameters for who is eligible to become a surrogate, were set in place.

Largely due to this legislation, as well as having high standards for medical care, saw Ukraine sweeping up many families who were looking to secure a surrogate outside of their home country. However, these laws can be difficult to regulate properly.

There have been reports for surrogate mothers receiving less than ideal medical care, and being victims of obvious malpractice. One report mentions mothers being treated “like cattle” and mocked by doctors.

While officials stress that this is not the norm, whispers of malpractice and embryo swapping have also been heard, although are still unfounded as of yet.

While it may not be an easy choice to make for many couples, it is one that has provided positive results for many.

Health experts in Ukraine estimate that there are over 2,500 babies born to surrogates each year in their country, which makes them familiar with the practice.

They also offer novel medical techniques and incentives that are not seen in other countries, like an unlimited number of IVF attempts, and no age restrictions regarding gamete supplication from intended parents.

Surrogate mothers that are found eligible are set to earn well above what would be expected from a Ukrainian minimum wage.

However, commercial surrogacy abroad is still not risk free, and hopeful parents are urged to do thorough research before choosing a clinic to continue the procedure with.

Which continues to make the choice a difficult one for families who worry about more than just the financial costs of surrogacy.

“Ukraine surrogacy is just one of the options that we offer prospective parents. There are other avenues available to some couples.

While it’s not the first choice for many, it’s a choice that our clients are extremely satisfied with in the end. Ultimately, our goal is to provide safety and happiness to our clients and our surrogate mothers.

Whatever avenue is the best for all parties involved, is the one we pursue.” Tounsend says.

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