Mental Health on Your Fertility Journey

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Mental Health on Your Fertility Journey

Focus on the present. You can’t change the past, so stop reliving the “should have’s” and “could have’s.” You can’t control the future either, so stop pre-living worries and anxieties. Try to stay in the present, because it’s the only place you can really choose to behave in ways that can reduce stress and anxiety.

Practice self-care. That means treating yourself even half as well as you treat your family and friends. Get enough sleep, exercise, time alone, and time with others to make yourself feel cared for. Practice being your own best friend! 

Talk to yourself. Give yourself a pep-talk, because what we say to ourselves is powerful. If others remind you that there’s always a way to build a family, it usually has little or no effect. But if you remind yourself that there’s always a way, your mood will usually lift. Try it!

Talk to others. There are many reasons to be reluctant about discussing infertility with family, friends, or in the workplace. You may want to keep medical issues private because you don’t want unsolicited advice, you don’t want to hear everyone else’s fertility stories, or because you feel there is a stigma attached to infertility. You may worry about keeping your job or even keeping your dating options open.

The result is that you may feel isolated just when you need understanding and support. Emotions are far more manageable when they are said aloud than when they’re buzzing in your head.

Focus on your work. As stressful and preoccupying as fertility treatments can be, work can provide an effective distraction from the persistent anxiety you may be feeling from infertility. Staying busy and active with projects can distract you, give you a sense of accomplishment, and help boost your self-esteem and confidence.

Try cognitive restructuring. Cognition refers to thinking; restructuring refers to creating new views. Together these terms tell us that we can choose to think in a new way, and the result can be new behaviors and feelings.

For example, when we focus on hopeless thoughts, we convince not only ourselves but also everyone around us that hope is not worth wasting energy on, and our inertia can make it true. This thought process is one of the major reasons patients drop out of fertility treatment. On the other hand, if we choose to be hopeful, we are more likely to approach problems with strategic behavior that leads to results that justify our hope—positive self-fulfilling prophecies. 

Check for depression. Mild depression may make you feel tired and sad. More severe depression may mean frequent crying, loss of appetite, and despair.

All signs of depression should be taken seriously and addressed to make sure that the suffering is alleviated as soon as possible. Whether it is triggered by hormonal therapy, recurrent pregnancy loss, treatment failure, financial or relationship stress, there is help available. Speak to your physician about a referral for therapy, support, and/or medication. A change or break in fertility treatment may help, too.

Work and play will help you cope with this journey, so don’t wait until you are overwhelmed. Make your mental health a priority now

How to stay safe during the pandemic while being pregnant?

If you are pregnant, you might be worried about how to protect yourself and your baby during the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). Learn what you can do to limit your exposure and reduce your risk for you and your family.

❓I’m pregnant — should I be worried about COVID-19?

So far, evidence suggests that pregnant woman are not at any greater risk of serious illness if they get COVID-19. Only a small number of pregnant women have had COVID-19, but based on the current findings, it appears that pregnant women are at no greater risk than the rest of the general population.

However, any respiratory illness (such as influenza) can cause serious complications, so it is advised that pregnant women take extra precautions in practicing good hygiene and physical distancing to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19.

What happens if I get COVID-19 while I am pregnant?

Women who get COVID-19 while they are pregnant are expected to experience mild to moderate symptoms, similar to having a cold or the flu. But because of the changes that happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy, your symptoms will be monitored very closely. Most women will make a full recovery without any risk to your unborn baby.

Can I pass on COVID-19 to my baby while I am pregnant?

There has been some very recent cases that may suggest COVID-19 could be passed from mother to baby (called ‘vertical transmission’). However, this is still to be confirmed and is still in the early stages of being studied. Previous experience with other respiratory illnesses suggests your baby will not be harmed or at risk of any ongoing problems.

Should I still be going to my antenatal appointments?

Having regular check-ups during your pregnancy is important to monitor the health of you and your baby. However, it is understandable that during this time you might be concerned about going to your GP or hospital. Before making any changes to your appointments, it’s important that you speak to your doctor first.

Your doctor may recommend less frequent visits if you and your baby are healthy, or they might be able to offer telehealth consultations (video call) for some of your appointments.

Fertility Cloud will provide you with online consultations. Our Board-Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. Gary Levy is ready to help you and answer all of your questions. Dm us or book an appointment: https://myfertilitycloud.com/book-appointment

Partner support through miscarriage

Miscarriage is something that impacts both partners, with each individual trying to process their recent loss. Even though as the partner you might not have felt the physical changes of pregnancy or miscarriage, the emotional loss and self-blame is still just as significant. As partners, you can experience things very differently, but the important part is being there for one another. Find out some of the strategies our fertility experts and counsellors recommend for staying connected and getting through it, together.

✅ Connect with your caregivers and be kind to each other.

Communicating is the first step, but sometimes you may need an external ear and this is where counselling can come in as an important element to help couples process their loss together. For the partner who did not physically carry the baby, they can place a lot of pressure on themselves to provide support for the person who did, and push their own grief aside. When you speak to someone such as a fertility counsellor, it can help both individuals by voicing their feelings out loud to someone outside of their relationship.

✅ Recognise that people experience things very differently.

As difficult as it is, try to remember that individuals experience things very differently, and try not to have expectations that your partner will feel or act in a certain way. Oftentimes, the grief is the same, but the expression of that grief can be different. Even if you’ve known your partner for years, they may not act in a way that you expect. And you don’t need to have the answer. The most important thing is to listen to each other, and let each other grieve in their own way.

✅ It’s ok to let the grief fill the room.

This can be uncomfortable, and that’s ok. Pregnancy loss is a very difficult thing to go through. Let yourselves acknowledge the hurt and the pain, together, and don’t be afraid for the grief to fill the room when you’re in a safe space.

✅ Keep connected and ask each other what’s helpful.

Because miscarriage and pregnancy loss is something outside of anyone’s control, it can take a few extra strategies to learn how to cope, and how to support each other through it. If you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, it can be easy to assume how your partner is feeling. This is why it’s so important to ask each other what you can do to provide support. You can each think about what is helpful for you and share these ideas. Sometimes, the partner who didn’t physically go through the pregnancy loss can feel that they are on the sideline. Each person in the relationship can become focused on processing things on their own – staying connected is important to prioritise. So take some time to do things you would normally enjoy doing together.

✅ Find a way to acknowledge the pregnancy.

When it comes to pregnancy loss, whether it’s week 7 or week 20, there is so much more than the biology of that loss that needs to be grieved. The dreams of the future with the baby, the initial excitement of the pregnancy, the milestones that go with expecting. These are all suddenly taken away when miscarriage occurs. When a family member or loved one passes away, we have ceremonies and traditions to allow our grief to surface. Finding a way to acknowledge the pregnancy in a physical representation can be helpful. Couples may choose to do this by planting a tree in their garden, or having a memento that can be seen and taken out when they feel the need to honour their loss. Having a physical representation can also be used as a way to connect the loss of the baby to the parents’ children who are already a part of the family.

HSAs And FSAs Can Cover Fertility Treatment

Use your HSA or FSA to pay for your Fertility Cloud treatment.
Fertility treatment may be expensive. One way to get ahead of the financial burden is to make sure you’re taking full advantage of your Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA).
HSAs and FSAs are handy accounts that you contribute to, tax-free, to save up for healthcare costs. Understanding how these accounts work can help you plan, save money, and make the best decisions you can for yourself and your family.

❓How do you qualify for an HSA?
You must have a high-deductible health plan. A high-deductible health plan for 2020 is any plan with a deductible of at least $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family.
Not all plans with deductibles over these limits qualify for HSAs, so it’s important to check with the insurance company before you make any decisions.
Your high-deductible health plan must serve as your only medical insurance plan, and you must not qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, or be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

❓How do you qualify for an FSA?
FSAs are available only as part of a benefits package from an employer, not if you’re on your own — but the medical expenses you can use them for are the same as with HSAs. There are no eligibility requirements for an FSA beyond being employed, but self-employed folks and freelancers don’t have the option to set up an FSA.
❓What can I use my HSA or FSA with Fertility Cloud?
In most cases these funds can be used to pay for:

  • Doctor consultation
  • Medical labs
  • Prescription drugs
    So you can pay for Fertility Cloud treatment 100% out of your FSA or HSA funds.

You should investigate the details of these with your insurance company
✅ Start your journey
Qualify for medical treatment with Fertility Cloud (we determine your ability to undergo treatment with us with four screening questions), then you have a good probability of conception within six months of treatment. Good Luck!
✅ Ask your questions
We want to hear from you, please send us your questions. Our mission is to provide timely and accurate answers on your fertility journey. It’s free and believe us – we truly will be happy to hear from you.

Progesterone and Fertility

Progesterone is an important part of infertility treatment, with fertility specialists often prescribing progesterone supplements to help improve pregnancy rates from IVF. So why is progesterone supplementation used and can it help with natural conception rates as well? Firstly, it helps to understand the role of progesterone in pregnancy.

❓What is progesterone?

Progesterone is a hormone produced by the ovary. It is first detected in the middle of the menstrual cycle when an egg is released (ovulation). One of the most important functions of progesterone is to prepare the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to allow a fertilised egg (embryo) to implant. If a pregnancy does not take place, progesterone levels will fall and you will have your period. If an embryo implants into the lining of the uterus, the resulting conception will produce the hormone Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) which in turn will direct the ovaries to produce progesterone until eight weeks into the pregnancy. After that time, progesterone will be produced by the placenta throughout the remainder of the pregnancy.

❓Do I need progesterone if I am trying for natural conception?

There is no evidence to suggest that giving progesterone supplements to otherwise healthy women in early pregnancy has any additional benefits or reduces the risk of spontaneous miscarriage. A recent randomized trial also found no benefit from progesterone supplements in a group of women with repeated miscarriage. However, despite this, there may still be some benefit from this approach in individual cases and you should discuss it with your doctor in the light of your own particular circumstance.

❓When and how should I take progesterone?

Fertility specialists usually prescribe progesterone supplementation to start a few days after the eggs are collected. Progesterone supplements generally come in the form of a vaginal suppository or intramuscular injection. Current research is focussed on improving the effectiveness of oral preparations of progesterone, as past studies have found that only 10% of progesterone is absorbed when taken orally. While both the suppository and injection methods appear to be equally effective, vaginal preparations are preferred by most patients and fertility specialists alike. Alternatively, luteal phase support with intermittent or several hCG injections can be used to stimulate the ovaries to produce progesterone. This is not advisable if more than ten follicles are found on ultrasound, as this may cause an ovarian cyst or ovarian hyperstimulation (OHSS).

❓What are the risks of taking progesterone?

Many studies have been performed to look at the use of natural progesterone during IVF treatment. These studies have shown that progesterone will pose no significant risk to you or your baby. Although, for some women, vaginal preparations can cause discharge and local irritation.

❓What is next?

If you have any questions about taking progesterone and the options available, please to our board-certified reproductive endocrinologist.

IVF is not the last resort

IVF is not the only option

Some fertility clinics oversell IVF as the most effective and final solution. This is simply not true.

IVF efficacy is comparable to that of medication treatment, while the latter could be 20 times cheaper. And most women out there perfectly qualify for it.

🤚But wait: When do I really have a problem?

There is a consensus in the medical community that if you are

  • ✅ younger than 35 years old and can’t conceive for 12 months, or
  • ✅ older than 35 years old and can’t conceive for 6 months,

 then you have to talk to a fertility specialist. Period.

❗️When can’t I avoid IVF?

If you have been unfortunately diagnosed with either of the following:

  • Confirmed obstructed fallopian tubes 
  • Genetic mutation with desire for elimination from offspring
  • Desire for genetic testing or family balancing
  • Using an egg donor or adopted embryos
  • Severe male factor infertility
  • Failed initial treatment with Clomiphene, Letrozole, Gonadotropins

then IVF seems to be a logical next step for you.

❗️If none of these applies to you, then IVF is not your next step at this moment. Please.

❓What can I do to avoid IVF?

Your options at this point are as follows:

  • ✅ Lifestyle changes
  • ✅ Hormones to support early pregnancy
  • ✅ Medication treatment

As for lifestyle, you have probably read tons of materials on the Internet about diet, exercise, supplements, breaking bad habits like smoking, alcohol. Let us leave it right there – we totally agree.

❓But what if it’s not enough?

For most patients lifestyle changes are not enough to get pregnant.

The medication treatment is about stimulating. Most of these drugs have been around for more than half a century, delivering results to millions of happy parents.

Medications and hormones are not just enough. Please add thorough evaluation and an experienced fertility specialist to your formula of success.

Puzzled? We want to hear from you, please send us your questions. Our mission is to provide timely and accurate answers on your fertility journey. It’s free.