The holidays—that time of year filled with cheer, shopping, cooking and attending gatherings. Yet for those struggling with infertility, this season also brings a hyper-focus on the everyday reminders of that pain. The simple joy of seeing a child visit Santa or opening presents can be heart-wrenching when every child reminds you of your struggle with infertility.

12 Infertility tips to combat the holiday blues while struggling to conceive:

While surrounding yourself with family and friends during this season, it is important to take care of yourself. If you feel stuck, remember that the Aspire counselors are here to help.

Tip # 1 – Identify, Label, and Honor Your Feelings:

Your fertility journey is full of emotions.  It is important to identify and label those feelings and what is causing you to feel that way.  It is okay to take time to cry and express your sadness.  Holding your feelings inside actually takes more mental energy than releasing them. You should give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions are present and accept that this is exactly the place where you need to be in the present.  Relaxation and breathing techniques are all critical in centering yourself back after a release.

Tip # 2 – Seek Childfree Forms of Celebration:

If family events are too painful, skip them and plan activities for you and your partner. Trips out of town or even a “micro adventure” to a local hotel allow you to celebrate and explore something new together.

Tip # 3 – Give yourself permission to say “no” to invitations:

It is okay to be selective with events you choose to attend this season. You may not feel comfortable around too many babies, children and pregnant women. You may not want to have to field questions about your own fertility. Your close family and friends will understand. If you have an event that you MUST attend, make a plan for a “safety net.” Enlist your partner or a friend to stay by your side to help navigate painful conversations, to provide a supportive shoulder or to give you a break to talk freely during the event. Anticipate questions about your plans for having a family.  Planning will help prevent being caught off guard. You do not have to disclose all the details, and having a rehearsed answer eases the discomfort of these exchanges.

Tip # 4 – Find inspiration in a holiday theme:

Determine the personal meaning that you and your partner can find in each holiday to help lift your spirits and comfort you in your struggle with infertility. This time of year is often associated with hope. Finding a personal connection will be instrumental in getting through it. Participate in activities that are important to you and your partner, and create a new family tradition along the way.

Tip # 5 – Give to those in need:

Spread some cheer to others in your community. Visit an elderly relative or volunteer at at a local hospital, nursing home, or homeless shelter. Bringing a smile to the faces of others with holiday blues can have a gratifying effect.

Tip # 6 – Be smart when buying gifts:

You do not need to subject yourself to braving the massive shopping crowds at the toy stores to shop for nieces, nephews or children of good friends.  Purchase a gift card instead which will provide a fun trip for them to choose their own adventure at their own convenience.

Tip # 7 – Do what soothes you:

During the times where you do not have to appear happy, friendly, funny and charming, let yourself be the way you feel. Pampering yourself goes a long way to help you get through a situation. Get a massage, buy a new book or an article of clothing, or spend the day watching movies in bed.  Whatever feels good—do more if it!

Tip # 8 – Stay tuned in to your partner’s needs:

It is important to allocate time to communicate with your partner. Infertility is a major life crisis and you are entitled to feel sad, deprived or depressed. Support each other through the difficult moments. You need each other’s comfort now more than ever.

Tip # 9 – Maintain Balance:

It seems like the fall and winter seasons are the busiest time of the year with one holiday following another. As a result, routines that normally keep us healthy and happy — workouts, cooking at home, and relaxation rituals — are often replaced with habits that aren’t best for our overall wellness. Keep in mind that all the holiday hustle and bustle may lead to fatigue. It’s crucial to focus on maintaining a balance to survive this time of year.

Tip # 10 – Take a Fertility Break:

If you are scheduled to undergo fertility treatment over the holiday season, it might be worth placing them on hold until the stress of the holidays passes.  A small break does not negatively impact the success of the treatment and could actually provide a much needed emotional break.  It is also wise to look into the details if you are using health insurance as you might have already met your deductible and it might be beneficial to get in your treatment before the end of the year to save money.

Tip #11 – Re-evaluate Expectations:

The holidays are expected to be filled with everyone feeling jolly. Don’t hold yourself to the unrealistic standards that you “should” feel happy because it is the holiday season.  Instead, reframe the “shoulds” to acknowledge that you may feel increased sadness during this time. Give yourself permission to grieve instead of pushing it deeper, you allow yourself to direct any extra energy enjoyable activities. Aspire put together more advice on Patient and Family Support to help you along the way.

Tip # 12 – Seek Fertility Support in the Right Place:

It is completely normal to feel stress with the holidays and struggling with infertility.  Reach out to your support system and tell them that you are having a hard day.  Ask for a real hug or solicit comfort through any means that would be soothing.  However, if your struggles are impacting your ability to perform daily activities, you should reach out to a professional for support.  Aspire Fertility has licensed counselors who are specially trained to help you manage the challenges that come with navigating your infertility.  Please contact Aspire clinics directly to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors.

 

If you’re dreading the holidays and would like to talk to a specialist about infertility, please email us or reach out to our Houston Clinic, Dallas Clinic, or Atlanta Clinic.

 

Resources for your infertility journey

Are you feeling overwhelmed by your infertility journey and the process? Do you need a little extra support? It is very normal to feel overwhelmed and lost while going through the complicated infertility process. Here is a list of some wonderful resources that can really help answer questions you may have and make you feel supported. Remember that you are not alone.

Books

  • In the Know – What no one tells you about family building options for same-sex couples
  • Dancing Upon Barren Land – prayers, scripture, and hope for infertility
  • On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility – a book about grief, loss, anxiety, and depression; it also covers how this affects a couple going through infertility
  • Protecting Your Heart While Negotiating with Your Ovaries – This book is an essential resource to assist you as a couple in your journey to creating a family. Focus on maintaining and improving your relationship while coping with the emotional aspects of infertility. This book is written by a licensed mental health therapist who endured years of medical treatment for fertility.
  • Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping With Infertility – provides tools for coping with infertility
  • A Baby At Last – The Couple’s Complete Guide to Getting Pregnant–from Cutting-Edge Treatments to Commonsense Wisdom

Websites

  • Resolve – a wonderful resource that has support groups, ways to afford fertility treatment, articles about what different fertility treatments are, how to volunteer, how to become an advocate, and how to find a professional.
  • X, Y, and Me – Books for children to explain how they were conceived
  • Donor Conception Network – a fabulous website with lots of articles about how to accept using donor eggs and sperm, a website that supports families through the donor process, includes help for all type of families- single moms, same-sex couples, etc.
  • The American Society for Reproductive Medicine – an organization devoted to advancing knowledge and expertise in reproductive medicine. You can get literature and gain knowledge from ASRM.
  • Dralicedomar.com – Alice Domar, Ph.D.’s website – literature about infertility and ways to ask Dr. Domar questions
  • The American Fertility Association – educational information about infertility, advocacy, awareness building
  • www.ivfconnections.com – a woman going through infertility created this for women to connect through message boards and chat rooms
  • Eastern Harmony – The benefits of acupuncture for infertility
  • Waiting In Hope – local support groups and online community
  • 3 Sisters Surrogacy – surrogacy agency
  • Baby Center – support boards geared towards infertility

Organizations that help provide funding

  • the Tinina Q. Cade Foundation
  • BabyQuest
  • Pay it Forward Fertility Foundation
  • Angels of Hope
  • American Academy of Adoption Attorney Family Formation Charitable Trust
  • Footsteps for Fertility
  • International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination
  • Journey to Parenthood
  • Parental Hope
  • Sparkles of Life

Support

  • Motherhood Center – Houston based, this boutique offers massages, and yoga classes for those trying to conceive
  • 866-NOT-ALONE is the Resolve Helpline to talk to trained volunteer with help on navigating resources
  • Online support groups on Facebook for infertility
  • The counselor at your Aspire clinic
fertility exercises

It is important to be at and maintain a healthy weight while trying to conceive. This means that being too underweight or too overweight can affect your fertility. You can look up what a healthy BMI is for your height and weight to see what weight you should be. Exercising too rigorously can affect your fertility in a negative way. You don’t want to do too much cardio- like running several miles per day or doing very intense cardio. Engaging in yoga while going through treatment may cause your tubes to twist and you don’t want to do that while being pregnant or during your treatment. There are exercises that can help your fertility.

  • Yoga can be very helpful before starting treatment to de-stress. It can also help prepare the body for conception. Engage in yoga poses that focus on your reproductive organs. Many yoga studios offer classes for people that are trying to conceive.
  • Walking can be a great de-stressor and it is a great way to get exercise in a non-rigorous way.
  • Try to keep your workouts under an hour so that you’re not overdoing it.
  • Zumba and dance classes are a fun way to workout.
  • Swimming is another good option for working out, because it is low impact.
  • Biking at a low intensity level is safe. Avoid high intensity cycling classes. Try to eliminate exercises that involve substantial bouncing.
  • Try playing a team sport that isn’t very intense. Team sports make working out fun.
  • Try lifting low amounts of weight. Avoid lifting heavy weights.
  • Pilates is a great exercise option to engage in before treatment. Avoid it while going through treatment, because you don’t want to twist your tubes or any of your reproductive organs.
  • Exercise is important while being pregnant so that you don’t gain too much weight while pregnant and it is a good stress reliever.

It can be helpful to get a trainer while trying to conceive so that you can get advice on the best workouts for your body type. Contact your counselor at Aspire for information about trainers and workout facilities in your area.

  • Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003
  • Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806
  • Atlanta Clinic at (678) 274-6760
zika and pregnancy

The connection between Zika and pregnancy is a danger that all soon to be mothers should be aware of. The Zika virus can be transmitted to a fetus from their mother, which can cause detrimental birth defects. Read below to learn how to reduce your risk of contracting the Zika virus:

  1. Zika is spread through mosquitos infected with the virus. Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sexual partners, even if the person does not have any symptoms.  There is no medicine or vaccine for Zika at this time.
  2. Pregnant women should avoid travel to areas with risk of Zika. If you must travel, talk to your physician first.  More information about known locations for Zika infection can be found at www.cdc.org/zika/geo/index.html.
  3. You can prevent Zika by preventing mosquito bites.  The mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeved shirts and long pants and stay in air-conditioned places.  It is important to remove any standing water areas around your home as mosquitoes use these areas for breeding.
  4.  Zika has been linked to birth defects.  Infection with Zika during pregnancy can cause microcephaly, a severe birth defect which results in incomplete brain development and a smaller than normal sized head.  There are other problems in pregnancies and among fetuses and infants infected with Zika before birth.
  5.  Returning travelers that are infected with Zika can spread the virus through mosquito bites and sex.  These travelers (even if they do not feel sick) should continue to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks to avoid spreading Zika to uninfected mosquitoes. If you or a partner has lived or visited an area with risk of Zika, are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, steps must be taken to protect with a condom, diaphragm, etc. during sex to reduce the risk of being infected.  Women should avoid pregnancy for eight weeks after possible Zika exposure.  Zika can be spread to partners during this time because it remains present in semen for six months after infection, even without symptoms.

Schedule a Consultation

Questions about Zika? Ask one of our fertility experts or email Aspire with any questions. You can also schedule an appointment at any of the Aspire Fertility Clinics or call the:

  • Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003
  • Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806
  • Atlanta Clinic at (678) 274-6760

 

ICSI Questions to Ask Your Doctor

One of the biggest challenges when visiting the clinic for your ICSI appointment is coming up with questions to ask your doctor when you aren’t sure what to ask. You don’t know what you don’t know, right? Most people don’t know what ICSI is or much about it so you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask your reproductive endocrinologist or embryologists questions about ICSI.

Here are some FAQs from ICSI patients that you may also want to ask your doctor:

  • What is ICSI?
  • What are the benefits of ICSI?
  • Am I a good candidate for ICSI?
  • What will happen if I don’t want ICSI?
  • What are the risks?
  • Do you recommend it and why?
  • Will ICSI increase the chances of getting pregnant?
  • How does it help a couple where the male has sperm that is not of great quality?
  • What is the cost of it?
  • How will it affect my future baby?
  • Is there certainty that our sperm will fertilize an egg?
  • Is ICSI used in most IVF cycles in the U.S.?
  • Are you able to pinpoint the best eggs and sperm before doing ICSI?
  • Is ICSI beneficial to use after I have frozen my eggs and want to later use them?
  • What are your clinic statistics for successful cycles when ICSI was performed?
  • Should we freeze sperm? Should we freeze sperm to have extra?
  • Can I go on a tour of your lab?
  • Can I meet your lab team including the lab director?

Make sure that you get an explanation that you really understand and feel comfortable with. It is best to learn as much as you can about treatment.

Schedule a Consultation

Ask your doctor as many questions as you want, even if you think you already know the answer – it may provide useful information or just reinforce what you already know. Schedule an appointment with one of our fertility experts and or email Aspire with any questions. You can also schedule an appointment at either clinic online or call our:

  • Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003
  • Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806
  • Atlanta Clinic at (678) 274-6760
Should I Freeze My Eggs?

Egg freezing, or oocyte cryopreservation, allows women to preserve their fertility for the future by removing the inevitable “biological clock” and freezing while they have good ovarian reserve and egg quality.

Egg freezing is beneficial for:

  • Women who desire to delay childbearing to pursue educational or career goals or achieve financial independence.  This allows a woman to preserve her eggs and continue to pursue personal goals because fertility is known to decline with age.
  • Women who are diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness.  Egg freezing provides the opportunity to preserve eggs prior to radiation or chemotherapy.  It also provides the chance to those that may need to take medications that reduce fertility.

If you are interested in egg freezing or desire to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure please contact our clinic.

Schedule an appointment with one of our fertility experts and or email Aspire with any questions. You can also schedule an appointment or call the Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003, the Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806, or the Atlanta Clinic at (678) 274-6760.

what is assisted hatching?

Assisted hatching is used during invitro fertilization to increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.

Assisted hatching is performed by an embryologist in an IVF lab. The process involves the embryologist holding the embryo with a special pipette. Next, a needle finer than a strand of hair is used to eject an acidic fluid against the shell of the embryo. A small hole is created in the shell with the acidic fluid. The embryologist then washes the embryo and the embryo is stored in an incubator. The embryo transfer is usually done within hours after this procedure. The embryo is placed in the uterus during the procedure and this is the process that hopefully results in the woman getting pregnant.

If you have more questions about assisted hatching or other lab processes, you can always ask to speak with an embryologist at Aspire.

Schedule an appointment with one of our fertility experts and or email Aspire with any questions. You can also schedule an appointment at either clinic online or call the Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003, the Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806, or the Atlanta Clinic at (678) 274-6760.

Today there are many different fertility options for lesbian couples

Today there are many different fertility options for lesbian couples who desire to have a baby.

The simplest option is to do an IUI (intrauterine insemination) which is performed using donor sperm. The sperm donor may be selected through a family member or friend and is common for couples that desire to know the baby’s father.  The other option is select an anonymous donor through a sperm bank where they only provide basic information about each donor.

IVF (in-vitro fertilization) with donor sperm is recommended for patients with fertility issues.  Reciprocal IVF is an option that allows both partners to feel actively involved and connected in the process.  This involves one partner providing the egg and the other carrying the pregnancy.

Donor eggs can be utilized with IVF for women who are unable to use their own eggs for conception but can still carry a child in their uterus.  Gestational carriers are also an option in cases where both women cannot carry the pregnancy.

Aspire Fertility is proud to help lesbian couples create their families through the assistance of fertility treatments.

Fertility Options for Gay Couples

There are many fertility options for gay couples who want to have a baby. There are several different scenarios that could be done to create the child.

  • Using one partner’s sperm with an anonymous donor’s eggs
  • Using the other partner’s sperm with an anonymous donor’s eggs
  • Using one partner’s sperm with a known donor’s eggs
  • The option to do IVF or an IUI
  • Using donor eggs, but choosing a known (friend or family member) carrier to carry the baby
  • Using a known donor and carrier
  • Using donor sperm and donor eggs

The couple is able to pick the eye color, skin color, hair color, health history, and education of the unknown donor. They can also look at pictures of the donor and their family. This is really neat because it enables the couple to choose traits of their baby and possibly avoid traits of their own. Many gay couples these days are having babies and it is becoming more accepted. Everyone deserves to be able to have a child regardless of their sexual preference.

Preimplantation Genetic Testing Options During IVF

There are multiple preimplantation genetic testing options to consider during IVF but, what exactly is the difference between PGD and PGS?

What is PGD?

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis is a test offered to patients who are known carriers of a genetic medical condition and are therefore at high risk of transmitting it to their children, such as cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, or Tay-Sachs disease.  It enables families impacted by any inherited disease to reduce the risk that their children will suffer from a genetic disorder.  In PGD, a cell is removed from the embryo, and the test only reveals the mutations relating to the particular medical condition identified.

What is PGS?

Preimplantation genetic screening is a process for screening embryos to test for overall chromosomal normalcy in embryos.  It involves screening the embryo for any structural abnormalities in the chromosomes.  During PGS, the cell is removed from an embryo and tested for the eight chromosomes that malfunction most frequently.  These abnormalities may include aneuploidy which is the wrong number of chromosomes, such as Down’s Syndrome which is an extra chromosome 21; and translocations which are incorrect chromosomal positioning, or other significant structural alterations.

 

PGS is done before embryo transfer so that the couple can choose to transfer only embryos with the correct number of chromosomes into the womb.  Embryos with the standard number of chromosomes are more likely to result in a full-term pregnancy.  PGS also allows the couple to learn the gender of their embryos.

Is PGS/PGD the right choice for you?

Genetic testing can increase success rates for IVF in women over 35, in addition to those that have suffered repeated IVF failure or recurrent miscarriages because it allows them the opportunity to select the healthiest embryos for transfer.  Patients may also benefit if they are carriers of chromosomal translocations or inherited genetic diseases.

 

If you are interested in learning more about PGD/PGS, talk to a fertility specialist. Schedule an appointment with one of our fertility experts and or email Aspire with any questions. You can also schedule an appointment at either clinic online or call the Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003, the Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806, or the Atlanta Clinic at (678) 274-6760.