1 in 8: You Are Not Alone
This year's theme for National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), April 19-25, 2015, is "You are not alone."
In the United States, it is estimated that 1 in 8 individuals will experience infertility during their reproductive years. This number may even be as low as 1 in 6. How is it possible that a condition that is so common can leave one feeling so isolated?
Infertility affects us at a very basic level – we are unable to plan for and have the family we so strongly desire. While we may all come from different cultures, religions or family units - children are a basic desire for most of us.
For those of you hoping to become pregnant, be proactive and educate yourself in preparation for pregnancy. This holds equally true for both women and men. Our behaviors and lifestyles before we attempt to start a family may have a profound influence on the ability to have a successfully pregnancy and delivery of a healthy child over time.
Here are some tips that may help you prepare for pregnancy:
1. Plan ahead when trying to conceive (TTC).
- Educate yourself.
- Develop a reproductive plan or roadmap.
- Have a preconception consultation and talk to your healthcare provider in advance.
- Ask your provider for resources that will be helpful for you.
2. Prepare for conception.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Eliminate unhealthy lifestyles such as smoking, heavy alcohol intake, and exposure to environmental toxins.
- Optimize management of any chronic medical conditions.
- For all women attempting to conceive, begin a folic acid supplement at least 1 month in advance.
- Obtain fertility tips and information from reputable sources such as RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
3. When you start trying for pregnancy:
- Continue caring for yourself - at a physical, emotional and spiritual level.
- Optimize your fertility awareness and timing.
- Keep communication open- with your partner, family members and friends.
4. If you have trouble getting pregnant:
- Remember, many effective treatments and family building options are available.
- Seek a formal evaluation – find out what you might be up against.
- Work with a fertility practice that is supportive toward your needs.
- Ask questions.
- Obtain a treatment plan and understand your options
- Make time for yourself and you partner.
- Practice self-care.
- DO NOT isolate yourself!
- Join a support group – check out RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.
Remember, there is a community out there to help you get through this. No one should go through infertility alone.
Dr. Carmelo Sgarlata is a leading Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist at the Reproductive Science Center of the San Francisco Bay Area. With over 25 years of experience and well over 1,000 babies born through his guidance, Dr. Sgarlata has become well known in the community where he lives and practices. His areas of special interest include operative laparoscopy and hysteroscopy, ovulation disorders including diminished ovarian reserve and recurrent pregnancy loss. Dr. Sgarlata completed a 2-year fellowship in Integrative Medicine through the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.