25 Things To Say (and Not To Say) to Someone Living with Infertility

To Say:

  1. Let them know that you care. The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care.
  2. Do your research. Read up about infertility, and possibly treatments or other family building options your friend is considering, so that you are informed when your friend needs to talk.
  3. Act interested. Some people don’t want to talk about infertility, but some do. Let them know you’re available if they want to talk.
  4. Ask them what they need. They may also appreciate if you ask them what the most helpful things to say are.
  5. Provide extra outreach to your male friends. Infertility is not a woman’s-centric issue; your male friends are most likely grieving silently. Don’t push, but let them know you’re available.
  6. When appropriate, encourage therapy. If you feel your friend could benefit from talking to a professional to handle his or her grief, suggest therapy gently. If you go to therapy regularly, or ever have, share your personal story.
  7. Support their decision to stop treatment. No couple can endure infertility treatments forever. At some point, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, and it involves even more grief.
  8. Remember them on Mother’s and Father’s Day. With all of the activity on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, people tend to forget about those who cannot become mothers and fathers. Remember your infertile friends on these days; they will appreciate knowing that you haven’t forgotten them.
  9. Attend difficult appointments with them. You can offer to stay in the waiting room or come into the appointment with them. But the offer lets them know how committed you are to supporting them.
  10. Watch their older kids. Attending appointments may be difficult if they have older kids at home.
  11. Offer to be an exercise buddy. Sometimes losing weight is necessary to make treatments more effective. If you know they are trying to lose weight, you could offer to join them because it would help you achieve your personal fitness goals as well.
  12. Let them know about your pregnancy. But deliver the news in a way that lets them handle their initial reaction privately – email is best.

Not To Say:

  1. Don’t tell them to relax. Comments such as “just relax” create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.
  2. Don’t minimize the problem. Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Comments like, “Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.,” do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain.
  3. Don’t say there are worse things that could happen. Who is the final authority on what is the “worst” thing that could happen to someone? Different people react to different life experiences in different ways.
  4. Don’t say they are not meant to be parents. “One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, ‘Maybe God doesn’t intend for you to be a mother.’” Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.
  5. Don’t ask why they are not trying IVF. Because most insurance plans do not cover IVF treatment, many are unable to pay for the out-of-pocket expenses. Infertility stress is physical, emotional, and financial.
  6. Don’t push adoption or another solution. So often infertile couples are asked, “Why don’t you just adopt?” The couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision or chose another family building option.
  7. Don’t say, “You’re young, you have plenty of time to get pregnant.” Know the facts. It’s recommended that women under 35 see a fertility specialist after being unable to conceive for one year. Being young increases your chance of fertility treatments working, but it does not guarantee success.
  8. Don’t gossip about your friend’s condition. For some, infertility treatments are a very private matter, which is why you should respect your friend’s privacy.
  9. Don’t be crude. Don’t make crude jokes about your friend’s vulnerable position. Crude comments like, “I’ll donate the sperm” or “Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination” are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.
  10. Don’t complain about your pregnancy. For many facing infertility, it can be hard to be around other women who are pregnant. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Not complaining can make things a little easier for your friend.
  11. Don’t question their sadness about being unable to conceive a second child. Having one child does not mean a couple feels they have completed their family. Also, a couple may have had their first child naturally and easily but are now experiencing secondary infertility – infertility that comes after you’ve already had a child.
  12. Don’t ask whose “fault” it is. Male or female factor. Just because a friend has told you he or she is experiencing infertility as a couple, does not mean he or she wants to discuss the details.
  13. On the other hand, don’t assume the infertility is female factor. 1/3 of infertility is female factor, 1/3 is male factor, and 1/3 is unexplained.

Higher levels of stress marker linked to infertility- Reuters

Reuters Health) – Women with higher levels of a marker of stress in their saliva took longer to get pregnant and were more likely to have trouble with infertility, according to new research.

A previous study in the UK by the same authors reported similar findings on women’s time to become pregnant. But it was too short to examine an association with infertility, defined as the inability to get pregnant after a full year of trying to conceive without contraception.

“In that paper we show that women who have the highest levels of salivary alpha-amylase, the stress biomarker, were 15 percent less likely to get pregnant,” Courtney Lynch told Reuters Health.

Lynch, from The Ohio State University in Columbus, led the new study that was published in Human Reproduction.

This time she and her colleagues followed a larger group of U.S. women for a full 12 months and were able to look at infertility as well as time to become pregnant.

They studied 401 couples from Michigan and Texas who were trying to conceive between 2005 and 2009.

The women were asked to collect two saliva samples, one at the beginning of the study and a second sample the morning of their first menstrual period after they were enrolled.

A total of 373 women became pregnant during the study.

The researchers divided the women into three groups based on their levels of two stress markers, alpha-amylase and cortisol.

Women with the highest levels of alpha-amylase were 29 percent less likely to get pregnant than women with the lowest levels.

That translated into a doubling in their chances of meeting the cut-off for infertility, compared to women in both the middle and lowest alpha-amylase groups.

The researchers didn’t find any association between cortisol and infertility.

Lynch said women shouldn’t feel like it’s their fault if they haven’t been able to get pregnant. Stress is just a minor factor affecting a couple’s ability to conceive and there are many medical issues that could also be responsible.

“If you’ve been trying to get pregnant longer than 12 months you need to go seek a work-up from a physician,” she said.

Lynch added that couples that have gotten to the six- to 12-month window of not getting pregnant should also be thinking about their lifestyles and considering partaking in some sort of stress reduction techniques.

The researchers weren’t able to collect additional saliva samples that might have determined if failing to get pregnant was linked to further changes in stress levels.

“The paper itself doesn’t address the mechanisms, they just say the higher the amylase, the longer the time to conception,” Dr. Sarah Berga told Reuters Health.

Berga, from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was not involved in the new study.

“It also doesn’t look at what are the outcomes of the pregnancies,” she said. “But it’s good that it shores up this basic idea that stressful events somehow impair the reproductive system and therefore stress is an important cause of infertility.”

Berga has studied some of the ways stress might lead to infertility. For instance, she said, activation of the body’s stress responses can suppress messages between the brain and the ovaries and testes.

“We also know that if you address the stress you can actually see a return of ovarian function and the brain message to the ovary,” she said.

Researchers are also looking at whether high cortisol levels affect estrogen, Berga added.

She is optimistic about the benefits of stress reduction for women who are trying to get pregnant, and has studied talk therapy for that purpose.

“It really would be good for people to understand not only that stress is not good for your reproduction but the more important message is that you can do pretty simple things to manage your stress and that it might have very powerful positives,” she said.

Lynch is planning to look at stress relief techniques to see if they might help women become pregnant.

“Mindfulness, meditation, even yoga, have been shown to lower stress, so I think it’s reasonable to presume we’re going to find them to be helpful for fertility as well,” Lynch said.

Ontarians Struggling with Infertility Welcome Funding for IVF Treatment

TORONTO, April 10, 2014 /CNW/ – A coalition founded by people struggling with infertility welcomed the news that there will soon be health funding for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in Ontario. Conceivable Dreams, The OHIP for IVF Coalition, was responding to this morning’s announcement by Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-term Care, that the Wynne government will cover an initial round of IVF treatments starting in 2015.

“This is a huge step forward for infertile couples in Ontario. As a result of this policy, IVF treatments will be more accessible for the 1 in 6 Ontarians having challenges starting a family,” stated Conceivable Dreams co-founder Joanne Horibe.  “With IVF costing as much as $10,000 for a single cycle, not including travel and time off work, IVF is currently beyond the financial means of most people. That public health funding will cover even part of this burden is tremendous news.”

“I want to thank Premier Wynne, Health Minister Matthews and the Ontario government for treating infertility like the devastating medical condition it is,” Horibe said.

Funding IVF will improve health outcomes and reduce costs to the health system.  By linking support to a policy of single embryo transfer in most cases, the number of multiple births will be reduced. This is important because:

  • Multiples are 17 times more likely to be born pre-term, to require a Caesarean section and to need expensive care at birth and throughout their lives.
  • Neonatal mortality in twins is seven times that of singletons and the risk of cerebral palsy is four-fold.
  • On average, low birth weight twins will cost the health care system about $1M over their lifetime.
  • Multiple births create significant health risks to mother and baby and are a major burden on the overall health system.

Studies in Ontario, Alberta and elsewhere have found that public funding of IVF will reduce the number of multiple births and make infertility treatments safer for mothers and their children. The 2009 Report of the Ontario Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption found that funding IVF would save Ontario taxpayers $400 – $500 million over the next 10 years in hospital costs alone, plus an additional $300 -$460 million in savings related to long-term disability costs.

This has been supported by practical experience in jurisdictions around the world which fund IVF, such as Australia, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Sweden, New Zealand and many others. In Canada, Quebec and Manitoba currently provide some form of public support to assist families.

“Conceivable Dreams members have been pleased by the non-partisan support we received in our meetings with dozens of individual MPPs from all three political parties in Ontario,” said the organization’s other co-founder, Kerri Stanford. “We call on the opposition parties to support the government decision to make IVF more accessible to Ontarians.”

Conceivable Dreams is a broad-based organization of patients, family members, health professionals and other supporters dedicated to achieving equitable access to funding for in vitro fertilization (IVF) for men and women facing fertility challenges.

Current and past patients from across Ontario are available to provide comment to local media

Quotes from Conceivable Dreams members across Ontario:

“IVF coverage means that I can have the family I always dreamed of without going into enormous debt first and It means I can get medical treatment for a condition, that neither myself, nor my husband have control over.”

–          Melissa Leverre, London, male factor infertility

 “When your fertility doctor tells you IVF is your only hope…you feel defeated. And when he hands you a list of what IVF is going to cost you, including meds, admin fees, and procedures, you feel hopeless. Public funding will bring us hope again.”

–          Christine and Terrance Thwaites, Mississauga

“We drove six hours to the fertility clinic and we worked multiple jobs to pay for IVF. We hope nobody else has to go to such extremes to afford a family.”

–          Kayla and Kevin Roy, Sudbury

“Public funding of IVF means relief.  When working with a diagnosis that is time sensitive, there is no longer an unnecessary wait while the patient saves up the funds.”

–          Rebecca Brooks, Kitchener, premature ovarian failure, trying to conceive – 6.5 years

“We are still paying off debt from our first attempt at IVF. Public funding means that we don’t have to go into further debt to try again. We don’t have to give up hope of becoming parents.”

–          Sandra David, Toronto, male factor infertility due to Cancer

“Following many failed fertility treatments, with debt and heavy hearts we decided to close that chapter and move onto adoption. Public IVF funding will give many the ability to keep reaching for their dream, to have a family, that without funding might not be possible.”

–          Michelle Pleiter, Listowel, severe endometriosis

“My husband and I recently celebrated the birth of our daughter. This has completely diminished our savings. Public IVF funding gives me hope other families won’t have to go into such debt to have a child.”

–          Stephanie and Mike Mauro, Peterborough

“We tried 12 procedures, including 3 IVFs of our own and have transferred up to 4 embryos at once because we were desperate and couldn’t afford to do them 1 at a time. That was a very scary decision to have to make. Nobody should have to be put in that position.”

–          Carly Weiner, Toronto, male factor due to Cancer, and unexplained female factor

“I feel gratitude every day to be the mother of a boy, now 2, conceived through IVF. However, the process to become parents cost us $28,000 in treatments and four years of heartache. It also saw us making risky health choices in order to save money. With publicly funded IVF, today’s infertile couples won’t have to endure what we did.”

–          Jocelyn Bell, male and female factor, Dundas

 

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1843860#ixzz2yXKoVNyG