Infertility is a reproductive health disease that affects up to 1 in 6 people globally Many mistakenly believe that infertility is a disease of the female reproductive system, however approximately 30% of infertility cases are related to female reproductive health, 30% of cases are related to male reproductive health, and about 30% of cases are due to a combination of factors. The final 10% is often attributed to unexplained infertility, which is a controversial diagnosis as deeper testing can uncover the root cause of infertility that standard testing cannot.
What to do when you’re going through infertility
1. Understand the reasons for your infertility
Is your fertility compromised due to structural issues like a bicornuate uterus or tubal disease, etc? Is it due to hormonal imbalance such as irregular periods? Is it due to male factor conditions such as low sperm count or autoimmune conditions?
If you’ve been told you have unexplained infertility, we know how frustrating that can feel, and we encourage all of our Ruvelle Experience members to seek out second and third opinions with other reproductive endocrinologists or other specialists to investigate further.
Understanding why you are experiencing difficulty getting and staying pregnant will significantly help you save time, energy, heartache, and money.
“Investigate first. Gather all the data. Do the testing first. Then, you’ll know what treatment options are truly available for you and how likely they are to work.”
2. Prioritize lifestyle but not to perfection
The human body is exceptionally resilient, so there is no need to aim for perfection in your lifestyle. It is ok to enjoy takeout meals and your favorite dessert. You do not need to throw out all of your cleaning supplies or meditate for hours on end. (Episode 99 of Delivering Miracles® with Dr. Lora Shahine is a great one to listen to about fertility and toxins.)
However, start with where you and your partner can and make new changes slowly:
- Where can you add in more whole foods and fiber?
- How can you move more each day?
- What does your body need to help you sleep better at night?
- What’s the easiest cleaner or beauty product that you can replace for a non-toxic one?
- How can you support your physiology out of its threat state?
Lifestyle perfection does not improve fertility but doing the best you can will stack the deck in your favor to improve your odds of getting and staying pregnant, whether you’re trying to conceive naturally or with fertility treatments.
3. Build a trauma-informed care team that centers you in your care
Centering you means everyone on your care team, from medical providers and mental health professionals to physical therapists, alternative care providers, and holistic practitioners, understand that you sit at the head of your care team. This means you decide who to invite to the table, you choose who no longer has a place at your table, and you have the final say about decisions regarding your health.
Being trauma-informed is much more than being a kind, compassionate provider, and it is much more than being able to validate your previous trauma experience. Trauma-informed providers and practitioners are those who understand how chronic and traumatic stress affects your fertility. Be aware that most providers and practitioners are not actually trauma-informed so invite people to your team carefully.
4. Be careful what you breathe
Wildfires , air pollution , and viruses such as influenza and SARS-CoV-2, can impact semen quality, sperm counts, and ovarian function. They may also elevate your risk of pregnancy complications and pregnancy loss.
Using HEPA filters, wearing respirators around others, and when air quality is not ideal, choosing travel destinations carefully, and speaking with your medical team about your specific risk factors with these exposures can help reduce the likelihood that they could impact your reproductive health. Join us in the Ruvelle Experience where we discuss specific recommendations mitigating such risk.
5. Be clear on your values
The reasons for your infertility will impact what choices you have to support your fertility. Additionally, your values and personal preferences will also affect the choices that lie in front of you. Spend time to clarify your specific values and preferences and discuss them with your partner, if you have one, to see where your respective values intersect.
Don’t make assumptions that you’re on the same page. Discuss what types of fertility treatments you are both willing to try and not willing to try, as well as how much time you’re willing to spend on each phase of fertility treatments and how much money you can and want to spend. Have this conversation with yourself (and your partner) regularly, as decisions, values, and options can change based on new information about what is causing your infertility.
You are not your infertility
Infertility is a serious diagnosis that can profoundly affect you, your partner, and your relationship if you have a partner). However, it does not define you. With the right people on your team, a lifestyle that can stack the deck in your favor, and a trust in your instincts, you can still maintain some control of your how you experience this particular challenge in your life.