We all know how it’s supposed to work…first you fall in love, then you get married and before you know it, there’s a baby on the way! Sounds easy, right? Sadly, the story goes a little differently for those of us with infertility issues. After months or years of trying to get pregnant, you suddenly find yourself scheduling sex and round after round of fertility treatments. Not to mention strangers constantly looking between your legs. That’s the reality of infertility that no one wants to talk about.
Many women experience deep feelings of loss, loneliness and even self-loathing when they are trying to conceive, and it’s not something you’re likely to forget about even after you finally become pregnant. Infertility is one of those taboo topics that make people uncomfortable, but if you are going through this emotional experience, you need to know that it’s OK to talk about it with your loved ones. Although every couple will cope with infertility differently, here are eight things I think you should know before you begin your journey:
1. Fertility treatments are unbelievably expensive.
Everyone tells you how expensive having a baby is, but the making part is supposed to be fun! And it certainly shouldn’t cost you a small fortune. Depending on what your insurance covers (if you even have insurance), you could end up spending up to $1,000 or more for each round of hormone treatments…and, it doesn’t end there. If the hormone treatments don’t work, your next option could be in vitro fertilization (IVF), which costs about a whopping $20,000. Yes, it will be worth it when you’re holding your little one in your arms, but you might need to be prepared to live on peanut butter sandwiches during the treatments.
2. Trying to conceive can consume you.
When you’re trying to conceive, every month that passes by seems like a year, and every year seems like a lifetime. During treatment, your life will be controlled by endless doctor’s appointments, blood work and numerous vaginal ultrasounds (not fun!). It will be hard to focus on anything else while you’re going through treatment. Try to find ways to relax and de-stress; it could be getting a massage, taking a yoga class, or simply going for a walk in nature. Do whatever works for you.
3. Hormone therapy sucks.
Getting pumped full of hormones will affect everything, from your emotions to how you feel physically. You should expect acne and weight gain…which can be really tough when you might already be feeling a little down on yourself. Not only that, but the fertility hormones can even make you feel and look pregnant, even when you’re not. Talk about adding insult to injury!
4. Being around other people’s babies (and kids) is tough.
Being around other people’s babies will be tough. In fact, being around kids, in general, can be hard. Even seeing a pregnant woman, or someone pushing a stroller, can be upsetting. Prepare yourself for a lot of unexpected emotional moments. This is normal, and many women who are going through treatment feel the same way.
5. You may feel like giving up.
The more times you go through the treatments, the harder it is to keep going. As each month passes by without a pregnancy, your options become more and more limited. It’s common for women to feel like giving up if they’ve been trying for a while.
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6. Being infertile doesn’t mean your old, or there’s something wrong with you.
A lot of people assume that infertility treatments are only for older women, or women with some kind of diagnosable issue. But the fact is many couples are diagnosed with “unexplained infertility,” and they may never know why they can’t conceive on their own. Remember that every experience is different, and needing help to conceive doesn’t mean you’re too old to have a baby or there’s something wrong with you.
7. Social media could become your worst enemy.
When you’re struggling to conceive, it feels like everyone around you is pregnant or has just given birth. Your social media pages will likely be full of ultrasound photos, birth announcements and proud parents showing off their precious offspring. You may want to change your social media habits to avoid these potentially painful reminders of what you’re struggling so hard to achieve. There’s no reason to make it even harder on yourself.
8. There are other options.
Leading fertility experts at The Yinova Center in Manhattan suggest trying natural alternative treatments before1 you resort to hormone therapy or IVF. Acupuncture is highly successful in treating unexplained infertility because it focuses on getting all the systems of the body functioning correctly. Often, an acupuncture physician can suggest Chinese herbs and lifestyle changes to speed up the process. In some cases, something as simple as losing a few pounds and eating a healthier diet is all it takes. These alternatives are low-risk and very affordable, so you’ve got nothing to lose by giving them a try.
Going through infertility treatment is no joke. It may not be a pleasant experience that you look back on with fondness, but knowing what to expect could make the battle a little easier. In the end, when you’re rewarded with a healthy bundle of joy, you’ll be glad you did it.