How Celebs Are Helping Everyone Talk About IVF

How Celebs Are Helping Everyone Talk About IVF

Bravo TV discusses how “Celebs and Their Fertility Struggles Are Helping Everyone Talk About IVF.” The article includes Celebrity IVF patients and even some of their experiences.

Here is the full article:

Chrissy Teigen did IVF. She even picked the sex of her baby girl, Luna. Flipping Out‘s Jenni Pulos was open about her own struggles with infertility. The Real Housewives of Orange County’s Heather Dubrow, tried to concieve for over a year before turning to IVF to have twins Max and Nicky, then turning to it again for a third, before having a fourth child naturally.

Maria Menounos has been open about getting ready to have a baby with her longtime boyfriend-turned-fiancé, producer Kevin Undergaro. But the 37-year-old E! News host admits the process of conceiving has been a challenge. She has been trying IVF, with little success.

“It’s arduous. It’s a really tough process and I don’t think a lot of people really talk about it enough because you hear it in small doses, but I’m like so overwhelmed by it all,” she recently admitted.  “It’s physically and emotionally exhausting, and I urge everyone under 30 to get started earlier.”

In vitro fertilization—or IVF—is the simple process of putting sperm in an egg outside of a woman’s body and transferring the newly formed embryo back, shares Dr. Tomer Singer, director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. While the process has experienced revolutionary advancement over the last four decades, there are still stigmas attached to it, ones that Dr. Singer is eager to dispel.

“When it was still experimental back in the eighties and nineties, people said, ‘oh you have a test tube baby.’ People thought if you need IVF, there’s something wrong with you. That’s not the case anymore,” says Dr. Singer, who states that two percent of babies currently born in the United States were conceived using IVF.

With people concentrating more on their careers in their twenties and thirties and starting their families later, IVF can be an amazing way to insure they can have children, especially if the woman has chosen to freeze her eggs, or man has stored his sperm.

That’s the case for Real Housewives of Orange County cast member Meghan King Edmonds. The 31-year-old is expecting her first child with husband, professional baseball player Jim Edmonds. She doesn’t have any infertility issues; Jim had a vasectomy years ago and froze his sperm. The couple opted for IVF because of the risks and cost associated with a reverse vasectomy. They’ve shared their journey on the show.

“People are confused and think that I’m trying to say I have infertility issues and that I shouldn’t speak to that because I’m not suffering from infertility,” Meghan says. “I’m not suffering from infertility, but I’m also trying to bring awareness to procedures that often go along with infertility such as IVF, which is what I went through.”

While a woman could use artificial insemination, Dr. Singer explains, “you only have one shot at it, and if you don’t get pregnant, we have to retrieve new sperm.” Through IVF, Dr. Singer can take the millions of sperm that were frozen, inject them into several eggs, and create a handful of viable embryos that can be utilized over an extended period of time. And while artificial insemination only has a five percent chance of pregnancy, IVF has a 45 percent success rate

Dr. Singer does suggest that if a woman is choosing to delay childbirth and wants to freeze her eggs, to do it earlier rather than later.

“The less the eggs are exposed to toxins, and other things that can affect the quality of the eggs, the better,” he stresses, adding, “It empowers women and gives them the freedom to decide when they want to get pregnant, with whom they want to get pregnant and how many times.”

Meghan concurs. “Everybody has a different journey to have a child, and more than anything I want to bring awareness to the different kinds of situations that people can go through to have a baby, whether it be a stepmom, an adoptive mom, IVF or natural.”

Signs Your Body is Not Ready for Pregnancy

Signs Your Body is Not Ready for Pregnancy

This post is part of TheJakartapost.com and overviews a few signs that may signal to wait a bit longer to try to get pregnant.

Here is the full article:

Planning to have children is a big decision that can cause concern for any parent-to-be. Sometimes, despite your and your partner’s efforts, having unprotected, regular sex for six months, or even years, you still cannot get that positive result on the pregnancy test.

You may have health problems that lead to infertility. Many health conditions can make it hard to get pregnant. This article will give you several common signs that tell you your body is not ready for pregnancy.

Your menstrual periods are abnormal

If you notice that your periods are much heavier than normal, irregular or absent for months, you should know that this is a sign that can reveal health issues that could cause infertility. Having irregular periods, no periods, or abnormal bleeding often indicates that you aren’t ovulating. As you probably already know, if you’re not ovulating, you can’t get pregnant. According to scientific statistics, irregular or abnormal menstraul periods account for roughly half of all infertility cases.

You have weight problems

When your body is undernourished, the possibility of ovulation may decrease. Meanwhile, being overweight or obese will also decrease your chance of getting pregnant, even if you have regular, healthy intercourse. Hence, a woman who is underweight or overweight may have some difficulty conceiving a baby. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight should not be a short-term project. You have to maintain a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity. If you are underweight, overweight, or obese, talk to your doctor about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight so you can get pregnant.

You have certain medical conditions

Certain health conditions can cause difficulties getting pregnant. If you currently have a medical condition, be sure it is under control and being treated. Some of the conditions that result in difficulty getting pregnant include sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), diabetes, throid disease, seizures, high blood pressure, arthritis, eating disorders and chronic disease.

Your sex drive decreases dramatically

Decreased sexual desire could signal more important problems besides infertility. Your reduced sexual desire might just mean you’re extremely stressed or depressed. This can cause painful intercourse for many women, as well as make it harder to get pregnant. Infertility doctors and sex therapists can help normalize the situation and help couples to communicate better.

You have Polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone disorder in which a woman’s hormones are imbalanced. PCOS may cause unwanted changes in the way you look, such as abnormal hair growth on the face or body and acne breakouts. It also causes problems with your periods, like irregular cycles, no periods or heavy bleeding, which make it difficult for you to get pregnant. If it isn’t treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. It’s the most common cause of female infertility.

The desire to have a child and health that doesn’t support this can be cruel. However, knowing your body’s signs is the very first step to diagnosing and seeking treatment in time. The aforementioned signs may not be the exact reason for your infertility. You should consult your doctor if you think these do not apply to you for a more precise diagnosis.

Hypnosis For Infertility

Hypnosis For Infertility

Helen Adrienne has been a licensed clinical social worker in general private practice since 1979 with a specialty in working with people dealing with infertility. Helen uses her training in mind/body therapy and clinical hypnosis to provide powerful stress reduction strategies to individuals and couples. The stress reduction classes that she runs for NYU Fertility Center (but are open to all) serve women very well. Helen has been a presenter at national and international conferences and runs 2 day training workshops for mental health professionals seeking expertise in infertility (http://www.mind-body-unity.com/for-professionals-2). The next training is coming up on November 3rd and 4th, 2016. Her book, On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility launched as a #1 best seller on Amazon. Her website contains a wealth of free information: www.helenadrienne.com as well as mp3s and other resources for purchase. For more information, feel free to call Helen at 212-758-0125 or email her at [email protected]

Please give her some love:

Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD
www.helenadrienne.com
[email protected]
(212) 758-0125
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/MindBody-Unity/375547388925
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/helenadrienne

HYPNOSIS FOR INFERTILITY:

A WAY AROUND THE STRESS CYCLE FOR YOU?

Certainly the shock of the unexpected edict of infertility lands like a bomb and ushers you into a world where worry about achieving parenthood causes an upward spiral of stress with each passing month. There is ongoing controversy as to whether stress log jams the quest for conception in the first place. The answer is, to my way of thinking, irrelevant and not useful. All that matters now is that once you are in the struggle to conceive, your body is most likely to respond with the physiology of stress and the need to reverse it.

As the science of fertility has become ever more sophisticated, the discoveries of psychoneuroimmunology have run a parallel path. (Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is the study of the interaction between mind, brain and bodily health.) Now, the unity of mind and body has been proven to be indisputable. As a result, the mentality of both the patient population and medical practitioners has shifted to acceptance of this unity. Myriad techniques are in the public eye, there for the taking, by which the physiology of stress can be reversed. Women are clamoring into yoga-for-fertility classes, signing up for nutritional intervention (you are what you eat), seeking homeopathy, acupuncture and mind/body classes, making life-style changes and more. This is wise.

What hypnosis offers beyond the capacity to reverse the physiology of stress that other forms of stress-reduction do not is the utilization of the unconscious mind as an ally. Hypnosis is not just a technique that by virtue of its power to settle the nervous system achieves stress reduction. It is also a technique by which a skilled hypnotherapist can encourage communication between your thoughts and receptor sites in your organs and hormone systems that are directly related to reproduction. Hypnosis is a modality which has the power to potentiate treatment regardless of diagnosis or lack thereof, and whether you are in medical treatment or committed to natural or holistic attempts at conception.

What would it entail for you to add hypnosis to your arsenal?

You would need to understand the importance of simmering down the emotionality of infertility and recognize that emotional distress cannot help but land in the body. Conversely, you would need to understand that the feel of tension in the body bombards into mental awareness as a feeling of emotional un-well-being. And you would need to appreciate your power to intervene in this stress cycle. That’s all.

There are many doors into this mind/body healing vortex, but it is hypnosis which is the most like a laser beam in its capacity to launch from the “master apothecary” (the brain) the chemical communication which can favorably impact your physical and emotional receptivity to hosting new life.

As it stands now, there is research which has shown that pregnancy rates were double in the group which had hypnosis at the time of embryo transfer compared to a control group. The researchers were able to determine via ultra sound scans that uterine contractions were reduced, which may explain the higher implantation rates. (Eliahu Levitas, MD, et al, Impact of Hypnosis During Embryo Transfer on the Outcome of In Vitro Fertilization – Embryo Transfer: A Case Control Study, Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 85, No. 5, May, 2006) Think of the impact on the entire reproductive cycle, with or without IVF, if hypnosis were to be part of your protocol!

Certainly there are conceptions that take place despite some women’s level of high anxiety. No doubt, there is more to the story than meets the eye. We do know that a person’s underlying belief system matters. Sometimes there are interfering factors of which even you as the patient are unaware. For this reason alone, it is important that you make sure that you seek treatment with someone who is not only trained in hypnosis, but is also qualified to help you uncover any blocks to parenthood—having nothing to do with stress—that you may not know are lurking in your unconscious.

At the very least, hypnosis is a great way to create an oasis from the frenzy of the fertility struggle. I’ve never seen a person feel anything by relief for having had a hypnotic respite. Beyond that, hypnosis can be tailored to address your particular goals. It seems that it would certainly be worth a try to find out if this adjunct to medical treatment suits you. It is my hope for you that you could then move on to using hypnosis to facilitate childbirth.

8 Things That Could be Making Her Infertile

8 Things That Could be Making Her Infertile

Amberlee Lovell’s article on newsok.com covers 8 things every woman does that could be making her infertile. Some of these items are pretty obvious, but you might be surprised by others. Here is the full article:

Infertility is extremely complicated. Some women undergo years of trying to conceive, only to be met with one heartbreaking negative pregnancy test after another. There is usually no simple answer to why you can’t get pregnant, and this article won’t try to attempt to address all of them.

Certain medical conditions and chronic diseasescan be huge problems when trying to have a baby. You are generally born with or develop those issues, but avoiding these small things every day can help prevent unnecessary complications in getting pregnant.

1. Eating junk food

Oreos may seem like the perfect remedy for your horrible day, but filling your body with junk rather than the nutrients it desperately needs can affect your reproductive hormones. You need foods with monounsaturated fats, zinc and vitamins B6 and D. Replace your cheesy crackers with sunflower seeds, throw an avocado in your salad, poach an egg for breakfast or make your pancakes out of buckwheat. These will help you get some of those nutrients you’re starving for.

2. Stress

Doctors don’t have all the data for why this negatively affects your reproductive system, but stress may be the cause for about 30 percent of infertility problems. Telling someone in the middle of a freak-out to calm down has never been helpful, but find what helps relieve your stress and it might just do wonders for you.

3. Wearing makeup with phthalates

Phthalates are synthetic chemicals found in many cosmetics and plastics. A studyfound that they may be limiting the ability for an egg to implant. All U.S. women are exposed to them, but limit your exposure as much as possible by not using cosmetics that have dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diethyl phthalate (DEP) or dimethyl phthalate (DMP) in the ingredients.

4. Using a lot of scented products

Scented products tend to have phthalates, but the FDA doesn’t require fragrances to list ingredients. Pass up products that are unnecessarily scented.

5. Being overweight (or underweight)

Your weight greatly affects your periods. If you are an extreme in either of these categories, it will be very difficult for you to get pregnant.

6. Certain medications

If you are taking medication, it could possibly be affecting your fertility. Some meds – especially antidepressants – interfere with your hormones. Talk to your doctor about whether this could be happening to you, but NEVER stop taking medications without your doctor’s recommendation first.

7. Smoking or hanging around those who smoke

Weirdly, your cervical mucus has to be just right for you to get pregnant. It helps the sperm make it to the egg. But if it’s too thick, it can cause infertility, ob-gyn Alyssa Dweck told Women’s Health. Not only can smoking affect your cervical mucas, it is estimated to be a problem in 13 percent of infertility cases. It’s the underlying factor for a myriad of many other problems. Even if you don’t smoke, being around secondhand smoke for six or more hours every day will make you 36 percent MORE likely to be infertile.

8. Lube

Some lubricants affect the sperm, which makes it much more difficult to get pregnant, according to a State University of New York Upstate Medical Center study. The study discovered that Pre-Seed was a safe lube to use if you were trying to conceive. The study discovered that baby oil or mineral oil is also a safe lube, but NEVER use other oils without knowing if they are safe or not. Sesame oil, for example, slows the movement of the sperm.

24 Fertility Myths

24 Fertility Myths

Babymed.com presents 24 myths and conceptions that are commonly known in the Trying to Conceive World. Here is the whole article:

Most couples trying to get pregnant do not plan, chart, or try to predict ovulation. A lot of couples just let nature take its course and see what happens. On the other hand, some couples purchase bbt thermometers, ovulation kits, and plan intercourse on a schedule, but still don’t get pregnant. There are many myths and misconceptions about ovulation and when to have intercourse. These myths and misconceptions could be keeping you from getting pregnant.

  1. It’s usually the woman’s fault if she can’t get pregnant (False).
  2. You cannot get pregnant when having sex during your period (False).
  3. Sperm only live for several hours (False).
  4. You need to wait at least three months after stopping birth control pills before you can start trying to conceive (False).
  5. The best way to time intercourse is always on the 14th day of your cycle (False).
  6. Having an orgasm helps you get pregnant (False).
  7. Ovulation happens when the BBT drops (False).
  8. You should have sex every other day if you want to get pregnant (False).
  9. You can diagnose implantation or pregnancy from cervical changes (False).
  10. You can get pregnant several days before and after ovulation (False).
  11. Vaginal secretions always mean that there is an infection (False).
  12. Stress prevents a woman from getting pregnant (False).
  13. If you had a miscarriage in the last pregnancy, there is an increased risk to have another miscarriage. (False).
  14. Fertilization happens inside the uterus (False).
  15. Moderate exercise will prevent you from getting pregnant (False).
  16. When taking your basal body temperature, you should have sex when the temperature goes up (False).
  17. Your first pregnancy symptoms usually start before you miss your period (False).
  18. If you have only one ovary, you ovulate only once every two months (False).
  19. If you haven’t become pregnant after three months of trying, something must be wrong (False).
  20. A negative pregnancy test on 12 DPO means that I am not pregnant (False).
  21. A positive blood pregnancy test means that I am pregnant (True, but not always).
  22. Women who can’t get pregnant often have problems with the cervical mucus (Rarely)
  23. Ovulation always happens on cycle day 14 (False).
  24. Sperm can survive several days inside the vagina (False).
After IVF, Some Struggle With What to Do with Leftover Embryos

After IVF, Some Struggle With What to Do with Leftover Embryos

Juli Fraga eloquently delivers a strong and powerful piece for npr.org. Here is the full article on the struggle With What to Do with Leftover Embryos:

When Scott Gatz and his husband decided to become fathers several years ago, pursuing parenthood meant finding both an egg donor and a surrogate to help them conceive a baby. Their first round of in vitro fertilization produced seven healthy embryos. One of those embryos was successfully transferred to their surrogate’s womb, resulting in their son Matthew, who is now 6-years-old.

While the San Francisco couple feels their family is now complete, they are still in a quandary over what to do with their six remaining embryos — what they call their “maybe babies.”

Every year they’re forced to weigh their options again, Gatz tells Shots, when a letter arrives from the fertility clinic. It asks whether they want to destroy the embryos, donate them for medical research, give them to another infertile couple or continue paying $800 annually to keep the embryos frozen.

“Every time we read the ‘destroy’ option on the form, my stomach does a somersault,” Gatz says. “It feels as if our future children are showing up once a year to confront us.”

The men are not alone in their ambivalence. It’s estimated that, in the United States, there are almost one million frozen embryos now in storage, a number that includes embryos reserved for research, as well as those reserved to expand families.

In a 2005 study that interviewed 58 couples who conceived through IVF and had at least one frozen embryo in storage, more than 70 percent had not yet decided — even several years after the procedure — how they would dispose of a surplus embryo. Some said they considered the embryos to be biologic tissue or a genetic or psychological “insurance policy.” Others told the researchers they thought of the embryos as living entities — “virtual children” that have interests that needed to be considered and protected.

“With the astonishing advancements in reproductive science, IVF now produces far more embryos than it did in the past,” says Dr. Anna Glezer, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco. The choices that abundance poses are very difficult for some couples, she says, “which raises the need for psychological resources, such as peer support groups for these families.’

After conceiving their daughter via IVF, Megan and Jay Khmelev had eight remaining embryos. For two years, says Megan, she was overcome by guilt, anxiety, and sadness as she struggled with what to do with them. At the beginning of her fertility journey, she had imagined one day donating the embryos to science or to another infertile couple.

But after her daughter arrived, she says, she couldn’t imagine parting with the surplus embryos in this way. The Khmelevs didn’t want eight more children, but discarding the embryos didn’t feel like the right choice, either.

“I wish someone had told me that I’d be haunted by the grief of my infertility struggle all over again as I wrestled with my decision,” Megan says.

Dr. Aimee Eyyazzadeh, a reproductive endocrinologist in the San Francisco Bay area, says many families she counsels struggle with these choices.

“It’s a complicated process,” Eyvazzadeh says. “At the beginning of IVF, patients hope for many embryos, because they long to have a baby. They don’t realize how their feelings might change once their children are born.”

In the 1980s, when fertility clinics began freezing embryos, there wasn’t any available research about how patients would feel regarding their frozen embryos after they became parents. More than 30 years later, though the number of IVF babies has steadily climbed, many fertility doctors are still unsure how to handle some patients’ ambivalence.

“Our clinic told us that we could freeze our embryos and explained the cost associated with yearly storage fees,” Gatz says, “but they didn’t mention the feelings that might arise as we faced these choices.”

A study published in the March issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility found that that after successful IVF treatment, most of the 131 couples responding to a survey were dissatisfied with the education they obtained from their health care providers about disposal decisions. And less than 50 percent were satisfied with the emotional guidance they got.

Yet other research suggests that peer support can help people make these complicated choices, by giving them a place to disclose their struggles in the company of others who have been through the process.

Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Los Angeles, offers a “disposition support group,” specifically aimed at couples and individuals who are deciding what to do with their embryos.

“After successful IVF treatments, many couples come to view their embryos as human life, which makes it even harder for them to find closure,” Lederer says. Some even have funeral ceremonies for the embryos.

For other couples, making these decisions ignites emotional conflict between the spouses, or even beyond — to include the extended family, Lederer finds, because religious beliefs and personal preferences play a role in how each person views the stored embryos. One couple she counseled who had decided to destroy the embryos mentioned that to their parents and discovered the in-laws were aghast.

“Too often, these families have never shared their stories aloud,” says Lederer. “Support groups can make a difference by allowing them to talk about their personal experiences with others who understand, which can help them to feel less isolated.”

Megan and Jay Khmelev finally decided to do additional rounds of IVF, and use the remaining embryos themselves, but none resulted in a viable pregnancy.

“I’m glad I did the transfers anyway,” Megan says. “It gave me and my husband closure, knowing that we had given them a chance to become life.”

Male Fertility: Interpreting Semen Analysis Results

Male Fertility: Interpreting Semen Analysis Results

Published by Dr. Michael Feinman, the medical director at HRC Fertility. Michael A. Feinman, MD, goes in depth to explain what Semen Analysis results really mean on resolve.org. Here is the full article:

Semen analysis has long represented the standard test for evaluating male fertility. Though still useful, the test is not perfect, as it fails to accurately predict fertility status in certain situations. This article will review the interpretation of a semen analysis and briefly present some of the more advanced alternatives that are now available.

It is appropriate to obtain a semen analysis early in working with an infertile couple. It is unacceptable to put a woman through medical procedures and tests without knowing the status of her partner’s semen. Typically, a man is asked to abstain from any ejaculations for two to three days prior to the test. While making specimens at home is preferred, the sample should be brought to the lab within about an hour. It is important to use a cup provided by the lab, as some materials are toxic to sperm.

While there a number of parameters reported in the analysis, only a few are really important:

Volume.
A typical specimen is 1-4cc. While volume does not play an important role in fertility, a low volume suggests an incomplete collection. Conversely, very large volumes may result in dilution of sperm and may cause considerable leakage after intercourse. Some people believe large volumes are associated with infection, but this is not well-established.

Count.
A normal specimen should contain 20 million sperm/ml, or more. Most low counts go unexplained, but occasionally this can be hormonally related.

Motility.
This is expressed as percent of live sperm. Different labs express this differently, but essentially, about 60% of the sperm should be swimming.

Morphology.
This refers to the shapes of the sperm. Over a decade ago, a new “strict” criteria was introduced. The result is that most men have very low numbers. Fourteen percent of “normal formed sperm” is considered normal. In our lab, as with most labs, we almost never see that result. As the number for normal keeps dropping, the usefulness of the test also decreases. The test is widely misunderstood; it is not a test of fertility or a predictor of having a normal baby. Low morphology has only been associated with low fertilization rates in an IVF lab when natural fertilization is allowed to occur. Many labs also report White Blood Cell numbers (WBC). Elevated levels might be associated with infections like prostatitis. However, WBC’s can look like immature spermatids. Immature spermatids occur more frequently in specimens with low counts, so it is important to make sure the lab has stained the cells specifically for WBC’s. Semen cultures can also clarify the situation. After decades of experience with semen analysis, it is clear that the WBC test is not a perfect predictor of fertility. For this reason, it is inappropriate to ask a man to undergo the test before he has tried to father a child.

Over the past few years, a number of tests have been developed that more specifically evaluate the DNA content of sperm: Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA), DNA Fragmentation Test (Reprosource), Comet Assay, and Tunnel Assay. All the versions attempt to analyze the quality of the DNA in the sperm, which may be more informative than just the semen analysis alone.

If the semen analysis or one of these DNA tests is abnormal, the reproductive endocrinologist, along with a urologist who specializes in male infertility will try to find a cause and possible treatment to improve the sperm quality. Occasionally, no cause or treatment may found, but many of these men can still be helped with IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Michael A. Feinman, MD, FACOG, is the medical director at HRC Fertility, which has centers in Southern California. Dr. Feinman performed one of the first transvaginal ultrasound guided egg retrievals in America and the first in New York. He developed one of the first anonymous egg donor programs in the world at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York in 1987. Dr. Feinman has been featured on the cover of the New York Times and on ABC Evening News.

6 Ways to Cope with Infertility Stress

6 Ways to Cope with Infertility Stress

Claire Gagne’s post on todaysparent.com shares some insightful thoughts on how to cope with infertility stress.

Here is her article:

Morning visits to the clinic, injecting yourself daily, monitoring your follicle production and praying your body responds—that’s how Alana Shaw* describes the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF), something she went through three times. “It’s all-consuming,” says Shaw. “When I was going through my cycles, it was all I could think about.”

For Shaw, the sheer logistics were a challenge. The fertility clinic was half an hour away from her office, making it difficult to get to her morning appointments and then to work on time. At the time, she also travelled a lot for her job, which meant that she was often doing injections away from home. “I had to travel with syringes and medications that needed refrigeration,” she says.

On top of the physical challenges, there were the emotional struggles. Before starting IVF, Shaw had already undergone seven unsuccessful cycles of intrauterine insemination. “It took more and more time to recover from a negative result,” she says. “I was very optimistic when I began the journey, but I began to feel angry and bitter after a number of negative results.” Shaw began to pull away from friends, many of whom had conceived effortlessly. “I had many upsetting experiences with them telling me I should just adopt or making other insensitive comments,” she says.

Ronda Trumper, a registered psychologist who has undergone fertility treatments herself and now counsels others in her private practice and at the Regional Fertility Program in Calgary, says that many factors contribute to making IVF treatments so stressful. “Often, you’ve already been dealing with infertility for a few years, so you’re coming in with low emotional reserves,” she explains. “It may be the most invasive procedure you’ve ever had, and it may be your last chance to have a child who is related to you.”

Shaw found it encouraging to recharge emotionally and physically between cycles and leaned on her husband for support throughout the process. Here are some other helpful strategies.

1. Gather support
When you’re undergoing fertility treatments, there will be people who just won’t know the right thing to do or say. “I ended up distancing myself from some friends,” says Shaw. “People say things like, ‘Why don’t you just adopt?’”

But because of how emotionally difficult infertility treatments can be, it’s important to have some support. Trumper suggests coaching close family members and friends on how you would like them to support you. “Should people ask you regularly how things are going or not bring it up until you do?” she says.

Shaw found out that a couple of her co-workers were also going through fertility treatments. Having them to talk to after appointments was comforting, and it was helpful that others in her office knew that she was juggling medical appointments with her work schedule. She also joined online forums, which were a great way to get information and support. In-person support groups are also available if you prefer a face-to-face experience—ask your fertility clinic to refer you to one in your area.
HomeTrying to conceiveInfertility6 ways to cope with infertility stress

6 ways to cope with infertility stress
Going through IVF treatment is gruelling—both physically and emotionally.

May 10, 2016 Claire Gagne 0

Photo: Nica Patricio
Photo: Nica Patricio

Morning visits to the clinic, injecting yourself daily, monitoring your follicle production and praying your body responds—that’s how Alana Shaw* describes the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF), something she went through three times. “It’s all-consuming,” says Shaw. “When I was going through my cycles, it was all I could think about.”

For Shaw, the sheer logistics were a challenge. The fertility clinic was half an hour away from her office, making it difficult to get to her morning appointments and then to work on time. At the time, she also travelled a lot for her job, which meant that she was often doing injections away from home. “I had to travel with syringes and medications that needed refrigeration,” she says.

On top of the physical challenges, there were the emotional struggles. Before starting IVF, Shaw had already undergone seven unsuccessful cycles of intrauterine insemination. “It took more and more time to recover from a negative result,” she says. “I was very optimistic when I began the journey, but I began to feel angry and bitter after a number of negative results.” Shaw began to pull away from friends, many of whom had conceived effortlessly. “I had many upsetting experiences with them telling me I should just adopt or making other insensitive comments,” she says.

Ronda Trumper, a registered psychologist who has undergone fertility treatments herself and now counsels others in her private practice and at the Regional Fertility Program in Calgary, says that many factors contribute to making IVF treatments so stressful. “Often, you’ve already been dealing with infertility for a few years, so you’re coming in with low emotional reserves,” she explains. “It may be the most invasive procedure you’ve ever had, and it may be your last chance to have a child who is related to you.”

Shaw found it encouraging to recharge emotionally and physically between cycles and leaned on her husband for support throughout the process. Here are some other helpful strategies.

1. Gather support
When you’re undergoing fertility treatments, there will be people who just won’t know the right thing to do or say. “I ended up distancing myself from some friends,” says Shaw. “People say things like, ‘Why don’t you just adopt?’”

But because of how emotionally difficult infertility treatments can be, it’s important to have some support. Trumper suggests coaching close family members and friends on how you would like them to support you. “Should people ask you regularly how things are going or not bring it up until you do?” she says.

Shaw found out that a couple of her co-workers were also going through fertility treatments. Having them to talk to after appointments was comforting, and it was helpful that others in her office knew that she was juggling medical appointments with her work schedule. She also joined online forums, which were a great way to get information and support. In-person support groups are also available if you prefer a face-to-face experience—ask your fertility clinic to refer you to one in your area.
2. Get moving
“Exercise is wonderful for releasing good endorphins, and it can make us feel happy and make it easier to cope with what’s going on in our lives,” says Trumper. Walking is a great option because it’s low-impact and spending time outdoors is therapeutic. In the time between her IVF cycles, Shaw would go running, both because it made her feel good and to keep in shape. (During her cycles, she preferred to rest, both physically and mentally.)

You can also try yoga, says Trumper, but avoid hot yoga. “Tell your instructor that you’re trying to get pregnant,” she says. “She may modify some of the moves or have you avoid others.” Keep in mind that your doctor might ask you to avoid certain exercises after the embryos have been transferred and while you wait to find out if you’re pregnant.

3. Control your thoughts
So much of the stress of IVF comes from your own mind. You’re worried about the expense, you wonder whether the next round will work, and you think about what you’ll do if things don’t work out. Plus, seeing others get pregnant and have babies can be really upsetting.

Amira Posner runs Healing Infertility, a company in Toronto that offers group and individual support to women and couples going through infertility, with a focus on mindfulness. Posner’s sessions focus on controlling things you can control and letting go of what you can’t. “You don’t need to listen to your thoughts all the time,” she says. “You can just observe them.” Meditation and yoga can also help you regulate your thoughts.

4. Distract yourself
Whether you’re currently going through an IVF cycle or you’re in between treatments, try to focus on other things as much as possible. Trumper suggests developing hobbies and pampering yourself. After two failed IVF cycles, Shaw decided to take some time off from treatments and focus on taking care of her mind and body. She exercised, went out for dinners and travelled. “I found it very helpful to leave my surroundings and forget everything we were going through,” she says. “We went zip-lining in Whistler and whale-watching and hiking in Tofino.”

5. Plan the wait
“Most people come into IVF thinking that the most stressful part is when you’re doing treatments, including injections and retrieval,” says Trumper, “but almost everyone will say it’s the two-week wait from the transfer to the pregnancy test result.” She says some women like to take that time off because they find work physically or emotionally stressful. Others prefer to continue working as a way to distract themselves. If you decide to spend those two weeks on medical leave, make sure to keep busy, says Trumper. “Plan how you’re going to fill that time,” she says, whether that’s with hobbies or getting together with friends and family.

6. Plan for the moment of truth
As tempting as it might be to do an early home pregnancy test before you’re scheduled to take a test at the clinic, resist. “You’re risking getting a false result,” says Trumper. She suggests planning where you want to be when you get the result and whether you want your partner there with you. Be aware, too, that there will be a grieving period if it’s not successful. Shaw would come home from work early and sit at home and wait for the call. Rather than picking up the phone, she would always let them leave a message. “I didn’t want to talk to anyone,” she explains.

Her routine got sidetracked on her last cycle, though, because her husband happened to be home when they got the call and he picked up the phone. The clinic had happy news: Shaw was pregnant. The couple was elated, but the stress didn’t cease there. “I was very nervous throughout the entire pregnancy,” she says. Then she laughs. “She is six years old and I’m still nervous,” she says. “I don’t think it will ever go away. She is a little miracle, and I’m unbelievably grateful for her.”

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