When you’re trying to conceive, what can you do to help the process along?

Struggling to build your family can be one of the most distressing experiences a person can face.  Infertility treatment can take a toll on your schedule, wallet, and spirit.

In most situations in life, when facing a challenge, many of us work harder and focus more in order to achieve our objective.  When undergoing fertility treatment, however, there is only so much we can do, and that fact can be maddening.  Once a doctor is chosen, our only option is to follow his or her instructions.  Appointments need to be made and procedures followed.  That’s it.  Once the treatment protocol is prescribed, you may find yourself feeling like you are a sailor in a boat without oars.

Often patients believe that there must be something else to do, and so they search the internet for articles about increasing their odds of conceiving.  So the question becomes, does it make sense to focus on the treatment and look for ways to contribute to your success?  The answer is yes, and no.

Let us start with “yes”.  This involves practical and emotional efforts.   Acupuncture, for example, during specific times in treatment, has been shown to increase success rates.  We also know that nutritional changes can improve the odds of success in certain individuals and is essential to prenatal health.  In some studies, receiving support for stress reduction has been linked to increased success rates.  So, if you do these things, are you improving your odds in a significant way?  Unfortunately, there is no way to know.  We don’t know how much these efforts will help but we do know that they are safe and won’t hurt. Most of all, you may feel that you are doing all you can and that alone can be a satisfying feeling.

All of these treatments can be helpful to your fertility and also to your state of mind. They will keep you busy and preoccupied with a healthy endeavor.   You want the time to go quickly when you are cycling.  Focusing on it with no distractions can feel like you are watching grass grow.  More importantly, if you are depressed or too stressed during treatment you may drop out and not have the opportunity to actualize your dream.  For that reason alone it may be worthwhile to try alternative treatments.

The catch is, and here is the “no”, that you don’t want to get stuck in the belief that any of these things will be a magic pill. If you are living under the assumption that you are doing “everything right” and that there is no element of chance or luck in conceiving, you may be setting yourself up for great disappointment if you don’t get pregnant.  And that would make a negative outcome worse.

Blaming yourself is unreasonable and destructive.  If you could will yourself to get pregnant you would be pregnant already.  Most people don’t experience the unfairness of life until they are older, but women going through fertility treatment may begin to see how unfair life can be at an early age. Infertility patients have already seen that the equation of hard work = success doesn’t compute in this realm.

Now you may be left with the understanding that there is only so much you can do.  You may be on the positive or negative side of infertility statistics at any given time.  This is a difficult and a frustrating reality to accept, but if you can accept it you can use these alternative treatments to help you remain calmer.  If you’re less stressed you will have a better quality of life, be more likely to stay in treatment and have better odds at achieving your dream of becoming pregnant.  Experiencing difficulty conceiving and blaming oneself can be a double whammy on your state of mind and you need to feel calm enough to endure treatment.

The bottom line: Say “yes” to alternative treatments that are safe and can make you feel better but only if, when you hit bumps in the road, you don’t blame yourself.  That would be a big “no”.