Honouring Father’s Day for the Infertile- Blog- Our Mis-conception

Honoring Father’s Day for the Infertile

JUNE 14, 2013 – 4 COMMENTS

Well, Father’s Day will be here in just a few more days and although I am not yet a father (in spite of 6 years of trying), I think us man-folk spend our lives ‘pre-child’ in father training. I guess that makes all of the issues we face battling infertility kind of like some terrible, grueling father boot camp. So, let’s put a slightly different spin on things this Father’s Day by considering the qualities that you would use to define a good father and see if it takes those same qualities to be at this crazy infertility/family building game for the duration that some of us have. Here are a few of the qualities that I have identified as necessary to be a good father: being patient, stoic, and resourceful. DISCLAIMER: I started typing this and saw that it was getting to long, so I limited it to 3. The 4th would be compassion.

A dad has to be patient. How else will you deal with the ever-changing personality, demeanor, and motivations of a growing child? Definitely, if you are a hot-tempered person, it will be difficult to deal with a son that transitions from wearing what you tell him, to wearing baggy pants and everything black, to wearing t-shirts and flip-flops (talking about myself if anyone was curious). Looking back at what I would wear, my dad must have been very patient to even walk with me in public. With fertility, it is the exact same, patience is a MUST! You cannot go through an extensive IVF stimulation, retriveal, transfer, and pregnancy test cycle without some extreme measure of patience. I am talking melt steel with your eyes, Superman-style, kinda patience. Now do all of that and have the result be negative, hopefully you have some patience hidden away in the garage or tool box to call in order to get back on that crazy infertility train.

Are you stoic? I think a good dad must be able to be rapidly inserted in nearly any situation and be able to respond calmly and rationally. What if you just found out your son was lying to you about going to school and was actually skipping 2-3 classes a day (Yep, me again)? Would you respond with anger, throwing stuff, and cursing? Not my dad. We talked. He wanted to get to the bottom of where this rebellion was coming from and how the thought in my head could be changed to remove the mysticism and positivity that my new-found rebellion allegedly offered. For us hopeful-to-be dads, there is no way around a stoic disposition. How else would we be able to console our wife/girlfriend who is wrapped in a thorn-riddled emotional vine on the couch after finding out our latest round was not successful unless we are stoic? Do we want to cry…(Men don’t cry, they leak water) sure. Do we want to destroy our house because we don’t know how to properly express our anger and frustration… obviously. What do we do? We sit on the couch, unsure of what to say, unsure of what to do, and unsure of where to even put our hands. But we do it without letting any of our feelings show because we think that being stoic is the best way to help her through what she is feeling.

Resourceful. If your dad was resourceful, he would do things like fashion a home-made trolling motor mount on the family canoe so that he could spend some time with you on the reservoirs fishing and having father/kid time doing something you both enjoyed. (Example from me again, get the trend yet?) For my fellow gents in the fertility trenches, I have to brag, we are a resourceful bunch. We have to be. How can you wrap your head around the idea of inflicting pain on your significant lady-person every night and make it bearable for her without being resourceful. You can’t. So, you incentivize it, “Alright sweet lady-person, for every sub-Q shot, you will earn a $1 for maternity clothes. For every intramuscular shot, $2.” Will you go broke…nope you are already there. Will it help her cope…hopefully. You buy stupid-silly bandaids and make a big deal out of them so that when she is getting ready for the next shot, you can both say good bye to the Muppets Animal bandaid that kept her company the night before. We do everything we can to help take some of the burden away, to distract her, to convince both yourself and her that ultimately it is all worth it. Yep, we are resourceful.

So dad, thank you for being such a patient, stoic, and resourceful person as I grew and still today. I hope that my child or children will think the same of me.

One final thing, there are those guys out there that have had only a brief time with their child as a result of child loss or miscarriage. Although I cannot directly relate to your feelings, know that your ability to be a father is not limited to living children. I believe that the memories that you carry in your heart and mind and that feeling in the back of your throat is not only your love for your child, but also your child honoring the father you were while they were with you.

Happy Father’s Day to all men out there that either have a family or have dreams of having a family!

Coping with Mother’s and Fathers Day- Resolve

Coping with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
It can be particularly difficult to face the many emotional issues raised by infertility at a time when everyone is celebrating motherhood and fatherhood. RESOLVE urges men, women and couples who are experiencing infertility to plan ahead for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, acknowledge their feelings and prepare themselves emotionally to handle questions and comments from family and friends.

Take a Proactive Stance
Think ahead about the day and plan a strategy in advance. Don’t wait until the holiday is upon you to make plans.

Focus on Your Parents/Grandparents or Special Parental Figure
Make this a special time for them. If a family gathering is planned and it will be pleasant for you, go and enjoy. But, if lots of children or pregnant relatives will be present, and you know this will be upsetting, consider other possibilities. You might plan to see your mother/father at another time during the weekend.

Recognize Potential Painful Situations
Restaurants, for example, may be a source of discomfort. They may ask if you are a mother or a father in order to give you a complimentary item. Be prepared for this question so you are not taken off-guard.

Consider Joining a Support Group
A support group will help you feel less isolated, empower you with knowledge and validate your emotional response to the life crisis of infertility. Visit the RESOLVE Calendar of Events to find a support group in your area.

Speak to Your Rabbi
Before a religious service, talk with your clergyperson (or write a letter) and educate him/her about the experience of infertility. Perhaps he/she would be willing to say a prayer or offer words of support for those struggling with this crisis.

Plan an Enjoyable Day Together
It is important to work as a couple during these difficult days. Consider tuning out the holiday emphasis entirely and make it an opportunity for a fun day together plan a day outdoors to go hiking, bicycling, or walking on a beach. See that movie you’ve wanted to see or create a special meal.

IVF- Its Overwhelming at Every Turn- The Guardian

Here’s something we all understand about conception: it’s a private thing. So what was most difficult about in vitro fertilisation (IVF), says Gareth Farr, was juggling issues around conceiving a baby in the midst of a busy working life – but when no one else knew what was going on. “I’d be in a meeting or teaching a class and I’d have to pretend I needed to use the bathroom so I could go off and find an empty room and take a call to find out how many embryos had been fertilised,” he says. “And then I’d have to phone my wife, Gabby, and tell her whatever crucial information had been imparted from the clinic, and then race back into the meeting or class and pretend nothing had happened.”

IVF is enormously stressful, but as a society we’ve not really begun to unpack what that means for an individual, for a couple and their relationship, or for wider relationships within a family. With assisted conception on the rise – 2% of all babies born in Britain are now conceived this way, and the number is increasing – it’s becoming more important for the issues to be understood and for us as a society to at least acknowledge them, and perhaps to do more to help couples through what’s involved. That’s Gareth’s view and based on his and Gabby’s five-year quest for a baby, and all they went through, he’s written a play that seeks to grapple with the issues – it opened this week in Birmingham before travelling to London.

I felt by turns emasculated, embarrassed, pathetic and ashamed
Gareth Farr
Like many couples, Gareth and Gabby thought that once they made the decision to have a child, one would simply come along. They’d met in 2003 at the Young Vic – she’s a theatre producer, he’s a playwright and drama teacher. He remembers mentioning, on a visit to his GP to talk about something else, that they’d been trying for a baby for several months. “She said 80% of couples get pregnant within a year of trying, just keep at it,” he says. “But then it got to a year and we were like, oh. Ok. So we’re in the 20%.”

When they embarked on infertility treatment, they decided not to tell family and friends. “For a long time we didn’t tell anyone else,” says Gareth. “We thought, this is all going to work out, and then there will be a baby and we don’t need to tell anyone how it all happened. So there was all this pain and anxiety and sadness in our lives, but we weren’t sharing it … I wasn’t sharing it with anyone because I was too proud.”

What they hadn’t realised – and this is one of the big issues Gareth aims to explore in the play – is how enormous the toll of that is on a couple and their relationship, as well as their work and career. “I felt by turns emasculated, embarrassed, pathetic and ashamed,” remembers Gareth, 38. “But I wasn’t sharing it with anyone, I was just desperately trying to cope. It’s a man’s role to support his partner, but while I was trying to support Gabby, I was crumbling inside. The IVF journey saps your energy, it takes you somewhere you didn’t even know existed. It’s overwhelming and shocking at every single turn. It’s a bit like going through bereavement or cancer, but no one knows what’s happening to you.”

IVF: ‘I had the dread feeling that I was part of some greater experiment’
Read more
The other major issue for Gareth, and again one he explores in the play, is how it feels when something that should happen in the most private and intimate arena of a life, moves instead to a hospital clinic, a sperm production room and a laboratory.

“It has a big impact on your sex life – in fact, at times you aren’t even allowed to have sex,” he says. “I used to have to mix Gabby’s drugs and then inject her and it absolutely wasn’t how I’d ever thought we’d be making a baby.”

Another issue, he says, is that although conception should be a shared experience, in IVF the focus – often for understandable and necessary reasons – is on the woman and her body, but that can make a partner feel redundant and uncertain about what’s required of him. “All the needles and the tests and the dropping your knickers at every turn was for me,” says Gabby, 39. “Gareth said quite early on: ‘I wish I could do my share.’ At least I felt I was doing something – it was very physical, there were all these drugs and needles and tests.”

“For me,” says Gareth, “it felt a bit like watching from the sidelines.”

You won’t find any pictures of our ‘perfect family’ on social media. I remember all too easily how that felt.
Gabby Vautier
The turning point for Gareth came when Gabby dragged him along to an infertility support group. “I thought, I’ll just sit in the corner and say nothing,” he remembers.

In fact, they couldn’t shut him up – and as well all the poured-out feelings came the realisation, from talking to others in the room, that theirs was a universal experience. “I’m a playwright, so I’m always looking for human drama – and it was very clear I was surrounded by it,” says Gareth. “Also, this is a subject that hasn’t been much explored in the arts, especially the performing arts – and there are important issues here that deserve an airing.”

He’s also very aware, he says, that he and Gabby survived their IVF journey at least partly because they have a strong relationship – so how much harder must it be for a couple who are already feeling their connection is a bit ropey? Not to mention the fact that needing several rounds of IVF dents a couple’s finances big-time – another guaranteed relationship iceberg. “The couple in the play struggle, as Gabby and I struggled, with how IVF chips away at every bit of your life,” says Gareth. “Of course there’s humour, because there has to be humour in any journey you go on – you absolutely have to look for the lightness, you have to find it anywhere you can, because that can be a lifesaver.”

Gareth and Gabby and their twin daughters, Astrid and Florrie, now 18 months.
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Gareth and Gabby and their twin daughters, Astrid and Florrie, now 18 months old. Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris for the Guardian
If you want to know the ending of Gareth’s play you’ll have to go and see it: but here’s the ending of his and Gabby’s real-life story. On the fourth round of IVF, having remortgaged their London flat (they live in Surrey now) and having survived the emotional rollercoaster of three failed attempts, Gabby’s pregnancy test was positive. “Gareth said straightaway: I bet it’s twins and I bet they’re girls,” she remembers.

It was, and they were. So now it’s Gareth and Gabby and 18-month olds Florrie and Astrid. “We’ve become exactly the sort of couple I always hated when I was going through IVF, the kind whose stories end like this,” says Gabby.

While their lives have gone through another seismic shift to parenthood – the shift they wanted all along – they both try very hard not to lose sight of the fact that many other couples and individuals are still out there, still on the IVF journey, still hoping, and still very sensitive to other people’s stories. “You won’t find any pictures of our ‘perfect family’ on social media,” says Gabby. “I remember all too easily how that felt.”

Accompanying the play will be two day-long fertility festivals, which aim to open up discussion on many of the issues explored in the play. “We want to give people the space to talk about these incredibly difficult issues,” says Gabby. Even when it’s over, it’s still there in the background. “It changes you – it’s left scars, and it will always be part of us,” says Gareth. “We’re different from the parents we would have been.”

He and Gabby know, too, that they are the lucky ones. Most people who go through IVF and experience all the emotional strain they experienced, don’t emerge with a baby at all. How much tougher, they ask, is the fallout likely to be for them?

The Quiet House by Gareth Farr is at Birmingham Repertory theatre until 4 June, and then at the Park theatre, London, 7 June to 9 July. The fertility festivals are on 28 May in Birmingham, and 11 June in London. For the full programme see fertilityfest.com

PCOS- Shady Grove Fertility

PCOS: ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL
By Shady Grove Fertility • June 1, 2016 • 6 Comments
treatment for pcos
With nearly one-third of all infertility diagnoses in women, polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is the most common ovulatory disorder in women of reproductive age.

While myths persist that women with PCOS cannot get pregnant, the reality is that PCOS is highly treatable and nearly every women with PCOS should be able to get pregnant. In fact, many women will experience increases in fertility through lifestyle changes and modest weight loss. Others will find success with basic infertility treatments and medications. And for those that need additional help conceiving, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a highly effective form of treatment for women with PCOS.

pcos: cause of infertility

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PCOS?

PCOS affects approximately 5 to 10 percent of the population, and is most prevalent in Hispanics, African Americans, and Caucasians while some studies suggest that there is a rising rate in women of Asian descent.

Some of the most recognizable symptoms of PCOS include acne, excess hair growth, and absent or irregular menstrual cycles. While many people may consider obesity as a main symptom of the disease, approximately one-third of women with PCOS are normal weight or underweight.

WHAT CAUSES PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is caused by hormonal imbalances that curtail or prevent ovulation—the body’s process of producing and releasing eggs from the ovary. Essentially, women with PCOS have an inappropriate production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). As a result, they experience limited egg development and an increase in testosterone and other typically male hormones (androgens).

FSH is responsible for stimulating the growth of follicles in the ovaries that contain the maturing egg. A lack of FSH for an extended period of time will prevent the follicles from maturing, keeping them as small, resting follicles within the ovary.

Increased levels of LH cause the body to produce too much estrogen and male hormones (androgens), including testosterone, which can cause the endometrial tissue in the uterus to get very thick, resulting in heavy and/or irregular periods. The increase in androgens is also responsible for the excess hair growth and acne.

Another cause of PCOS is an insensitivity to insulin, which is responsible for an excess of male hormones. This, many times, results in increased weight gain and obesity that places the patient at higher risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

HOW CAN I GET TESTED FOR PCOS?

All Shady Grove Fertility, patients undergo basic fertility testing including day 3 blood testing and ultrasound. The ultrasound can determine if ovaries are enlarged and contain immature resting follicles, a prominent symptom of PCOS.

In addition to basic testing, your medical team will determine if there are any physical signs of excess androgens present, as well as the quality of ovulation through the length and regularity of your menstrual cycles. Once your physician has a complete picture and can make a diagnosis, he or she will work you to create an individualized treatment plan.

CAN DIET AND EXERCISE HELP WOMEN WITH PCOS CONCEIVE?

For overweight women with PCOS, weight loss is often the first step to increasing your chances of pregnancy. The benefits of weight reduction include improved ovulatory function, improved chances of conception, a safer pregnancy for both the mother and baby, and—if needed—better response to fertility medications. Studies have shown that by losing just 5 percent of body weight, a woman can actually restore her menstrual cycle and ovulate on her own. Weight loss has also shown to reduce other symptoms such as hair growth, acne, and balding.

WHAT MEDICATIONS ARE PRESCRIBED FOR PCOS?

For women with PCOS who are actively trying to conceive, it is advised to consult with your OB/GYN or a fertility specialist, since many women with PCOS are not ovulating. Your physician can prescribe medication to help stimulate ovulation.

Oral fertility medications like clomiphene (Clomid or Serophene), which have been available for many decades, continue to be widely used to produce an ovarian follicle containing an egg. Clomiphene acts by blocking the action of estrogen in the brain (the hypothalamus and pituitary). As a result, there is an increased production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) causing the development of one or more follicles. If ovulation is still irregular, an additional medication, metformin, may be prescribed. Metformin helps to decrease glucose production and make the body more sensitive to insulin, thus leading to more regular ovulation.

It is only recommended to stay on a medication-only protocol for three to four cycles, after which, chances of this protocol resulting in a pregnancy decrease.

medication study for pcos

WHAT FERTILITY TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE FOR PCOS?

Depending on the initial testing, a fertility specialist may recommend a patient start with timed intercourse or intrauterine insemination (IUI) (with medications to induce ovulation)n that can be scheduled around the development of the follicle(s), provided that the Fallopian tubes are open and the sperm counts are normal. The typical success rates with IUI are about 15 to 25 percent per cycle; a woman’s individual success rate with IUI is largely impacted by her age.

If after a few attempts with IUI, or if the patient is presenting with other factors, such as blocked Fallopian tubes, her physician may recommend in vitro fertilization (IVF).

DO WOMEN WITH PCOS ALWAYS HAVE FERTILITY PROBLEMS?

Women with PCOS have a very good chance at conception. Patience and dedication may be necessary to allow an adequate amount of time for lifestyle modifications to enhance fertility naturally, as well as being proactive about the appropriate amount of time to proceed with medical therapy. With the proper treatment, PCOS can be managed for the long-term and patients can live relatively symptom free.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2011 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness as of June 2016.