Thursday, April 23, 2015

What to Say or Not Say to Your Infertile Loved One

In yesterday's post, which you can read here, we learned the many causes of infertility. So now you know there's more to conception than relaxation. Easy peasy, don't tell an infertile loved one to relax. But what can you say?

 Every person is different. People have varied levels of sensitivity, so you have to kind of gauge what's okay to say to someone. Here are four general rules:

1) Don't ask the childless married couple when they're going to have kids. For one, that's their business. If they want to share, they will, but don't ask. You never know if they're struggling with infertility, and if they're not open about it, the question will hurt them and put them in an awkward position. Instead, you can ask them what they're enjoying about marriage.

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2) If you find out someone's struggling with infertility, don't give advice or tell them about your aunt who ate pickles every day to get pregnant. If they ask for advice, go for it. Otherwise, just no. Trust me, if someone wants a baby and isn't getting pregnant, they've done the research.

3) Don't compare. Don't bring up that everyone in her family pushes out babies at the speed of light. Everyone is unique with different issues.


4) Don't try to explain why she's going through her struggle. In her private moments of pain, she's already asked God or the universe, "Why me?" If she got an answer in all her searching, then fine. Unless she asks you for help in this area, please don't even go there. Life seems incredibly unfair when a loving person can't have a baby, but a negligent, abusive person can. You can't explain why that happens.  

Ultimately, go with your heart and act out of compassion and sensitivity. I started bawling in front of a friend one day and she gave me unsolicited spiritual advice that rocked my world. I'm open to questions and talk about TTC freely. But not everyone is comfortable with these.   

With the general rules out there, I asked some ladies from a TTC (trying to conceive) support group I belong to if they would anonymously give me examples of things people said that were hurtful and things people said that made them feel supported. A few ladies were kind enough to help me. (Some responses have been separated into the two groups and/or edited for clarity, but content remains original.)


Things that hurt us:

"The worst one was from someone who said I couldn't get pregnant because I wasn't having sex right. (I have been pregnant three times, just haven't gotten past the first trimester yet.)"

"'If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. Maybe God has better plans for you. Stop stressing. Have you tried xyz? (Insert anything from old wives tales to internet crap.) Why don't you adopt? Why don't you do IVF?'"

"When I was pregnant (which ended in a miscarriage) I had chosen everything I wanted for my unborn child, then when I lost the child, my friend (who got pregnant right after my miscarriage) bought everything she knew I wanted. When I confronted her, all she said was, 'I'm having the baby first!' That's pure evil."

"When family tells you it'll happen, just to relax."

"When a friend steals your baby's name. One of my friends stole my baby's name after my miscarriage. Five years down the line, it still hurts to look at her girl, knowing she has the name that was meant for my Angel. And the relax thing. How relaxed do you want me to be? Or, 'Forget about it, it'll just happen.' Fiance last week said, 'Maybe this is God's way of telling you that I'm not supposed to be the father.' That one opened Pandora's box."

"When my friend threw TTC in my face during a fight. She knew how important a baby is to me, and she threw it at me out of spite. Another is when people try to make me feel crazy for going to extremes (or what they think is extreme) to have a baby."

Things that make us feel supported:

"When people open up to me about their own battles, I know I'm not alone. I love it when people value who I am now, not just the mother I'll be in the future to my kids who will come. Also, there are only a few people who ackowledge my position as a mother with babies in Heaven, but those who do are my greatest supporters."

"The most positive thing you can do is LISTEN."

A few things people have said to make me feel supported: "I've never gone through what you're going through, so I can't say I understand how you feel, but it must be frustrating and I want you to know I'm here for you." Others have said, "I don't know what to say, but I'm here for you." Also, it's so valuable when people listen. That was already said, but my goodness, it helps to have someone to vent to. Another thing I appreciate is when people tell me they're praying for me--but this tends to only go over well with the praying-type. For people who like touch, simple hugs or pats on the back are welcome.Finally, when in doubt, ask your loved one what you can do to support them.

If you have any you want to add, you can comment or email me at jessie(dot)mullins5(at)gmail(dot) com.

Thank you for reading and supporting!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Causes of Infertility (Not Just Stress)

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Why is this necessary? Because there are tons of misconceptions about infertility. Because chances are someone you know is affected. (If you want to know how infertility is defined and how common it is, you can read yesterday's post here.)

If you've ever experienced infertility, you've heard the advice, "Just relax. Stop trying so hard and it'll happen."

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FertiliTea: A Natural Fertility Tea Blend 3oz $18.95

If you know someone who's going through infertility, you may have been the one to give that advice. If so, don't feel bad--you didn't know the weight of yours words. But here's the thing. The problem isn't always stress. It could be stress, but there are so many other physical reasons a person may not be able to conceive. Even if they're the chillest person on the planet. When you tell a person going through infertility to relax, all we hear is, "You're causing your own problem."

Again, if you've given us this advice, we hear you and we appreciate that you're trying to help. But the solution isn't always so simple.

Here's a list of possible causes of infertility. (Note: I'm not a fertility specialist or medical expert of any kind, so I don't know everything. If I miss something, please let me know, and I'll dd it to the list!) You can click on any of the italicized for further reading.

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Causes of infertility in women:

-PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome): an endocrine system disorder that causes irregular periods and interferes with ovulation.

-POI or POF (primary ovarian insufficiency or premature ovarian failure): ovaries stop working before the age of 40 and is not the same as early menopause.

-PID (pelvic inflammatory disease)

-Endometriosis: a disorder where the tissue that usually lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus.

-Surgery from ectopic pregnancy: in advanced cases, the fallopian tube may be destroyed or removed.

-Physical problems with uterus: a misshapen or out-of-place uterus. 

-Uterine Fibroids: noncancerous growths that can prevent implantation from occurring. 

-Age: chances of pregnancy per month start to decrease after age 30 and significantly drop after age 40.

-Cigarette smoke: causes increase in eggs and sperm or causes unhealthy eggs and sperm that increase chance of miscarriage. (Note: secondhand smoke has the same effect.)

-Alcohol: can damage sperm and/or cause hormonal imbalances.

-Stress: there you have it. Stress is a cause, but it's not the only cause or even the most common.
-Poor diet

-Athletic training: too much exercise can mess with the menstrual cycle. Too little means your reproductive organs may not get the blood flow they need.

-Overweight or underweight: check with your doctor to make sure your BMI is within the healthy range.

-STIs: Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

-Hormonal imbalances

-Gluten sensititivy : including Celiac disease or silent sensitivity

-Environmental hazards such as pesticides and chemicals

-Allergies to sperm

-Unexplained infertility: this happens when a medical expert can't find any physical reason for your infertility. Make sure your doctor rules out these issues.

Causes of infertility in men:

-Varicocele: veins in testicles are too large and cause overheating of sperm. 

-Infections: STIs, mumps, inflamed prostate

-Retrograde ejaculation: semen enters the bladder.

-Antibodies attack sperm


-Undescended testicle: at birth, the testicle(s) never dropped into the correct position.

-Hormone imbalances

-Gluten sensitivity: Celiac disease or silent sensitivity 



-Cigarette smoke


-Environmental toxins: pesticides and heavy metals


-Overheating the testicles: avoid hot baths, tight underwear, and hot tubs

If you made it through that list, you're a sport and a wonderful supporter. Thanks for taking the time to learn about the many potential causes, other than stress, of infertility.

Still not sure how to talk to your loved ones going through infertility? Tomorrow's post will focus on etiquette. For now, it means a lot that you cared enough to read this post!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Infertility Awareness Week: The Definition

This week is Infertility Awareness Week. Because fertility is an important topic to me and has to do with periods and women's health, there will be a Period Fairy post very day this week. 

The point of this week is to make the subject of infertility less taboo. People struggling through infertility often do so in silence, and we need to change that. It's a lonely disease that takes a toll physically, emotionally, financially, and even spiritually.

Let's get a grasp on the basics first.

What is infertility?

Most of the people in my life who have never dealt with fertility issues directly believe a myth about infertility, which is that infertility means you are barren or unable to ever have children.

The fact is that infertility is defined as the inability to conceive naturally after one year of trying to conceive (TTC). Or after six months if you're over the age of 40.

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20 digital ovulation tests $33.49

Since people suffer from infertility in silence (for the most part), we may not realize how common this is. According to the CDC, "About 6% of married women 15-44 years of age in the United States are unable to get pregnant after one year of unprotected sex (infertility)." But the problem isn't only for the married, the CDC says. "Also, about 12% of women 15-44 years of age in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term regardless of marital status."

Men can have infertility issues too. In a 2002 study, the CDC found that, "7.5% of all sexually experienced men younger than age 45 reported seeing a fertility doctor during their lifetime...18% [of which] were diagnosed with a male-related infertility problem."

Before you assume the 12% of women and 18% of men need to relax and stop trying in order to conceive, you should know there are many physical causes of infertility. Tomorrow's post will focus on causes of infertility since the list is long.

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To those of us going through this storm, if nothing else does, these numbers reflect we're not alone. Our struggles are acknowledged.

Let's break the taboo and create a better world of support.

Thank you for reading and caring! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment on the blog post, find me on Twitter @Je55ieMullin5, on Facebook (here), or via email at jessie(dot)mullins5(at)gmail(dot)com. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

25 Empowering #ToTheGirls Tweets

Period Fairy is all about girl power. About not being afraid to talk, ask questions, and learn about our bodies. 

Appreciation for our bodies includes appreciation for women as people. Our whole person--mind, spirit, and body. Which is why I'm excited to share with you an empowering trend happening over on Twitter.

Author Courtney Summers started a trend on Twitter called #ForTheGirls. On her Tumblr post (link), Summers shares, "My newest novel, All the Rage, examines the shame and silence inflicted on a young woman in a culture that refuses to protect them. It's about a girl who is ostracized by her community for speaking up about an assault. The absence of support takes an emotional toll on her." Summers goes on to encourage the world to tell girls they are "seen, heard, and loved."  
 #ForTheGirls is blowing up on Twitter Some of the responses have me all teary-eyed. Here are some of my favorites. (Sorry for the blurriness!) 

What message do you have #ForTheGirls? Comment, share, encourage!

The Homeless Period

The homeless go without a lot of things we take for granted everyday. Shelter, food, clean clothes, etc. Let's narrow this down to homeless women. Have you considered their challenges? Specifically the challenges they face on a monthly basis with dear old Aunt Flo?

Think about it. If you weren't able to go out and buy pads, tampons, menstrual cups, whatever you use for your period, what would you do? I've heard of women who got a surprise period while out and about and had to use toilet paper in a pinch. But that's a one-time fixer upper, right? It won't last for long and I guarantee you wouldn't want to use toilet paper again.

Let's have compassion. It doesn't matter how or why homeless people became homeless. A fellow woman is in need. You don't know her name. You don't know her story. But you know she's in need of something basic you wouldn't want to live without.

"The purpose of life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others." -Albert Schweitzer

Want to help? Here are a few ways:

1. Sign this petition on (link) urging the United Kingdom government to give homeless shelters an allowance for feminine care products the same way they do for condoms. (For friends in places other than the U.K., you can still care and sign!) 

2. Carry care packages in your vehicle for instances when you see homeless women out and about. Pass out care packages that include pads or tampons.

3. Donate pads and tampons to your local homeless shelter. Even a one-time donation will make a difference for someone.

4. If you belong to a church or other nonprofit organization, talk to your needs department about passing out pads or tampons with food baskets or the like. Those who have a home, but live in poverty may also suffer.

Join the talk on Twitter with the hashtag #TheHomelessPeriod.

If you make a difference in someone's life or would like to share more ideas on how to do so, leave a comment!

Update: Someone pointed out how much more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly it would be to donate a reusable period product. The most famous is, of course, the menstrual cup. But those are pretty pricey even though they save a huge amount of money in the long run.

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If you want to donate a reusable product that is safe, cheap, and planet-friendly, I recommend the sea sponge tampon from The Sea Sponge Company. For only $10 plus $5 shipping, you get two sea sponge tampons that can be used again and again. Click on the picture below to buy.