Infertility Awareness Week 2015

May 19-28, 2015, is Canadian Infertility Awareness Week (CIAW). This important week  is a time for those who have experienced infertility, their doctors, friends and family to come together and show support for others who are struggling with fertility through conversation and open dialogue. It also provides an opportunity to educate the general public on matters of fertility health and the prevalence of infertility in our society.

In the past few days, it has been extremely encouraging to see the willingness of people to speak candidly about their infertility journeys, as well as the media’s desire to listen and share these stories across the country. We are proud to be a part of this discussion, and sincerely hope that by speaking out and sharing knowledge we will be able to reach anyone who has questions, concerns or hesitations about their own fertility.

We would like to say a special thank-you to patients, past and present, who volunteered to talk about their journey with media; this is a brave thing to do and we are certain that your openness will inspire and provide strength to others. We would also like to thank the various media outlets we spoke with who helped shine a light on this growing awareness movement.

As Canadian Infertility Awareness Week draws to a close, there is one more story we would like to share: Anna’s story. Anna is a young woman who chose to take control of her fertility future when she was met with an unexpected challenge. We hope her story inspires and provides hope to others walking in her shoes:

How Couples Can Support One Another Through the Infertility Experience: Part Two

This is part two of our “How Couples Can Support One Another Through the Infertility Experience series. For part one, please click here.

How Couples Can Support One Another Through the Infertility Experience

By: Holly Yager, M.Ed., RCC, CCC
Well Woman Counselling, Vancouver, B.C.

Increase Intimacy

One of the dangers of a life that is overly fertility-focused is that of intimacy — both the emotional and the sexual kind — can become depleted. If you have been trying to conceive for any length of time, you are likely familiar with the concept of ‘sex on demand’ or doctor-prescribed sex, where intercourse is planned and takes place even when the couple is not ‘in the mood’. Sex can feel like work! If you are using fertility medications, the pressure can really be on to perform on-demand. And if you are using in vitro fertilization (IVF), some couples just say ‘why bother’ with sex?

You can keep the romance and spontaneity alive during the infertility journey by making an effort to connect sexually not just to conceive, but also on non-fertile days. This allows sex to become less about a ‘means to an end’ and more about the experience. The key here is to connect purely for the sake of pleasure.

Read more

Wellness Wednesday: How Couples Can Support One Another Through the Infertility Experience: Part One

This is part one of two blog posts that detail how couples can support each other during infertility. Part two will be posted on September 24, 2014.

How Couples Can Support One Another Through the Infertility Experience

By: Holly Yager, M.Ed., RCC, CCC
Well Woman Counselling, Vancouver, B.C.

Infertility has been described by many couples as one of the most stressful times in their lives. In fact, infertility has been reported to be just as distressing as a diagnosis of a terminal illness or the loss of a loved one. It is an experience that can affect nearly all aspects of life – health, emotional well-being, career plans, finances, and relationships.

Many couples notice that infertility changes their relationship… but these changes do not have to be for the worse! You can get through infertility with a stronger, more solid relationship by knowing how to support one another through the most common infertility experiences.

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Wellness Wednesday: Stress and Infertility – Coping with IVF treatment

Massage and acupuncture can be great forms of release from IVF stress.

Massage and acupuncture can be great forms of stress release.

Susan Lockhart, PhD, MBA, BScN
Director Clinical Operations
Genesis Fertility Centre 

Two weeks ago we discussed stress and infertility. Stress has never conclusively been shown to have a negative impact on the outcome of infertility treatment. However, everyone has experienced stress in their lives and can relate to its negative impact on quality of life. In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment undoubtedly adds to whatever stress one is already experiencing. As you approach that first day of IVF treatment so many questions are swirling in your head: Can I manage the injections? How will I feel during treatment? Will it work? Then, as treatment progresses and more monitoring  is done: What will my hormone levels be today? Are my ovaries responding? Will I get to egg retrieval? There are also some physical symptoms that may add to stress levels. For example, some women experience breast tenderness, bloating and headaches. There can also be unpredictable mood swings.

How do you cope with all of this? There actually are several ways to minimize stress experienced during IVF treatment, and , everyone is different in what works for them. The Infertility Awareness Association of Canada provides information on resources such as support groups and counseling.  The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has a patient education website  which has information on stress and infertility. There are also a number of books on the topic of stress reduction. One example is Hopeful Heart, Peaceful Mind: Managing Infertility by Carol Fulwiler Jones.

Here at Genesis, a one hour session with a qualified psychological counselor is available with each IVF cycle. The Genesis nursing team is also experienced in providing support for patients during their entire treatment experience.

There are more holistic ways of coping with stress as well.  Some people find acupuncture and massage therapy helpful during their IVF treatment. Examples of Vancouver based clinics can be found at and . Simple things like listening to relaxing music or journaling can also help to reduce stress. Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with a best seller like Lori-Shandle Fox who journalled her infertility experience and wrote Laughing is Conceivable as a result! This may be a bit counter intuitive but aerobic exercise during treatment is very helpful during infertility treatment. Walking (not running) is a great way to “burn off” stress.

Do you have a stress reducing strategy that helps you? Please share with our readers!


Wellness Wednesday: Female Sexuality and Infertility

By: Susan Lockhart, PhD, MBA, BScN and Director of Clinical Operations at Genesis Fertility Centre

Infertility can have an impact on female sexuality.

Infertility can have an impact on female sexuality.

Female sexuality is influenced by multiple factors: culture, religion, ethics, and individual personality traits all contribute. There are numerous scientific reports regarding how female sexuality is affected by the impact of cancer, surgeries such as hysterectomies, and menopause. But what about infertility? Research findings report the impact of infertility on sexuality for women can result  in decrease of sexual arousal, loss of desire for sexual activity, and negative feelings experienced during sex. In clinical practice, women experiencing infertility report that sex has become an activity with a purpose rather than a pleasure. A woman’s sexuality is particularly affected during investigation, diagnosis and treatment of infertility. For women and their partners fertility treatments can create feelings of intense invasion of sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as loss of control.

So, if you are experiencing issues related to your sexuality, what can you do? There are many benefits of sexual activity related to your well being:  heightened emotional awareness, increased immunity, and analgesic effects have all been reported in the literature. Increased self esteem and self  worth have also been noted as benefits of positive sexual relationships. Sexual healing can begin with you and your sexual partner. Renewed intimacy can happen by something as simple as pretending you are dating again. This can help by reintroducing romance to your relationship. Exploring tantric sex or other similar sexual techniques  can recreate sexual activity as a pleasure rather than a function.

There is also professional help available. Medical intervention may be helpful for vaginal dryness or painful intercourse. Whereas, psychological intervention can help with loss of sexual desire or negative thoughts during sexual activity. Organizations such as IAAC (Infertility Awareness Association of Canada) and Resolve provide support for those experiencing infertility.  Don’t be afraid to seek help and support.  If infertility has negatively impacted your  sexuality, you are not alone!


Infertility Does Not Discriminate; Why Should We?

By: Dr. Sonya Kashyap

Evelina Zachariou, Infertility Does Not Discriminate; Why Should We?

Infertility Does Not Discriminate; Why Should We? (Photo Credit: Evelina Zachariou; Flickr)

The comments published on May 12’s edition of the National Post with regards to “Pregnancy is a want, not a need,” were very disheartening to read. I understand that the opinions in the article are not meant to be hurtful, but as a fertility doctor, I would like to bring to light that infertility is not a choice, much like many other medical conditions that public health care treats on a regular basis.

Read more

National Adoption Month

There are lots of ways to have children in your life. One way is through adoption. November is National Adoption Month. There are three main ways couples find children to adopt:

1. Adopt a foster child. These children are often over the age of 4 and have special social or medical needs. These children are referred to as “waiting children,” a term which breaks my heart to even type. The BC Ministry of Children and Family Development has information on these children on their website.

2. Adopt a local infant. The BC local infant adoption program helps couples who decide while pregnant or soon after, that they are unable to care for their child and wish to place the children for adoption. To enter this program you must use an adoption agency licensed in BC, of which there are four.

3. International adoption. Countries like China, Korea, Vietnam, and others allow Canadians who meet certain criteria to adopt children. Like local infant adoptions, these adoptions are arranged by one of the four licensed BC adoption agencies.

A good place to start if you are considering adoption is the Adoptive Families Association of BC website.


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