Claudia's painful journey to her own baby

Claudia Gessler-Zwickl, Founder & CEO of FERTILABS, on her own painful journey to parenthood and what she has learned from this experience.

Many women struggle to conceive naturally. What is unique about your story?

Yes, it's true - there are many women who are trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant. In fact, today, 1 in 6 couples worldwide face difficulties in achieving pregnancy. My husband and I received the diagnosis of "infertility" in the spring of 2020 after several years of waiting and hoping for a pregnancy. That was a heavy blow. We didn't want to just accept it; I didn't want to rely on what was standardly offered, so I delved deep into the issue. I researched and extensively studied studies on improving fertility.

At the same time, I challenged my treating doctor to think "out of the box" and explore every avenue that could increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.

What is the "issue"?

As with many clinical diagnoses, it's not as simple as A or B. The causes behind a non-functioning pregnancy can be diverse. They can lie with the woman or the man and can be organic (e.g., ovarian dysfunction) or genetic. Poor quality of eggs and sperm is often the explanation for failed pregnancies, even when assisted reproductive techniques like IVF are attempted. Through my extensive research, I also encountered many couples who were informed that the quality of their eggs or sperm was the reason for their struggles but were not given guidance on how to address these issues.

What insights did you gain from your research?

In short, the quality of eggs and sperm can be positively influenced by the supplementation of micronutrients. This was a glimmer of hope for me. Together with my treating fertility specialists, we identified the active ingredients in various supplements. Eventually, I found myself with 15 bottles of pills, from which I took one or more daily. However, the studies also made it clear that nutrients are only beneficial when properly dosed and combined. At that time, I couldn't find a product that met these requirements. In my mind, there should be an all-in-one product that provides all the relevant nutrients in the correct dosage and in a sensible combination.

You are a management consultant, not a scientist. Yet, you have launched VILAVIT, a product range that can support the normal fertility of both women and men. What can a management consultant bring to the table?

Of course, I did not develop the formulations of my products myself; I consulted experts for that. This includes Prof. Dr. Peter Frigo, Head of the Hormone Ambulance at the Vienna General Hospital, Dr. Alexander Just, a gynecologist, fertility expert, and nutritionist, as well as pediatrician Dr. Stephanie Ludwig. The development of the products is based on over 200 studies that clearly show that the active ingredients we have combined in VILAVIT Female and VILAVIT Male can improve egg quality, sperm quality, and egg maturation.

These are vital nutrient complexes in a balanced composition. The mechanisms of action in the cell formulas are based on the "multi-target" principle. Similar to a symphony orchestra, many instruments play complicated melodies in our formulas, all of which resonate in the body.

You have now founded your own company, FERTILABS, to bring a range of dietary supplements to the market. Aren't there already too many of those?

I did eventually become a mother. But the journey to my own child was very painful and arduous, and I realized that the issue (the inability to conceive naturally) is still a taboo subject. It wasn't until I actively sought out conversations with other women that I realized many people in my immediate circle were affected by this problem. Yet, hardly anyone talks openly about it. My goal now is to share the knowledge I have acquired, to help other couples in a similar situation fulfill their desire for a child. That's why I made my own story public on social media and want to raise as much awareness as possible. It's really strange that in an age where every mood is discussed on social media, such a far-reaching issue as unfulfilled fertility is still whispered about. Not every woman or couple has the opportunity to be as active as I was. And when it comes to support through dietary supplements, there is little usable information available. I want to help these people with my story and, of course, my products, so that their own journey becomes less painful.