How To Keep Love Alive

In the Midst of Infertility Treatment

By: Qin Fan, PSY.D

When sex goes from being fun to being work, it can play havoc with your relationship. Infertility treatment is often experienced as an emotional rollercoaster, typically becoming an ordeal that either makes or breaks a couple. How can you support and deepen your love for one another in the face of emotional and relational adversity?

1. Understand that the fertility challenge affects every aspect of life. No one can entirely escape from challenges affecting their self-image, intimacy with partner, and sexual lives.

2. Remember that you are in this together. Inform yourselves and learn about what you’re up against so that you can face it together. The more you practice this together, the stronger you’ll become as a couple. Be considerate and tender toward your partner.

3. Recognize that you and your partner may keep a different pace on the fertility journey, and be understanding about it. Keep up the communication and give each other the chance to say what is on his/her mind. Remind yourself that the main thing is your common goal of making a family together.

4. Talk openly with your partner: Sounds easy, right? Yet, so often couples are cocooned in their own emotional anguish, or uncertain about what to say to each other when encountering infertility, that they literally become “speechless,” or shut down. Moreover, infertility can stir up a host of other personal or psychological reactions, including depression and anxiety. It is critical to discuss common reactions such as disappointment, shock, fear, envy, guilty, and rage.

5. Balance the need for privacy & support: What to say to family and friends, if anything at all? It is indeed a delicate dance. Research shows that isolation can be detrimental for couple relationship in the middle of infertility treatment. What is the right amount of disclosure so that the couple may benefit from support from family and friends? Each couple will have to negotiate and determine what is acceptable to them. No matter what you decide to say to others, the main thing is that you two are on the same page. The ability to open up to family and friends can not only ease some of the pressure and isolation but also boost the couple’s morale and overall wellbeing.

6. Redefine intimacy to include conversation at the dinner table, cuddling under a blanket, watching a favorite movie, and a hearty hug. Tell your partner when you need that hug and when you are feeling a little deprived. Go out to dinner at your favorite spot and do not talk about fertility for even one second. Reminisce about how you met and why you made a commitment to be life partners.

7. Plan to have sex, and then anticipate it, just like in the early days of your relationship.

8. Take care of yourself and each other: A healthy mind resides in a healthy body. Infertility treatment can be stressful and strain the relationship. Research suggests that setting time aside regularly, say once a week, to take walks, bike, treat yourselves with a couples massage, take yoga or dancing classes together, can help reduce stress and rejuvenate. Physical activities will not only help you boost your overall energy, but also facilitate a better outcome for your infertility treatment.

9. Seek additional emotional support: Infertility is a shared experience. Individual psychotherapy, couples counseling, and support groups can serve as a safe space for you to explore topics that might be otherwise difficult to discuss.

Qin Fan, Psy.D. 870 Market St., Ste. 659, San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415.545.8606 www.drqinfan.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Qin Fan, PSY.D. A licensed clinical psychologist and a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, I support the family building efforts of all clients, including single women and men and same sex couples. Starting a family can be an exhilarating time for many, yet for some it can be an emotional roller coaster. To help you navigating through the fertility treatment maze, I offer psychological psychotherapy for individuals and couples dealing with infertility or fertility preservation; consultation for intended parents and recipients of egg, sperm, and embryo donation; psychological evaluation for your donor or gestational carrier. For more information or schedule a consult, please visit us at www.drqinfan.com

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Let’s Get Started

By: Danielle E. Lane, M.D.

LFM_Lets_Get_StartedThe need for women to understand their reproductive options this New Year is as urgent as ever. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that the only group to demonstrate a rise in first birth rates was women aged 40-44. Birth rates for this group/cohort have increased four-fold since 1985. Consequently, the need for increasing fertility services, mainly due to age, is at an all time high. However, while technology has provided some treatment and prevention strategies, cost remains a significant barrier to access.

Mercer, a leading benefits consultant company conducted its annual survey of employer health benefits. Survey results for 2014 indicated that nearly one third of companies with 500 or more workers do not provide coverage for infertility services. The Bay Area is unique in that high-tech companies are more likely to cover fertility benefits. Mercer found that 45% of high-tech companies cover in vitro fertilization and 27% cover other advanced reproductive procedures such as egg freezing. This is compared to non-high-tech companies with comparable figures of 26% and 14%, respectively.

In 2014, Facebook began to offer up to $20,000 in egg freezing coverage for medical or non-medical reasons for its U.S. based employees, and in 2015, Apple followed suit offering their own egg freezing benefit. And while Silicon Valley is likely providing this benefit to attract recruits in an increasingly competitive market, it still remains a critical need for women and a paradigm shift in employer health benefits.

Sadly, while companies offer the benefit, many fertility clinics refuse to contract with insurance companies. Further, many couples may be unfamiliar with the financial impact of paying cash up front and then attempting to submit their own claims, a path that may cost them thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Alternatively, some companies may offer the fertility benefit, but make access so difficult that the benefit frequently goes unused. For example, women are commonly required to undergo three to six months of subpar treatment before gaining access to more successful in vitro fertilization procedures (a concept the policies refer to as “lesser before greater”). Other companies’ policies refuse to cover single women or same-sex couples, stating that they have not attempted natural conception on their own for six to twelve months prior to requesting access to their benefit.

In the end, it will be the demands of women that drive continuous change in fertility care. Women will demand that companies not only provide benefits, but also make them easily accessible. And women will demand that fertility clinics allow them to use their benefits by choosing not to work with non-contracted providers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danielle E Lane, MD, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist. Dr. Lane attended McGill University before completing her medical training at the University of Pittsburgh school of medicine, her residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital and her fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. She opened the Center for Reproductive Health at Kaiser Permanente in Napa-Sola-no in 2005. In 2009 she founded Lane Fertility Institute. The Institute has grown to a four physician, multi location practice with a state of the art embryology laboratory. She is committed to providing education for women about preservation of their fertility and developing lower cost models to improve access to care.

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