I had a fun post written up for today, but last night when I read about this week being National Infertility Awareness Week, I thought it took precedence. The fun post will be up tomorrow, and I promise, it will be one you'll want to check out. ;)
Here are some facts about infertility from the NIAW website:
What is infertility?
Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system often diagnosed after a couple has had one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse, or if the woman has suffered from multiple miscarriages and the woman is under 35 years of age. If the woman is over 35 years old, it is diagnosed after 6 months of unprotected, well-timed intercourse.
Infertility is a medical problem. Approximately 30% of infertility is due to a female factor and 30% is due to a male factor. In the balance of the cases, infertility results from problems in both partners or the cause of the infertility cannot be explained.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Often there are no signs or symptoms associated with an infertility problem. Listening to your body and getting regular checkups will help to detect a problem. Early detection and treatment of a problem are often critical in achieving successful pregnancy outcomes later.
How is infertility treated?
Medical technology now offers more answers and treatment options to men and women trying to conceive a child. From hormonal treatments, ovulation induction and Intrauterine insemination to more advanced technologies like in vitro fertilization, ICSI to surrogacy, egg/sperm donation and even embryo donation. For more information on treatment of infertility visit the Family Building Options section of our site.
What medications are used?
There are a variety of medications used to treat infertility. It is important to understand the medications and what their purpose is and to speak with your physician about the medications that will be used in your specific treatment plan. Read more about Fertility Medications.
In many cases the difficulty experienced in becoming pregnant can be resolved by a gynecologist without a referral to a specialist. Often the problem comes down to timing intercourse with ovulation, which may be assessed using one of the over-the-counter urine LH test kits (ovulation predictor tests). Your OB/GYN can also conduct a basic infertility evaluation. If a problem is found during your evaluation and for more complex fertility issues, it is advised to see a specialist.
You can read more about National Infertility Awareness Week here.
Throughout our 3 years of dealing with infertility I feel like I have learned so much!! Being more well-informed has also changed my views on many things, most of which I won't go into now, but I will say, I think that the public school system is severely failing girls/women on teaching them about their bodies and how things are supposed to function.
If you're struggling with infertility, (or have a close friend/family member who is), the following books are my favorite of the many, many, many, that I've read, and that I think are the best. For the record, these are just my personal opinions. The first two are about infertility as a whole, while the last 3 focus on PCOS, which is the component of my infertility that we are having the most difficulty reigning in. As PCOS is increasingly more common in young women, I thought it wouldn't be such a stretch to include them.
Clicking on the book title will link you to the book's page on Amazon for more information.
1. Taking Charge of Your Fertility - This is like the gold-standard of fertility books. Every single book I've read lists this as a must-read book. It's a massive volume that I think would be good for any woman to ready, not just those going through infertility. Much of the book is dedicated to educating the reader on Basal Body Temperature recording, and how it applies to fertility in general, both as a means of birth control and to boost odds of conception in those with no further medical issues.
2. Hannah's Hope - This was the first book I read on the topic of infertility. When I first read it about a year and-a-half ago, I felt like a lot of it didn't apply to me as much because the author had been through so much in her struggle to conceive. I re-read it about a month ago, and identified with it a lot more though. It's written from an interesting perspective as it ties the beginning chapter of the Biblical book of Samuel into a modern day woman's quest to conceive a child. I recommend it if you're looking for a supportive book written from a Christian viewpoint.
3. A Patient's Guide to PCOS: Understanding--And Reversing--Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - This is the only book in the list that I don't own. I checked it out from our local library almost 2 years ago, when we were first coming to terms with the effect PCOS was going to have on our lives. It does a great job of understanding the beast that is PCOS, and how it's often times linked to insulin resistance. If I remember correctly the end of the book has several low-carb recipes similar to the South Beach Diet books, but without the expensive ingredients. Which brings me to...
4. The South Beach Diet - This is the only "diet"/lifestyle plan that has ever been successful in helping me to lose weight, (30 lbs and counting!). I have had the original book for probably 6 years now, and every time I fall off the proverbial diet wagon, it's what I turn to to reign me back in. The book details the benefits of committing to a low-carb lifestyle, (not necessarily in regards to PCOS, but it's definitely appropriate given the inability for people with PCOS to correctly process sugar and carbohydrates), then gives not only a meal-by-meal, day-by-day plan, but also provides recipes for everything. The only down side is as I mentioned earlier, the ingredients can be kind of expensive as many of the recipes center around seafood as a main ingredient. There are now several cookbooks in the South Beach Diet franchise which have recipes with ingredients that are a little more common and inexpensive. I would suggest checking for these books at your local library, and then maybe purchasing your favorite.
5. The PCOS Diet Plan: A Natural Approach to Health for Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - If you're struggling with PCOS and only want to read one book, this would probably be one of your better bets. I only recently read it and felt like I already knew most of what the book contained, but only because I'd already read so much on the topic. If you're only going to read one book, this one does a good job of explaining a diet that's very beneficial for one with PCOS. I also don't feel as though the diet outlined in this book is as stringent as The South Beach Diet book, so if you've struggled with maintaining a low-carb diet, this might be a good starting point.
As I mentioned above, these are just my opinions, please don't take them as professional opinions or hold it against me too much if you don't agree with them.
If you're not struggling with infertility yourself, but have loved ones going through it, I would like to encourage you to never say the following things to them:
1. "You're too stressed, just relax and it will happen."
This is probably the most common comment, and that's why it's so frustrating. I'm pretty sure that not being stressed with fix problems with my tubes, or make me ovulate.
2. "Maybe it's God's will/Everything happens for a reason."
This probably sounds harsh, and I know that so many people who say this are really just trying to be helpful, but it can actually be quite hurtful.
3. "Maybe you should adopt, then you'd get pregnant."
This one perturbs me on SO many levels!
4. "Would you like to take my kid(s)?- One afternoon with them and you'll change your mind about wanting kids."
No comment on this one either...
5. "Have you tried...such and such drug, accupuncture, having your husband only wear boxers, standing on your head an hour a day?"
Ok, so I made that last one up, but some of the things people tell me are just as ridiculous. I assure you we've been briefed on what we are supposed to be doing by a team of medical professionals.
6. My husband/partner just looks at me and I get pregnant.
More proof that the public school's sex-ed program needs a revamp. ;) I understand that they're exaggerating, but seriously, how is that helpful?
7. "Are you pregnant yet?"
Before all of this, I would never have thought twice about this question, yes it's a little brazen, but not that big of a deal. But honestly, the reason why we kept quiet about infertility for so long was because of my fear of this recurring question. I assure you, people will tell you when they're pregnant. It's not something you can keep a secret forever. ;)
8. "Enjoy this time of getting to sleep late/travel/do whatever you want."
We are, but when you feel like something else is missing from your family, you can take all the vacations you want and it won't make a difference when you have to come back to reality.
9. One of these days you'll wish you could go back to this time without kids.
I assure you, I will not. I may miss the closeness of just having my husband to spend time with, but I cannot fathom that I will ever wish I could go back in time.
10. Any kind of judgmental comment about someone going through infertility treatments.
Unless you have sat in a room with a doctor looking you in the face and telling you your absolute only chance in the world to have a child is through the assistance of pills/shots/insemination, etc. please, please, please do not say one condescending word about the choices those who have heard those words have to make. You cannot say what you would do in that situation unless you actually are in that situation.
::Stepping off my soapbox now.::
I apologize for going off on a little bit of a rant there at the end. There are parts of this post that I've wanted to write for months now. Infertility Awareness is something that I feel very passionately about, and if I can assist in opening someone's mind about the pain, struggles, etc. of going through infertility, then every single word I've ever written on the topic has been totally worth sucking up my pride to open up and write about it.
P.S. For the record, every. single. time. I write a post about infertility I read and re-read it about 27 times before posting it, and always debate one whether I'm actually going to post it or not. Proof that although I'm pretty passionate about taking away the stigma surrounding infertility, it's still not always the easiest thing for me to "talk" about. ;)