Dealing with Infertility – Diagnosis & Support

The guidelines state you should seek the advice of a specialist if you are under 35 and have had unprotected intercourse for 12 months without a pregnancy. However, if you are over 35, you should only wait 6 months to seek the advice of an infertility treatment specialist. If you believe you have ovulation or hormone issues, or any other health factors affecting you or your partner, you should discuss these health issues with your physician immediately. A specialist in the field of infertility is called a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Your physician can refer you to a specialist, or you can find one on www.resolve.org. There can be many reasons for infertility. Basic tests will be performed on both the woman and man to reach a diagnosis and course of treatment. Ask questions, research your options, and get a second opinion if you are not comfortable with the information your medical team is providing.

Your feelings are completely normal. Protecting yourself is a basic human response, as it can be painful to see pregnant friends and children. It is important to learn how to take care of yourself, make sure you that get the support you need, and to manage your emotions so that your self-esteem and outlook on life remains as positive as possible.

To avoid feelings of isolation, talk to others going through infertility either via a support group model, or online via a discussion board. This connection will give you a community that cares and help you cope with the emotions of infertility. If you are depressed or have an overwhelming feeling of loss or sadness, you may want to seek the help of a trained, mental health professional. Organizations like RESOLVE can help you find one close to you.

Health insurance guarantees that an individual will not have to bear the entire burden of his/her healthcare expenses. But in the case of infertility, the majority of patients bear the responsibility of covering the costs of treatment due to lack of insurance coverage. Insurance policies vary widely and may even differ from employer to employer from the same insurer. It is important to thoroughly review and seek clarification about the provisions of a particular plan — paying specific attention to covered benefits, exclusions and restrictions — ,as they relate to reproductive health services and infertility diagnosis and treatment.

In order to get accurate information, your health plan administrator should provide you with a copy of your plan's Summary Plan Description (SPD). It outlines your benefits, covered services and your legal rights under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the federal law that protects your health benefits. A few states do have insurance mandates for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. Visit www.resolve.org to find out if your state has mandated coverage and if you qualify for this coverage.

Perhaps one of the most important benefits of participating in an infertility support group, is a decreased sense of the isolation so many people feel when they are experiencing infertility. In a support group environment, feelings of anger, depression, guilt and anxiety can be expressed, validated by others and accepted as a normal response to the infertility crisis. Support group members often realize how their experiences in the group have created a special bond and identity between group members. By sharing feelings, accomplishments, losses, and humor known only to those who experience infertility, members can develop strong emotional ties to one another.

By offering a safe place to express and explore the feelings generated by the infertility experience, support groups help participants move toward a positive resolution of this difficult life crisis.