You’re a grown-up now and it’s time for you to manage your own healthcare. You’ve tried to get pregnant for over a year and haven’t had a successful pregnancy. The doctors have started to throw around words like “infertility” and talk to you about your “options.”
It’s easy to feel like a victim and forget to stand up for yourself when are you are hurting and upset. But it is absolutely critical that you take charge of your situation and manage your baby journey like a BOSS.
Why is it so hard to take charge of infertility?
Here’s the problem. When you start seeing specialists it can be all to easy to hand over your power and control to them. After all, they ARE experts. They did go to school for many years, and (hopefully), they keep track of all the updates in research.
But, what happens if you don’t FEEL right with the path suggest by your Reproductive Endocrinologist? Or what if your acupuncturist, naturopath, and NaPro technology doctor all say you should be on different supplements?
At some point, YOU have to take control of the reins. This is YOUR journey.
Here’s how I started doing it:
I started imagining that I was the queen of a very wealthy kingdom. I was going to assemble all the best healers in the land to give me their wisdom and advice on how to get pregnant (AND HEALTHY!). Then, I would use my wisdom to choose which healers I would trust and work with, and which advice I would follow.
If all that imagining is a bit far-fetched for you, how about reminding yourself of this:
I PAY THEM. I hire these doctors to give me their best advice and treatments (if I want them). They are NOT the boss of ME. And if I don’t like what they are saying, I will take my money elsewhere.
In the end I wound up mostly working with my acupuncturist, and my own inner healers. I also did a tremendous amount of work- I changed over 79 things in my journey to get pregnant! And then, I did them AGAIN to get pregnant a second time!
Seven Tips to Take Control of Your Infertility Journey
- Make your own decisions. Always, always, always, make your own decisions for your health care and your baby journey. Get input from wise women and men- your partner, reproductive endocrinologist (RE/fertility doctor), your acupuncturist, your naturopath, your hypnotherapist, your fertility coach, your mom, your mother-in-law (or not, hah), a brilliant fertility blogger :-), or other helper on your journey. But never, ever, ever let them have the final say. They provide you with information and options- not final decisions. And remember: when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. All the RE has is western medicine and assistive reproductive technology like IUI, IVF, or donor eggs. They take 15 minutes to look at your chart, another 15 to talk with you and they order some tests. Then they decide which track you fit into- try a little Clomid first, straight to IUI or IVF, or do not pass Go and straight to donor eggs. Those are the treatments available in their toolbox and they can’t think beyond it. Your acupuncturist will spend slightly more time with you, and do other tests. They will have other treatment ideas, including needling, chinese herbs, special diets for your chinese medicine diagnosis, and lifestyle changes. Other healers will have other tests and treatment options. Get input from everyone, and then make the decision YOURSELF (with input from your partner of course). You are the only one who spends 24 hours a day with your body and knows your heart’s true desires and fears.
- Never, ever, ever, call yourself “infertile.” Sure, technically if you’ve been trying for one year and haven’t had a successful pregnancy western medicine diagnoses you with “infertility.” And, there is a totally valid political movement to validate “infertility” as an illness that should be covered by insurance just like any other sickness and to raise general awareness. I get that, and it’s cool. Here’s the problem- the word “infertile” suggests you can’t have a baby. And, unless you are missing your uterus, you probably/maybe/definitely can. And even if, in the unlikely event that never in your entire life are you able to conceive or carry a child to term, you can be fertile in other ways- creating great things and raising babies grown outside your womb. Unless you are missing your uterus, eastern medicine thinks you can be fertile and make a baby. I think you already are fabulously fertile, and I don’t even know you. YOU need to think you are fertile too. Have you ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Don’t say something out loud or in your head that you don’t want to be true. I am fabulously and amazingly fertile. Say it out loud every day while looking at yourself in the mirror. I’m not joking- you are not your diagnosis. Don’t own your “infertility” – own your “FERTILITY!” Check out my other fertility affirmations here.
- Don’t rush into making major decisions. Unless you are nearing 45 years old, don’t rush into a major decision like pursuing IVF or donor eggs (especially if you are out of pocket for the payment). Sure your RE might say scary things like, “you’re running out of time” and “you don’t want to miss that one golden egg.” I had an RE tell me this at 32. THIRTY-TWO! You know who else uses scare tactics like that? Used car salesmen (no offense to used car salesmen). Here’s the deal- IVF and donor egg IVF are super expensive (if you don’t have it covered by insurance), and the drugs are super hard on your body. Plus, the more false hormones you add to your system to less likely your body is to learn to balance them on its own. When the doctor gives you options, say “thank you very much, we’ll go home and discuss these.” Try to avoid making a decision about a treatment plan in the office, especially if you’ve just received startling new information. Take your time to think about it, and make a plan with your partner. And always remember that the egg cycle is 90 days- that means if you take three months to cleanse toxins, nourish yourself with a fertility diet, and do a mind-body program, you will have top-notch eggs three months from now. Why would you risk doing IVF next month without taking those steps first?
- Have a plan and stick to it. When you first get your western medicine diagnosis, seek out multiple opinions from a wide array of alternative sources and then make a plan with your partner. Maybe the doctor has recommended trying clomid or IUI first, but you’ve heard from another doctor that your best chances are with IVF with ICSI and you don’t want to waste your time and money on something that doesn’t have as good a chance of working. Maybe the doctor has said your only option is donor eggs, but you decide to try six months of acupuncture, cleansing toxins from your life, sticking to a strict fertility diet, and mind-body work instead of jumping in and finding a donor. Once you’ve made your decision, stay confident and stick to your decisions . . . but be flexible and willing to adjust your plan when you gain new and relevant information. Ask yourself these questions and develop a logical plan from there:
- What is your primary goal that you absolutely must achieve? To be parents? To be parents of your biological child? To have a successful pregnancy that you carry yourself? What goals are the most important, and what goals can you be flexible on?
- What are you willing to do to get pregnant? Are you willing to do IUI or IVF? Are you willing to use donor eggs or sperm? Would you be open to a donated embryo? Where will you find the money for the procedures and the medicines?
- Are you open to a gestational surrogate? Are you open to adoption?
- How many rounds of IVF are you willing to try? Pick a number and stick to it. We agreed to never try more than 3 rounds of IVF, because most couples get pregnant within 3 tries.
- How much can you afford? What costs are the most important? Seeing a naturopath, acupuncturist, and hypnotherapist might seem expensive, but they are significantly cheaper than IVF. They can also greatly increase your chances of success with IVF- are you willing to try them first?
- Never stop googling! I know, I say the opposite of most fertility coaches who tell you to stop googling and listen to them. Well, I didn’t have a fertility coach, and I am not a fertility coach. I say- Research, research, and then do more research. When doctors (or naturopaths, or acupuncturists, or your mother-in-law) tell you that you’ll “make yourself crazy by reading too much” they are discounting your intelligence and your ability to manage your emotions. Ignore them. NO ONE knows your body like you do, and no doctor has the time to read ALL the relevant new and alternative research related to your condition. Don’t get overwhelmed by your research- get organized! You aren’t a weak-willed, delicate little flower who melts down when she reads about all the life changes she can make to beat infertility, you are a strong lion of a woman who can research, read, and make a plan to change her life and be a fantastic mommy-to-be.
- Don’t be a victim. Sure, when you first get your diagnosis, or when you hit your “infertility rock-bottom” you are going to feel stressed, lost, and afraid. I get it. I had been trying for less than two years when my bleak diagnosis came in. I was well on my way to a nervous breakdown when my husband pulled me out and we took a break. There is a time to wallow in self-pity, but that time is short. So snuggle up with the kitty, watch the Gilmore Girls, and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Then, put on your big girl panties, throw away the ice cream, and say, “I am fabulously fertile and I can do anything!” Don’t stay stuck. Chart your own course. Change your life. Keep moving forward. No one can stop you from being a mommy- except you!
- Make the change today. Never throw your hands up in the air and say, “Oh well! There’s nothing I can do! I’ll just trust my doctors.” You are not helpless. You can change your life today and vastly increase your chances of a successful pregnancy. Completely commit to eradicating toxins from your life as much as possible, to nourishing yourself with a whole foods organic fertility diet, and developing a fertility mind-body practice. Do ALL THE THINGS. Don’t cheat. You can do this. You are amazing. Don’t let fear and panic rule you- get organized, change your life, and forge your path to your baby.
Uhhh, Anna, I don’t want to do all the research!
Okay, so maybe I push too hard. Not everyone is like me, and not everyone is ready to managing doing such research, and hiring multiple healers, etc. If you have the money, and you have been trying for over a year or two without success, and you aren’t quite ready to go to donor eggs (or whatever your final option might be), it might be time to think about a fertility coach.
There are a couple different kinds of fertility coaches. There are the kind that do what I was doing in my writing earlier- they help boost you up, and give you the motivation to make plans, stick to your guns, and manage your life.
There are also the kind that run full service shops, that include running tests, ordering supplements, and tailoring your diet to your needs. These can be GREAT options, especially if you don’t have access to naturopaths or functional medicine practitioners locally. They are also great because they FOCUS on fertility, and are not generalists.
Although I know many fertility coaches, I only have one fertility coach that I have worked with- I have both participated in her programs and collaborated with her professionally. Her name is Sarah Clark of FabFertile and she does couples coaching that includes functional testing to determine optimal diet and supplements. Click here to hear her and me talk about more about her program, and to book a free Discovery Call with her.
I am also a big fan of the Natural Fertility Prescription Program. It also is a full program that includes extensive testing and tailored advice coupled with 1:1: coaching. It is run by a Naturopath doctor out of Switzerland named Iva Keene. If you are interested, you can grab her free report on Restoring Fertility Naturally to see if her style meshes with yours!
Do you have any other tips you’d like to share for how you’ve kicked butt managing your infertility? Leave a comment letting me know!
The 79 Things!
Want to know how I got happy, healthy, and pregnant in less than 3 months after 2 years of infertility and miscarriages?
You need my list of the 79 diet and lifestyle changes I made that transformed my life and brought my miracle baby to me!
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Anna Rapp is a fertility journalist and non-toxic living expert. When Anna Rapp was struggling with infertility and recurrent early miscarriage, she was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve, High FSH, low AMH, low follicle count, endometriosis, and an MTHFR mutation. Despite being told donor eggs were her only solution, Anna used her graduate training in research methods and analysis to read everything she could find on fertility and egg health. Ultimately, she lowered her FSH and got pregnant naturally (twice). She blogs about how she did it and encourages her readers to take charge of their fertility journey and get happy, healthy, and pregnant!