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Archive for the ‘The Fertility Advocate’ tag

Understanding Infertility and The Pain Body

By Pamela Madsen

January 5th, 2011 at 12:00 am

I have been re-reading and listening to the free pod casts of Eckhart Tolle – "A New Earth". Tolle talks about "The Pain Body". The way he describes the Pain Body – it sounds like this nasty little gremlin that lives inside of all of our bodies that we feed on a continual basis on our own unhappiness, sadness and pain. The only way to subdue our pain body is not to feed it

I am sure that mine is short and fat – purple with green moss hanging all over it.  My pain body also belches and has bad teeth. He is not a pretty fellow.

According to Tolle – we spend our days lost in unconscious thought – running the same tapes over and over in our heads – the same unpleasant conversations – the same tapes of pain in a some what continuous loop in our heads. Our Pain Bodies just love this. It makes them fatter and more powerful. It is really interesting learning to tune into our own thought stream – and notice when we are doing this. And then change our thoughts – or not react to our thoughts. Yesterday I read an old note from a work colleague that is not longer in my life and I felt  my pain body activate.  The memories of what that relationship used to mean to me – the feelings of betrayal were painful – and were a part of a very, very old tape. I wanted to dig around and find more old letters to read – but I didn’t. Instead I went to bed. I wanted to explore what I was feeling – what triggered me – and I didn’t want to feed my pain body anymore.

If I reacted  further to to the note – and had even decided to write back even after all of these years  – the person that wrote the note would become activated too and off we would go to the races. Pain Bodies love intimate relationships. Yes, I still ran a tape for a bit in my head – I kept trying to stop. To change my thoughts away from the tape. I would leave it – and then come back – leave it and then come back. But this morning I re read his note – and I felt less activated around it. I still felt some disappointment – but I was not feeling as activated. By not feeding my pain body – or the other person’s – I was taking the power away from the pain bodies. I felt better.

Tolle also says that pain can wake you up. That pain can wake us up from a state of unconsciousness. That if we were always happy – that if we walked around in a constant state of calmness – that we would walk around in this dreamy state – and never move forward in our lives. That often people with big pain bodies can create the biggest changes in their lives. It is an interesting thought.

I must say that I often find Tolle confusing and contradictory. Yet much of it makes sense to me. I felt my pain body last night. I just didn’t know if it was trying to wake me up or if it was simply doing it dance – trying to suck me into the vortex of continual stories, pain and anxiety.

I think that so many of us spend a lot of time running tapes in our hands and feeding the pain body – especially if you are going through some kind of big life upset such as infertility. The pain body is there – ready to be fed – and he is hungry.  I think that it is a good practice to be aware of our pain body. Work on not feeding it too much. When you find yourself playing your internal pain tape over and over again – whether it is about a friend’s pregnancy or your own feelings of failure – try turning it off a little bit by distracting yourself. Take a walk and put music in your ears. Try meditating or doing yoga. Decide to go shopping and cook a lavish meal. But the pain body to bed for a little while. He does get weaker when we don’t give him so much attention. And even if you can’t put the pain body away – at least get to know him and be conscious of him living inside of you. Don’t let him run you – trying at the very least to hold you own!

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Making IVF Affordable for Couples

By East Coast Fertility

December 19th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Most people do not have insurance coverage for in vitro fertilization (IVF), forcing many patients to make treatment decisions based on their budget and not on best practices. Unfortunately, fertility clinics have not made care more affordable to assist their patients in making better decisions. Without good options, patients often resort to less expensive treatments including ovulation inducing hormones that stimulate multiple eggs to ovulate resulting in high risk, costly multiple pregnancies. IVF can avoid these multiple pregnancies by limiting the number of embryos transferred. In this way, affordable IVF saves money with less need for hospital beds, NICU beds and disability care. 
“It is my strong belief that every infertility center in the United States needs to restructure their costs in some way even if means making less money,” says David Kreiner, MD FACOG| Medical Director at East Coast Fertility (ECF). “Our clinic’s Single Embryo Transfer Program incentives transferring one embryo at a time so patients don’t have to feel they must hedge their bets and transfer more embryos to increase the chance of pregnancy.” 
A patient in the ECF program pays only for the initial fresh cycle. Thereafter, the cryopreservation of the embryos, the storage of the embryos and unlimited frozen embryo transfers are free. This eliminates the financial need for the patient to put all her eggs in one basket. 
ECF also offers a minimal stimulation program, MicroIVF, that not only is affordable ($3900) but eliminates the risk of hyperstimulation syndrome, uses fewer medications and minimizes the risk of developing a multiple pregnancy. MicroIVF is essentially the cost of IUI with ovulation inducing medications without the risk and better than twice the success. 
“I am so proud to work with a clinic who is a leader not just in reproductive care but in reproductive ethics,” says Pamela Madsen, founder of The American Fertility Association and The Fertility Advocate. “ECF offers income based sliding scale grants including the NYState DOH grant to patients doing IVF.” 
When combining an ECF grant with an IVF study, patients receive ICSI, cryo, unlimited frozen embryo transfers, medications, coculture and embryo glue for $6900. Some patients have a limited budget that they can apply to IVF treatment. For them a money back refund such as in ECF’s IVF Guarantee Program is ideal because in the absence of the birth of a live baby, the IVF fee minus the cost for medication and anesthesia is refunded 100%. 
“My wish is to assist all patients in need with creating that healthy family of their dreams without adding unnecessary risk,” says Kreiner. “Our programs help them in their quest. Until the government and insurance companies step up with coverage, it is up to the IVF programs themselves to help patients get the IVF that they need to build their families.”

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Taking Back The Joy of The Holidays In the Midst of Infertility

By Pamela Madsen

December 3rd, 2010 at 7:15 am

This can be a rough time of the year for folks who were hoping to have a pregnancy bump to show off to their family and friends – or who dreamed of sharing the holidays this year finally with a baby. The sound of jingle bells and Hanukkah Lights may not be welcome to everybody.

When I was going through infertility – the holiday blues started for me on Halloween…when those cute little trick or treaters started ringing my door bell. For me it was bitter sweet.

Yes…the holidays can be tough stuff when you are trying to conceive. After all, they are about celebration and we may not feel like celebrating. Holiday’s can be about giving thanks and we may not be feeling very thankful at the moment. Holidays are markers of time and remind us that once again we are not sharing these potentially joyous celebrations with a little one or a swelling belly. Holidays are about gatherings and seeing family. Our extended families may be growing around us, and we may feel like the flawed couple in the midst of toddlers and pregnancy announcements. Our families may be looking for “updates” if we have been open about our struggles, or may ask subtle inquiries about our plans for family building. Holidays that have the expectations of being filled with joy, can for those of us experiencing infertility, be a conundrum. One big problem.

How do you cope? Can you reclaim the joy that you used to feel during the holidays before infertility came a calling? There are many theories and suggestions by mental health experts who specialize in caring for the emotional health of the couple experiencing infertility. Everyone acknowledges that this is a toughie.

Suggestions often center around taking yourself into as many “kid free” zones as possible. Try to attend adult only parties. Permission is given for you to skip family functions or situations that are just too painful, explaining to family and friends that you just can’t handle it right now. Suggestions are given for gift giving, such as using catalogs instead of dealing with stores that could be filled with painful reminders and situations. Coming to celebrations late after the part of the tradition that causes you the most pain is over, or leaving early before they begin.

These can be good suggestions, and if they fit with your coping style, you may want to test one or more of them out and see if they ease the sadness. I also need to bring into the picture another point of view.

Reproductive difficulties or infertility is a robber. A thief that is trying to steal your dreams of a family. A burglar of joy. If you loved decorating your door with orange pumpkins and spooky witches…should you allow infertility to take that joy away too?

Perhaps, thought should be given into taking charge of the holidays the way you are encouraged to take charge of your infertility!

Maybe you should be the one to host and coordinate the holiday dinner. You tell everyone what to bring. When to come. When to go! Being a host and hostess takes effort and planning. If you enjoy cooking, you can experiment with new recipes and really out do yourself! You can pick the music and your favorite traditions. You are in charge of the guest list. You might want to include some friends that are also experiencing infertility. You and your spouse will be very busy during the festivities making sure the soup is just right and you will be the boss, not the guest which puts you in a different role for the evening. One of my friends who has experienced infertility told me that she always made Mother’s Day! She was able to be in control, a part of a family day, and have an important role that she was able to receive praise and satisfaction for. Infertility is isolating enough, and your family want to see you and include you.

Being the hostess is a good way to be a important part of the celebration and having a focus other than your private pain.

Another way to take charge of the holidays is to volunteer. Please don’t groan! But maybe you REALLY REALLY can’t stand seeing your pregnant cousin this year, but you want to be with people and enjoy the holidays. Volunteering to serve dinner at a soup kitchen or visiting the lonely at nursing homes or hospitals can really lift the spirits. You can be a part of the holiday season and do a good deed by helping people who are in a different kind of pain. Sometimes, as awful as it sounds, seeing and helping people who for example, don’t have enough food to eat, may help you feel blessed with all that is good with your life.

Take charge of the holidays and hopefully next year, someone else will be in charge!

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East Coast Fertility Leads the Way With Few Premature Births

By East Coast Fertility

October 26th, 2010 at 8:51 am

With all of the negative publicity surrounding the fertility industry in the wake of "octomom" and other sensational news stories, it is no wonder public opinion has turned sour towards the doctors and clinics that perform the services. Society now questions the safety, practicality and costs of aggressive treatments that often result in multiple births.

The topic made front page news in the New York Times a few months ago with its article "The Gift of Life and Its Price." So how do infertile couples pursue a more conservative route to parenthood – one that’s safer for them and their baby, still offers high success rates, yet is affordable? Dr. David Kreiner of East Coast Fertility is using his conscience and his expertise to provide a solution. He is the first in the country to offer an In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) package using Single Embryo Transfers (SET) at one set price to patients.

In a typical IVF cycle, a doctor will transfer two, three and sometimes more embryos back into the uterus, depending on many factors, in order to achieve the highest chance of success. However, this protocol lends itself to a high risk of multiples, making risky pregnancies, long NICU stays, babies with developmental problems and handicaps, and thus extremely high healthcare costs.

With a Single Embryo Transfer, just one embryo is placed back into the woman’s uterus, nearly eliminating the chance of achieving multiples. The remaining embryos are frozen and can be transferred to the woman in future cycles.

While SET is the optimal choice for many women, the current cost structure favors transferring multiple embryos over this method. Because transferring a single embryo has a lower success rate than transferring multiple embryos, a patient may have to undergo several SET cycles before achieving a successful pregnancy. Clinics charge for each additional procedure. The patients are expected to absorb what could add up to $100 million per year in extra costs. Thus, patients and programs are pressured to transfer dangerously high numbers of embryos. The real irony lies in the fact that research has shown that universal adoption of single embryo transfers could save the healthcare system a total of $1 billion in healthcare costs. Yet, the patients who choose SET are expected to foot the bill.

That’s all changing at East Coast Fertility. Their Single Embryo Transfer Program attempts to take the financial incentive out of this push to put "all your eggs in one basket." Dr. Kreiner and his staff are making it cost neutral to transfer only one embryo at a time by offering free cryopreservation, free embryo storage and free embryo transfers until a patient achieves a live birth, all for the cost of a single IVF cycle. ECF absorbs the extra costs in cases where successive transfers are needed. So, the patient can choose the more conservative route without having to worry about the financial implications. Dr. Kreiner believes the benefits to the patient and society are obvious, and he doesn’t feel he is sacrificing the success of his practice. "It is with confidence in our highly successful embryo cryopreservation program that we are able to limit the number of embryos transferred without decreasing the number of births that result from IVF cycles at ECF. We are willing to sacrifice some margin in those cases where patients need successive transfers."

It remains to be seen if other clinics will follow ECF’s lead. Perhaps society should demand that fertility doctors start doing what is best for the patient even if it means having to cut into their profits on occasion. "Hopefully talking about these issues will highlight some of the negative incentives that exist in the world of Reproductive Endocrinology, and bring about change in the industry," says Pamela Madsen, fertility blogger (www.thefertilityadvocate.com) and founder of The American Fertility Association. She continues, "It is refreshing to see Dr. Kreiner as an ethical standout in the fertility world – a patient activist who is not letting greed get in the way of practicing good medicine."

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East Coast Fertility to Open the First Holistic Fertility Center on Long Island

By East Coast Fertility

September 22nd, 2010 at 6:32 am

In association with The Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness, the first complementary medicine Center in the U.S. to specialize in the care and treatment of those faced with fertility challenges, ECF will offer an “East meets West” approach to fertility treatment.  There is current research which shows that by combining holistic medicine with traditional Western medical approaches, outcomes for many may be improved.  The new Center is scheduled to open October 15th, 2010 in Plainview, New York.

ECF’s fertility clinics will continue to provide innovative assisted reproductive technologies, while The Berkley Center will focus on such holistic treatments as acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, and clinical counseling.  Mike Berkley, the Director of Complementary Medicine Services, is the first acupuncturist in the U.S. to devote his practice solely to fertility care.  It is believed that combining these holistic treatments with advanced medical care can enhance the experience for many patients and help them achieve success.

 

The Center will be called The Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness at East Coast Fertility, and will hold its grand opening presentation on October 13, 2010 at 7pm.  All are welcome to come and see the new facility and stay for a special presentation titled “Understanding How an East meets West Approach to Care Can Increase Your Odds!’.

Pamela Madsen, Founder of The American Fertility Association and Patient Advocate for East Coast Fertility will welcome you, your partner, and any friend you wish to bring. Mike Berkley will discuss his thoughts about the benefits of holistic fertility care, and  Dr. David Kreiner, Medical Director and Founder of East Coast Fertility, will share his insights.  

Reserve your seat at this special event by calling:  516.204.7149.

 
Dr. Kreiner is eager to offer patients holistic services to compliment their fertility treatments.  “Anything we can offer patients to enhance their experience or make them more comfortable during cycles can contribute to a successful outcome,” says Kreiner.  “It’s also about giving our patients options.  We want them to know they can come to ECF for comprehensive treatment, and holistic therapies are a part of that.”

Mike Berkley adds, “Many patients that use natural fertility techniques during IVF cycles have success.  It’s our job to offer them every possible resource to make their dreams of having a family a reality.”

East Coast Fertility has always focused on giving patients high quality care, and offering them holistic options along with their state-of-the-art medical care will surely be a benefit to all.

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East Coast Fertility Leads The Way In Providing Safer, Effective, and Affordable Fertility Treatment!

By East Coast Fertility

September 14th, 2010 at 9:21 am

With all of the negative publicity surrounding the fertility industry in the wake of “octomom” and other sensational news stories, it is no wonder public opinion has turned sour towards the doctors and clinics that perform the services. Society now questions the safety, practicality and costs of aggressive treatments that often result in multiple births. So how do infertile couples pursue a more conservative route to parenthood – one that’s safer for them and their baby, still offers high success rates, yet is affordable? Dr. David Kreiner of East Coast Fertility is using his conscience and his expertise to provide a solution. He is the first in the country to offer an In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) package using Single Embryo Transfers (SET) at one set price to patients.

In a typical IVF cycle, a doctor will transfer two, three and sometimes more embryos back into the uterus, depending on many factors, in order to achieve the highest chance of success. However, this protocol lends itself to a high risk of multiples, making risky pregnancies, long NICU stays, babies with developmental problems and handicaps, and thus extremely high healthcare costs.

With a Single Embryo Transfer, just one embryo is placed back into the woman’s uterus, nearly eliminating the chance of achieving multiples. The remaining embryos are frozen and can be transferred to the woman in future cycles.

While SET is the optimal choice for many women, the current cost structure favors transferring multiple embryos over this method. Because transferring a single embryo has a lower success rate than transferring multiple embryos, a patient may have to undergo several SET cycles before achieving a successful pregnancy. Clinics charge for each additional procedure. The patients are expected to absorb what could add up to $100 million per year in extra costs. Thus, patients and programs are pressured to transfer dangerously high numbers of embryos. The real irony lies in the fact that research has shown that universal adoption of single embryo transfers could save the healthcare system a total of $1 billion in healthcare costs. Yet, the patients who choose SET are expected to foot the bill.

That’s all changing at East Coast Fertility. Their Single Embryo Transfer Program attempts to take the financial incentive out of this push to put “all your eggs in one basket.” Dr. Kreiner and his staff are making it cost neutral to transfer only one embryo at a time by offering free cryopreservation, free embryo storage and free embryo transfers until a patient achieves a live birth, all for the cost of a single IVF cycle. ECF absorbs the extra costs in cases where successive transfers are needed. So, the patient can choose the more conservative route without having to worry about the financial implications. Dr. Kreiner believes the benefits to the patient and society are obvious, and he doesn’t feel he is sacrificing the success of his practice. “It is with confidence in our highly successful embryo cryopreservation program that we are able to limit the number of embryos transferred without decreasing the number of births that result from IVF cycles at ECF. We are willing to sacrifice some margin in those cases where patients need successive transfers.”

It remains to be seen if other clinics will follow ECF’s lead. Perhaps society should demand that fertility doctors start doing what is best for the patient even if it means having to cut into their profits on occasion. “Hopefully talking about these issues will highlight some of the negative incentives that exist in the world of Reproductive Endocrinology, and bring about change in the industry,” says Pamela Madsen, fertility blogger (www.thefertilityadvocate.com) and founder of The American Fertility Association. She continues, “It is refreshing to see Dr. Kreiner as an ethical standout in the fertility world – a patient activist who is not letting greed get in the way of practicing good medicine.”

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What’s in Your Lipstick?

By Pamela Madsen

August 27th, 2010 at 7:31 am

I am a girlie girl., I like doing things like getting my nails polished (bright red) and my hair done which includes getting my hair colored (cause I am getting a little gray around the edges!).  And every time I do this kind of "girl stuff" – I always think about to this environmental conference that I attended….

You see – several years ago, I spoke as the representative patient voice at an environmental conference for fertility at San Francisco University. I remember looking out into the audience – a group of doctors, scientists and researchers that studied the environmental effects of the world around us on our health.  I remember being stunned by the gray hair – the lack of nail polish and make up! These folks did not use many of the every day products that most of use without thinking – because they knew the health effects of those products - and they didn’t want them!

Yet very little is still written about the environmental effect of the every day products that we use on our fertility.  Many of us use all kinds of lotions, cremes and expose ourselves to countless concoctions every day which contain an incredible of synthetic chemicals.  We do this often without a thought about how these chemicals could be adversely affecting our overall health and our fertility. The fact is that most of us would be horrified to learn that many of the products that we apply directly to our skin are made from the same harsh chemicals used in industry, and are known hormone disruptor’s for both men and women.

For example, I recently learned that a product called propylene glycol is a solvent used in hair care products, make up and deodorants. It is also the main ingredient in antifreeze and certain types of brake fluid!!  Now, if that does not get your attention – I don’t know what will!

How could this be? Well, in our current state of affairs, only new chemicals by law have to be assessed for their effect on our health, which amounts to no more than 3% of those in everyday use. There are activists here in the United States and around the world that are working to change the laws – but that means going up against industry and lobbyists – so it may take a good long time before all the chemicals in the products that we use on a daily basis will be completed evaluated for use on human bodies!

And the fact is that daily exposures to harmful chemicals add up!  And it is this daily tank up on harmful chemicals that could really be impacting us. Like most things – only doing something  once in a while won’t impact our health. But it is the constant used of these products that come to us in so many different every day forms, that can accumulate in the body and ultimately effect our over all health, including our fertility and the pre conception health of our children.

No one can under estimate the importance of pre conception health.  Whether it is our body weight, our diet, our habits such as smoking and drug use. And for those people who are in the fertility trenches trying to conceive – this constant vigilance can feel so painfully extended. I get that – I really do. But pre conception health is something that you can do something about and it is something that you can be in control of! So use your pre conception time wisely! Consider undertaking a detox program to assist your body in getting  rid of our everyday accumulated toxins. Studies have shown that detoxing can help our bodies regain our natural hormonal balance – and for men who have been adversely effected by industrial toxins and see an improvement in sperm levels.

So, how do you do this? Some of this is common sense. Check out the basic products that you put in your mouth and on your skin on a daily basis. Think about such common items as tooth paste, mouth wash, soap, deodorant, body lotions, make up, nail polish and hair products. Have you ever read the ingredients? Can you understand them?

So I have been reading around – and here are a few of the tidbits that I have found when it comes to the kind of chemicals that are we exposing ourselves to, that can especially effect our fertility and the health of our unborn children.

In 1989 the Australian Occupational Safety and Health Administration analysed nearly 3,000 chemicals used in personal care products. 884 of the ingredients were found to be toxic with 218 of these products found to cause reproductive problems and 314 found to have some effect birth defects in humans!

It is amazing that more information is not out there in Reproductive Endocrinologist’s waiting rooms about this! But who would fund it? Is not a wonder that more people don’t know about this?

Here is a list that I found of the most common offenders – check out the products that you use on a daily basis. If they contain these chemicals – I would ditch them. I did.

Parabens are mostly likely found in body care products. Parabens have been found hanging out in human breast tissue and evidence suggests they can act as oestrogen making them a hormone disrupting chemical in both men and woman. Propyl parabenhas been shown to adversely affect male reproductive functions. At the daily intake level currently acceptable by our govenment it was found to decrease sperm production.

Phthalates are hormone disruptors and apparently they do not have to be listed on labels. They are most often found in perfumes, musks and fragrances. Phthalates have been shown to have a relationship with low sperm counts and some studies have shown that they can also cause sexual abnormalities and deformities.  According to a survey by the CDC,  women with the highest levels of Phthalates were also women of reproductive age. Phthalates can also be found in hair spray, make up, nail polish, shampoo and soap! In high levels they are linked to reproductive and fertility problems in women.

Triclosan is another endocrine disruptor which can be found in soaps, toothpastes, body washes and those instant antibacterial hand washes. You may be clean…..

Talc is found which is found in baby, face and body powders as well as the dusting on condoms! Which means that it can put directly applied to women’s reproductive organs! Talc is a known carcinogen, and has been link with ovarian cancer when used in the genital area. So why is it still found on condoms?

This is still a partial list.  If you are interested in learning more – please check out Our Stolen Future.

Remember, that environmental toxins such as manicures, hair dye, and what we can find in certain brands of toothpaste – can truly impact our over all health and our reproductive potential. There are replacement products available! We just have to learn how to be educated consumers – we have to get the information so that we can make informed choices. We live in an age where there is natural body care products available almost every where!

Many couples are diagnosed every day with unexplained infertility. Yet we know that stress, diet, lifestyle and environmental toxins can have an effect on fertility. Who knows if changes in these areas in a couple’s life can be the difference between infertility and fertility?

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Can You Have a Sex Life While Going Through Infertility?

By Pamela Madsen

August 19th, 2010 at 12:00 am

One of the hardest part of trying to conceive is what it can do to your sex life.  I remember being told that I had "Hostile Cervical Mucus"…..now isn’t that hot? "Come on Honey – Don’t you want me and my hostile vagina?!!!" Doesn’t that feel welcoming? Well – it didn’t to me. I felt like my body was saying that it didn’t want to receive my husband and my husband’s potential babies. It rocked my world. For a while I was really shut down sexually. I felt like my body was not warm and welcoming….I felt the opposite of sexy. I didn’t feel fertile and lush. I was everything that was not. Just think of the other diagnoses…"habitual aborter" or "premature ovarian failure"…..I mean this is really sexy stuff.

Then we move into timed sex….and the list goes on. We like to think that sex has nothing to do with our ability to conceive. That a man who has many children is not more virile, i.e. more sexual than a man who has none. But that is simply perception. The man with many children may actually be an awful lover – and the man with none may be a regular Don Juan – but the children is what everyone sees and uses as a measure. The same thing goes for a woman.

So how do we manage to separate our sexuality of our ability to procreate? And if I read one more fluffy piece about taking bubble baths and lighting candles – I will be sick. Come on…if it was that easy all of us would hardly have any skin left from all the constant bathing!!! I wanted real advice about how to feel sexy again.

We truly have to do more than that. I love that in Fully Fertile – that they talk about learning how to touch each other erotically again.  The suggestion of learning how to give erotic massage to each other is a wonderful option for opening the doors to reconnection that separates our sexuality from reproduction.  There are some wonderful resources – books and videos out there that can help couples learn to give each other sensual touch.  We need to learn to let go of our diagnosis’s and the pressure to perform – and go back into our bodies and feel pleasure again in being a couple.

So…it took me a long time for me to get my groove back. My self image was thrown to the ground from infertility. But I recovered. A great place to start is through touch. And if you want to start with the bubble bath and the candle….why not?

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Can You Ever Be Ready For The Pregnancy Test?

By Pamela Madsen

August 6th, 2010 at 12:00 am

The flood of emotions still take me by surprise. I can be doing anything. Cooking, reading, cleaning the house, when seemingly innocuous media hits me in the face and I feel this tiny well of tears come up from the pit of my stomach and nestle around my throat for a minute. The sadness flees and I am left with a sense of wonderment about how television and print ads about pregnancy testing can still jar me.

You must know the ones, “These people are not actors, they are real people about to find out the results of their pregnancy test”. The advertisement goes on to give you a sample of why they do or do not want to be pregnant. And then the disappointment. Or the joy. It gets me every time. Then used to be this one for Clearblue Easy (I used to hate the name, nothing about pregnancy or even pregnancy testing was ever easy for me!), “Is a new life in your tomorrow?”

I wonder about this pregnancy thing sometimes. What is it that hooks us in so totally? I have spoken to fertile women about their feelings concerning pregnancy and other women’s pregnancies. What surprised me is that they are like us, they also experience envy when they hear about another woman’s pregnancies; just like we do. This must be an innate emotion. Something deeply built into us, through evolution, to keep the species alive. What we want, is something so basic to our beings, that to be denied that natural desire to reproduce can have a profound impact on our emotional lives.

When most of us are confronted with a pregnant woman (whether we are infertile or not) we react. Pregnancy is a highly visible and social event. Everyone has something to say to a pregnant woman. Whether it is advice or questions, the state of pregnancy evokes some kind of emotion in most people. For us, pregnancy is the visible reminder of what we desire. I am so attune to the state of pregnancy, that I can usually tell a woman is pregnant before she announces it. During my infertility, pregnant woman represented all things that are literally round and right with the world. Ripeness and growth. All things fresh and full of potential. Sweet magical secrets. This was something that I longed for, to be a part of the fertile life cycle of the earth.

This became something separate than a parenting issue for me. This was a issue of biology.

Woman who are fertile, have told many of us who are not, that they understand our pain (of course, we don’t believe them), After all, it took them three months to conceive and they were so depressed and worried the entire time! We can trivialize their emotional reaction to waiting for their conceptions, but these fertile woman really felt the way they felt; even if it was for a very limited amount of time. Is it no wonder that couples become “obsessed” with pregnancy when it is denied month after month?

My favorite story is as follows: My friend who was pregnant after infertility looking into a shop window. She sees a pregnant women and is instantly jealous. She gripes to herself, “I wonder what she did, bet it was nothing”. Then she realizes that she is seeing her own reflection in the window! She relates to me “ I was jealous of myself!”

But maybe it helps to know that our feelings of longing and envy are common and very normal (even if we are a bit more intense!) Even Roseanne had her moment. Do you remember the episode? I know…Roseanne went off the air a long time ago…but maybe you have seen this in re runs…Can you remember back?

Roseanne thought that she might be pregnant again. Everybody is in an uproar over it. Nobody wants the baby. Dan is out of work. Roseanne is convinced that she is pregnant, after all, she is never late. Everyone waits for the pregnancy test to be ready with the results. The test is negative. Dan asks everyone to leave. The kids are stunned. Roseanne looks like she might cry; Dan is quiet. He asks “What would you have named the baby?” Roseanne answers, “Priscilla if it was a girl, Jack for a boy”

We know Roseanne; it hurts. You know when it would have been born, what you would have named it. We know Roseanne. I sat on the couch and cried for you. I felt like a fool. It was 3:00 in the afternoon. I was crying over a rerun! I called a friend, and started to tell her about it. She said, “Oh, the one when Roseanne says Priscilla for a girl and Jack for a boy? I cried at that one too.” Oh, well. Maybe it’s just part of being a woman.

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How About Some Fertility “Do’s”….

By Pamela Madsen

July 6th, 2010 at 5:56 am

The Fertility Do’s:

1. If You Are Under The Age of  of 34 and Not Planning on Getting Pregnant Right Now: Do Get a Fertility Evaluation.

2. If you are sexually active and you are not in a monogamous relationship or only "fluid bonded" to one person – Do use condoms. Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) is a leading cause of infertility.

3. Do see a Fertility Specialist if you are 35 years old and have been trying for six months or longer. Too many women waste precious years sitting in their gynecologist’s office cycle after cycle.

4. Do make friends with your body. Your relationship to your body does count. Get in touch with yourself. What is your body trying to tell you through physical symptoms? Read "Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing" by Christiane Northrup, MD. Learn about how the effects of nutrition, stress reduction, complimentary medicine, sex and lifestyle can impact on your fertility.

5. If you find yourself going through infertility,  Do build yourself a "Fertility Support Team".  A Fertility Support team could consist of your everyday friends and family. For some people that is the best – and for others the idea of talking about infertility with close family and friends is really edgy. But there can be lot of components to a "Fertility Support Team".  For peer support there are lots of great on line opportunities for connection. Check out Face of Fertility, or Fertility-Ties for a great on line 24/7 community of peer support and professional answers.  If you prefer meeting face to face check out the in person support groups that are offered by RESOLVE and The American Fertility Association.

6. Do think about hiring a "Fertility Consultant" if you are able to afford one (and some of them are not too pricey at all). It is wonderful to have your own personal guide through the world of reproductive medicine.  Your Fertility Consultant acts as a kind of "Conception Life Coach"  You don’t need to live in the same town or even state as your consultant. Most of the work is usually done on the telephone.  A short resource list would include - "My Fertility Plan",  and "Lotus Blossom Consulting".

7. Do get a second opinion if you are working with a doctor and have not achieved a pregnancy in six months to one year.  A great way to get a second opinion is to take advantage of>free consultations. To learn more about free consultations and second opinions read this blog entry.

8.  Do read fertility blogs like The Fertility Advocate! There are all kinds of fertility blogs on line and they are wonderful and different.  It is a great way to feel like you are not alone – get daily support and information – and learn about the reproductive medicine community. There are doctor blogs, like Dr. Kreiner’s Fertility Doc, reproductive attorney blogspatient blogs, and "Tell it like I see it blogs"!

Fertility Authority has a great blog community – but there are lots of independent fertility bloggers out there, (I only linked to a few here) with so many unique stories and points of views. Go investigate community sites like Blogher, and Empowher. You will find just what you are looking for…..

9.  Do explore the websites of the fertility industry’s professional organizations such as The American Society of Reproductive Medicine and The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. These professional organization often have good patient information on them – and you can get familiar with fertility practice guidelines there. Also the medical information may be more updated then the fact sheets that are on the patient organization’s websites. I was just checking some of those out – and I was shocked to see some fact sheets that were older than ten years old on some of these sites. Check for dates! Don’t just assume that fact sheets are current just because they are there (uh-oh slipped in here!).

10. Investigate your clinic’s success rates by jacking into The SART Report. And remember when you are reviewing success rates that small differences mean nothing.

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