The Fertility Focus Telesummit is underway. but there is still time to join in!

The second interview of the Fertility Focus Telesummit was mine, on how “Creating an Effective Support Network Can Make All the Difference When Trying To Conceive.” I’m really excited by the response I have had, with many listeners emailing me afterward to thank me and/or tell me that what I shared really resonated with them. The Telesummit is completely free to listen to the live presentations, and the replays for 24 hours after each interview. If you didn’t know about it before, it’s not too late to get involved.

The 2nd Fertility Focus Telesummit, created and moderated by Sarah Holland, is running this week.  Twelve fertility experts from around the world, and 3 fertility bloggers, are speaking throughout the week on various aspects of fertility health and support.  Sarah started things off on Sunday, the 20th of March, with an introduction to the Telesummit and an explanation of how to get the most out of it.

Yesterday, Monday the 21st, saw the first two interviews; Dr Marion Glenville spoke on the nutritional aspect of fertility health, giving much of her hour-long presentation over to listeners’ questions and providing really comprehensive responses.  The second interview of the evening was mine, on how “Creating an Effective Support Network Can Make All the Difference When Trying To Conceive.”  I’m really excited by the response I have had, with many listeners emailing me afterward to thank me and/or tell me that what I shared really resonated with them.

The Telesummit is completely free to listen to the live presentations, and the replays for 24 hours after each interview. If you didn’t know about it before, it’s not too late to get involved.  Click here to register for the Fertility Focus Telesummit FREE!  You can listen live, and submit questions for each of the speakers, or listen at your leisure to the recordings afterward.  If you are really busy this week and know you won’t be able to listen in, OR you just want to have all 17 audio files to refer to over and over, Sarah provides the option of upgrading to a Golden Ticket so you can purchase the whole Telesummit’s talks, which will be emailed to you as an MP3 file afterward. This is an incredible value, this week only while the Telesummit is running, at US$67, including several bonuses. You can find all the information at the Telesummit website.

Because I’m a bit late in letting you know about the Telesummit and my own presentation on creating a support network, I’d like to share some of that information with you here.  Having been through several challenging years of recurrent miscarriage and secondary infertility myself, I have the benefit of hindsight telling me that I really could have coped far better if I had been more proactive about getting myself, and my husband, the right balance of emotional and practical support.  Infertility put a big strain on our marriage, and I felt very alone and fearful that I would not be able to have the children I had always dreamed of having.  We are fortunate to have come through those rough times, and to have our two children.  Using my training and experience as a fertility coach, I have developed a system to help each of my clients create a support network for their unique needs, thus easing their experience of infertility and efforts to conceive and helping them to feel less isolated and stressed.

During the call, I explained:

  • Why infertility support is so important;
  • The 5 most essential types of support every infertile person needs;
  • Why your partner is not always the best source of support;
  • How you actually create your personal support network;
  • What you can do is someone you expected to be supportive has turned out to be the opposite; and
  • How to maintain a really effective support network over a long period of time.

I’m also offering a Free Bonus to Callers from the Telesummit! I’ve created a comprehensive Worksheet that takes you through the process of creating your own infertility support network, step by step. So, if you haven’t already registered, don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

I’m listening to the other speakers throughout the week myself. I have to say, I’ve been very impressed so far. I’ve learned a lot already from both Dr Glenville and Andrew Loosely, Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist. Other expert speakers during the week include Sarah Holland on using EFT for conception, Kristin Hayward, Zita West, Gabriela Rosa, Toni Weschler, Sue Dumais, Nicola Smuts, Deirdre Morris and Cindy Bailey. Then, you can listen to talks from 3 prolific bloggers, including the authors of “From IF to When,” “Eggs and Sperm” and “Survive and Thrive.” I’m really looking forward to the rest of the week.

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

Theta Healing and Fertility

Theta Healing is and energy healing which allows us to explore and release the memories we hold which may be blocking our full potential.  The Fertility Solutions Programme uses Theta Healing and Hypnosis to gently discover and release any beliefs, memories or emotions that may be blocking conception.  The process can also address physical symptoms such as PCOS.

<!–[if !supportEmptyParas]–> Tracy Holloway developed the Fertility Solutions Programme after years of working in the area of fertility.  Tracy has worked as a Hypnotherapist, Psychologist and Theta Practitioner who is renowned in the area of fertility.  She has brought together her rich knowledge and experience to develop the unique programme which explores the well being of the whole person in order to support their reproductive health.

<!–[if !supportEmptyParas]–> Using Theta Healing it is possible to address physical symptoms which may be affecting fertility, for example PCOS, Fibroids, Endometriosis and Sperm motility (to name a few).  It is also possible to address emotional issues which affect couples who are experiencing fertility challenges.  Many of my female clients will talk to me about their grieving each time their period arrives.  They describe their fertility journey as a roller coaster ride. They have hope during the month then the grieving starts as their cycle begins again.  Using the Fertility Solutions Programme it is possible for women to view each cycle as a positive thing, their body is working in the way that will make pregnancy possible at some point in the future, rather than a setback.  Sometimes a simple relieving of stress is enough to support conception.

<!–[if !supportEmptyParas]–> One thing that is important to remember is each couple is unique, their journey is unique and they will conceive in their own time.  In other words it’s best not to compare yourselves with others because everyone’s journey is different.  Using the Fertility Solutions programme it is possible to address the emotional stresses and strains and focus on other areas of your life (enjoying your relationship for example) rather than relying on conception to bring happiness.  By addressing both physical and emotional aspects of fertility it is possible to have your best chance of conception.

Facing Many Crossroads, Together

Part Two: Coming upon a Crossroads, What You Need To Make Your Decisions

The first crossroads is likely to be when you decide to see the doctor because, despite your efforts, you have not conceived.   It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, or culture, to expose their intimate life to the scrutiny of doctors or undergo blood tests and scans, checking for something “wrong.”  Some uninformed men may be unwilling to provide a semen sample, for fear of what the results may suggest about his manliness.

Both the woman and man may feel some anxiety about whose family line may be to “blame” for their inability to become pregnant.  If this pertains to you or your partner, you must cast these outdated stigmas aside and take some relatively simple tests to discover the cause of your infertility.  If having a baby is your ultimate goal, your value system may have to adapt to accept the help that modern medicine and technology offer.

The second crossroads is deciding whether to pursue more invasive medical investigations and/or treatment.  With a clear diagnosis and readily available treatment, it is easier to decide what to do because the options are more clearly set out.  Your personal life may present the deciding factor: your relationship, finances, career, religion or emotional wellbeing may all be taken into consideration.  Many couples have to contend with unexplained infertility, where early test results were ambiguous.  If you (or your doctor) are operating in the dark, it won’t do much for your confidence.  In this case, the dilemma about which treatment to pursue may be decided by not knowing what else to do. 

Whatever your decision, the most important factor is agreement between the partners, not only because cooperation, understanding and support are vital to keeping stress levels down, but also because it could mean the difference between having a genetic child or not.  From the point that you choose assisted conception you enter a different world; one where your daily life centres on the fertility clinic. For working men, the clinical, inconvenient scheduling, financial and sexual aspects of trying to conceive while being treated, put them into unfamiliar territory and cause stress.  Women will physically experience all of that, and possibly, mood swings, pain, invasive procedures and fear that time is running out as well. 

The decision-making shifts to:

  • Are you happy with the doctor/clinic you started with?
  • Should you try less invasive treatment first, or go straight to IVF?
  • Should we try complementary therapies before, or alongside, traditional medical treatment?
  • How will you pay for your treatment?
  • When should you begin treatment?
  • Can this be managed around your work and/or other obligations?
  • How many embryos do you want to implant? 
  • How many times will you undergo treatment?

These questions may have the two of you at a new crossroads every week. While some people may sail through and others agonize, it’s more likely that some decisions will bring up unexpected issues.  Pay really close attention how you are both functioning.  Your emotional state is important: Do either of you feel stressed, resentful, guilty, desperate, depressed, or hopeless?  Is one of you leaning one way and the other in another direction?  Are you fighting? That is where mutual respect, communication and agreement come into play.

Lisa Marsh is a Fertility Coach working with people on all aspects of fertility, including female and male infertility, pregnancy loss, assisted conception, alternative means of family-building and menopause.  Visit her blog http://yourgreatlife.typepad.com or her website http://yourgreatlife.co.uk for more information.  For coaching, email lisa@yourgreatlife.co.uk

Facing Many Crossroads, Together

Part One: How Do You Function as a Couple? 

Infertility is no picnic. There are months or even years of suspecting a problem, opening up about it, asking for help, educating yourselves about issues, medical terms, finding acceptance and making decisions about how to proceed.  It’s not entirely straightforward for most couples.  How can it be, unless you are incredibly agreeable, immediately find the right doctor and receive an unequivocal diagnosis and solution?  Often, I get annoyed by the over-used term “fertility journey,” but it fits here too perfectly to cast aside, as I describe various crossroads you may reach on the way to creating your family.  A crossroads, in this context, is one of those times when you have to stop and deliberate a big decision that will affect the way you pursue parenting and its success.  You may have a possible diagnosis, a medical opinion, and/or the opinions of family, friends and forum members to contend with, fighting for attention in your head.  You have to pay attention to what your body is telling you as well.  Primarily, if you are in a relationship, you must come to an agreement with your partner at each of several crossroads. 

How will you get through these rather large bumps in the road? For the most part, that will depend upon how your relationship already works.

For a couple whose communication skills are quite healthy, facing these decisions may not be too difficult. Secure in their relationship, they may sit down together and have private, peaceful conversations every step of the way.  They will lay out the pros and cons very efficiently, really listening to each other and reading the subtext (that which is not actually spoken) to arrive at a decision that both find acceptable.

The couple who do not talk about much may just launch into medical investigations and treatment without much forethought.  That may seem unbelievable, considering the physical, emotional and financial costs, but it works for some.  This is the couple that knows they want children, want their “problem fixed” and allow their doctor to run the show. “It seems like everyone is having fertility treatment these days,” so why shouldn’t they? One concern is that if they don’t talk about huge issues like fertility treatment, they may not know when they need to be supportive of each other.

Where one person in the relationship is clearly dominant, the person who is in the power seat makes most of the decisions and their partner follows the lead.  When it comes to fertility issues, I would lay a bet down that the woman is making the decisions. This is actually more effective than you might think, in that traditional relationships assign matters of health, wellbeing and family planning to the woman. Her man goes off to work, doesn’t accompany her to the doctor’s office and understands the need for scheduling tests, scans, injections, sex and, well, life.  She only has to tell him where and when to show up to fulfil his parts of the equation. 

 Finally, there are the couples who discuss EVERYTHING in minute detail, who I divide into two camps:1)  The couple who talk about everything with each other and everyone else. Copious research, note-taking, question-asking, Google-obsessing, and forum-hopping is normal for them, but they do finally come to a decision and eventually take a step forward and 2) The couple that goes round and round the issues in circles, saying “What do you think? No, you say what you want first. Please just tell me what you want to do. Maybe we should discuss it more.”  This couple is in danger of losing valuable time in getting their treatment started or moving on to the next available spot with the clinic.

This is Part One of a Series. Please look for the next Part: Coming upon a Crossroads, What You Need To Make Your Decisions.

Lisa Marsh is a Fertility Coach working with people on all aspects of fertility, including female and male infertility, pregnancy loss, assisted conception, alternative means of family-building and menopause.  Visit her blog http://yourgreatlife.typepad.com or her website http://yourgreatlife.co.uk for more information.  For coaching, email lisa@yourgreatlife.co.uk

An essential of fertility treatment

An Essential Of Fertility Treatment Is Choosing The Right Doctor For You 

A key ingredient to a positive experience with fertility treatment is a good relationship with your doctor and his/her medical team from your GP to your RE.  Perhaps more than any other medical treatment, fertility treatment delves into the most intimate areas of your life.  From your first enquiry about difficulty conceiving, you step into a different relationship with them than when you were in for general health checks.  The focus may be on your reproductive health; however, to varying degrees you are inviting them to be part of your hopes and dreams.  As time goes on, you will entrust them, from the receptionist up to the specialist, with details of your values, spiritual beliefs, the strength of your relationship, your views on and knowledge of sex, birth control, procreation, parenthood, and so much more.  You will be phoning frequently for appointments, lab tests, scans, results, advice and simply to ensure that they don’t forget your life has turned upside down. 

Depending upon your age (+/- 35) and medical history, the question of your fertility may have been completely unexpected.  Even if you are a positive sort, the threat to such a fundamental part of your being, your images of the future and your relationship may lead to thoughts such as “What’s wrong with me?”  “What did I do wrong?” or “Why us?” Hopefully, your doctor has enough experience and sensitivity to anticipate this and will explain the next set of investigations or results in a way that turns your panic into measured concern.  Actually, I might as well say it right now:  you must step forward and meet the doctor more than halfway. Leave embarrassment, shame, guilt and anxiety at the door as they will do you no good and the stress they cause may actually harm your chances of becoming pregnant. 

Infertility takes conception, which should be a natural function, out of your control. For many women, that loss of control is deeply uncomfortable, and even frightening.  I have seven years’ experience of ups and downs in this area, with a combination of recurrent miscarriage and periods of infertility.  I’ll admit to periods of pure numbness, and then heartache, followed later by many glass-half-empty tears.  My GP seemed wholly indifferent to my plight. I wasn’t offered further medical investigations, treatment or counselling.  Why didn’t I change doctors?  Somehow, while I was adventurous and outspoken in other parts of my life, I lost my voice when it was a question of my fertility. I can only conclude that, with infertility looming like a big, dark cloud above me, I felt too vulnerable to assert my needs.  

My response, as an American used to private healthcare, was to ask women friends for a recommendation, then dig deep in my pockets to pay for the services of a Harley Street consultant.  I realise that not everyone would be willing or able to cough up all their holiday, Christmas and rainy-day funds, however, if it matters enough for you to know more about your condition, overcome it and to become pregnant, do anything you can to find the right doctor for you, whether NHS or private.  A sad truth of our fertility and physical stamina is that time will eventually run out and you don’t want to have regrets that you didn’t do everything you could have to create your family.  (Yes, I am aware that a 66 year old woman has just had her first child, but seriously, do you want that to be you?). With today’s search engines, researching each fertility doctor and clinic you are considering for success rates, good standing with their professional association and the number of times they have performed certain procedures is so easy now. If you make an informed choice and use your instincts, you will be paid back with peace of mind and trust. 

So, you have reached a point where you need medical assistance to conceive.  Maybe, you have a short-list of fertility specialists and clinics within a reasonable distance (Or not. I went abroad for my IVF.)  Here are a few tips to help you choose a medical team and achieve and maintain a good relationship with them.   

  • Look everywhere (your doctor, insurance company, friends of friends, internet fertility forums, etc…) for recommendations of a good reproductive endocrinologist (RE) and clinic.
  • Think about whether you and your partner respond better to male or female doctors. This may affect your ability to talk openly and honestly, endure frequent physical examinations or trust their opinions.
  • Ask if you will always see your preferred doctor.  If not, ask to meet the other doctors before agreeing anything.  Burning with resentment at an appointment will interfere with your sense of well-being and your relationship to the staff.
  • Educating yourself about your condition makes “hearing” your doctor that much easier and takes the edge off your anxiety.  However, don’t trip over the doctor’s toes with unqualified self-diagnosis.
  • Do not be afraid to go for a second opinion. An experienced, confident doctor will understand that you have difficult decisions to make.
  • Try to identify each person as friend or foe (for instance, the dragon lady who answers the phone or guards the appointments schedule; it’s her job) and find ways to get them in your corner.  Be conscious about your demeanour; pleasant, patient and worried goes a lot further than impatient, aggressive or hysterical.
  • Be bold. In the waiting room, ask other patients if they have been happy with the medical practice and if they have any tips for you.
  • Whether you choose the most sought-after doctor in the field or someone out of the public eye, you should expect his full attention and compassion during your appointment, but understand that he may not have extra time for chatting and hand-holding.
  • The medical and non-medical staff at the RE’s office may display a professional demeanour that masks real caring. They can’t get emotionally involved with each couple. Be content with friendliness and patience when you have questions or a few tears.
  • If the fertility clinic offers counselling or coaching for your emotional well-being, take advantage of it! This may very well provide the empathy, attention and support to balance out the doctor’s more scientific approach.
  • If, after you have begun with one doctor, you are not comfortable with anything from his bedside manner to the distance from your home or workplace, find someone else.  Don’t stress out.
  • The best thanks you could give your doctor is a recommendation to other couples. Those baby photos in his office, with joyful commentary from grateful parents, are better marketing material than he could buy.  You may need your RE’s services again someday, so if you recommend him to someone else, ask them to mention it when they meet him.
  • The nurses are often there at unreasonably early hours 6 or 7 days a week to allow for patients who have to get to work. A word of appreciation or a bag of croissants won’t go amiss there either.

It is easy to be swept up in the flood of instructions, procedures, an artificially induced cycle, frequent trips to the pharmacy, lessons on self-injecting, an endless list of incomprehensible medical terms and rules of a fertility clinic.  It’s all made more difficult by the high level of emotion that accompanies infertility.  It quickly strips the “trying for a baby” of romantic ideals.  Work on feeling positive, hopeful and supported (perhaps the topic for my next blog).  Central to your fertility plan and within your control, is your choice of doctor’s practice, including his practice manager, receptionist, nurses, and professional support for your emotional well-being.  You should be absolutely convinced that you are all on the same team, wanting the same result and doing everything that can be done to achieve it.  You deserve it.

This post was posted by Lisa Marsh

To find out more about Lisa Marsh of Your Great Life click on the link below

http://yourgreatlife.typepad.com