‘Everyone said I’d make a great mum. I always assumed it would just happen’
During Lara Solomon's fertility journey, she was shocked at the number of plastic pregnancy tests women were using that would get thrown away three minutes later. She talks to Amanda Cassidy about why it prompted her to start her own eco-pregnancy test business
At the age of 45 and single, Lara Solomon decided she wanted to try and have a child so she embarked on her own, similar mission to try to get pregnant.
Unfortunately, her IVF didn’t work as one of her ovaries was diagnosed as peri-menopausal so Lara opted for embryo donation. She settled on having this procedure in Spain. It was here she realised how many tests people who are trying to conceive use.
“Growing up I always thought I would be a mum.” Lara, founder of Hoopsy, explains. “I was told numerous times by friends and family that I’d make a great mum, I always assumed it would just happen. However, the reality was that I got married at 28, then divorce 5 years later. No point being married to the wrong guy I thought, I still have lots of time at 33 to find the right man and have a family.
But fast forward another 11 years, and I am still single. I have considered single motherhood numerous times, but always thought I’ll wait, I’ll find someone, and not feeling old, I felt I did have time. It wasn’t until a friend of mine was going through IVF that I suddenly realised that my time was nearly up.
I was 44 turning 45 in May, and once you hit 45 you can no longer use your own eggs to get pregnant at most IVF places.
Once the decision had been made, I found a fertility doctor and in November 2020 was undergoing my egg harvesting (after a few weeks of very painful injections and medication that makes you feel like you have put on 10lbs!)
In my egg harvest they found that one of my ovaries was peri-menopausal therefore had shut up shop on egg production, so I got just 3 eggs – I had been expecting closer to 10. Of these three, one fertilised but only made it until day three, so couldn’t be put back in.
I tested on days 8, 9 and 10 all were negative on the test sticks
I remember the day I got the call, I knew going into the IVF that the chance of a live birth was around 2% given my age, but always thought that I would be in that 2%, it was a big shock.
I decided since only half of my ovaries weren’t working that I’d be better to use a donor embryo. I found a clinic in Spain which had freezers full of embryos just waiting to go. The actual procedure was very straightforward and easy, but as with the egg harvesting there were a lot of drugs to take.
In some ways, I was quite blasé going into the transfer, the odds were MUCH higher at around 60% for a live birth, so I just thought it would work, despite everything I had read and seen online. I realise now that was rather naïve, or maybe glass half full – either way I had hope.
I was devastated – I had started imagining life with a baby
I came back from Spain while I waited to test. It was at this point that I realised that women didn’t always wait until 10 days past their transfer to test, with some testing as early as day 5, posting their tests in Facebook groups. I managed to wait until day 8 before I tested, it was negative, but still early, it could still happen I thought as I got back into bed. Day 10 came bright and early and I tested negative.
I decided to go again straight away, this time I thought it is GOING to work, I will do everything to make it happen. I had acupuncture with the transfer this time, was more relaxed and thought “this is it”! I tested on days 8, 9 and 10 all were negative on the test sticks, but then I did a blood test and it was positive! I did another blood test a week later and I had miscarried, I was no longer pregnant, I’d had a week of yes and now it was no. I was devastated – I had started imagining life with a baby, but no.
Going through my IVF journey was hard, it’s something I really think you cannot imagine if you haven’t done it; the needles, the pessaries, the emotional highs and the lows. However, one great thing has come out of it is my new business Hoopsy.
The paper test, made from 99% paper, can be cut in half – the part you wee on goes in the bin and the other half in paper recycling. What’s more, the cardboard packaging can be recycled in paper recycling and the pouch the test comes in can be recycled in soft plastics at the supermarket. The tubes are also made of cardboard which are fully reusable and recyclable.
All those Facebook groups I spent hours looking through when I was doing IVF – I’d be shocked at the number of pregnancy tests women were using, I’d assumed prior to this you just did one, but no, some were doing ten or more a cycle. Having been through it, I get it – you want to know, you want that second line to appear, you think maybe that test was dodgy and this one will give me the result I want. But then I realised the single use plastic that was being used for literally five minutes then thrown away.”
Now aged 47, Lara is at a crossroads. She’s unsure if she will go down the IVF route again as the procedure has caused fibroids. But she says that no matter what happens on her own fertility journey, she’s proud of her business baby.
“Women want to test, they want to be sure, but I thought surely there is a better way. Life can be challenging – especially when you’re trying month after month to get pregnant. But our planet shouldn’t have to suffer as a result of so many plastic tests being sent to landfill.”
This article was originally published in November 2022.