Cannabis drug use and its effect on male fertility

How does Cannabis impair fertility?

Cannabis sperm motility fertility
Sperm motility

It is known that both Cannabis (Marijuana) can impair male fertility by the effects that it has on sperm motility, and several studies have suggested that Cannabis may also affect sperm production so that the sperm are abnormal in shape and size.

This is obviously quite worrying. If you are trying to conceive, it is sensible to stop using these drugs before you start trying for a baby, as we do not know if these drugs may damage the sperm and lead to problems with the pregnancy.

A study done at the University of Sheffield by Dr Allan Pacey suggested that male Cannabis users should stop using Cannabis well before trying to conceive

How long do the effect of Cannabis and Cocaine last?

Cannabis metabolites are stored in fat in the body and can be detected on a urine Cannabis drug test kit for up to 30 days after last use.

In view of this our advice would be to wait at least 30 days before you start trying for a baby. That will give time for the Cannabis metabolites to leave your system and for new sperm to be produced. You do not need to stop having sex during this time, simply use a condom.

One thing to bear in mind is that sperm can live in the testicles for up to 2-3 months, so it is important to keep having sex  (with a condom) so that the older sperm that have been affected by Cannabis have been used up. Fresh sperm is best for conception.

Will my fertility return to normal after I stop using Cannabis?

As long as everything else is normal, and you are not using other drugs or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol then the sperm morphology and motility should return to normal once the drug causing the problem has left your body, although this could take several months.

The best advice is to stop using drugs well in advance of trying to conceive to optimise your chances of conceiving quickly and having a successful pregnancy for your partner and a healthy baby.

 

 

The silent infertility

You spend all your youth trying not to get pregnant, then when you want to its not easy.
It comes as a surprise that you would face challenges.
Women having children later in life face this dilemma and you didn’t even know until you went looking.

Who knew that when you have found “the one” decided to have a family that your life would be turned upside down and you would begin a journey into a world filled of waiting, not knowing, and becoming a statistic where success rate is a lottery, funding is a postcode and tests just become integrated into your daily life.

What else in the world would you choose to gamble your life and money on, especially when it’s something that is not guaranteed?

When desperation takes over it’s an addiction that not even you have control of.

When you’re a young girl growing up you dream of the “fairytale” meet your handsome prince, fall
In love and live happily ever after.
You assume you will get married and have your own family. You take for granted it’s a given, you might even know the names.
You talk about what they will look like, who they will take after, how your life will be.
It’s accepted that you will be “older parents” but you see the positives in this. You’re more mature, financially more stable, you’ve grown older, more life experiences the list is endless.
All this seems perfectly normal, why would it be any different? Why would you ever think you would be faced with challenges.

Imagine being 34 and being told you have a lower than normal egg reserve caused by ovarian failure. What does that mean? How is it caused? How long has it been like this? The result; less than a 1% opportunity of natural conception.
There are no explanations no medical reasons just “one of those things” unexplained infertility is the medical term.

When you get told something like that it’s like a blow to the head, knife deep in your heart and makes you so incredibly angry followed by why me? Why not I guess?

You feel a failure as a woman, it’s your right isn’t it? if you want it of course. There are days and hours going over what ifs’ but nothing changes it. There is no resolution its not helpful just leaves you drained, more angry and even more unanswered questions.

Sadly on this situation those questions never get any answers.

You don’t need sympathy or words of wisdom just often a little understanding.

How many times has somebody said to you “just have IVF” like its a prescription for a headache and will take the pain away and the problem will be solved.

Why is it so misunderstood? Why as a nation are we misinformed? How are we in a position where if you’re ill you take medication, break a leg and it gets fixed, but infertility is still a taboo subject.

How many women are walking around not knowing anything about there fertility. How many of us have endometriosis and have not had a single symptom? It takes 7 years for somebody to be diagnosed, be which time the damage has been done.

How many women have had to push for testing, researched themselves and demanded more answers? This is the journey, this is what we go through but why don’t we know?

Along my journey from finding out about the low reserve, I found out about endometriosis but not because of symptoms because I pushed for a laporoscapy to look at other areas and there it was. “The hidden fertility killer”
https://www.endometriosis-uk.org
Knowledge is power and we need more awareness that when your in your 20’s your body is more likely to find conception easier but the older we become the more challenging it is.

Should your fertility be tested? Much like you are for smear tests, would this then provide you with choices to make an informed decision?

I know if this had been available to me I would have done things differently, it may have still been the same outcome.

So you get on the roller coaster and you start the journey of IVF.

Little do you know that it’s not always successful.

Coping with infertility

At any given time, there are around 3.5 million people in the UK who are having problems getting pregnant, but it doesn’t always feel that way when you’re trying unsuccessfully to conceive. Infertility is lonely and isolating, and it’s very common to start to feel cut off from friends and family.  You may worry that you’re the only one who feels this way when you find yourself dreading pregnancy announcements or avoiding events where there are bound to be lots of children.  Many of us end up feeling almost ashamed about our fertility problems, and there can be a sense of guilt too and worry that maybe we’re somehow responsible for what is happening to us.  Infertility can erode our self-confidence and leave us feeling depressed and miserable, but there are things you can do to help yourself get through it.

The more you know about your fertility and treatment, the easier it is to cope. When I went through IVF for the first time, there was very little information available about what it would be like to have treatment from the patient perspective, and that’s why I started writing books about it!  Now, there’s a huge range of sources of information and advice, and making sure that you are well-informed can make all the difference.  If you’re having IVF, do take a look at my book The Complete Guide to IVF which is a simple guide to the basics of what’s involved and includes the experiences of lots of people who’ve been through treatment.

The other key tip for coping is to seek out others who are experiencing similar problems.  You may feel you aren’t ready to open up to people you don’t know, but it can be so helpful to be in a roomful of others who know just how you are feeling.  Some clinics run support groups and the charity Infertility Network UK  http://www.infertilitynetworkuk.com/  have many of their own too.  If you don’t want to meet people in the flesh, talking to one another in one of the many online forums can be incredibly helpful too.

Perhaps most important of all,  do remember that infertility isn’t easy.  No one sails through fertility problems and treatment in a calm, relaxed state.  Infertility makes you feel stressed, and it’s inevitable that at times you will find it tough going.  Try to find space to do some of the things you’ve always enjoyed, and don’t force yourself to go to social functions that you know are going to be difficult.  Above all, be kind to yourself – you’re going through a difficult time, and you deserve it.

Website http://www.katebrian.co.uk/

Kate Brian on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/katebrian

Amy’s New Year Newsletter 2012

Happy New Year

Here’s to 2012! May your year be full of cooperation, love and joy.

Oneness Meditation

Tracy has specially recorded a Oneness Meditation to prepare hearts and minds for the opportunities 2012 will bring. As always I highly recommend her meditations what’s more this one is free, what have you got to lose?

http://www.tracyholloway.com/blog/2012/01/2012-oneness-meditation/?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=twitterfeed

Make Space

It’s always a good time to make space in your life, clear your mind of clutter.  I do feel though that at this time of year it is important to let the past year settle and make space for what the next will bring.  Set your intention, make sure it is clear what you want from 2012.  (Listening to Tracy’s Oneness Meditation will help you do this.)  Keeping your mind clear of clutter will enable you to achieve what you want.  Those of you who have had a session with me and /or been on Tracy’s course/s will know how to use tools to keep your mind clear and stay in the present moment.  When those ‘old programs’ come up you know what to do! 😉  For those of you who wish to conceive, make space for your baby, in your mind and in your life, taking time out to relax will help you do this.

Who Are You?

Another reminder of Tracy’s excellent home study course available to all.  Called ‘Who are you?’ it has been developed for those who wish to access their authentic self and discover lasting change.  The course consists of a workbook with insights and practical exercises and 10 CDs of powerful meditations to support you along the way.  There is also access to webinars held by Tracy Holloway and membership to a supportive, likeminded online community.  An opportunity not to be missed by those who wish to move on from the past, live fully in the moment and begin experiencing the life they dream of.  Follow this link for more details: http://www.tracyholloway.com/who-are-you/?a=unkx

Best wishes,

Amy Marner

Stepping off the emotional roller coaster of infertility

 sarah holland fertile mindset

I realise that you may feel in need of emotional support as you try to conceive through fertility issues. You need support that’s effective, works quickly and can bring you the peace of mind and positive thinking that you know is so vital to supporting your fertility.

Perhaps you’ve heard about how successful EFT is at dramatically reducing negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness, worry and fear. But you’re not sure how to learn it or apply it to your own unique situation, and achieve the positive results in your emotional well-being and mindset that you know would be SO beneficial.Well here’s the good news! I have developed a low cost, fast working solution to help yo u switch your thinking from negative to positive, and support you in a multitude of ways as you try to conceive your baby.I know what an emotional roller coaster it can be when you have fertility issues, and I’d like to invite you now to take my hand as a support you stepping off the roller coaster and on to a much smoother, easier to navigate path.What am I talking about? Click below to find out!http://www.fertilemindset.com/inner-saboteur
Don’t delay in clicking above and making a decision whether to sign up. There are only limited spaces available, and the ‘early bird’ booking price ends soon. PLUS if you’re one of the next few to sign up you’ll be able to grab one of the remaining chances to have a private one-to-one telephone session with me, to work on a key emotional issue for you.

I look forward to you joining me on this exciting adventure!

With love and best wishes on your fertility journey,

Sarah Holland
Fertility Support Specialist

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.

The Fertility Focus Telesummit

This ground breaking online event is in its second year and it’s completely free of charge for you to register and attend!  The Fertility Focus Telesummit 2011 features 12 fertility experts from around the world, including Toni Weschler, Dr Marilyn Glenville and Zita West.  Every expert will be speaking live and sharing their insights, tips and techniques to help you improve your fertility and move closer to conceiving your baby. You can listen in to all of the presentations either online or on the phone from the comfort of your home.  And you even have the amazing opportunity to ask these world class fertility experts YOUR burning questions about your fertility.

Fertility subjects featured will include Hypnofertility, acupuncture, fertility astrology, aging eggs, how to create a support network while you try to conceive, and much more.   You really don’t want to miss this fantastic event, and best of all there is no charge to listen in live and for 24 hours after each presentation!  If you’re busy and don’t want to miss out on any of the presentations (and I’d recommend you try to listen in to them ALL) there’s an option to upgrade to Golden Ticket access to the event, which gives you all the recordings as MP3 files plus over $600 of bonuses from our fertility experts for just $67!  This low price is valid right until the end of the telesummit on Monday 27th March.

To sign up right now and get access to the first presentations starting at 1pm Pacific/4pm Eastern/8pm UK time just visit www.FertilityFocusTelesummit.com

I look forward to ‘seeing’ you there!

Sarah
Creator and host of the Fertility Focus Telesummit

Fertility World / April 15th & 16th 2011 / London Olympia

       

Fertility Road Magazine (Europe’s Number 1 Fertility Magazine) is excited to announce the “Fertility World Show in Association with Fertility Road” at London Olympia on April 15th & 16th 2011.

Fertility World ( www.Fertility-World.co.ukbe a section of this year’s Destination Health Show and dedicated to helping people on their path to parenthood.  Fertility World will cover a number of subjects in the “Fertility Road Seminar Theatre” including cross-border reproductive care, IVF, PCOS & ‘Expectant Management’ an overview of options for couples trying to conceive in the current climate of NHS cut backs.One in six couples now face infertility in the UK, and the problem is growing. Looking to start a family? Join us at Fertility World and visit the Fertility Road Seminar Theatre.

                

Fertility Road Magazine is aimed at helping women and men on their journey to parenthood. The Magazine provides not only information on the latest treatments and drugs to help people conceive, but natural conception options as well, such as healthy eating and fantastic places to conceive written by Doctors and Industry specialists. Other features include book reviews, cooking to conceive with Dr. Marilyn Glenville, Zita West (Pregnancy Author) is our “Expert Witness” answering your questions, alternative options, celebrity births, success stories, as well as a cutting edge science section.  

For more information please visit FertilityRoad or contact us at info@FertilityRoad.com 

What is the Fertility Solutions Programme?

Fertility Solutions was developed by Tracy Holloway as a whole person programme to support couples going through Fertility difficulties.

Experiencing fertility problems is one of the most stressful experiences to go through.  What is more a lot of people do not understand what it is like for couples experiencing problems.  Often couples who have been planning for a baby for years are asked “When are you going to start a family?”  This can only add to the stress, particularly if the couple have decided not to tell others about their fertility challenges.  What is more high stress levels are known to reduce the chances of conception so it is very important for couples to reduce their stress levels as best they can.

Fertility Solutions aims to give couples their best chance of conceiving by supporting them through the ups and downs of their fertility journey.  The programme includes Hypnosis, lifestyle support and a minimum of six sessions of Life Upgrade.

Hypnosis:

Hypnosis is a natural state that we all enter daily.  It’s those times when your imagination is active, so watching a film or reading a book.  If you are immersed in the story and your imagination is involved that is hypnosis.  You are completely in control and free to leave it at anytime.  Our subconscious does not know the difference between our imagination and reality so we can use our imagination to access the subconscious and create what we want in our lives.

Using hypnosis is a great way to address fertility, because we can access our imagination and address what is going on in our subconscious.  For example we may have spent years trying not to get pregnant, our subconscious may not have caught up with our new plans to start a family so using the imagination we can show the subconscious what we really want and it can catch up.  This then supports our body to conceive.

We may often have negative thoughts running through our minds, worry creating more worry and affecting our well-being.  Our negative thoughts can affect our hormonal balance but with hypnosis it is possible to bring them back to a healthy equilibrium therefore supporting conception.

Fertility Solutions hypnosis CDs have been developed by Tracy Holloway (a qualified hypnotherapist and renowned fertility specialist) in order to prepare the subconscious mind for conception.  The powerful CDs begin with deep relaxation; this prepares your mind for suggestion and supports you to release stress.  Once you have listened for at least a week to the first CD you can move on to the next.  Each one brings you relaxation and prepares the body for conception.  Some are designed specifically for those who are planning to conceive naturally, others support assisted conception and there are also CDs for those who have experienced miscarriage and fear their body cannot support a healthy baby.

These powerful CDs go hand in hand with the Fertility Solutions Programme but can also be very effective in their own right.

Lifestyle Support:

The Fertility Solutions Programme also provides advice and support on lifestyle.  For example I recommend that clients stop smoking and drinking alcohol in order to get their bodies in the best place for conception.  I will also make suggestions about diet and supplements to support fertility.  I recommend organic food as much as possible to reduce the residue toxins in the body and increase the nutrients in the diet.  For Couples with specific physical symptoms effecting fertility I may recommend certain supplements to support their body’s health.  Some people find these changes difficult and if this is the case then at least one of their Life Upgrade sessions will be dedicated to supporting graceful, effective and lasting change.

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 release negative thoughts running through your conscious and subconscious mind which have such an impact on the way you feel.  Letting go of those thoughts supports 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.

So how does it work?

Whatever is running in our subconscious mind affects the reality we experience.  The old programmes that are running are taken on by our subconscious mind because it think we need them to survive.  Some of those programmes are our own (from our childhood experiences for example) others have been passed down from our ancestors.

So here’s a simplified example; say one of my relatives had a bad experience at school, their teacher punished them for something they didn’t do.  Let’s say they got caned as a part of that punishment.  As an attempt to stop this happening again their subconscious mind took on the programme ‘Teachers can’t be trusted’.  This gets passed down the generations to me.  So I’m running the old programme ‘Teachers can’t be trusted’ I have no conscious knowledge of this programme nor of the events that took place to create it however it is there in the background as I go through life.

So every interaction I have with teachers in my lifetime is going to have alarm bells going of in my subconscious mind ‘Teacher’s can’t be trusted!’ therefore I will be searching for examples of this, on high alert for untrustworthy things teachers might do to protect myself from harm.  I am likely to misunderstand events as examples of untrustworthy teachers, which will only reinforce the programme I am already running.  I will certainly find it impossible to fully trust a teacher with all that going on in my subconscious.

Say I could clear that old programme so it no longer gets in the way?  Say I could completely delete it so that I can begin to interact with teachers and see them for who they really are?  Using Life Upgrade tools makes this possible.  Once I recognise that I am unhappy with my interaction with teachers I can clear the old programmes quickly and easily.  (I don’t even need to know what the old programmes are.)  What’s more it’s so simple you can do it yourself as you go about your daily business.  Each time you observe something that you want to change you just get out your tool box and change it!  I find that really exciting!

Life Upgrade tools make it easy to get back to the moment because they deal with the old programmes in your subconscious mind that distracted you from the moment in the first place.  What’s more in clearing these old programmes you are less likely to be distracted next time.  So Life Upgrade doesn’t just support you to get back into the present it also makes it easier to live in the moment, as each time you use the tools you are clearing old programmes that you no longer need.  Not only is this extremely helpful for those going through a long fertility journey, it is also useful for parenthood.

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’, those with physical symptoms which are effecting their fertility (e.g. Polycystic Ovaries, Endometriosis, Fibroids and other complaints) and those who are going through medical intervention.  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. For more details visit my website or contact me to book your Free Initial consultation.

Fertility Yoga is a Healing Community

The main reason I created and starting teaching a Fertility Yoga class was to support my own health and well being. In the depth of my own fertility challenges, I was becoming more and more disconnected, depressed and isolated. Although my husband was very supportive he just couldn’t understand the extent of my grief. I felt misunderstood and at times, I thought I was actually losing my mind. I watched myself spiraling out of control and realized that I needed to shift something quickly.

The first class I taught filled up with little effort. Women were nervous and at the same time relieved to find some support. I experienced such a warm comfort as we shared our experiences with each other and I realized that I wasn’t alone and that other women were on a similar emotional roller coaster.

We all had such a profound experience in the first session of classes and I discovered a community of support that gave me HOPE! Within months I opened Family Passages Mind Body Studio where I continued to teach Yoga for Fertility classes as well as private yoga therapy session and a Couples Mind Body Program. I was touched by the impact the space had for women and couples and I was grateful to witness such amazing transformations in such a short period of time.

The classes provide a space for healing the mind, body and spirit. The yoga postures help support the body by reducing the effects of stress and improving blood flow to the reproductive organs. Each posture is held for 3-5 minutes and accompanied by a dialogue specific to fertility. The class allows for a deep experience of the posture and fosters a level of healing that miracles are made of.

I love to witness women coming in the door feeling defeated, confused and stressed and by the end of the class they leave feeling relieved, calm and supported on their journey. It is the most rewarding class as an instructor that I have ever taught in my 18 year career. It is like a yoga support group. There is comfort just walking in the door and realizing they are not alone. There is peace in re-connecting to their own inner guidance/intuition as they realize they no longer need to desperately seek answers outside of themselves.

They begin to befriend their body again, follow their guidance, find a sense of calm and discover a strength that will help them through their journey. I watch them come alive as they begin to take back control of their life. The learn how to identify and process their emotions and they use the mind body tools to shift their experience outside the class. They bring their yoga practice off the mat and into their lives each day, and their experience of fertility shifts and transforms.

Most importantly I don’t see women as “infertile” or “broken” or “failures”.

I see women as the Mothers I know they are.

I hold FAITH for them!

I BELIEVE in them, no matter what!

You can be a Mother! I know with my whole heart, that one way or another, you too, will bring your baby home into your arms. I will hold FAITH for you until you BELIEVE it as deeply as I do! Because when you BELIEVE something is possible, impossible is nothing.

To learn more about Sue Dumais and her Fertility Yoga classes and resources visit www.familypassages.ca

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.

Select the sources of your information about infertility carefully to avoid overwhelm

We now seem flooded with so many references to infertility that many of the information and resources currently available are being overlooked. Infertility and IVF have almost become ubiquitous topics in the health sections of major newspapers and monthly magazines, like weight loss, skin care and cosmetic surgery. Infertility support websites, forums and blogs abound, but even if an infertile person belongs to dozens of them, how many can they actually read and appreciate? I check out as many as 10 new infertility resources a day, and I can tell you that there is a wide range of depth and quality of the information available.

Is there too much information about infertility available now?

My first instinct would be to say “no, absolutely not!” There are women and men out there who don’t know nearly enough about the road ahead of them as they begin to wonder why they haven’t conceived yet.

Anyone who has been diagnosed as infertile and doesn’t know what to do next, where to get support or the pros and cons of treatment, has a steep learning curve. There’s also the potential of vital time being wasted as overwhelm sets in and incapacitates infertile people who need to research, reflect and agree. On top of these first-hand needs, there’s the need to promote public awareness about the physical, emotional and financial aspects of infertility; to promote sensitivity, encourage medical science, motivate regulatory change and improve access to treatment.

However, we now seem flooded with so many references to infertility that many of the information and resources currently available are being overlooked. Courses, conferences and symposiums are going begging for attendance; whether aimed at professionals or the prospective patient. Infertility and IVF have almost become ubiquitous topics in the health sections of major newspapers and monthly magazines, like weight loss, skin care and cosmetic surgery. Infertility support websites, forums and blogs abound, but even if an infertile person belongs to dozens of them, how many can they actually read and appreciate?

I check out as many as 10 new infertility resources a day, and I can tell you that there is a wide range of depth and quality of the information available. It can be incredibly confusing for the newly diagnosed or freshly motivated infertile person to encounter. How do you know who to follow, what to attend or how much validity to give to a particular expert, whether professional or from personal experience?

Ten tips for fighting infertility information overload

  1. Browse – Whether on the internet, at an event or looking through the back of a magazine, take the time to investigate all of the groups putting out information about infertility.
  2. Ask for information – One fantastic aspect of social media is being able to pose a question to the universe and get an answer. It’s like Google info + opinion in one.
  3. Go by recommendations – If you see something you like posted on Twitter or Facebook by people you respect and like, chances are that you will like the sites they like.
  4. Categorize – Balance is everything when your mind is focused on one subject: infertility. So gather and categorize resources. Ex. medical information, emotional support, infertility news, beautiful writing, humour, etc.
  5. Find the right site for your personality – If you want to share your test results down to the nth degree of detail with others who understand the numbers, find the right site for that. Others may just want to share feelings.
  6. Look at an event’s content before registering – Some of the biggest events are more about selling you treatment and travel options rather than giving you substantive information. It’s great to know about providers and get a chance to talk with them, but you don’t just want to go home with loads of brochures for the bin. Are there seminars offered at the event? Is there a Question & Answer period?
  7. Don’t join everything – One of the greatest causes of overwhelm can be too many email newsletters flooding your inbox. Instead, try bookmarking or Favourite the blogs and websites you find and go to them occasionally, until you decide how useful they are.
  8. Leave comments where asked – Give feedback after articles, on blogs, on forums and at events telling how useful, enjoyable and accessible you found them, or where they missed the mark.
  9. Support the infertility resources you do value: When you have found an excellent resource, help keep it afloat by paying the membership price, buying the entry ticket, book or magazine, nominating the blog for an award, Tweeting the link, or donating to the charity.
  10. De-clutter – If you look back a month and see repeated, unopened emails from infertility groups or blogs, take the pressure off yourself by clicking on “Unsubscribe.” You can always visit those sites and blogs if and when you find extra time.

Fight the overabundance of information and overwhelm by singling out the good resources by quality and deleting or ignoring the rest.  Likewise, if you think a particular health journalist is doing a great job, champion their efforts by replying when appropriate and posting links to their work on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t be afraid to make a comment rating the value of what’s out there on infertility. It’s worth showing a bit of loyalty to a particular source too: It’s a win-win situation.  You can develop a rewarding rapport with a blogger or a group of contributors to a forum. You may also qualify for special deals on publications and events. Your membership, visits and purchases help their stats, which raises their profile and/or brings in revenue.

Readership is everything, so if you aren’t supporting the less-than-helpful information providers, they will get the point eventually. Remember, it’s not about how much information you can take in; it’s about the quality and usefulness of that information.

Lisa Marsh is the owner of Your Great Life, which provides one-to-one and couples’ fertility coaching, educational seminars, support groups and advocacy for matters related to women’s health, infertility and family-building. Contact Lisa by email lisa@yourgreatlife.co.uk or by following her on Twitter @yourgreatlife.

When to seek help

In view of the e-mail we received yesterday thought it may be helpful to run over when it is time to ask for help when trying to conceive.

The age of the woman is very important when deciding when to seek help.

If the woman is under 35 years of age

As a general guideline most GP’s will not refer you for infertility investigations until you have been trying to conceive for 12 months unless there is a medical history to suggest referral should be earlier eg previous known infertility in either partner

If the woman is over 35 years of age

In this case referral is usually much quicker as fertility in woman declines more rapidly after 35 years of age. Most GP’s would refer a couple where the woman is over 35 years after they have been trying for 6 months or more.

It is important to note that these are only guidelines and that each case is treated individually.

Endometriosis & infertility

Just read a very interesting article online at bbc health about Endometriosis (endo) & how surgery helped one woman who then conceived shortly after.

Thought it might be useful to run through some information about endometriosis, as it is a common cause of female infertility.

What is endometriosis ?

Endometriosis is a condition in women where the tissue that lines the womb (endometrial tissue) grows in areas outside the womb. Common sites for the endometriosis to occur are the ovaries & the peritoneal cavity (pelvic area)

It affects women during their fertile years & the symptoms tend to be worse cyclically in time with the periods.

What causes endometriosis ?

No one knows exactly what causes the endometriosis to occur in some women. It is estimated to occur in between 5-10% of women.

What are the symptoms of endometriosis ?

Some symptoms of endo include:

  • pelvic pain-most common symptom
  • painful intercourse
  • painful periods
  • urinary symptoms
  • low back pain
  • infertility
  • menstrual difficulties
  • bowel symptoms similar to irritable bowel

There are many other symptoms that can be associated with endometriosis, and not everyone with endometriosis has all the symptoms.

Pelvic pain is by far the commonest symptom. The severity of the syptoms does not necessarily reflect the severity of the endometriosis.

How does endometriosis cause infertility ?

It is thought endometriosis may causes infertility in several ways. Endo can cause adhesions within the pelvis (tiny fibrous bands) which can affect the pelvic anatomy, and in some cases block the fallopian tubes.

What should I do if I think I may have endometriosis ?

See your doctor or GP.

Here is the link to endometriosis article at bbc online

Click here for more info on endo from Wikipedia

 

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.

Finding Support for Your Infertility

How do you find the support you need for your infertility?  Regardless of how you came to be infertile or what your goal, it can be a challenge to find someone who not only empathizes with your situation, but also is prepared to be there for you on either an emotional or practical level. You may wonder why, for something so fundamental to your happiness, someone wouldn’t want to be counted in your support network. 

Why You May Not Be Getting the Support You Need from Logical Sources

  1. They believe that you must be responsible for your infertility somehow.
  2. Your partner is ambivalent about becoming a father or mother.
  3. You want to be a single parent.
  4. You are not married to your partner.
  5. You are in a gay relationship and they believe every child needs a father
  6. They are infertile also and worry they will lose you to a baby and mom-friends.
  7. It’s your boss. Doctor appointments and maternity leave will inconvenience them.
  8. People think you should be grateful that you already have one child.
  9. They are jealous of the attention and sympathy you get for your infertility.
  10. They are too wrapped up in their own life to realize you need them.

Those people may not realize they are being unsupportive. What is obvious to you may not occur to them.  An example:  your mother phoning you daily with details of her friend’s daughter’s pregnancy.  “What do you mean? I thought you would be happy for her.” Or, someone may think if you needed them you would ask and you haven’t.

They may be judgmental.  “Well if she hadn’t (pick one) a) taken such a stressful job, b) had that abortion years ago, c) waited so long or d) gained so much weight, she wouldn’t be in this situation now.” In fact, almost the entire list comes from people judging you and your condition by their own values, rather than stepping into your shoes to think what it must be like to be you.  However, you may be able to turn their attitude around.

First, look at your own responsibility for the situation and take ownership of it.  In that way, you will be less likely to assign blame, feel resentment and put other people on the defensive.

  1. Have you failed to let people know about your infertility? (Most can’t read minds.)
  2. Have you made it so much a part of your identity that you sound like a broken record?
  3. Have you not been there for them when they needed your support?
  4. Have you isolated yourself from all your friends who have children?
  5. Have you held back on congratulations toward a sister-in-law, cousin or colleague who has had a baby?
  6. Did you previously fail to show empathy toward someone else who was infertile?
  7. Do you whine too much?
  8. Have you lost your perspective?
  9. Have you made sex seem like a chore, obliterating the romance and passion in the bedroom?

If you don’t keep up your work, friendships, social or sport activities, you may become “out of sight, out of mind.” If you no longer accept invitations, people may assume you no longer want or need their company.  Though it may seem logical to you and very unfair to compare the situations, a friend who has had a difficult pregnancy or birth, postnatal depression, has a colicky baby or has had a miscarriage, may feel that you have not supported her when she needed you.  It isn’t your friend’s fault that you haven’t yet had a baby of your own.  Messages can be misconstrued and feelings hurt on both sides.  All relationships need to be nurtured in order to thrive, so give to get.

How to Find The Right Kind of Support

The trick to getting support is to first list the type of support you need, and then identify who can provide it.  For example:

  • Someone who will listen and keep it confidential
  • Go with me to the doctor
  • Someone who’s also infertile and knows what it’s like
  • Friends I can go out with, to forget my problems
  • Cover my workload when I need time off
  • Friend(s) who won’t need an explanation or take it personally when I opt out of get-togethers and baby showers
  • Give me my injections  
  • Pass the word so that I don’t have to get into it 10 times a day
  • Friend who will rescue me from upsetting conversations
  • Help me with my food and fitness plans

Now, split your list of needs into two, under the headings: emotional support and practical support. Connect the tasks with the names of people you know. Then ask yourself a very important question: “Is it reasonable for me to expect this person to provide this support.”  Consider:

1.     your relationship

2.     their nature (sensitivity, generosity, etc…)

3.     their availability

4.     their reliability

Next, look at acquaintances in an outer layer of your life.  A colleague at work may also be trying to conceive.  You may click with a nurse at the clinic.  That other woman you always see in the RE’s waiting room may be happy to go for a coffee. A friend of a friend may have had the treatment you are considering and be happy to answer your questions. Reach out when you feel strong enough or the need is big enough. Infertility seems like a personal or sensitive subject that people may wait for you to bring up the conversation. So go for it; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

When No One Close at Hand Will Do – Infertility forums are wonderful resources for information, camaraderie and supportive conversations.  They all have a “personality” of their own, so cruise them for a few days to figure out which one is a good fit for you.  There are also hundreds of blogs written by infertile women (and a few by men) to which you can subscribe.  Again, cruise the blogs until you find an appropriate few, keeping in mind that they are the product of someone else’s personal experiences, attitude and knowledge level.  After a little while, if you keep reading and commenting on the forum(s) or blog(s) of your choice, you will feel a part of that community.  Be careful though not to take someone else’s experience or opinion as valid medical advice unless they are medically qualified.  Always check with the doctor treating you before trying anything that may interfere with or delay your chances of treatment.

Professional Support – Last, but not least, there is an advantage in having a specialist fertility coach if you are not coping well with your infertility.  The criteria to look for in a coach include training, rapport between the two of you and their ability to teach and motivate you to achieve the positive changes you are after. While coaches don’t absolutely need to have personal experience with a client’s issues to be effective, I believe that it is a genuine advantage in the area of fertility coaching. A fertility coach who has herself had difficulty conceiving, will have an authentic understanding of the emotional, physical, financial and social aspects of the fertility rollercoaster ride.

There is plenty of evidence that your state of mind can affect your fertility.  If you are overly stressed, feeling negative, comfort-eating, arguing with your partner or not sleeping, you are not creating the best possible state of wellbeing for conception, pregnancy and childbirth.  A fertility coach will look at the whole person to determine which small changes in your attitudes, actions and lifestyle will make a difference to your overall wellbeing.  From that better place, you will work together to find the best way to create and build your family. By aligning your goals with your value system, your coach may also be able to help you determine whether to undergo or continue fertility treatment, if and when to stop trying to conceive, end fertility treatment or consider an alternative path to parenting, such as egg or sperm donation, surrogacy or adoption.

In the end, it’s your choice of how open or private you will be about your infertility and that will directly affect what kind of support you receive.  Just remember support comes in many forms and from many places and sometimes must be earned. Be understanding; over time, supporters can be more or less active in your life as their own circumstances change.  Giving support is not a job description; it’s a gift.

Lisa Marsh is the fertility coach  and owner of Your Great Life in Stanmore, North London.  For more information about her, go to http://yourgreatlife.co.uk. Subscribe to her blog at http://yourgreatlife.typepad.com or to arrange a coaching session, in person or via telephone, please contact her at 020 8954 2897 or lisa@yourgreatlife.co.uk

You can also follow Lisa at http://twitter.com/yourgreatlife for helpful Fertility and Miscarriage Support Tips, as well as other information about news in the field of women’s reproductive health.

My journey to motherhood and becoming a fertility coach

As I sit at my kitchen table and write this blog I am incredibly aware of just what a lot has happened over these last few years . And how , for all the noise , tantrums and lack of sleep I will never cease to be amazed that I have finally got here .That I can finally be a mum .I guess thats one of the only advantages to having had such a fight to get my family . I will never take it for granted .Change the scene to about 8 years ago and the situation was very different and in a sense  where our  journey began  . 

I had met my husband at university and always had a strong friendship as well as romantic hope for him . So it was with little suprise that we finally told family and friends that we were getting married in 1997 . We were very much in love and talked from early on about how great it would be to be parents .The summer before we officially started trying I remember being on holiday and writing a list together of our top girls and boys names for the family which lay just within our reach . There was such optimism and such hope . It was to be over so soon .We tried for a family for about 9 months before I could take it no longer and assumed there was something wrong .

I was never known for my patience and thus nearly everyone told me to calm down , stop trying so hard etc etc ….the usual . But deep down I really just wanted reassurance . And so I persuaded a doctor to do some initial tests on both of us . Fully expecting the results to match the helpful comments of friends and family . That we would be fine and to just relax more .However the results for my husband were utterly devestating . He was Azoospermic , there was no sperm whatsoever  present . The ” kindly ” doctor pronounced we would never have chidren and we were sent on our way .

And just like that our world crumbled and a new chapter began .We then went through every test we could do , choosing to use my savings rather than wait ..again that old impatience . I found out information about my inner workings that I never thought I would know . And certainly more about my husband than is common in most marriages !Finally we saw one of the top specialists in the country and were told in no uncertain terms that ours was one of the worst situations a couple could find themselves in .” If I were you mr Sizer i wouldnt put my wife through IVF but would look at Donor or adoption . You have a 1 in 125,000 chance of this ever working “To say my husband was crushed would be an understatement . And I grieved that day as Much for what it was doing to him as  for the loss of our dreams .

Over the next few weeks we re emerged from the duvet and began to talk . ..and talk ..and pray and talk . Until finally , and for no good practical reason we chose to give that 1 in 125,000 chance a go . Not good betting odds but I guess we needed to close the door before moving on .And so we started IVF number one at the lister clinic , a wonderful warm enviroment who supported us all the way , even when they felt it was a run to nothing .The cycle went badly to begin with and then got worse with the realisation that I was what they called a “poor responder ” ( how I hate that phrase !) and probably early menopausal ..just to add to the tension !!Finally however 4 eggs were obtained , my husband had a very painful op to remove the few sperm he did have and the wonderful world of science miraculously made 4 embryos .Just 3 days later 2 little bundles of potential were lit up on a screen and shown going into my womb …and so began the dreaded 2 week wait .Again we were so low on hope that I almost didnt do a test on the set date . But eventually we did . And amazingly 1 little ball had made it .I was pregnant !! 9 months of  elation and anxiety ensued until finally on April 26th 2003 our first miracle was born and Hope Sizer came into the world .We were literally over the moon to become parents and loved those early days with our new daughter .

And yet our dreams of a family had always been of two or more children .And though family and friends pretty much begged us not to keep going we entered the wonderful world of ART once again when Hope was just over a year old . The abridged version of what happened next was that amazingly , our odds actually seemed to get worse ! I was diagnosed with High FSH , and an over active immune system as well as the initial poor responder bit !  We went through 3 more cycles and two miscarriages before our final attempt at the ARGC clinic .This was to be it . Enough of the battering .And so a new regime was started ,new protocol and an immune suppresant drug for a mere £2000 extra .Two embryos put back in and …..well lets just say Barnaby sizer is a very meant little boy !

We finally felt like a family.I have done many things in my life that I am proud of and many things make me grateful . none of them howehver come close to the pride I feel personally and as a couple, in fighting for our family .It was without doubt the hardest thing I have ever done , possibly ever will do  , and amazingly it was worth it .During my time going through IVF I retrained from a counselling background , into Life coaching and began to specialise in supporting encouraging and resourcing couples through Infertility .

To come up with specific coping tools  through this most emotional of times .One of the key things I always say to people is to never belittle what you are facing . Infertility has recently been given a stress point reading akin to Cancer and Bereavement and as such a person dealing with fertility issues needs support . A new chapter has again then started for me through this work . A new chance to help support and encourage other people facing the difficulties of Infertility . Whether it is running the support group , running workshops or speaking to the media I remain passionate that people facing Infertility should be as best looked after as possible .

Best of luck to everyone reading this 

Anya Sizer

www.thefertilitycoach.co.uk     

Hypnosis and Fertility

Hypnosis is a natural state that we all enter daily. It’s those times when your imagination is active, so watching a film or reading a book. If you are immersed in the story and your imagination is involved that is hypnosis. You are completely in control and free to leave it at anytime. Our subconscious does not know the difference between our imagination and reality so we can use our imagination to access the subconscious and create what we want in our lives.

Using hypnosis is a great way to address fertility, because we can access our imagination and address what is going on in our subconscious. For example we may have spent years trying not to get pregnant, our subconscious may not have caught up with our new plans to start a family so using the imagination we can show the subconscious what we really want and it can catch up. This then supports our body to conceive.

We may often have negative thoughts running through our minds, worry creating more worry and affecting our well-being. Our negative thoughts can affect our hormonal balance but with hypnosis it is possible to bring them back to a healthy equilibrium therefore supporting conception.

Fertility Solutions hypnosis CDs have been developed by Tracy Holloway (a qualified hypnotherapist and renowned fertility specialist) in order to prepare the subconscious mind for conception. The powerful CDs begin with deep relaxation; this prepares your mind for suggestion and supports you to release stress. Once you have listened for at least a week to the first CD you can move on to the next. Each one brings you relaxation and prepares the body for conception. Some are designed specifically for those who are planning to conceive naturally, others support assisted conception and there are also CDs for those who have experienced miscarriage and fear their body cannot support a healthy baby.

These powerful CDs go hand in hand with the Fertility Solutions Programme but can also be very effective in their own right.

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

Going in Circles With Infertility and Stress – Part Two

Take a Time-Out to Control Your Stress 

Liken the accumulation of stress from infertility to a traffic accident in which the first car stops suddenly. No one has been injured and the damage from the two-car accident is contained, but neither of the parties has put out flares signalling danger.  As a result, each successive car behind them piles up, multiplying the level of damage.  Similarly, small signs of stress like nail-biting or cranky behaviour, may seem harmless, but you don’t have to be falling apart to internalize damage.  If your ultimate goal is to become pregnant, your initial, short term goal must be to lower your level of stress, clearing a space for the work to begin.  Then, keep it clear throughout your attempt to conceive.  

If you are aware of areas of your life in which stress shows up, the next step is to acknowledge the stressor and change your response to it. When you feel your personal signs of stress creeping up, you can deal with them on the spot by practicing this short visualization technique I call a time-out. 

Time-Out – I call this visualization a time-out because all it takes is excusing yourself for a few minutes. When you become practiced at it, it feels like you have had a mini-holiday. It is useful in a few ways.  

  • Replacement – By focusing on an image in your “mind’s eye,” you block out the image corresponding to your stressor.
  • Relief – Placing yourself within the positive image/scenario you have chosen, and imagining its sights, sounds, smells and tastes, helps to break the emotional connection you felt in response to the stressor.
  • Rapid – It’s a quick fix, free of cost and no prescription needed.
  • Restorative – It is very empowering. Mastering the visualization allows you to re-gain control of your stress and restore calm.    

Take Two – A 2-minute visualization exercise can be slipped into your daily life without attracting attention.  Whether you are working, busy with your family, at a party or involved in a project, it is easy to slip away for two minutes at a time.   Any Time, Anywhere – Privacy and safety are the two required elements, in order to allow you to break the connection with your current environment. Be creative; you can find privacy in the busiest places: empty offices, walk-in closets, the loo or even sitting in the car on your own driveway. In order to reach that quiet space inside, it may take four or five minutes at first, but with some practice, you will be able to reduce the time it takes to regain control to about two minutes. Please use caution and do not practice it while driving.  Pull the car over to the side of the road if necessary.  Define Your Image – Close your eyes. Isolate a specific image, real or fantasy, which evokes a 100% positive feeling. If an image of your last beach vacation, however lovely, brings up the nagging feeling that you didn’t look great in your bikini, it isn’t the right image for this exercise. Your image can be a frozen moment in time, such as the kiss at your wedding ceremony, or a conjured image of a beautiful place you will go in the future. Let your mind play on this image, vivid detail and colour, sharpening the detail. Imagine that you can smell the air, hear the sounds and even taste something that is evocative of the memory or fantasy of your choice. This image should make you smile. The emotions evoked by your image might be peace, happiness, confidence, contentment, hope or a mixture of other positive feelings.   Write Your Story – Silently, describe the scene to yourself as if narrating a script. For example: “I am dressed in white, on the silvery-grey, wooden deck of my house. I am looking down at miles of virtually empty beach. The ocean is deep blue and turquoise; the sky melts into the horizon. The late afternoon sun is making millions of white, jewelled ribbons dance on the water.  I see a few people walking or sitting and enjoying the peaceful day.”  Now you know mine; it’s your turn. Make it as real in your mind as you can. Are your feet bare? What is the surface under your feet? Is your skin cool, warm or hot? What do you hear, smell and taste?  Are you alone, or with others?  

A Good Place

To Begin Every Day – Use your Time-Out to start each day until it becomes habit and you can fit the exercise into two minutes. This works well for clearing any non-specific stress; you know, the feeling that you want to crawl back under the duvet rather than face the day.  A good place for this is in your morning shower, because it’s private, you feel the pleasant sensation of the water and it blocks out most noise.  

Step by step:

  • Relax – Close your eyes and breathe fully and slowly several times. Concentrate on your breathing for as long as it takes to empty your mind enough to begin the visualization. Invite your positive image into your mind, filling out “the frame” with the context that envelops that beautiful image.
  • Drop yourself in to your visualization. If you are a fan of Star Trek, you can imagine “beaming down to the planet.” I prefer to use a different technique:  It feels as if an artist suddenly changed a 2-dimensional picture into a 3-dimensional environment that you can enter.  Imagine that image slip like a liquid over your head and down your body until you see yourself clothed and positioned as you were during the first Time-Out.
  • Become One with your image – Focus on and isolate each part of your body and “feel” them connect with the physicality of air, earth or water in the place you imagine yourself to be. Direct your mind to travel up your body, recognizing the sensations you feel, from toes to shoulders, and then out to each hand, up your neck and to your head.
  • Emotionally connect to your image – allow yourself to recognize the feelings conjured by your visualization. This is like “getting into character” for your own dramatic performance. Are you: euphorically in love? Flush with success?  Comforted by an embrace? Peaceful and still? Dazzled by beauty? Exhilarated by speed?
  • Lock it all in – Bring your arms up and wrap them around yourself. First you were part of a positive image; now draw that positivity into you and lock it in with a hug. I find that the physical embrace centres and comforts me. Try it, especially if you have been feeling tired, lonely, fearful or shaky. If you are not in a private enough space, you may feel it is enough to just clasp your two hands together in a firm grip.
  • Acknowledge that you will have challenges during the day and that you are strong enough to embrace them without fear of over-reacting. Then, shake your arms out and slowly open your eyes.
  • Repeat your visualization however often you feel the need. 

If ever you can’t relax enough to bring up your Time-Out image, use props and your other senses to give you a prompt:

  • When you open your eyes, write down what you saw in your mind’s eye, in a very descriptive way. This is one place that the gratitude journal really comes in handy. Knowing that you are doing something positive for yourself is very empowering. The physicality of writing and seeing your description on paper will further anchor the image and your positive response to it, and you will have it to look back at if need be. 
  • Practice your visualization while holding a talisman in your hand.  Then whenever you feel stress rising, hold and rub it between your fingers. I use a tiny silver ball with the faint, twinkling sound of chimes, to trigger both visual and auditory memories of my happy place.

I would be very interested to hear from you about your use of the Time-Out exercise; what your image is and how well it works as a stress reliever. 

My blog is http://yourgreatlife.typepad.comMy website is http://yourgreatlife.co.uk Contact information:  020 8954 2897 or lisa@yourgreatlife.co.uk