How do you begin again after a miscarriage or failed IVF cycle?

How do you begin again?

After a miscarriage or failed IVF cycle, there is the inevitable question hanging in the air: Are we going to try again? It may be a given that you still want a baby, however the criteria for whether you are going to try to conceive and carry a pregnancy will have been affected by the recent lack of success with IVF, or the terrible end of your pregnancy. Whether you are on your own, or with a partner, the criteria you use to make your decisions may have changed and need to be looked at again.

If you are on Twitter, or you follow some of the infertility blogs, you may be familiar with some of the abbreviations used by women who are trying to conceive and have a baby. One that frequently tears at my heart is BFN:( . It means “big fat nothing,” as in not pregnant this month.  You examine and re-examine the dates on the calendar, plan your activities around the possibility that you might be pregnant by then, and spend money on pregnancy tests that you know are going to come out negative.  You may also have experienced the elation of finding out you were pregnant and whispering it to the chosen few you trusted to support you through those intial, very secretive and exciting days, only to have to return to them weeks later and explain that the pregnancy was over.

How do you begin again?

After a miscarriage or failed IVF cycle, there is the inevitable question hanging in the air: Are we going to try again? It may be a given that you still want a baby, however the criteria for whether you are going to try to conceive and carry a pregnancy will have been affected by the recent lack of success with IVF, or the terrible end of your pregnancy. Whether you are on your own, or with a partner, the criteria you use to make your decisions may have changed and need to be looked at again. You must consider your current health, age, fitness, need for medical intervention, financial position, other commitments and your doctor’s advice. Assuming that you have decided that you do want to try to conceive again, naturally or with assisted reproduction techniques, the next set of decisions will be about when you begin trying.

Your timing

“When can I try again?” is one of the first questions that will come up in a woman’s mind once she has determined to pursue another pregnancy. Opinion, even among medical professionals, varies. Some doctors will say that, all being well, 3 months is a good amount of time to wait after a miscarriage. Others will suggest that an otherwise healthy patient wait until after she has had one menstrual period before trying to conceive. I believe that readiness is a combination of having had a check-up by the doctor or nurse a few weeks after your miscarriage or IVF procedure, feeling well in yourself physically and determining that you and/or your partner are both emotionally prepared to take the risk again. Why do I use that word “risk?” While many women go on to achieve a healthy pregnancy after a miscarriage, and IVF can certainly be successful on a subsequent attempt, there is a risk that they will not be successful. Can both of you gather all your resources together and steel yourself against that possibility or do you feel painfully vulnerable?

Are you up to it?

Miscarriage and fertility treatment are both hard on the body and can cause you to feel physically depleted.  This is exacerbated by the emotional toll that they take. It isn’t unusual for a woman to feel that she wants to, or has to, jump right back in and try again and simultaneously think that going through this process again is the last thing in the world she wants to do at that moment. Have you ever felt torn in that way? The reason for this dichotomy can be that you have not recovered fully and need to build up your strength and stamina. It may be worth asking your GP for a once-over health check, paying attention to your appetite, sleep, energy levels and hormone levels.

Your emotional wellbeing

It could also be that you are putting on a front, trying to fool yourself and others about how you are really coping. What you say and what you truly feel must be congruent, or the result could be additional stress, sleepless nights and high emotion.  There may be no doubt that you want a baby, but being pregnant may be another matter entirely. Do you feel resilient; as if you have been able to pick yourself up, put your disappointment aside and look forward to the future? Or, do you feel fearful or hopeless? Your thoughts will affect your behaviour and very possibly, your outcome.

If you are trying to conceive, while simultaneously thinking that it will never happen, or that it will end disastrously, you are draining your positive energy away from your goal. You are literally telling your body, that it will not function the way it is meant to do and reinforcing that message every time you let your mind obsess in this manner. Ovulation does not occur in a vacuum; it is dependent upon signals from your brain to your ovaries. Additionally, the stress caused by negativity has been known to interrupt reproductive function, which may affect your periods, ovulation, fertilisation and/or implantation of the embryo.

Your negative thoughts, sadness, anger and stress are all understandable responses to either a miscarriage or the disappointment of a failed IVF cycle. How quickly you move through various feelings or thought processes to a state of readiness is unique to your circumstances and how you respond. You may feel conflicting emotions and be confused as to whether you are ready to try to conceive again. If so, a fertility coach can help you isolate your feelings about your miscarriage or IVF experience. This can help you prevent or reverse the spill-over into your abilities, body, medical treatment, relationship and future.

Are you both ready?

It isn’t unusual for two people in a relationship to have different ideas about whether they are ready to try to conceive again. On the one hand, the woman may (erroneously) believe that the previous attempt is her fault and feel the need to make up for it or prove herself. She may be itching to try immediately, in contrast to her partner’s more measured approach. Even if this self-blame is not present, she may feel there isn’t any time to waste. Only she can truly know how strong and physically healthy she feels, so her partner is reliant upon the information she provides.  A partner may be concerned about her health and want to ensure the safety of a subsequent attempt to conceive.  On the other hand, I have had female clients whose partners want to sweep it all under the rug and move forward as if nothing has happened. She may be unready; lacking in self-confidence and feeling unsupported.

Marriages have broken down from the stress of trying to conceive. One party may feel less committed to the idea of having a child than the other, so that when the disappointments, difficulties and costs are tallied up, they decide that they don’t want to put everything into the attempt.  The sacrifices necessary to divert money from other dreams to fertility treatment may be more than one is willing to make. To contemplate trying to conceive only for your partner’s sake, or while you are unsure, will only add to the stresses you will have to endure.

The best advice I can give any couple in this situation is to talk. Be open about how you feel, what the loss meant and how you want to proceed now. If either of you are unable to communicate effectively without someone teasing the words out of you, get someone to act as a facilitator. A good fertility coach will help the two of you say what you really think and feel; not imposing her own ideas or taking sides. Perhaps a joint visit to your GP or gynaecologist will help the two of you find mutual ground.

Just knowing when it’s right

As quickly as it came over, an emotional cloud can lift. A new day, an overheard inspiring word, reassurance from someone you trust or just some release inside of you; any of these can shift how you feel about beginning the process of conception over again.  You may not be able to explain it to someone else, but you just know you are ready.  If trying again feels right and you can maintain that feeling for a few calm days (no roller-coaster emotions and changing of mind), trust your instincts. Only you can know for sure.

Lisa Marsh is the owner of Your Great Life, a fertility coaching and advocacy business in Stanmore, North London. She also writes for her own blog; http://yourgreatlife.typepad.co.uk.   You can follow her on Twitter @yourgreatlife. Contact Lisa for individual or couples fertility coaching, via phone or office visits, or to find out about educational workshops on fertility issues from menstruation to menopause: Tel #011-44 (0)20 8954 2897 or email lisa@yourgreatlife.co.uk

Proper Etiquette When Speaking About Fertility

Many couples struggling to conceive tend to keep it to themselves. They often don’t share with work colleagues, friends and even close family. Many of my clients haven’t even told their own parents. Times where they found the courage to share some of their fertility challenges, responses from others feel insensitive and in some cases feel downright hurtful. Once bitten twice shy, they quickly realize that telling others about their fertility is not in their best interest. Whether is it for fear of judgment or worry of what others might say, in time, their fertility journey becomes very isolating.

Unless you have had a personal experience with fertility challenges you can never truly understand the depths of this deeply emotional journey. How do you respond in a supportive way when you have never had issues with your own fertility? What can you possibly say to woman that has just had a miscarriage that would feel comforting and supportive? Each week I hear my fertility clients say over and over again that other people in their life “just don’t get it”. People often dismiss their worries or anxiety by responding “Just relax and it will happen”. What they don’t realize is that the psychological distress is high, making it difficult to “just relax”. A common response is “Don’t worry you can always adopt”. As if adoption was a simple and easy alternative.

Recent research has shown that for many women fertility issues can create levels of anxiety and depression equivalent to women with cancer, HIV status or heart disease. So telling a woman that she can always adopt would be like telling a breast cancer patient, not to worry she can always get another breast. Obviously you would never do that, but to a woman with a deep desire to have a baby, it can feel that insensitive.

I know that people don’t intend to be hurtful and I remind my clients of that on a daily basis. I remind them that they are not hurt by what others are saying, they are feeling hurt because of the meaning they are placing on the words that are said.

Here are some of my client’s interpretations of the comment about adoption.

“It’s not going to work anyway I might as well give up.”

“I am a failure.”

“No one believes I can get pregnant.”

“I might as well accept defeat.”

What do you Say?

So what can you say or do to be supportive? I have created a list of suggested responses to specific challenges couples face on their journey. Keep in mind that sometimes the best response is no response. Often they just need you to listen.

Click here to read more and/or to download the full article.

5 simple things you can change that may increase your chances of conceiving

Its funny how often the simple changes can bring the biggest rewards.

1) Make sure you have sex at your most fertile time .

Now this is not to say that you should only have sex at your fertile time, in fact there is lots of evidence to show the opposite. To keep the sperm supply at its best, you should have regular sex throughout the month but it is pretty crucial that you have intercourse during your fertile time (around ovulation)

How do you know when its your fertile time ? That the subject of a whole other blog post on ovulation predictor tests & methods

2) Replace your usual personal lubricant with a sperm friendly lubricant

These days many couples use intimate lubricants either for foreplay, intercourse or both. Many intimate lubricants (including saliva) in common useage are not sperm friendly ie this means the lubricant can actually impair or damage sperm-not good news when you are trying to conceive.

In the UK there are currently 3 personal lubricants on the market that have been designed especially for couples trying to conceive and are clinically proven to be sperm friendly. They are Pre-Seed, Conceive Plus and Zestica Fertility.

To find out more about fertility friendly personal lubricants click here

3) Stop your man using his laptop on his lap

It is amazing how many men spend most evenings with a laptop on their laps while watching television or travelling on a train. Laptops heat up very quickly and generate large amounts of heat that can be detrimental to sperm. The testicles, which is where the sperm are produced and stored, are outside the body because if they were inside the body the heat from the body cavity would impair & damage the sperm. When a man has a laptop on his lap it is right over his testicles and this is likely to cause overheating.

I recently came a cross a couple where the man’s sperm count had come back with a low motility count, and he was using a laptop on his lap for extended periods most nights. He changed this laptop behaviour & the sperm count and motility has improved.

4) Keep your weight at a healthy level.

There has long been  anecdotal eveidence to suggest that weight is important but now this has been backed up by clinical evidence to suggest that fertility is reduced in both overweight women & underweight women.

5) Relax-

I know its easier said than done, but more and more studies are confirming that stress can be a big factor in unexplained infertility. Sometimes the stress of trying to conceive itself can actually hamper your attempts.

Look at other areas of stress in your life and see if you can reduce or alleviate them. Consider alternative therapies which are often excellent at helping to alleviate or manage stress. Yoga and Pilates for example are great at teaching you to relax. Make a list of things that you can do to help you relax each day and make sure you do one of them each day. It can be as simple as taking a lovely bubble bath or taking a walk outside in the sunshine. You know the things that help you to relax-so make time to do them

A Positive Change For Fertility Solutions Programme

My Fertility Solutions sessions no longer contain Theta Healing I now use Life Upgrade with all my Fertility clients.  If you have read some of my other blogs you may well be wondering why I have made this change.

What Life Upgrade has done for me.

I have adapted the way I work because of my own experiences and what I have found to be helpful for myself.  I have found Life Upgrade transformational in supporting my own well being and reproductive health.  I have successfully used Life Upgrade in my day-to-day life to lower my stress levels.  Not only has Life Upgrade helped me reduce stress it has also improved my physical health.  I have Endometriosis and up until recently have experienced debilitating pain for 1-3 days each month.  I have found that through using Life Upgrade tools I can manage my pain.  I am now able to be active on those days when formerly I would have been unable to move.  I have seen such a dramatic shift in the pain I experience I firmly believe it is possible for me to experience a period without pain if I continue to use Life Upgrade tools.

So What is Life Upgrade?

Rather than an alternative therapy, Life Upgrade is a system which allows you to become more present in your day-to-day life.  It gives you simple tools that support the release of negative thoughts running through your conscious and subconscious mind which have such an impact on the way you feel.  Letting go of those thoughts and feelings allows you to move forward and live your life, whatever else is going on.  In doing this you are also supporting your well-being as a whole, physically and emotionally, as when we are in the present moment our body and mind is free from the distractions that create ill health and unhappiness.  The beauty of it is it is truly empowering; you are the one in control, you can deal with those thoughts and emotions as they come up rather than having to wait for your next session with a practitioner.

What does this mean for Fertility Solutions?

The framework for the Fertility Solutions is still the same.  There is a Free Initial Consultation so I can assess your needs followed by six sessions specifically designed for you as an individual.  Through each session I will guide you through Life Upgrade tools to support your health and well-being.  From the first planned session you will be able to take home the basic tools and use them in your own time.  Using the Life Upgrade tools consistently will transform your Fertility Journey so you can continue to live your life and find enjoyment, what is more living in the moment increases your chances of conception.  The programme still involves hypnosis CDs to support your Fertility Journey.

Who is Fertility Solutions Suitable For?

Fertility Solutions is suitable for anyone who is on their fertility journey and would like to support themselves to cope better from day-to-day.  It is suitable for those who are experiencing ‘unexplained infertility’ and those with physical symptoms which are effecting their fertility (e.g. Polycystic Ovaries, Endometriosis, Fibroids and other complaints).  It is suitable for those who simply wish to improve their reproductive health and those who have decided to end their fertility journey and wish to live a fulfilling life without children.

Thank you to our fertility blog contributors

We have some really great contributors on our fertility blog and we can not thank them enough for their contributions.  They keep the infertility blog fresh and offer differing views & experiences of the world of infertility, and we feel really lucky to have them share their experinces with us.

We are always on the lookout for contributors to the fertility blog. If you think that you would like to become a contributor on this fertility blog you do not need to be an expert in the field of infertility (although of course fertility experts are always very welcome) You may simply want to share your experiences of infertility.

If you would like to become a contributor on the blog please do get in touch either by leaving us a message in comments or by e-mailing kate@adtuk.co.uk 

If you have a fertility or infertility story that you would like to share, but you do not wish to be a contributor on the blog then e-mail it to us and we will publish it anonymously. Many of our readers do this already so that we can share their infertility stories & experiences with you.

IVF advice

I recently visited a really great blog called Stress Free Infertility that I wanted to share with you.

The blog is written by Krissi who in her own words is an  ‘IVF survivor, a mommy of 3 miracles, and an advocate for going through infertility as stress free as possible.’

Anyone who has gone through IVF knows how incredibly stressful the whole process can be. This blog gives lots of information, advice & success stories that can help you through. Highly reccomended reading for anyone going through IVF now or in the future.