The Novel Anna Karenina starts with the famous line, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Pregnancy is a little like this – there really is only one way to be pregnant, and yet many, many different ways to not be pregnant!
The clinical definition of “infertility” is clear – it’s the failure to conceive after 1 year despite trying. But wherever your personal fertility story, chances are you already know that it’s not that simple.
Doubt may quietly creep up on you month after month, but it’s hard to pin down the experience precisely – is it your age? Your health? Could you be stressed? When should you start panicking, exactly?
By the time you start to consider the scary possibility that you may be infertile, you may already be overwhelmed and confused about why and what to do about it. With so much misinformation out there on a topic that’s already quite emotionally charged, it can be difficult to keep calm.
But if my experience with so many of my clients has taught me anything, it’s that it’s more than possible to empower yourself and take charge in the face of fertility difficulties. At the root of all this is something very important: information.
When you lack the understanding about why or how something is happening, you may feel disempowered and out of control. It may seem like the universe is horribly unfair or that your body is working in mysterious ways just to torment you.
But when you can shine a light on your experience, and understand it, you can begin to make conscious choices for your future, no matter how powerless you might feel at times.
The first step is to grasp all you can about your body and the causes of your infertility. Primary infertility is being unable to conceive or bear a child at all, whilst secondary infertility is the inability to do so after you’ve already conceived or carried to term at least once before. Because infertility can stem from many causes, clearly understanding your own body is the first step to planning the right way forward.
Make sure you arm yourself with the facts. Though it can be overwhelming, remember that infertility is in the end a medical condition. It can be difficult to navigate the research and understand what the statistics for different interventions even mean. This is why your first port of call will be your doctor.
Take your time choosing someone you’re comfortable with. Your fertility doctor will not only have to be technically skilled, but, perhaps more importantly, they need to understand your life, your goals, and your concerns. A good doctor can make all the difference when it comes to any fertility treatments you choose, so spend time finding someone you trust.
With a new doctor or IVF clinic, ask:
· Is treatment tailored to individuals?
· How do you choose between treatments?
· What are my chances of success and how is that measured?
· Can you explain my risks?
· Where can I get more information?
· What support is available to me?
· Can you explain the costs?
Lastly, don’t be afraid to rely on blunt intuition when looking for treatment providers! Your doctors should be accommodating, respectful and experienced. If you ever get a nagging feeling about something, or simply don’t feel that a doctor “gets” you, it’s OK to keep looking.
Lastly, though you’ll want to do plenty of your own research, remember that not all information is created equal. Stick to quality resources. You’ll make better choices… and keep your stress levels down (but more on that in the next post).