National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) began in 1998, brought about by RESOLVE: the National Infertility Association. The movement was started in order to educate the public about the causes and prevalence of infertility, and to encourage support for those who are going through treatment. It is very common for people who are struggling to conceive to keep their fertility difficulties a secret. NIAW is about bringing the painful struggles of infertility into the light of day and offering support and hope to those going through treatment. Genetics & IVF Institute is proud to be a part of this movement.
In keeping with the theme of spreading information and support, GIVF would like to share a few key messages to those who are experiencing reproductive difficulties:
- Know that you are not alone. In the United States, over 14% of couples struggle to conceive. Infertility affects people of all ages, cultures and socio-economic status.
- Choose when to wait and when to act. It’s not uncommon for couples to take a few months to conceive. Most of the time it takes more than one or two months to conceive, so there is no need to panic if the home pregnancy test turns out negative the first couple of tries. However, if you’ve been actively trying to conceive for at least one year (or six months if you’re over 35) we recommend that you see a fertility specialist.
- Arm yourself with good information. The Internet can be of tremendous benefit provided you know which sites to focus on to get crucial facts right. Blogs and chat rooms are fine for social support; however for fact-gathering it’s best to stick to reputable sites. A few recommendations:
One focus of NIAW is to help patients to find healthy ways of coping with the grief, sadness and frustration of infertility. Of the millions of Americans struggling to conceive, many express feelings of isolation and hurt. Their friends and family members may not be aware a couple is trying to conceive, or they don’t understand what it means to struggle with infertility. Insensitive comments such as “When are you and your wife going to settle down and start a family?” or, the very common: “Just relax and you’ll get pregnant.” often cause harm when the intention was the opposite. When insensitive comments or the stress of treatment is too much, we recommend finding positive and healthy coping mechanisms:
The main message of NIAW is that there is hope for people who are concerned about their fertility and there is support available for them as they travel their fertility journey. There is hope for the peace that comes from knowing that, at the end of that journey, it will all have been worth it.
- Moderate physical exercise. Walking is usually considered safe and appropriate during most stages of treatment. (Check with your doctor or nurse about any plans for exercise.)
- Start a journal (or blog) about your experience. Writing about your feelings can help to process complex emotions.
- Short-term counseling or support groups can be of tremendous benefit. Infertility can affect your self-image and your relationships. Consider seeking professional guidance to deal with these difficult and complex feelings.
- Try a change of scenery. All too often fertility treatment has a way of taking over one’s life. If possible, try to focus on something else for a stretch of time, be it a few hours, a day or a week-long vacation. Occupy yourself with activities you enjoy. Take little “mental holidays” to focus on things that have nothing to do with babies, doctors, or treatment!
- Take good care of yourself. The good old-fashioned advice your grandmother would give you still applies: Eat well. Sleep well. Get some fresh air every day…
- Find a balance between isolation and forcing yourself into painful social situations. Allow yourself to bow out of a celebration you’re not up for. It is perfectly acceptable to decline an invitation to a baby shower, Mother’s Day brunch, or any social gathering that would be just too painful. Avoiding people and social occasions is not a good long-term strategy to deal with unpleasant emotions, but this an especially difficult time. Fertility treatment won’t last forever. For now, if you prefer to send a gift and sit this one out, it’s okay! Try not to isolate yourself though. While big events may be too much, talking to one or two trusted friends about what you’re going through can help a great deal.
- GIVF Announces Greater Access to The Delivery Promise
As the popularity of midlife motherhood increases, more women are attempting pregnancy well into their forties or early fifties. The use of Donor Egg IVF enables thousands of women every year to conceive and deliver the child they have been dreaming of for so long.
The GIVF pregnancy guarantee program, called The Delivery Promise, is now available to women up through the age of 51. The Delivery Promise for Donor Egg IVF provides up to six cycles with a 100% refund of the base fee if you do not take home a baby. Learn more about The Delivery Promise please call 800.552.4363 or visit www.givf.com.
- Nursing Team Welcomes Newest Member
GIVF is pleased to announce the addition of Michal Kusnetz, RN to our nursing department. Michal, who is an experienced and dedicated reproductive endocrinology and infertility nurse, joined us last month. We are excited about our newest clinical staff member and look forward to the many positive contributions Michal Kusnetz will make to quality patient care at GIVF.
- GIVF to Participate in Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill Next Month
On May 8th GIVF will participate in Advocacy Day, sponsored by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. Advocacy Day is designed to bring members of Congress together with patients and clinicians who are passionate about increasing awareness and access to infertility care. We welcome and encourage you to join us! To find out more about Advocacy Day or to register to participate, click here.
GIVF Tribute to IVF Pioneer Dr. Bob Edwards (1925-2013)
Many scientists and physicians have developed ways to prolong human life, but Drs. Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe invented a new way to create life when they invented in vitro fertilization (IVF). A long-time friend of GIVF, Dr. Edwards died on April 10, 2013 at the age of 87, leaving an astonishing legacy. Thanks to his work with Dr. Steptoe, five million babies have been born through in vitro fertilization since the first IVF birth in 1978.
The founder of GIVF, Dr. Joseph D. Schulman, is the only American who worked with Drs. Edwards and Steptoe as they sought to develop IVF. Dr. Schulman, who is retired from active practice, wrote a memoir of his work with the pioneering research team when Dr. Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2010.
Describing the spartan working conditions at the twenty bed hospital in Royton, England where IVF attempts were underway, Dr. Schulman wrote, "Here was important science being done with simple equipment, minimal budget, a team of three persons with great energy and determination to which my own efforts were now being added, directed by one giant brain pursuing a goal that would make possible the birth of millions of babies."
The first of those millions of babies arrived on July 25, 1978. The birth of Louise Brown transformed Drs. Edwards and Steptoe into world famous scientists overnight. Together, they founded a successful IVF center in England. After Dr. Steptoe's death in 1988, Dr. Edwards left the center; he continued to edit prestigious scientific journals and to promote innovative research.
Dr. Edwards was a steadfast supporter of GIVF's work. He came to America three times specifically to keynote scientific conferences sponsored by GIVF. His last visit was in 2004, when he spoke at a scientific conference organized to celebrate GIVF's 20th anniversary.
Today, GIVF is proud to continue the work initiated by Drs. Edwards and Steptoe when they created IVF. Each time a baby is born through IVF, the legacy of these remarkable pioneers continues. Their legacy is life.
The Genetics & IVF Institute (GIVF) regularly publishes an informative newsletter featuring the latest infertility news and developments. The newsletter is sent electronically via email. To subscribe, click here.