At this point, you’re probably feeling frustrated and perhaps starting to become concerned about how you’re NOT becoming pregnant. If you’re under 35 years of age and have been trying for 1 year plus or are over 35 and have been trying for over 6 months now, then we truly suggest you stop wasting any more time and get checked.
But what does that entail? Who should we speak to and how expensive and time consuming will this ultimately be? Take it from me from the many years of experience I have had in this process, every individual is so different from the other that those questions pertaining to time and cost are as unique to each of us as everything else. What I can tell you is that there are certain steps you should take in order to ensure yourself that you are on the right course, regardless of your own situation. We are here to provide you with our Guide as to how best to proceed taken from my and others very personal experiences.
STEP 1– READ OUR PREVIOUS GUIDES- It’s a given, I’m sure, but just in case…these will start you off on the right track from the beginning:
STEP 2- KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE. One thing that always helped me was beginning this journey with the knowledge that there were others who had faced some pretty tough challenges and still managed to reach the other side. I found optimism and hope in others’ struggles and triumphs and certainly found strength in hearing about their resolve. Yes, is there lots of information about infertility and its challenges out there? Certainly! What gave me fortitude was hearing from a very REAL person talk to me in my “language” and truly understand what I felt. Well, I really do! So, I suggest you read my personal take on the situation which also shares with you very valuable and clinical suggestions as to what to do from here.
STEP 3– CONFER WITH A SPECIALIST. If, after undergoing the initial testing with your OB/GYN and your hormone levels look fine then you have one less hurdle to overcome. At this point, I would refer you to our informative article: Next Steps in order to fully evaluate what other obstacles you might be facing that are not hormone-related. Could it be Endometriosis? Blocked Tubes? Uterine Issues? etc. that don’t necessarily show up in your blood? Yes, it is possible that these very same medical conditions would manifest themselves in your hormones but it isn’t always that clear cut. I would recommend that you seek further testing at your Gynecologist’s office.
This leads me to those of us who DID show hormonal issues from our blood work. Perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with Low Ovarian Reserve, High FSH, Poor Egg quality, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), etc. an unfortunate slew of conditions of which you may suffer. Regardless of the ailment (s) you may have, it’s my fervent desire to keep you knowledgable on all manner of treatments at your disposal. One thing that you definitely need to do is seek a specialist’s opinion. Your GYN is well-versed on women’s health, of course, but not as much on fertility/infertility issues like a Reproductive Endocrinologist would be, I can promise you! It never hurts to hear a different viewpoint to make the best decisions possible. So, where do I start?
STEP 4- FINDING A REPRODUCTIVE ENDOCRINOLOGIST. Your GYN will certainly refer you to an RE (get to know the lingo) and you just might trust them enough to go with the first choice. I mean, they’re specialists, right? What difference can that make? Trust me, after so many IVF’s at multiple clinics nationwide, there IS a substantial difference in success rates, cutting edge technology, laboratories, clinical trials, etc. that, unless you have spent countless hours/days/years researching like I have, you’d never know. So here’s our take on what to do next:
Once you’ve read our recommendations, you will be so much better informed and will make the best decision for your particular case.
STEP 5- GET YOUR MAN TESTED! This is a given, right? I mean, it “takes 2 to Tango” and all, am I correct? Well, after being on this journey (or roller coaster) for a very long time, I became aware that a lot of men believe that fertility issues seem to fall just on the woman and not on the man. “Men can have babies until there 150!” I often have heard. Yeah…you can say that but it’s not necessarily true, actually. Studies have shown that a man’s sperm quality diminishes too (Finally, fairness!) as they get older and can start to develop chromosomal abnormalities, just like a woman’s eggs. Yes, they produce millions of sperm on a daily basis but even sperm motility (known as Asthenozoospermia. It refers to the sperm’s movement and how it “swims”. Poor sperm motility means that the sperm do not swim properly, thereby leading to male infertility) and sperm morphology issues (known as Hypospermia. It refer’s to sperm with abnormal morphology. Hypospermia is a condition in which a man has an unusually low ejaculate (or semen) volume, less than 1.5 ml. ) can and do suffer from Father Time as well. Not all cases of Male Factor Infertility is caused by time, however, and lifestyle choices play quite heavily here. Consider reading our informative post:
When you proceed down the RE route, your man will inevitably be checked out. Trust me! But, unfortunately, the poking and prodding women receive is so much more intrusive (of course) and, ahem…not enjoyable! But having you know where you both stand beforehand is good at getting your mindset on target to “fertility coupledom”. This is a difficult journey and one in which you both need to be supportive of each other.
STEP 6– COME UP WITH A GAME PLAN- Once you’ve decided that you need to change course, the decision as to what to do next is different for everyone. Some couples decide that they will start with consulting an RE and perhaps select the option of undergoing several IUI’s (Intrauterine Inseminations) before resorting to something as intrusive and costly as an IVF. Others, based on factors like age, seriousness of the infertility, etc. decide an IVF is exactly what they need to do. Yet a third option would be to forgo the Western-style medicine in lieu of more natural and alternative therapies such as Acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Whatever you decide, remember that each decision will inevitably cost you time, money, mental and emotional stress, and can distance you from your partner. I highly suggest making all of these decisions together as much as possible because even though one partner might be the “infertile” one (or both in some cases), the “fertile” one is still suffering through different, but no less, stressful situations like the other. No man, nor woman, is a mountain. Start to rely and support each other now…you will need it.
STEP 7- REMAIN POSITIVE AND PROACTIVE- Going through something as stressful as infertility can and does take a huge toll on you. One thing that happens after being on this journey for months and months is the lack of positivity and hope. Don’t let that happen to you! Remain steadfast in your desires and goals…have a very bad day, cry it out and then wake up the next morning with a “can do” attitude. Things always move forward, whether you feel they are or not so know that “this too shall pass”~ one day. How to continue to feel positive? By being your own advocate. Perhaps you’ve gotten some pretty serious news about your infertility from your visit to the RE, perhaps you need to undergo a surgery to correct the problem, whatever the case may be, do lots of research on your particular issue and read up on what we suggest by searching our articles for helpful information. Can’t find what you’re looking for on your own particular case? Easy… contact me and let me know. I’ll help with the research and write up on the latest news for your review.
STEP 8- CAN’T COVER THE COSTS OF AN IVF? Having spoken with your RE of choice and come to the conclusion that an IUI (or several of them) is not your best option and you need an IVF? Now, the question lies…how do I pay for it? Costs can run in the thousands of dollars, not including the medications which are several thousand dollars on their own. What if you don’t have insurance or one that covers IVF? What if you do have insurance but don’t know what’s covered? Find the answers to these and many more questions in our handy guide below:
STEP 9- CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE. Did you know that there’s no word in Chinese (any of the dialects) that means “Infertility”? Nope. Eastern Medicine has a very different way of viewing fertility/infertility and illnesses as a whole when compared to Western Medicine. Here, as in the West, we view the body in a compartmentalized way, with specialists for each bodily region and part when an issue arises. Sometimes, these specialists confer together (as in cancer treatments) to reach a consensus as to how best to treat the patient but mostly an issue is resolved by a doctor who specializes in that particular ailment. Not so in Chinese Medicine. Are there specialists for specific ailments? Yes, of course but the belief that the body is “divided” so to speak into different regions which don’t necessarily affect one another is completely out of tune with Chinese Medicine. These practitioners view the body as a whole, complete unit with “meridians” that should function together harmoniously. When they perform as one and are in balance, we are healthy. When they don’t…well here come the ailments, and their view of infertility is no different. Hence the lack of a word for it. To them, it’s an illness that means the body is out of balance and, in order to correct this imbalance, they incorporate the use of diet and lifestyle changes as well as Acupuncture sessions and Chinese herbs to the patient.
This philosophy became one of my sanity-saviors because it gave me hope when others saw none for me. It gave me a way to better understand what I could do to help my body become healthier and more fertile. It was a life changer for me and I’ve followed this way of thinking ever since.
Please keep in mind that incorporating Chinese Medicine into your lifestyle doesn’t need to be a stand-alone treatment for your infertility. Many RE’s are encouraging Acupuncture (although many are still hesitant on condoning the use of herbs) in conjunction with regular RE visits before, during and after IVF to increase your chances of success. If you’re interested in trying this out, talk to your RE.
Read our articles on TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) to find out some valuable, insightful information:
The go-to book on all things Infertility and Chinese Medicine…I highly recommend it:
STEP 10- CHANGE IT UP! I’m a firm believer in incorporating new changes, however slight, into your routine in order to bring about success. It could be as small as starting to take a particular supplement, not drinking coffee for a while or as big as starting a whole new treatment program. Whatever you decide to do, embrace the positive affects these will inevitably have on your physical, mental and emotional health. Knowing that you DO have a lot of power in your hands is a big motivator and should make you start to view your infertility journey in a whole new light. This is a wake-up call to you, my friend! Your body is in need of some much-deserved TLC so show it some love and it will start to do the same for you.
Now get moving!