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Posts Tagged ‘infertility oakland support’

Is your infertility causing you stress? If so, read this article to find out what you can do to help reduce your stress.

We all know that infertility is stressful. Research suggests stress makes you less likely to conceive. Additionally, research has determined that the major reason for dropping out of fertility treatment is not finances, diagnosis, or prognosis, but stress.

Conversely, studies report stress reduction groups not only decrease depression and anxiety, but also result in significantly higher pregnancy rates. For example, in a study by Alice Domar, Ph.D. (Domar et al. 2000) of 184 women, there was a 55% pregnancy rate for the Mind-body fertility group compared to a 20% pregnancy rate for the control group. Managing stress enables you to make the best choices possible, stay the course of treatment, remain open to all family building options, and realize your dream of parenthood.

Our minds have the power to influence our health both physically and emotionally. Emotions represent physiological states that affect our bodies and our physical health in the same way as exercise, diabetes, or asthma. Stress reduction through the practice of mindfulness, or moment-to moment non-judgmental awareness, is now a vital component of medical treatment for a wide range of health challenges.

Discussing how the stress of infertility is affecting your life and receiving support and coping skills can help lead the way through this difficult journey. If you are interested in receiving further support and you are in the Oakland area contact me about getting into one of our support groups.  amoreena@gmail.com

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What to expect from infertility counseling from me, whether it is in a group , individual, or through couples counseling.

Individuals and couples with infertility often contemplate whether to seek counseling.  Some approach this decision with ease, but many others have questions about what is involved in a counseling relationship. In today’s blog, I will offer an inside view on the beliefs that have guided my counseling experiences with my infertile clients.

In my own experience, my first contact with a client usually is in a telephone conversation. On the telephone I try to learn how the prospective client (almost always a woman) defines the problem(s) she wants to work on; what her partner’s feelings are about being involved in counseling; whether she or her partner has ever been involved in counseling before; at what stage of diagnosis/treatment they are; and where they are currently getting medical intervention. I then offer a bit of information about myself, including possible appointment times that I have available; fees and insurance coverage information; and my office location. I also ask whether she has any questions that she would like to ask me before we meet. Then we set a date and time for the appointment or when the next support group is that is appropriate for her to join. Not all clients are ready for a support group and not all groups are appropriate for everyone.  Some groups have a specific focus and others are more open format.

So here are some things that are typical of my first meeting with my new clients. It is not unusual for the person with whom I have spoken on the telephone to take the lead in introducing me to her partner and in saying something along the lines of “I think I’m going crazy!” or “I don’t know how much more stress I can take.” And my response to that introduction is usually to point to my nearby box of tissues and to say that being upset comes with the territory of infertility. I also try to work in something about the courage it takes to begin a relationship with a counselor, since getting help will involve talking about difficult issues.

I ask both of them if they are comfortable with my taking notes as we speak, since I want to be sure to remember accurately how they portray their situations. And then I say that in my experience, each of them may have their own unique “take” on their infertility, so I will be encouraging both of them to clarify for me the dimensions of this experience that are important to them. This also opens the door for them to see each other’s perspective and to learn how important it may be to keep both perspectives on the table. It is here that I say to the partner of the telephone caller how much I appreciate his/her coming to this meeting, and how much I believe that person’s presence can help all of us to move forward in working on the issues connected with their infertility.

With those introductory remarks, I remind all of us that we have work to do, that our session will end in “X” minutes (I meet with clients for 50 minute sessions), and I encourage them to tell me how they hope I can be of help. I am careful to have both members of the couple speak about their own perspectives and to summarize my impressions of what seem to be the most pressing issues. I am interested in knowing how the couple has already tried to address their challenges and what successes and difficulties they have encountered. That will more than fill up the first session, and probably will spill over into subsequent sessions as well. Before ending, I ask the couple how they are feeling about the time we spent together today, whether they would like to return and, if so, whether this is a good time for regular future appointments, and whether I can look forward to having both of them at subsequent sessions. I tell them that after a few sessions I should be able to give them some idea of how many meetings we may need in order to address their concerns, and I express my appreciation for their openness in sharing with me today the challenges they are facing. I ask if they have any questions for me, which I try to answer as succinctly as I can.

I do not think of myself as a therapist who lets my clients entirely drive the counseling process. I tend to be fairly interactive in offering feedback to clients on their skills and resources. I am respectful of the social work edict “Start where the client is and stay with him/her.” To me this means that I should be respectful of where my clients want to focus, but it doesn’t prevent me from testing whether they are ready to be pushed to new places. If they have had an infertility intervention for months that isn’t working, I am likely to push them to ask their physician to make a plan with them that includes how long to continue with one intervention before moving on to a different one. If they have spent many dollars and many years on infertility treatment, I may revisit an earlier statement that they won’t consider adoption or a surrogate, by asking if they would consider collecting information about either of their previously rejected options. If I see areas of difficulty on which they have not asked for my help, I may make an observation that such-and-such an issue seems to be an “elephant in the room,” and I am wondering whether there is a reason they haven’t felt ready to examine it. So, even as I try to stay apace with my clients’ issues, I also push and prod a bit, just to see whether new growth and resilience enables them to feel resilient enough to consider new directions. If not, I step back, and I am not surprised when, weeks later, they may raise the question of the proverbial elephant for future examination.

So, for those of you who are contemplating seeking counseling for any of your infertility issues, I hope that my own disclosures about the way I think of the counseling experience will help you in your own interactions with a therapist. Keep in mind that not everyone shares my perspective that client partners are the first choice when providing counseling, nor that the families of the couple may be the “elephants in the room,” nor that the therapist takes as active a role as I do, nor that assertive behavior with health care providers is a place for therapeutic intervention. But all therapists should be able to be clear with you about areas in which they can offer new knowledge and skills, how they observe confidentiality, and their comfort with the ever-so-present issues of loss and mis-communication.

Source: Connie Shapiro, PhD

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FRIDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) — A new study contradicts the conventional wisdom about a common condition called primary ovarian insufficiency that can cause infertility in young women.

Even though the condition causes symptoms similar to those experienced by women during menopause, researchers found that females still have immature eggs in their ovaries.

The findings raise “the possibility of developing treatments for the infertility that accompanies the condition,” Dr. Alan E. Guttmacher, acting director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said in a news release from the NIH.

An estimated 1 percent of women develop primary ovarian insufficiency, also known as premature ovarian failure, by the time they turn 40. They experience hot flashes and stop having regular menstrual periods, although hormone treatment can treat the symptoms in some cases.

Most women with the condition are infertile, although even after the diagnosis, up to 10 percent become pregnant unexpectedly.

In the new study, researchers Dr. Lawrence M. Nelson of the NICHD and his colleagues used ultrasound to assess the growth process of the women’s follicles — small sacs in the ovary that become eggs. The researchers were surprised to find that 73 percent of 97 women with primary ovarian insufficiency had ovarian follicles. In addition, they found that the follicles could produce reproductive hormones.

The findings appear online April 26 in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

SOURCE: National Institutes of Health, press release, April 26, 2010

Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Are you letting this “infertility” battle take control of your life and ruin it? Are you losing sleep over your fertility issues and withdrawing from life?  Don’t worry, I have been there too. 

There so many people who may not know if they are infertile. However, chances are high that if you have had some problems getting pregnant, then thoughts of whether you can really conceive and give birth to a child must have crossed your mind, at least at some point in your life. You will surely question why, or what’s wrong and wonder whether you could be infertile.

You ask, yourself what the signs of infertility may be or think I am over 35 and my odds are going against me. Time is running out!  You begin to think that your dreams of having children may never happen. Your emotions can really get to its worst and then you become desperate, mad, totally stressed out and go into despair. For God’s sake, don’t let that happen to you! If you think that you are infertile, what you should do is try to learn everything you can on this subject.  The trick is to not let this consume you and ruin your life. Easier said then done, right. Not really, only if you “think” it is too hard will it be.

In my Oakland bi-weekly “fertility” group we are working on “letting go” and to not continue to focus on what we are lacking but more on what we have now, today.  All we have is today and if we are in our heads about tomorrow or yesterday then we are missing the beauty of life today.  I truly believe that being mindful during this process is the key to being able to handle it and successfully getting pregnant.  But you need to come to a place where you are okay with either way it works out. You don’t “need” a child, you only “want” one…that is the goal that I want the women in my group to walk away remembering.  I am a licensed MFT therapist in the East Bay area who has been practice since 2000 and have had a personal journey with fertility issues.  Trust me, I get it. 

If you are interested in more information about this topic, individual therpay, or our groups, please contact Amoreena Berg at 650-224-1796 or email amoreena@gmail.comwww.amoreenabergmft.com

Baby Dust to you all in 2010!

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My practice is fortunate enough to be in a holistic wellness center that has wonderful practioners of all types.  Because of this I am able to offer unique packages to my clients at reduced rates.  Currently I am running a great special on first time clients with an intial consult for 1.5 hrs and a 30 minute massage (by a professional massage therapist) following our appointment!! This package is $130!  Ongoing massages from any of the therapists will be discounted if you are a client of mine.  So take advantage of this opportunity.

There are a variety of ways to relieve stress, depression, and anxiety. Traditionally talk therapy is extremely helpful, but along with other modalities the recovery rate is much higher.  I believe in treating the body as a whole instead of parts which is why I practice at a center that offers all these options.  If you are interested give me a call or email at 650-224-1796 or amoreena@gmail.com.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thyroid has a lot to do with our fertility and ovulation.  I have posted some information here regarding the variety of thyroid conditions.  This is a standard test that should be done to rule out this possibility, however there is a thyroid antibody test that is rarely done.  I myself am someone who has been affected by this condition. It has taken me almost 3 years and 2 miscarriages to figure this out.  I just happen to ask about getting my thyroid antibody test done and it came back positive.  So do your research and ask for all the tests, you never know!  This is the last place I suspected to find the answers.

Hyperthyroidism – or having an overactive thyroid gland – can pose special concerns during pregnancy. When the body delivers too much thyroid hormone, both the mother and the baby can suffer. Miscarriages, premature births, and intrauterine growth retardation can occur when the disorder goes undiagnosed or untreated. Pregnant women with hyperthyroidism can also develop high blood pressure, and are at greater risk of heart conditions.

While a thyroid condition can sometimes complicate the process of getting – or staying – pregnant, the good news is that when your disease is properly managed, most of you with thyroid conditions — whether hypothyroid or hyperthyroid — can have a safe, uneventful pregnancy and delivery. Taking your medications, keeping your thyroid levels — including TSH and T4 — under control, getting regular care with a specialist familiar with treating pregnant thyroid patients, and taking charge of your own health appears to be key to a successful outcome.

In some cases, pregnancy can actually lessen the symptoms of thyroid disease, and you may be one of the many women who enjoy a nine-month respite from some of the undesirable effects of thyroid conditions.

If I could urge women with thyroid disease who are contemplating pregnancy to do one thing, it would be to become educated about how thyroid dysfunction can affect fertility and pregnancy – and what to do about it. Read all you can, ask questions, and urge your doctors to perform the necessary blood tests to keep your levels in check.

Will my thyroid disease hamper my ability to get pregnant?

Sometimes – but certainly not always – thyroid disease can affect your fertility. According to Dr. Sheldon Rubenfeld, a practicing thyroidologist, and Founding Chairman of the Thyroid Society for Education and Research, fairly common problems caused by thyroid dysfunction are anovulation (no ovulation, or release of an egg) and menstrual irregularities. With no egg to fertilize, conception is impossible.

Thyroid dysfunction can halt ovulation by upsetting the balance of the body’s natural reproductive hormones. One way to tell if you’re ovulating is to test the level of a pituitary hormone called LH (or luteinizing hormone) by using an ovulation predictor kit. LH stimulates the ovaries to release an egg. The kit will show you if you have that surge in LH that indicates ovulation. If there is too much or too little thyroid hormone, ovulation might not occur. Remember…even though you may be menstruating regularly, you may not be ovulating – and may never know that fact until after years of infertility.

In addition, some women experience a short luteal phase. The luteal phase is the timeframe between ovulation and onset of menstruation. The luteal phase needs to be of sufficient duration — a normal luteal phase is approximately 13 to 15 days — to nurture a fertilized egg. A shortened luteal phase can cause what appears to be infertility, but is in fact failure to sustain a fertilized egg, with loss of the very early pregnancy at around the same time as menstruation would typically begin.

Dr. Rubenfeld said that “the mechanisms by which thyroid problems interfere with fertility are often unknown, but there is no question that other aspects of thyroid function affect fertility.” For example, Dr. Rubenfeld said that hypothyroidism can cause an increase in prolactin, the hormone produced by the pituitary gland that induces and maintains the production of breast milk in a post-partum woman. Excess prolactin has a negative effect on fertility – sometimes preventing ovulation, or sometimes causing irregular or absent monthly cycles.

The increase in prolactin may be caused by an elevation of a hormone from the hypothalamus called TRH (or thyrotropin releasing hormone) that stimulates the pituitary gland to send out both prolactin and TSH.

Some women with hypothyroidism also have polycystic ovaries, or cysts on the ovaries, which hamper ovulation and can cause fertility problems as well.

This all sounds pretty grim. Should I even bother trying? What can I do to maximize my chances of getting pregnant?

Yes, you should bother trying – there are many, many success stories (I happen to be one of them, as it only took a few months to get pregnant with my daughter). You shouldn’t go into this thinking it’s going to be a long, arduous process. But attempting pregnancy with a thyroid condition may require a little preparation.

First of all, talk to your doctor about when you should attempt conception. Many doctors think TSH levels of 3, 4, or even 5 may acceptable to try to get pregnant. But research suggests otherwise. In 1994, a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism looked at pregnant women with thyroid antibodies and TSH in the normal range. The study found that women with autoimmune thyroid disease had TSH values significantly higher, though still normal, in the first trimester than in women with healthy pregnancies used as controls.

The higher TSH level of the women with autoimmune thyroid disease? 1.6.

The normal TSH level for the control group of pregnant woman without autoimmune thyroid disease? 0.9. A TSH of .9 is a far cry from the so-called “normal” TSH levels of 3 or 4 or 5 that some doctors feel are no impediment whatsoever to getting — or staying — pregnant.

My endocrinologist at the time I was trying to get pregnant believed very firmly that most women with a thyroid problem should be maintained at a TSH level of between 1 and 2 in order to help them get pregnant — and maintain the pregnancy.

Second, ascertain whether you’re ovulating. An excellent, empowering book is Toni Wechsler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility.. You can learn how to use basal temperature and other fertility signs to chart your monthly hormonal cycle. You can also use an over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits, available for around $10 at the drugstore, to confirm ovulation. Or the more expensive ovulation predictor electronic devices can also be used.

What if I can’t get pregnant, but my thyroid tests “normal?” Or what if I test positive for “antibodies?”

Some women who have fertility problems actually have underlying autoimmune thyroid problems, but they and their doctors are not aware. If you or someone you know is having difficulty getting pregnant, or is suffering recurrent miscarriage, thyroid antibodies should be tested.

Many doctors do not appear to know about this link between antibodies and infertility, yet it is published in conventional research journals. The respected journal Obstetrics & Gynecology reported that the presence of antithyroid antibodies increases the risk of miscarriage. And according to U.S. research reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, that risk of miscarriage can be twice as high for women who have antithyroid antibodies.

Researchers have also demonstrated that antithyroid antibodies can cause greater difficulty conceiving after in vitro fertilization, regardless of whether or not there are clinical symptoms of hypothyroidism. The researchers had greater success in achieving successful pregnancies when they gave low doses of heparin (an anti blood clotting agent) and aspirin and/or intravenous immunoglobulin G (IVIG) to women who had antithyroid antibodies.

Thyroid INFO by Mary Shomon

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Our first support group for women going through infertility issues is starting November 21 from 12-1pm.  That is a Saturday and this group will meet bi-weekly for 6 sessions.  My goal is for this group to be a safe supportive environment for you to be able to express yourself as well as learn mindfulness tools to help cope through your journey.  Women in all phases of the infertility process are welcome, whether you are doing natural, IUI, IVF, or deciding what is next we would love for you to join us.  We are meeting at the Integrative Women’s Health Center in Oakland, 3300 Webster Street. If you would like more information please email or call me, 650-224-1796 amoreena@gmail.com.

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