Path To Fertility Blogger Lisa Rosenthal  

Lisa Rosenthal has over twenty-five years of experience in the fertility field, including her current roles as Coordinator of Professional and Patient Communications for RMACT and teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a class designed to support, comfort and enhance men and women's sense of self. Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association, where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director

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Infertility - Men Are Not Ducks. Maybe They Are Swans?


Understanding Infertility - Do They Get It?

understanding infertilityThere's been a lot of conversation lately about how our male partners/husbands just don't get it when it comes to understanding infertility. They don't get the intensity that we feel about fertility treatment and more specifically, they don't get how we feel about not having those babies yet. 


There's been a lot of anger as well towards the men about not getting it. The word insensitive has been used a lot to describe them. They want sex at what seems like inappropriate times (in the middle of a cycle or two days after a miscarriage). They don't listen or respond when we talk about the despair we feel when a fertility cycle doesn't work. 


That old joke about the duck comes to mind. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, well then, most likely, it's a duck!


Except when these wonderful women, who are feeling angry, sad, lonely and somewhat (or very) abandoned by their men are asked about whether these men love them, the answer is a resounding yes. Unequivocally yes.


They talk about their marriages being stronger than they were before infertility walked in and took a seat.


I’m wondering if the duck is perhaps not a duck.


Perhaps it’s a tern. Or a loon (kinda like that one). Or a swan. Or a goose.

Infertility Problems: Dealing with the Pain

Maybe insensitivity is a great mask for denial (if I ignore the infertility problems, one day they will be solved and all will be great, etc.). Maybe it is that their beloved’s pain is so deep that they do not know how to touch it gently enough without causing more pain. Perhaps they are worried about drowning in the pain themselves and not being able to be the anchor that they are expected to be. Perhaps their own pain is so bewildering to them that without our help, they are lost and they cannot ask for help while we are in such pain.


It is possible that the only thing they know how to do is to do more of what they know how to do. Work. Fix things. Shelter us the best they know how.


While there were a few names flying around describing these men that were not duck or goose or loon, there was also general consensus that these men love us. And that their best wasn’t good enough. That’s a hard concept to face, that our best isn’t good enough. We know about that one, don’t we? Because that’s the one we face when it comes to failed fertility cycles.


Infertility Support - Is Something Getting In The Way?


Perhaps they need more help and direction than we can give them about how to support us.


Or, maybe they are the ones who need the support and help themselves and have no idea how to dig deeply enough to ask for it.


I don’t know. I just suspect that if there is love there and it’s not being expressed then something is getting in the way. Going a step further, I would suspect that the culprit getting in the way is our pain.


Not making excuses or apologies for them or us. Just trying to figure out the odd phenomena of our men not showing up in ways that are helpful or supportive even when we all agree that they love us.


Maybe it’s time for us to look past the obvious. Maybe it’s not a duck at all.


Maybe it’s the swan we see struggling under the weight of not knowing the right thing to do or say. Or being too afraid to say it.


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Infertility Procedures, Trust and Pain and Our Doctors


Infertility procedures can sometimes be painful

There are a few phrases that come to mind about my experience at the doctors office the other day.


One is practice what you preach.



Two is, walk the talk.


I had to have a procedure done. Not an infertility procedure, but it was hauntingly similar to the procedures done in a fertility program.


Similar language.


Especially the part where I was told it would not hurt that much. I might feel a pinch.


I definitely felt a pinch. I would go a step farther and say that it did hurt and it hurt a whole lot more than a pinch.


I'm very happy that our doctors and nurses give out instructions about certain of our procedures, such as the HSG, and advise taking pain medication.


There's a reason that we do that. Because we know it's painful. And because we would like our patients to trust us when we say it's not painful.


A lot of this is about trust. If our doctor says its not going to be painful and it is, it erodes our trust in their words and their judgement.


How do we trust them when they say that again?


If they're not trustworthy about a procedure being painful or not, how do we feel about hearing other information from them? How do we trust results or diagnoses?


I'll leave my experiences at the doctors for another day. This subject of trust with our doctors is too important.


There are simple ways of making sure that we patients understand how something may feel. There is language that can be used that is easy to understand.


How about this?


  1. Most patients feel only a slight prick. However, some people feel quite a bit more than that. Please don't be alarmed either way, as both reactions are within the range of normal.

  2. Only 2% of the people who have this test will feel any discomfort at all. If you happen to be in that 2%, please know that it will be over in just a very few moments. Less than a minute, in fact.

  3. We do everything that we can to ensure that this testing is not painful. However, sometimes, it can be very uncomfortable. Try to stay as relaxed as possible, breathing deeply will help.

Each of those phrases is three sentences.


I counted.


Any one of those sentences would have built the trust that I had in my doctor the other day. Any of those phrases would have better prepared me for a procedure that was not a simple pinch and did in fact, hurt.


Part of the problem with a procedure hurting, is that it's alarming. If we're told that it's not going to hurt, then that's what we expect. If we're expecting that it's not going to hurt and it does, we worry that something's wrong.


We worry that something is wrong with with us. Sometimes we even worry that something is wrong with our doctors expertise. After all, they're the ones who said it wouldn't hurt.


It all comes back to trust. We want and need to trust our doctors.


We want them to be honest, but not alarmist. We want them to say the right things, in the right tone, at the right moment, in the right way.


But we're reasonable. If they don't do all of that, it's ok. We can forgive them and move on.


When it comes to pain, though, it erodes trust on a very different level.


So, maybe we should help them out. Maybe when they describe a pinch, and we are actually left gasping with pain, let's make an agreement, right here and now.


Let's tell them.


Let's educate them.


Let's help them understand what to say to the next patient.


Yep, we can change the world, one moment at a time.


We want our doctors to be truthful with us. Let's be truthful with them. If it doesn't hurt, let's tell them.


If it does hurt, though, let's tell them that too.








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