Having been on my fertility journey for over three years, I understand the frustration women and couples feel when there are no concrete answers. In my own attempt to feel empowered, I have researched various websites, connected with others who are also struggling to build their families, read a multitude of books and tried various mind-body techniques to better understand my own fertility challenges and to foster my own healing. Not knowing how or when I will actually begin building my own family has been a heart-wrenching journey, but being able to connect with others in person, online and through the written word has given me that sense of empowerment I often need.
Additionally, the resource books have helped me on the many occasions when I have left a consultation appointment wondering exactly what a certain fertility procedure entailed or what a certain drug would do to my body. Although the doctors do an exceptional job at CNY, I know that no one knows my body or my cycle the way I do and that my husband and I are our own best advocates. I hope this guide offers you some different resources, and that you are able to begin developing your own sense of empowerment on your personal journey to fertility!
Please check back regularly since I intend to update this guide as I continue to educate myself about fertility and related issues. Also, feel free to offer suggestions for additional resources to add to this guide. The majority of the books I have read were gifts to me, and I would not have known about them unless others brought them to my attention.
April’s Guide to Fertility Resources
Fertility Resource Books
The Couple’s Guide to Fertility, 3rd edition, by Gary S. Berger, M.D., Marc Goldstein, M.D., and Mark Feurst
This book fully addresses a myriad of issues ranging from the basics of conception to insurance matters and embryo adoption. Personal stories are woven throughout this medical guide, providing readers the opportunity to connect with others who have gone through similar situations. This book is particularly easy to use because it has illustrations, a well laid out table of contents, and a directory of fertility specialists and in vitro centers in both the U.S. and Canada. Also included are various resource sections which consist of internet sources, a listing of infertility services and a section on adoptive services. Additionally, there is a glossary of terms and an index. I have found this book especially valuable because whenever I need clarification regarding something the doctor has said or something I may have heard from a friend or read online, I can look up the specific term/symptom/procedure in this book to further my own understanding.
Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, MPH
Written by a women’s health educator, this book is filled with practical information and stresses the importance of developing one’s own fertility awareness. By teaching basic techniques such as basal body temperature charting, Weshler encourages women to develop an understanding of their cycles so that they are well informed and know when seeking out a fertility specialist’s advice is necessary and what information is important to share when consulting with medical professionals. The book includes a table of contents and appendixes which consist of book recommendations, the stages of the menstrual cycle and how to use natural birth control when nursing. Additionally, there is a glossary, bibliography, index and a template chart section for BBT recordings. Overall, Weschler empowers women by encouraging them to fully understand how their bodies work.
Conceptions and Misconceptions by Arthur L. Wisot, M.D. and David R. Meldrum, M.D.
This book provides a detailed guide to assisted reproductive techniques (ART) and begins with a review of conception misconceptions including the idea that more (drugs, eggs, babies) is not necessarily better and that our goal is not merely to achieve pregnancy but to carry a pregnancy to full term and to give birth to a healthy baby. For those who have questions and need a bit of “grounding” this is a great resource since it opens with the idea that every conception is a miracle. There are multiple side notes in the margins of each section that offer insightful tidbits of information. Although there is no table of contents in this resource guide, there is a glossary of terms and an index, but readers are encouraged to read through the book in its entirety, especially if they are new to fertility treatments.
Fertility for Dummies by Jackie Myers-Thompson and Sharon Perkins, RN
This reference book provides a simplified yet comprehensive guide to all aspects of fertility treatment, including specific questions to ask the doctor when certain techniques do not work and under what circumstances patients should consider additional IVF procedures after one or more failed attempts. The book also explores complimentary fertility enhancing techniques, including visualization and positive thinking. Co-written by a fertility patient and an IVF nurse coordinator, the point of view is candidly honest and often humorous, yet the scientific data included provides the necessary validity readers need on their quest to be informed.
Nurturing Your Fertile Spirit
Inconceivable by Julia Indichova
Indichova, chronicles her journey beyond the labels she is given (high FSH, not IVF eligible). In the end, she achieves a miraculous pregnancy because she does not allow herself to be restricted by the categories under which she falls and refuses to succumb to anyone’s preconceived notions. Statistically, Julia Indichova had virtually no chance of achieving a healthy pregnancy and was advised to consider using donor eggs and/or a surrogate, yet she managed to conceive naturally and gave birth to a healthy baby.
Love and Infertility by Kristen Magnacca
Kristen Magnacca and her husband went through years of fertility treatment, and she fully understands the stress such circumstances place on a marriage. In her book, she offers survival strategies that allow couples to better communicate their needs to each other and to balance the craze of fertility treatment with the rest of life’s demands. By placing importance on the fact that a husband and wife are already a family, Kristen empowers the couple to support each other and to recognize and meet their own needs before they meet the needs of others. Having personally integrated some of the techniques discussed in this book into our own marriage, I can attest to the fact that there are many benefits to increasing effective ways to communicate with and support each other.
Additionally, Magnacca’s step by step suggestions and examples on how to write a Fertility Game Plan allow couples to constructively discuss the steps they will take to build their family. By encouraging couples to develop a sense of foresight as they address some of the tougher fertility related questions, the Fertility Game Plan strategy fosters honest communication between partners. Knowing there is a next step and taking the time to understand how your partner feels about each step is critical in being able to support each other on this challenging journey to parenthood.
Companion CD: Love and Infertility: Survival Strategies for Balancing Infertility, Marriage, and Life
Kristen does an exceptional job of highlighting many of her book’s key points in this CD companion, which takes place in an interview format. With updated real-life examples of couples who have faced fertility challenges, the CD is ideal for couples who may need a refresher on the strategies Kirsten discusses in her book or for those who may not have time to attend a fertility support group. My husband and I listened to this CD in the car as we were traveling and found ourselves discussing some of Kristen’s examples and suggestions even though we had both already read the book and attended several of Kristen’s workshops.
This CD reinforced the importance of nurturing our individual needs as well as our needs as a couple. I am thankful to be able to listen to the companion CD anytime I feel my husband or I may need a refresher on Magnacca’s Survival Strategies.
Girlfriend to Girlfriend: A Fertility Companion by Kristen Magnacca
(taken with Kristen Magnacca’s permission from http://kristenmagnacca.com/books)
Comprised of vividly intimate stories, medical strategies, and tips for emotional survival, Kristen’s book offers women the support and guidance Magnacca longed to have while experiencing the worst years of her life.
The book details Kristen and Mark Magnacca’s incredible journey from infertility to parenthood and provides the inspiration, frankness and support that many couples need to endure the emotional roller coaster that accompanies infertility.
The Relaxation Response, by Robert Benson, MD
This book notes how meditation reduces stress, increases health, and even lowers blood pressure. Benson has studied the positive benefits of mind-body medicine and actually proves the benefits of such an approach to overall health and well-being in his book. The book also provides information on different types of meditation and explains how to meditate.
Spirit Babies by Walter Makichen
Written by a clairvoyant and medium, the author offers suggestions on how to create a warm environment for your future baby so that he or she feels nurtured and welcome. The book discusses how babies’ spirits exist long before their actual physical existence and provides guidance to anyone interested in communicating with his/her spirit baby. As abstract as these ideas may sound, there is some practical advice that you may consider whether or not you believe in Makichen’s spiritual theories. For example, one section simply discusses the importance of making space for a baby and encourages couples to de-clutter (in a physical and mental sense) in preparation for their baby’s conception.
29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker
Walker discusses the importance of giving in order to nurture our souls. In the midst of a health crisis in which Walker was unable to physically function, Cami’s spiritual guide gave her a prescription which was to complete one act of giving for 29 consecutive days. The results were profound for Walker and her story is uplifting.
The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
In this novel, a boy named Santiago goes on a journey that indirectly leads him to his ultimate goal. His journey, however, is not so much about when he will achieve his personal legend as much as it is about the lessons he learns along the way. For example, the boy learns to listen to his conscience and to recognize omens, or messages the universe is sends to us. Most importantly, Santiago learns that while there may be challenges along the way, he must follow his personal legend through to its conclusion. If you need a bit of encouragement, this is definitely the book to read.
parenthoodforme.org – Two adoptive parents, Erica Walther Sclhaefer and A.J. Schlaefer, founded this nonprofit organization which provides emotional support to couples dealing with infertility. This organization also fundraises in order to provide grants to those who are either adopting or going through advanced reproductive treatment. Approximately $12, 000.00 was awarded in 2010 to those seeking assistance.
parenthoodforme.blogspot.com – Erica Walther Schaefer, founder of Parenthood for Me Inc., shares her personal perspective on dealing with infertility and blogs about her journey as an adoptive mother. This website also contains links to other helpful websites.
fertilityauthority.com – This website contains detailed information on everything from the specifics of IVF to various personal blogs. After our cancelled IVF cycle, this website was one of the few that answered some of my most specific questions. This website also offers some comic relief including a blog under the Community Clair section titled 999 Reasons to Laugh at Infertility.
resolve.org – Resolve, a nonprofit organization which strives to bring recognition and services to the needs of couples struggling with infertility offers this online community for women and men dealing with such challenges. This website offers support in the form of tele-seminars, various educational programs and personal blogs. Additionally, this website offers advocacy opportunities at both the state and federal level in order to foster policy changes that will positively affect fertility patients.
http://kristenmagnacca.com/books/ – This website contains information on Kristen Magnacca’s books and CDs. You can also access Kristen’s blog and find information on her workshops. Additionally, her website provides fresh strategies effectively balancing life during fertility treatments. Kristen does offer tele-workshops as well so be sure to sign up for her newsletters so you can be informed on opportunities to hear about infertility challenges from someone who has been there!
cnyfertility.com – CNY’s website offers information on everything from embryo adoption and IVF to nutrition and acupuncture.
Alternative Treatments and Options
MAYA Abdominal Massage
A Time-Honored Alternative: Mayan Abdominal Massage, by Jill DeDominicis,
This article discusses how MAM helps treat infertility and other issues (irregular menstrual cycles, ovarian cysts, digestion, headaches, etc.) by “addressing and removing blockages in the abdominal area for better chi flow throughout the body.” MAM also works to correctly position the uterus to ensure there is more blood flow to the area and enhances circulation to the ovaries and fallopian tubes. If you have been told you have a tipped uterus, MAM also addresses this issue, which may indirectly impair fertility.
Additionally, MAM flushes toxins from the body aids in digestion and helps restore hormonal balance. (See www.arvigomassage.com for additional information.)
A Basic Definition and Discussion of the Technicalities, based on an interview with Heather Smith LAc,
The purpose of acupuncture is to balance the body’s flow of energy, which acupuncturists refer to as Qi, and is pronounced Chi. To do this, a variety of fine (oftentimes no thicker than a strand of hair) needles are inserted into a series of points on the meridians of the body. Acupuncture is used to treat many health-related issues, including infertility because it may increase the flow of blood to the uterus, which can help thicken the uterine lining. Additionally, acupuncture can assist in regulating the body’s hormones and often creates a sense of well-being and relaxation for patients. It is important to remember, however, that acupuncture requires commitment. Although some women see results within one to two months, the benefits of acupuncture may not be as immediate for each person.
Keeping in mind that each woman’s journey to fertility is unique, selecting an acupuncturist who specializes in fertility is essential. Just as you would see a cardiologist to treat a heart condition, you should see a fertility acupuncturist to assist you in regulating your cycle and achieving a pregnancy.