As a professional member of Resolve, I am commemorating the 25th National Infertility Awareness Week (#NIAW) from April 20th-26, 2014. The goal of #NIAW is to raise awareness about the disease of infertility and encourage the public to understand their reproductive health.

Join the movement.  For 25 years, Resolve  has been bringing infertility out of the shadows, to help good people who are struggling to build their families.  Here are five tips for getting through infertility:

Tip 1:  Tell your story.

Keeping the secret of infertility makes you feel crummy and isolated.  This isn’t your fault.  One in 8 straight couples struggle with infertility.  Gay couples struggle with infertility, too.  Tell others your story and ask others for their empathy, not their advice.  Look at blogs about infertility and write your own.  You’ll feel better and you might help someone else, as well.

Tip 2:  Don’t panic. 

You can figure this out with help.  Talk with your OB/GYN and an infertility specialist as soon as possible about testing for you and your partner.  If your intuition tells you that something is wrong, don’t wait.  Maximize your opportunities, even it if costs you some money.  You don’t want to look back and have regrets.

Tip 3:  Resolve to know more about all of your family building options.  

I know that a baby from your and your partner’s genes is Plan A.  I support you in that.  But if that is not bringing you the baby you yearn for. learn about your options.  Look at IUIs (intrauterine inseminations), IVF (in-vitro fertilization), donor sperm, donor eggs, donor embryos, surrogacy, and adoption.  Many people have found resolution and happy parenting by opening their minds and hearts.  Be open to possibilities.

Tip 4: Talk with a qualified mental health professional who is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.  

Did you know that women going through infertility treatment experience the same rates of depression and anxiety as women going through cancer treatment?  Make sure you that you see a mental health professional who has a better question than, “Are you sad?!”  As a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Mental Health Professional Group, I specialize in infertility and its treatment.   I understand infertility medications and procedures and can help you get through this with excellent understanding and some pride in yourself. And bring in your partner.  Things go best when you take the journey together.

Tip 5: Know that you will get through infertility.  I promise.

I have seen thousands of couples and single women who have made it through infertility successfully and started the families they have always wanted.  You can, too.  It will take some grit, time, and effort but you will be happy that you took the journey.  Get started!  Keep your head up!

Good luck!  I’m here for you.  What other tips have been helpful to you that I can share with others?


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I had a stillbirthThis weekend I am getting additional training in esoteric healing, a type of energy work, with Patricia Enstad, MS, LISW, CMT.  I have been using energy work in my therapy sessions for a couple of years.  I am now preparing a talk for the Star Legacy Foundation’s Stillbirth Summit 2014 in June called “Active Healing:  Treating the Mind-Body Trauma of Stillbirth with Energy Psychotherapy.”  Here’s a teaser:  talk therapy is not enough to heal from the physical, emotional, relational, and energetic traumas of a stillbirth.

If you have had a stillbirth, what would you like doctors and others to know about your experience?   Please leave a comment here or send me a private email at dsimmonsphd@pih-mpls.com.  Please share this question with others.  Healing comes from our working together.


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Because March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, it is important that women learn the symptoms of endometriosis.  Endometriosis is a condition involving menstrual blood that flows back through the fallopian tubes and areas throughout the pelvic area, rather than flowing entirely out of the vagina. These displaced cells can stick to surfaces of the pelvic organs and the bowels. Endometriosis does not need to be advanced to cause significant symptoms. Symptoms include:

  • Chronic or periodic pelvic pain
  • Infertility
  • Painful intercourse
  • Painful urination
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Lowered immune response
  • Back pain
  • Mood swings
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Bloating
  • Miscarriage

Endometriosis sufferers generally suffer from weaker immune systems, which can leave them prone to common colds, allergies, food sensitivities, skin sensitivities, and bladder infections.   Many women have food sensitivities, including gluten (i.e.g, wheat, rye, and barley.  Dietary changes may be helpful.

Endometriosis often causes emotional upset, especially when others do not understand or dismiss how painful the condition can be.  I have done clinical hypnosis with women with painful symptoms and they have experienced some relief.

 

No, it is not normal for your periods to be excruciating. If you have endometriosis or you think that you might, and if you wish to have a baby, seek out a consultation with your local fertility clinic.  Endo Twin Cities Endometriosis Support is an excellent resource for women suffering from this difficult and often misunderstood condition.  And check out The Gyno Show with Dr. Eric Heegaard on Sunday, March23 when he and Danielle of Endo Twin Cities have some great radio talk about endometriosis.

Please join in the conversation and leave me a comment.  And let others know that they are not alone.  Thanks.


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Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I will enjoy speaking tonight with the St. Paul Mothers of Multiples Club on reconnecting with your spouse.  I look forward to frank and funny discussion on heating up loving relationships after the birth of multiples.  Thanks for the invite, Good Women All!


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I just had to share this fabulous article, 20 Things I Couldn’t Say to My Fertility Doctor When I Was Her Patient by Kathryn Kefauver Goldberg (Huffington Post, February 3, 2014).  Kathryn writes for the Huffington Post and the New York Times.  I’ve already thanked Kathryn on Twitter and told her that her article has complete awesomeness!  This article will be helpful to any of you are going through inseminations, IVF, donor eggs, donor sperm, or surrogacy, and to anyone who has done so in the past.  Please share this around!  It will help so many people  Thanks!

20 Things I Couldn’t Say to My Fertility Doctor When I Was Her Patient

by Kathryn Kefauver Goldberg (Huffington Post, February 3, 2014)

Dear Fertility Doctor,

Here are some things I wish you knew, that I couldn’t say when we met three years ago:

1. I do not actually want to be here, which is weird, because I just put $15,000 on my credit card to do so.

2. Any calm and charm I exude is a façade. My super-crazy side is reserved for my husband and anonymous infertility friends online. Anything casual you say about my chances of conception will be parsed for hours and days.

3. I respect you, but I also see an acupuncturist, a hypnotist and a psychic.

4. Though my FSH levels are “data” to you, that high number feels to me like it’s a low SAT score, like I’m branded and doomed. No matter how much you explain it, I don’t understand why you can’t be happy if it goes down.

5. I look at the Internet. A LOT.

6. Infertility hurts so far beyond the baby. It’s about my marriage, my friendships and my ability to picture a future. It’s about my body, and whether everything I’ve been told about personal power is true.

7. My period feels like a miscarriage every month.

8. I want to feel important to you, even as I know you are successful no matter what happens in my case.

9. It’s really weird that we have to do a rectal exam ten minutes after meeting, though I understand the social contract demands we both act cool about it. I never thought that district of my anatomy would be part of getting pregnant.

10. Part of me thinks I can solve this with wheatgrass.

11. I know you want me to grasp statistical reality, but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could beat the odds.

12. Probably you were that straight-A pre-med student while I leisurely pursued my English major. I’m intimidated by you, even though I used to pity you for having to toil in organic chemistry when literature seemed much more relevant.

13. I try to act cool about the ultrasound wand, but I’m pretty sure I have PTSD.

14. I don’t understand why I have to wait for you without my underwear. I feel everything is skewed that I have to be half-naked while you get a crisp lab coat. OK, I understand, but I hate it.

15. The waiting room is a quiet, tense, darty-eyed purgatory where every minute feels like an hour.

16. It’s not the shots that are hard. I would inject myself in the eyeball to get news two weeks earlier.

17. I appreciate when you quote that study saying infertility is as stressful as cancer. I’ve never had cancer, but I do sometimes feel like I’m dying.

18. Bless you for not telling me to “relax.”

19. Despite all these things I just said, I entrust you with my hopes, dreams, ovaries, husband’s sperm and maybe even our embryos. Please don’t mess with any of these things.

20. Thank you, forever, for helping us along, and finally off, this dark, rocky path.

Follow Kathryn Kefauver Goldberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kathrynkefauver

(I’d love to have you follow me on Twitter @DebSimmonsPhD)

 

Are you struggling with infertility?  Please call me at 763-546-5797, x. 105.  I can help!


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