|Navigating the land of if by Melissa Ford // Taking charge of your fertility by Toni Weschler // Making babies by Sami S. David // If at first you don't conceive by William Schoolcraft|
|Silent sorority by Pamela Tsigdinos; Budgeting for infertility by Sterling and Best-boss; Empty womb, aching heart by Marlo Schalesky; The infertility cure by Randine Lewis|
1) Dealing with your doctor- When you visit your OBGYN/Reproductive Endocrinologist/GP or whomever you might be seeing depending on where you are on your infertility journey, your doctor will start using terms to describe everything from hormone levels to possible tests to medications and procedures and unless you've prepared yourself with some baseline knowledge about how your body functions, the terminology and vast array of tests and treatment options will leave you frustrated and confused. Chances are, you'll probably end up frustrated and confused regardless, but at least it won't be from lack of knowledge or understanding of medical terms, it will simply be because infertility sucks and that's just all there is to it. Of course, your doctor will be able to explain anything you don't understand, but they run on a tight schedule and I don't know about you, but I don't want spend a whole (expensive appointment) having terms like HCG, IUI, IVF, sperm morphology, motility, mobility, etc. explained to me. It's nice to be able to say, "yes, I understand what you're saying, can we discuss my concerns/options now?"
2) Knowing your body- Knowledge about how your body functions including when you ovulate each cycle is not only interesting but it's powerful stuff (I'd venture to say this is important for all women regardless of fertility or lack thereof). Before I started this journey, I couldn't really tell you how long my cycles were and I certainly couldn't tell you when I was ovulating. It was only through charting, paying close attention to cervical fluid, and observing the subtle yet quite profound changes in my body each cycle that I was able to help time intercourse perfectly and when that didn't work after months and months, I could confidentially say that yes, there was indeed, an issue. Also, when you chart and hand those charts over to your doctor, you're giving him/her data in which to better help them understand your unique situation. Even though I've been diagnosed with PCOS (confirmed via hormone panel and saline ultrasound) my charts were able to help my doctor see that I was ovulating correctly and, therefore, the PCOS is not the cause of our infertility. A few blood tests to measure progesterone levels during the luteal phase over a couple of cycles helped confirm what my charts already told me.
3) Understanding your options- Infertility can make a person feel very out-of-control but learning about the disease can help you make the most informed decisions possible. I don't know about you but I'd like to have a say in my own healthcare especially when it comes to building my family. I don't have a medical degree and I know that I need guidance and support from those whose speciality it is to help get me conceive and carry to full term, BUT that doesn't mean that my body is at the whim of every test and medication that a doctor wants to give me. Not all women share this hesitation when it comes to treatment but I am not all women. I have to proceed in a manner I'm comfortable with and if that means waiting even longer to find another solution, than so be it.
Not only is knowledge building essential for the infertile couple, but it's also helpful if you're in a supportive role. Learning a little bit more of the lingo and the tests involved in diagnosis and treatment options can help you, as a supportive friend, show your interest in the disease and learn a little more about what your loved one is going through.
I'd love to know what resources, books, etc. that you've found particularly helpful. Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below. Anonymous comments are also welcome.
A side note- Is it possible to be TOO informed? I don't think the issue is knowing too much, but I do think that it can be dangerous and ill advised to take medical treatment of infertility into your own hands (and I'm not referring to alternative medicine here so please don't misread me). I have heard of women self-medicating by obtaining Rx drugs without a prescription (and yes, this is possible) so my suggestion is that if you're not getting what you think you need from a doctor, perhaps it's time to find a new doctor. Or you may need to reevaluate what you think you know, know what I mean?