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How Would You Cope With Failed IVF?

It is often not easy for us to face up to and deal with negative emotions. One’s emotional state is made worse when the subconscious mind (which stores all memories and experiences – remembering everything that has happened) comes into play without the conscious mind being aware.



Failed IVF

A failed IVF cycle isn’t uncommon – but how do you cope with it?

When deciding to start a family the majority of couples take it for granted that conception will happen naturally. It is, therefore, worrying that the number of people seeking treatment for infertility has dramatically increased. In the UK this is evidenced by a rise in the number of IVF cycles undertaken, with more cycles than ever in 2013, according to a report released in December 2014, by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). Disappointingly HFEA also reported that the overall success rate remains unchanged at 25%, or, put another way, 75% of IVF cycles fail.

For this reason, doctors can often recommend that couples invest in three rounds of treatments in order to maximise their chances of IVF success. This article offers ways you can optimise your chances in a cycle and emotionally recover from any failed IVF attempts.

For couples experiencing the devastation of finding out that they have infertility issues, their route to parenthood often suddenly changes from a beautiful dream to an exhausting round of tests and appointments. Having decided to undergo IVF, the reality is that couples are then set on a path of highs and lows during their treatment cycle.

The anxiety people undergo when waiting for the results of the treatment is often difficult and stressful, then to discover that the cycle has failed brings an enormous sense of loss and frustration. Couples have described their experience as one of immense grief. They were grieving for the potential of a baby lost, and, at the same time, enduring the disappointment that they are not going to be a parent or growing family unit.

This can bring a lot of stress to couples who are left suffering a range of negative emotions including anger, depression, anxiety, and feelings of worthlessness. The relationships between the individuals involved, as well as with friends and family members can suffer and lead to feelings of isolation. For women, excessive stress can result in ovulation being disrupted or stopping altogether. This is a clear example of how mental state has a distinct physical effect on the body.

It is often not easy for us to face up to and deal with negative emotions. One’s emotional state is made worse when the subconscious mind (which stores all memories and experiences – remembering everything that has happened) comes into play without the conscious mind being aware.

Although the sub-conscious mind is simply there to protect, it does so by consciously highlighting that if IVF failed before then it is best to avoid the pain and not go through it again as it will not work. This thought patterning results in mixed feelings when it comes to the question “What to do next after IVF has failed?” While the conscious mind is willing to keep trying, the sub-conscious does not want to pursue more pain and IVF failure so, therefore, chooses to oppose the idea. This bifurcated emotional state, with the subsequent impact on the physical body, thus reduces the chances of a successful conception. Despite being able to appreciate the protective mechanism of the sub-conscious mind, it is easy to see how it also plays a destructive role by creating disorder within the mind and body.

What to do next after IVF has failed?

Step 1 – “Sit in Grief.”
Do not suppress or try to fast-forward this process.

Do this by taking time to sit in meditation (even if this is something new for you), just create a space where you will not be interrupted or feel restricted by your clothing. Simply sit in a peaceful area (out in nature or in your home) where you can be comfortable with your back supported.

  1. Bring your awareness to where you are feeling the grief in your body. It is energetically stored in your lungs so it would be helpful if you can begin gently lengthening your breath.
  2. Get in touch with your emotions by sitting with them, reassuring yourself “It is okay and natural to feel this way”.
  3. After recognising them, breathe them out of the body

If the time is not taken to grieve and deal with the trauma, the feelings won’t go away. Instead, they can grow to dominate every aspect of life.

Step 2 – “Create a Refreshed Mindset.”
Prior to next attempting IVF, assisted or natural fertility a refreshed mindset can be created when control of the subconscious mind is regained.

By taking control and eliminating the negativity, it becomes easier to think more clearly, be more focused and be able to make positive decisions about the fertility journey.

Mind mastery techniques can help to change the control that the mind has of the body. This allows people to manage the impact of stress more effectively, as well as enhance their physiology. Mind mastery will typically consist of one, or more of the following:

Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness is often taken from Daoist, Buddhist and yogic philosophies. It provides a way of paying attention to and seeing clearly what is really going on in one’s life by removing the chains we attach to the false patterns of beliefs and emotions of the subconscious mind. It helps to recognise and then step away from these emotional and physiological conditioned reactions to events. Practicing mindfulness allows one to be fully present in their life, relationships and work as such improving the entire quality of existence through enhanced self-awareness.

Meditation, simply put, involves focusing the mind in a way that promotes the ability and intention to reflect, contemplate or quiet the mind. It results in improved health, wellbeing and ability to deal with stress and trauma.

Mind Detox Exercises
By exploring belief systems, it is possible to re-shape negative cellular memory and thought patterns. In doing so one can regain control and powerfully think themselves fertile.

Step 3 – “Implement Lifestyle Changes.”
When implementing a new fertile lifestyle it tells the brain that a new strategy is being introduced and it can, therefore, expect to have a better outcome.

Lifestyle changes can include the introduction of new stress management techniques as well as embrace fertility yoga. According to Fiona Kacz-Boulton, founder of Awakening Fertility, a wonderful relaxation tip offered to her clients as a quick and easy way to reduce stress and prepare the mind for meditation is the “7’s Breath”.

The “7’s Breath”
The “7’s Breath” is a technique whereby you breathe very, very gently, quietly and slowly to the count of 7. That is, 7 seconds on the inhale and 7 seconds on the exhale. If you breathe too fast you will find it difficult to reach a 7 second breath. If you are not used to yogic breathing you can start with 5 second breathing for 7 rounds until you can build up to 7 seconds.

The key is to focus completely on the breath. No future thoughts, no past thoughts, just be present and mindful of how the breath moves the body: how it inflates all four sides of the ribcage and gently fills the abdomen, then you feel all the breath leave so it naturally contracts the abdomen. This abdominal lock recharges your body’s energy reserve as well as brings about a sense of calm and empowerment.

This breath not only helps to restore fertility, by activating the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, it will help you stay calm and keep your body in a harmonious state, thereby optimizing your chances for your next round of IVF treatment too.

Yoga for Infertility
When the body holds stress, tension or fears it blocks the vital life force energy (called “Qi”) from flowing efficiently. In turn, blocked Qi means circulation is inhibited. When circulation is effected it means blood is unable to carry the nutrients to all the cells for optimum health. The sacral band (which governs digestion and the female reproductive system) is the area most impacted by lack of blood flow and circulation as, when you are stressed, all the blood moves to the extremities. As a result, your digestive system and the reproductive system will suffer.

Step 4 – “Fertility Food: Detox and Reboot”

When the body has suffered the effects of increased hormones, medical intervention and the emotional trauma that a failed IVF treatment may bring, food can be the best medicine to assist in the physical healing process. To quote Hippocrates “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Implementing a mini detox can help you feel completely refreshed. Juice detoxes are popular, so too are MSM (organic food grade sulphur) cleanses or try an easy to follow “Awakening Fertility Morning Detox.”

Awakening Fertility Morning Detox
Every morning squeeze yourself some organic lemon juice, mix with warm water, a dessert spoonful of apple cider vinegar and honey.

Follow with a freshly made raw fruit and vegetable smoothie that can be sipped throughout the morning. Adding SuperFoods to the smoothie is essential so as to feed the body Vitamain C, antioxidants and other nutrient dense foods that keep it functioning optimally, improving egg quality and energy levels.

Foods for Fertility
What one eats is as important as exercising the body and mind. As part of a complementary mind-body detox, it is best to review eating habits.

Here is some food for thought, courtesy of Fertility expert Fiona Kacz-Boulton.

5 Top Fertility Foods That Nature Has Created For You To Easily Remember

  1. Avocados – Shaped like the womb and take 9 months to develop. The Aztecs called avocado trees “Ahuacatl” (testicle trees) because the fruits grow in pairs. Avocados are therefore beneficial to male and female fertility
  2. Figs – Grow in pairs, look like testicles and are full of zinc to help with sperm function
  3. Bananas – Help with erections
  4. Raspberries – Resemble nipples and help improve cardiovascular health as well as reduce inflammation (essential for mothers-to-be)
  5. Coconut oil – Keeps everything lubricated and running smoothly

The Post-IVF Road to Recovery: Feeling Safe to Continue Down the Fertility Path
By establishing a physical, mental and emotional recovery plan, the above life-changing steps have been designed as the blueprints for a new fertile foundation. These tried and tested strategies can help to build a stronger and more powerful sense of hope and confidence required for the journey.

Additionally, to help overcome the distress of a failed IVF cycle, there are numerous natural fertility consultants and coaches who can offer emotional support. For many people experiencing the trauma, the learning of new stress-reduction techniques, as part of a programme designed to bring positive balance also speeds the recovery time and prepares people for a better result later down the track

Although undergoing an IVF cycle can be a very stressful experience, planning ahead and having coping strategies in place, can give a much greater sense of control. When going into the next IVF cycle or stage of the fertility journey, feeling calm and prepared not only makes the treatment more bearable but may well increase the chance of success.

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The Invisible Wall



The Invisible Wall

“Most relationships fail because we spend too much time pointing out each other’s mistakes and not enough time enjoy each other’s company.” – Unknown

Struggles through infertility can tend to take over your life. The constant stress of the treatments and the repeated disappointments can definitely strain the relationship between partners. Women may feel more irritable & emotional and her partner may feel helpless and worried. This makes for a difficult combination for any conversation to occur! Slowly there is an invisible wall starting to appear between the couple, emotions take over and make it even more difficult to talk.

With infertility, making a baby isn’t sexy. It isn’t fun. It’s stressful. It’s hard. It’s hormonal. It’s just miserable. The process truly is a make or break on relationships. Women can especially feel volatile just like a volcano about to blast at anytime with no warning. One minute you are positive, the next negative, becoming miserable, seemingly out of the blue. It can become exhausting for the partner quickly. The invisible wall gets thicker and taller… Sound and feel familiar?

Infertility can be an awful journey if the partners are not truly supporting and caring for each other. I have heard so many stories where partners are separating temporarily or permanently due to the stress and struggles with infertility. It doesn’t have to be that way!

Here are some tips to break the invisible wall…

1. To the woman who is in the thick of infertility, pay some attention to your partner. Ask them how they are doing. One of my clients asked her husband that very question on Father’s Day, and he broke down. Men also feel it, they just feel it differently.

2. To the woman struggling through this process, allow your man to be vulnerable. As a man, vulnerability with your partner doesn’t make you weak, it makes you even stronger. I have seen many relationships become very successful amidst the pain and struggles, when there is vulnerability between the couple. It strengthens your bond and makes you closer.

3. To both partners, when emotions are running high, remove yourself from the situation, take some time to collect yourself. Don’t talk or act when emotions are running high. The invisible wall gets higher when emotions are high.

4. Remind yourself and your partner frequently that “Together, we will make it thru this too”. Saying it out loud makes a world of difference and gives a great comfort to the other partner.

5. Get professional help, specifically someone who truly been there and understands the infertility struggle. They can help with tools and techniques to slowly eliminate relationship struggles, help identify the relationship goals and help you move forward positively in your life with or without successful fertility treatments.

Don’t let the invisible wall keep growing stronger and taller. Find ways to break the wall down slowly. Infertility shouldn’t be the reason for a relationship to break! Take small steps forward.

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20 Things You Should Never Say To Someone Struggling With Infertility!




“You may never know what someone is going through, but if you notice any signs of pain—hostility, negativity, or over-sensitivity—then odds are, you know how they feel. Respond to the pain instead of judging the signs.” Lori Deschene

I have unexplained infertility and my fertility journey was very long and painful with almost 8 years of failed treatments. I had 3 miscarriages, 3 IUI failures and 8 back to back IVF failures. It was an emotional roller coaster. I struggled in silence for the major part of my journey. I avoided talking to people with the fear that they will ask me about having kids. I avoided going to India (where all my family is) for 4 years in a row giving all sorts of bullshit (pardon my language here) reasons on why I can’t go. I wore a mask at work and never talked about anything personal. Talking to friends and family members was a nightmare especially who recently became pregnant or had a child!

I always avoid telling others about my infertility journey to avoid the comments that can really sting, let my blood pressure rise and bite my tongue, to put it mildly. There are sometimes where I wanted to react in a more animated fashion to those somewhat insensitive and ignorant comments.

This doesn’t just happen to me. It happens to many of us who are struggling with pregnancy loss, primary or secondary infertility. I recently put a question (What is that one thing that people say annoys you most about infertility?) to an online FB support group and its members had overwhelming response talking about their personal experience with these insensitive comments.

This list is based on my personal experiences and the collective experiences from many amazing souls going through fertility challenges including my wonderful fertility clients.

I am writing this to create awareness to those people who haven’t experienced infertility, who typically say things like this (many times with good intentions) to others going through infertility.

Here are 20 things NOT to ask/say people going through infertility:

  1. When are you going to have a baby? You are running out of time.
  2. Just relax, it will happen
  3. Drink a glass of Wine, it will happen
  4. Go on vacation, it will happen
  5. Stop trying, it will happen
  6. Lose weight
  7. You are young, you have plenty of time
  8. Do this, try this, it worked for, it will happen (Varies all the way from eating McDonald’s fries to using essential oils)
  9. For people with secondary infertility or have experienced losses before- You at least know you can get pregnant
  10. I know a bunch of ladies who’ve had babies in their 40’s! Don’t worry, it will happen
  11. To people with secondary infertility- At least you’ve got one, you’re so lucky, you might just have to be happy with one
  12. You are lucky you don’t have kids yet! (or) It’s so hard having so many kids
  13. You can have one of mine
  14. My husband looks at me and I get pregnant (or) I sneeze near my husband and I get pregnant
  15. Comments by a younger couple – We tried for a really long time( 2-3 months) to get pregnant, I understand your frustration
  16. Don’t worry, the technology is so good these days!
  17. Have you thought about adopting? it will kick-start your hormones and you’ll get pregnant. It happened to my (insert random relative)
  18. If God thought you were ready, you’d be pregnant.
  19. Maybe it’s just not meant to be (or) whatever is going to happen will happen.
  20. It’s not just the words, it’s the body language too- When people ask if I have children and I say, I do not, their reply almost always is, you never wanted kids?! With a surprised look on their face.

Even today at my nail salon, my manicurist asked me, how many kids, I said one(adopted). How old, 5 years. The next question immediately, you don’t want to have more???? You should have more..

This article is not intended to judge or blame those folks who say these comments. Many of you say these things out of good heart and well intentions. You all want to support and care for your loved one dearly.

Just keep in mind, these words can and will create a deeper wound to people going through fertility struggles. Because many of us are desperately seeking and doing whatever it takes to get and stay pregnant and yet it’s just not happening.

Unless you have experienced infertility, it’s hard to understand and relate to the pains and struggles all around. Infertility affects ones overall being- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Here is one suggestion I will offer to people who are supporting a friend or a loved one.

Tell them, I may not truly understand what you are going through, but remember, I am here for you. And give them a big hug. Sometimes that’s all we need to feel better even a teeny tiny bit!

“Sometimes, what a person needs is not a brilliant mind that speaks, but a patient heart that listens.” Anonymous

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Fertility Treatment Survival Skills



Fertility Treatment Survival Skills

Practical and Emotional Top Tips from Iris Fertility Sherpa Natasha Canfer, Clients and Colleagues.

As the founder of Iris Fertility – an organisation offering bespoke practical and emotional support and companionship to individuals before, during and after fertility treatment – I am regularly asked what people can do to help manage the challenges that fertility treatment throws at them. Together with Iris Fertility clients and colleagues, I’ve put together our top tips, insights and nuggets of information.

  1. Put Yourself First Throughout the Process

Go gently, treat yourself kindly and say ‘no’ to people who are going to sap your emotional energy especially when treatment’s underway or you’re in the 2 Week Wait (2WW) – finding interest in or compassion for anyone else while you’re in the throes of fertility treatment can be challenging. Put activities on hold that you’re not interested in or can’t face. If you feel like you ‘should’ be doing something with someone then probably best to avoid! Be aware that how you feel day to day (and even within the day) is likely to change.

Don’t put off taking that first step – that might be going to your GP or going directly to a clinic for a Fertility MOT.

Don’t do too much of your own research – it can be mind boggling, confusing and cause anxiety.

Seeking the support of an individual or organisation (like Iris Fertility) who knows the process really helped us with having a sounding board away from the clinic environment. We could ask the questions we didn’t necessarily want to ask our clinic and raise concerns we weren’t able to share with friends and family. Don’t leave a niggle or a doubt unsaid.’ Loretta, Somerset

2. Trust Your Gut Feeling

Follow your instincts. Those instincts or your gut feeling might not appear to be logical but if something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t for you – even if you can’t pinpoint the reason.

3. Inform Yourself

Depending on your circumstances, appointments at fertility clinics can feel overwhelming. You might be presented with a lot of information and it can be difficult to take in exactly what’s being said and what that means for you – particularly if you’ve just received tests results that aren’t as you’d hoped. Also, a clinic may only give you information that’s specific to the services it offers rather than providing you with an overview of what might be available to you nationally and globally.

‘Don’t be afraid to ask questions – the doctors aren’t gods and they need to be challenged sometimes so that you know they’re doing the best for you as an individual.

Talk to people who have also been through this and don’t bottle things up especially through the 2 Week Wait.

Don’t be scared by the process. Embrace it but be careful as it can become addictive – trust your instincts when it comes to knowing whether you’re ready to say “enough is enough”.’ George, Ireland

Other sources to look into if you feel able are:

Progress Educational Trust (PET) – a UK-based charity which advances public understanding of science, law and ethics in the fields of human genetics, assisted reproduction, embryology and stem cell research: Progress Educational Trust

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority – the UK’s independent regulator of fertility treatment and research using human embryos. An expert organisation in the fertility sector and the first statutory body of its type in the world:

‘Question, question, question your clinic about all the costs involved and its refund policy.

Ask your clinic about risks of failed fertilisation and unsuccessful thawing of frozen eggs and embryos.

If you opt to use a clinic abroad, check whether you can use a clinic of your choice in the UK alongside that overseas clinic or are you tied to one of their associated clinics?

If you go abroad, factor in how easy it is to arrange scans, blood tests, medication, intralipids, etc. Also work out whether you will easily be able to get flights and accommodation at short notice.

Is the clinic open at weekends and able to work around you?’ Sarah, West Yorkshire

4. Remind Yourself that it’s OK to be in a Different Emotional Place from Your Partner

Depending on your circumstances, it’s possible that you and your partner may want to choose different treatment options or you may find yourselves in a different emotional place from one another. That’s OK and totally understandable. Open and honest ongoing respectful communication with each other is important – and can also be exceptionally tricky especially when emotions and hormones are running high. If you feel that counselling would be beneficial then speak with your clinic about what they can offer you and when. Otherwise, you could locate a specialist infertility counsellor through BICA

Take the time you need.

Talk to your friends. If they are real friends they will want to lend an ear.

It’s OK to recalibrate your understanding of who you are if that’s necessary.’ James, Hertfordshire

5. It’s All About You: ‘Fertility Treatment’ is an Umbrella Term

Ensure that your clinic tailors all your treatment and medication to you and your needs.

6. Who’s Who? Clinic Staff

Make a friend among the clinic staff and ask them for their work contact details. It’s beneficial to have an ally or two on the ‘inside’.

If there’s a staff member who you have strong negative feelings towards for whatever reason and you would prefer them not to be involved in your care then let your clinic know. Most clinic staff work as part of a team and will try and accommodate patient requests of this nature.

I would’ve liked to have treated myself almost as if I was recovering from an illness – very gently. So do what makes you happy or at least calm. Go to places that make your heart sing and your fear retreat. See only those people who make you feel positive and with whom you can be completely yourself.’ Caitlin Allen Acupuncture, West Yorkshire

7. Statistics and Other Numbers are Only Part of the Picture

Perhaps easier said than done but try not to get too hung up on statistics and numbers. No one can say for definite how things are going to work out for you. Ultimately you need one egg, one sperm and one womb to get along with each other. If you’re comparing clinics then make sure you’re comparing like for like statistics. The figure you’ll probably be most interested in is the live birth rate for the female age group relevant to your situation.

8. Check Out Donor Conception Network

If you’re considering using donated eggs, sperm or embryos then check out Donor Conception Network (DCN) as soon as you can but preferably before you even start any treatment or become pregnant. Donor Conception Network is a charity and supportive network of more than 2,000 mainly UK-based families with children conceived with donated sperm, eggs or embryos; those considering or undergoing donor conception procedures; and donor conceived people. Staff, volunteers and network members have a wealth of knowledge, information and expertise about all things past and present in the world of donation including the possible impact of telling or not telling donor-conceived children about their genetic heritage:

‘If you wish to find the best possible fit with a surrogate mum, then Surrogacy UK is a great association to join. With their ‘friendship first’ ethos, get togethers are organised so that friendships can be formed before Teams are created.

Speaking as a two-time surrogate mother, I felt that finding the couple to team-up with was all about friendship chemistry. Being open, honest and approachable is a good way to connect with a potential surrogate. It may feel scary at first and you may feel exposed and vulnerable, but it works both ways. Imagine a year down the line when your surrogate/friend is about to birth your baby, she will be trusting you to hold that space for her, as the baby is delivered at long last in your arms.’ Jay Kelly, Surrogate, Baby Alchemy

9. Going Abroad – Is the Grass as Green as You Think?

If you’re thinking about going abroad for treatment, investigate what the implications of doing so could be for you and any future children. Here are just a handful of things to consider:

  • If your UK clinic is encouraging you to go to a particular overseas clinic then is it affiliated in some way to that clinic? If so, how and what does that mean for you and those clinics?
  • How is the overseas clinic regulated?
  • What’s the legal situation regarding types of fertility treatment in the country (or state) of your choosing?
  • Which screening tests are performed on patients and partners?
  • How much is it going to cost you financially, physically and emotionally especially by the time you’ve factored in flights and accommodation?
  • If you’re using a donor abroad then how are they screened and selected?
  • What are the anonymity rules in relation to donors and how would this impact on any child(ren) born from treatment?
  • How many families can a donor donate to and what could this mean in terms of the number of half siblings for your potential child?

10. DIY Donor Sperm – Future Proof Yourself

If you’re using donor sperm outside of a clinic environment then before you even start preparing for pregnancy ensure that your personal safety is paramount. Also, get legal advice regarding your specific situation and make sure you have legal agreements in place in relation to your particular circumstances.

11. Remember the Adult Child

While your focus may initially be on you becoming pregnant, your goal is to have a baby. That baby will hopefully grow to become an adult so when making decisions around the types of treatment you are willing to undertake, consider how your future (adult) child at different life stages could feel about any decisions you make and the impact of your choices on them.

12. Include Your Partner

It might feel that the spotlight is on the individual physically undergoing the fertility treatment so actively include (and encourage your clinic to include) your partner if you have one.

13. Changing Times

The nature of fertility treatment changes all the time so if it’s been taking you a while to get that baby into your arms you might begin to wonder if a particular treatment had been available to you earlier then whether life would have worked out differently. Be kind to yourself and remember that on your quest to become a parent you can only make your best decision with all the information you have available to you at the time the decision needs to be made.

14. Escape!

Develop a new hobby or skill in which you can immerse yourself and that can be done at any time regardless of the stage of treatment you’re at. Current favourites to distract clients are escape rooms, singing and learning a new language.

15. Funding

If you’re eligible to receive NHS funding but you’re not sure you want to have treatment in your allocated NHS fertility clinic then you could investigate the possibility of transferring your funding for use in a private fertility clinic.
If you’re not eligible to receive NHS funding or it’s not available in your area then speak to your clinic about any payment plans it might offer. You could also look into specialist fertility funding organisations which provide IVF refund schemes and multi-cycle programmes.

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