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Infertility 101

a blog by Jane Frederick, M.D., HRC Fertility, December 29, 2014

As we move into 2015 and celebrities become more public about their baby desires, we are seeing younger celebrities talking about IVF even if they may not need it. IVF is not a publicity stunt for the majority of the 6 million couples who suffer from infertility and it’s important to get a clear message out to women who may feel like giving up – the majority of women/couples who pursue alternative family building techniques like IVF, do have a child.

It is important to visit some of the very basic questions I get all the time in my working with thousands of couples. These questions will serve as a basic guideline for those who are struggling with infertility.

When should you seek help?
Infertility is defined as not being able to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. If you are over the age of 35 and have been trying to conceive for six months, then it’s time to see an infertility specialist. An infertility specialist will give you a complete infertility work up that will include blood work and initial testing for you and your partner.

If you are under the age of 35, the suggestion is to seek help within 12 months. However, I have found with my practice that often some women just “know” something is wrong sooner than a year. If you feel this way, call and get a basic infertility work-up.

What if my husband/partner refuses to get tested?
Often one partner is ready before the other to seek outside help and too often couples suffer in silence. I tell my patients that many times just going to a specialist and hearing from someone who has dealt with thousands of couples who have struggled, is very comforting to a reluctant partner. Also, just walking into the waiting room and seeing others sitting there and knowing they have the same struggles can often ease discomfort. I hear all the time from couples that they feel so isolated and alone – even from each other. There is no reason to feel alone and presenting your partner with the very basic information about infertility and how there are thousands of couples with the same issue is helpful. Make an appointment alone if you partner is hesitant and you often will hear what you need to in order to get your partner to take the next step.

What is wrong with us – why is this happening?
Many couples are seeing their friends and family easily conceive and they become emotionally paralyzed by seeing others create families and the dreams they hope to achieve. Couples may get caught up in trying to “figure it out on their own” and this often leads to more heartbreak and confusion. There is nothing wrong with you – infertility affects 1 in 8 couples and spending time wondering why this is happening versus taking the step to seek help will only prolong your heartbreak. I can’t tell you how many times people have said “I don’t know why I waited to seek help.”

What if IVF doesn’t work for us?
This is the biggest fear for most couples who struggle with infertility – they are afraid they will endure testing, procedures and end up not having a family. The facts are that the majority of couples who seek alternative family building techniques like IVF, do eventually conceive. For some it happens quickly and for others they may need to do a few procedures or pursue different avenues. Being fearful that something won’t work is very normal but the technologies and techniques have improved so drastically, even within the last year - it so important for couples to take the step and call a specialist.

I urge you to end your suffering and take the step towards your family dreams in 2015.

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