Tips and Resources for Dealing with Infertility

You have been trying to conceive for what feels like forever – at least 6 to 12 months – you have been tracking your ovulation, you have lost a few pounds, quit drinking/smoking/toking/coffee and you still aren’t pregnant. Your OB has recommended that it is time to get in touch with a Reproductive Endocrinologist or Fertility Specialist, and you are crushed. You may also feel relieved knowing that you could get some answers soon.

Broadly, infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of trying.

By the Numbers (according to the experts: ASRM, CDC and RESOLVE)

  • 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting and staying pregnant.

  • 1/3 of infertility is attributed to the male partner, 1/3 to the female partner and 1/3 to a combination of both or remains unexplained. 

  • 85%-90% of infertility cases are treated with conventional medical therapies – i.e. medication or surgical intervention.

  • The inability to have a child is considered a disease of the reproductive system that affects 6.7 million women in America.  

 SEEING A SPECIALIST

Most fertility specialists will begin with a detailed intake that will gather you and your partner’s information including medical history, social history and the history of your reproductive health. Additionally, ultrasounds and labs may be ordered for the medical team to get an idea of your baseline and to begin identifying the source of what is going on. I always suggest bringing a list of questions to this first appointment that touch on the concerns you have. Suggestions for things you may want to ask:

  1. What is the process for identifying my diagnosis and how will this diagnosis inform my treatment?

  2. How long do you think the initial workup will take and when do you estimate we will be able to move forward with treatment?

  3. What courses of treatment do you recommend/are most commonly successful in your practice? Additionally, what are my treatment options?

  4. How long do we focus on each treatment and at what point do we move to a new treatment? For example: if we start with IUI how long before we discuss IVF.

  5. Is there anything I can do to improve my chances of becoming and staying pregnant during the course of treatment?

  6. Are there any lifestyle changes you recommend?

 PREPARATION AND SELF-CARE

Infertility brings a landslide of emotions including immense vulnerability, feelings that you have no control and moments of intense sadness. When we think about growing our families we think about future homes, communities, holidays, birthdays and milestones. Experiencing infertility can feel like the biggest threat to those things.  When you take your journey to have a baby from the bedroom to the doctor’s office it’s only natural that floods of emotion will come with you. Stress, sadness, excitement, grief and fear all bundled into one. Here are a few tips on how to provide yourself self-care during this time.

  1. Educate yourself on the medical components of infertility.
    Gathering information and education can help you feel empowered and whittle away at the feelings of powerless that come with the process.  

  2. Identify your support system, both individually and as a couple.
    Finding a therapist that specializes in infertility or a group for families going through infertility treatments will help you build your tribe and a support system that knows exactly what you are going through.  Also, social media outlets have support groups that many women find helpful.

  3. Try your best to focus on the moment.
    Be your own best advocate and don’t get caught up in future worries and anxieties: what if this happens, what if this doesn’t work, what if what if what if.   Do your best to live in the moment and don’t give too much power to the what if’s. 

  4. Feel your feelings.
    You may wake up feeling great one morning and incredibly sad the next. You may feel you don’t recognize yourself, like you have changed forever and wonder if you’ll ever return to the person you were before you started trying to get pregnant. This is ok. Allow yourself the moment to honor however you are feeling and remember that all feelings pass.

  5. Engage in regular check-ins with your partner.
    Infertility is a couples experience. Make sure you keep up your communication, try to make time for fun and be sure to connect in some way. Given the stringent requirements surrounding treatment, sex may be off the table at certain times- practice other ways of sharing intimate moments outside of intercourse.

 THERE ARE PLENTY OF NATIONAL AND LOCAL RESOURCES TO HELP YOU IN YOUR JOURNEY TOWARD PREGNANCY, HERE ARE JUST A FEW:

  • Hasidah
    An organization that builds awareness, develops a network of support resources and provides financial assistance for IVF.  They will be in Denver hosting an event on February 26.

    Pathways to Parenthood – We live in a time when people are marrying later, working more, having fewer children and considering freezing their eggs. How do these influence the choices people make about family building and how people deal with fertilty struggles? Come hear from experts in the field and those who have infertility experiences, ask questions and share. Whether you’re going through this yourself, been through it, curious about it or trying to support a loved one, come learn and share as we explore the issues of modern family building and how to create more support in the Jewish community. For people who are currently facing fertility issues, who have in the past, and for people who want to support them.

  • The American Society for Reproductive Medicine
    ASRM is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of reproductive medicine. The Society accomplishes its mission through the pursuit of excellence in education and research and through advocacy on behalf of patients, physicians, and affiliated health care providers.

  • RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association
    RESOLVE, the website of the National Infertility Association, provides free support groups in more than 200 communities; is the leading patient advocacy voice; and serves as the go-to organization for anyone challenged in their family building.

  • National Conference of State Legislatures
    NCSL will help you learn the infertility insurance laws in your state.



10 Things To Think About Before Conception

You’ve decided that the time has come, you and your partner are ready to start trying for a baby.  But now what? Whether you consider yourself high on the ‘need to know’ scale or high on the ‘need to plan’ scale here at Mama Wellness Co. we use this foolproof (and extremely easy) list of 10 things to do once you’ve decided you’re ready to start trying.

  1. Get In With Your Doctor
    Family planning visits offer a great opportunity to ask all of your burning questions: do I have to worry about Zika?  Is my current medication regimen safe to continue as we being trying to conceive? Do I need to update any of my vaccinations? Additionally, these visits offer your doctor an opportunity to identify any potential pregnancy risks to you and the baby before pregnancy as opposed to during.

  2. Genetic Testing
    There are 19 genetic diseases that are more commonly found among Ashkenazi Jews.  My testing was covered by insurance, for my husband we used JScreen- he was able to swab and send from home.  The Jewish Genetic Disease Consortium recommends genetic testing in interfaith couples stating that the Ashkenazi member of the couple gets screened first and if they are a carrier for a genetic disease the other parent-to-be should also be screened.

  3. Stop Popping The Pill
    So long, birth control! We’ll keep this one short and sweet: when you stop using hormonal contraception or a non-hormonal IUD your fertility will return and when your fertility returns you can get pregnant.  Believe it or not, you can get pregnant as soon as 24 hours after going off of birth control.

  4. Start Popping Other Pills
    Start popping pills, prenatal vitamins that is.  Most doctors recommend you start taking prenatal vitamins three months before you are hoping to conceive.  If you know that you are going to start trying soonish- it’s not a bad idea to start taking your prenatal now.  I simply swapped my daily lady vitamin for a prenatal.

  5. Meditation, Relaxation and Maybe Some Very Small Needles
    Ohmmm your way to pregnancy.  An increase in stress can have an impact on ovulation, which in turn can have an impact on getting pregnant.  Try to utilize your favorite activities to lower your levels of stress: yoga, acupuncture, meditation, reading, running, painting, talking to your therapist.  Working to decrease your stress can positively impact your overall health, and there is nothing wrong with that!

  6. Get to know your cycle.
    There are 3-5 days each month in which you can get pregnant.  And there are tons and tons of tools to help you identify those 3-5 days.  You can use sticks you pee on that identify changes in your hormones, a magnifying glass that looks at the ferning pattern in your saliva, fertility monitors, taking your temperature or one of many apps to track your cycle.  I recommend finding the tool that fits into your life seamlessly and doesn’t stress you out. These tools can help guide you to better understanding when you are most fertile.

  7. So long, latte. Well, sort of.
    Do you reach for coffee before water in the morning?  Once you know you’re ready to start trying for a baby, begin thinking about cutting down on caffeine.  The maximum recommended intake of caffeine during pregnancy is 200mg per day, this is equivalent to 3 cups of coffee or 4 cups of strong tea.  If you rely on 3+ cups of caffeine per day it could be helpful to start cutting back now. It will make cutting back much easier once you become pregnant.

  8. Set Realistic Expectations.
    Most couples will not get pregnant in their first month of trying. That said, most couples WILL get pregnant within 12 months of trying to conceive.  I always recommend setting a realistic window of expectation, usually between 3 and 12 months, to help relieve some of the natural pressure that comes with trying to conceive.  Allow yourself to live within healthy expectations and understanding that getting pregnant may take time. Most of what I’ve heard from reproductive endocrinologists suggests that if you have been having timed intercourse for 12 months and have not conceived, it is a good time to talk to your doctor.  If you are a lady over 35, some recommend contacting your doctor after 6 months of timed intercourse.

  9. Let’s Talk About Sex
    Let’s be honest, timing sex with your partner can take the fun and whimsy out of it.  When sex feels like a ‘have to’ and not a ‘want to’ but you know you need to have sex to continue your efforts to get pregnant just remember that having sex daily during your fertile time (usually several days leading up to ovulation, and then the day you ovulate) does not increase your chances of getting pregnant.  You don’t have to overdo it. My doctor recommended sex every other day during my most fertile days.

  10. Baby Bucket List
    I tell couples to make a pre-baby bucket list and then to start checking items off!  Go on adventures, see all of the live music, work on your relationship, travel, read, pack away the sleep.  Most importantly, try to have fun, relax and make your pre-baby life a life you love.

I wrote the above blog to be featured on MazelTogether. Feel free to follow this link to see the original blog: https://mazeltogether.org/10-things-before-conception/

Birth Processing Group


No two births are the same, and it’s possible your birth held some unexpected surprises. Join me, Erin Schlozman, MA, LPC to reflect and build a better understanding of your birth. Through group sharing and guided discussion you will have the opportunity to process your birth in a safe, supportive and approving environment. Space is limited to provide an intimate setting for mamas. Babies are welcome. To register, or for more information, please email Erin@mamawellnessco.com or contact through www.mamawellnessco.com 

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