Infertility Around the Holidays: How to Cope

Holidays Infertility Support GroupInfertility Around the Holidays: How to Cope

The Holidays are again upon us and for those dealing with infertility it can be a less than joyful time. While those around are celebrating with family and friends and one’s own family wants you to join in, the holidays can magnify even more the sadness felt at not having a child of one’s own. Gatherings are numerous and often focused on children. The end of the year can accentuate another year marked with no baby.

What are some ways to cope with this?

1. Give yourself permission to acknowledge that this is stressful and you are not being a Scrooge.

2. Identify your “A” team of family and/or friends who “get it” and can be supportive and spend more time with them. Identifying your “A” team is something many of my clients find helpful all year-long. There may be people in your lives who are good and well-meaning but say or do things that can be unintentionally painful. Maybe they are on the “B” or “C” Team because they care about you but don’t understand the things to say or do regarding infertility.

3. If invited to a Holiday gathering, you may not really know whether you can face going until that very day/evening. People cancel at the last-minute for lots of reasons and so can you. Or, if you decide to give it a try, and you are part of a couple, have a prearranged signal that you give to one another when one of you absolutely must leave. Stay close to each other while at the gathering to be mutually supportive.

4. Perhaps, instead of the usual round of holiday parties, you go off this year to some place by yourselves. Reassure your family that you’re not changing family tradition forever; you just need to take care of yourselves this year. Pamper yourselves. It could be something as big as a trip to Hawaii, or as simple as a weekend at a Bed and Breakfast.

5. Consider taking the month off trying to get pregnant. This can be difficult when you are feeling a time crunch but consider it a gift to yourselves to enjoy lovemaking and time together with no pressure.

6. Men and women often have different ways of coping. Remember that no one way is the “right” way and try to be accepting of difference. A good example, which I often see in my practice, is that men cope by wanting to hold on to whatever is “normal” in life. They want to go to all the parties and “enjoy” the holidays after months of disappointment. Women find holiday parties loaded with “danger” of talk of pregnancies and children and cope by trying to avoid them.  Respect each other’s way of coping and talk in an accepting way towards a compromise.

This post was contributed by Anne Korpi Dolan, LCSW, DCSW. Anne has more than 25 years working in this field, including leading groups for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. She can be reached at 1-617-650-3732


Vitamin D for Fertility and Pregnancy: Are you Getting Enough?


Vitamin D Fertility Pregnancy Infertility If you’re thinking about having a baby it’s strongly recommended that you have your Vitamin D level checked, especially if you’ve been trying for a while or have a history of pregnancy loss.  Your doctor can order a simple blood test to ensure you have enough of this vitamin that is so important for fertility and healthy pregnancies – for both mothers and their children.  Vitamin D is typically low in the winter and spring months and in darker northern climates.  A Vitamin D deficiency puts pregnant women at risk of developing serious health complications.

Preconception & Infertility

If you’re having trouble conceiving, low Vitamin D could be contributing to your fertility issues.  A low level has been associated with Repeated Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained Infertility.  It’s been found to affect implantation which can cause bio-chemical pregnancies or miscarriages. [i]. Also more research is being done on PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) since these women often have Vitamin D deficiency and evidence is showing that supplementation may be beneficial for egg development and regulating menstruation. [iii]. One study found a healthier increased uterine lining in women with PCOS who were given Vitamin D during their IUI cycles. [ii].

A study (published in Fertility & Sterility in 2014) of 99 women undergoing IVF (in-vitro fertilization) at USC in Southern California looked at the impact of Vitamin D on IVF cycles. The percentage of women who became pregnant was 74% in those with sufficient vitamin D levels (above 30 ng/ml), 42% in women who were insufficient (20-30), and only 35% with deficiency (below 20).  Babies were born to 59% of the women with adequate D levels (above 30) and 31% of women whose levels were below 30.  [iv].

Vitamin D Fertility Pregnancy

If you’re thinking about having a baby it’s strongly recommended that you have your Vitamin D level checked, especially if you’ve been trying for a while or have a history of pregnancy loss.

Vitamin D in Pregnancy

Vitamin D is very important for brain development.  A recent study in the Netherlands of more than 8,000 women and their children showed a clear correlation between Vitamin D deficiency and autism.  Children whose mothers tested low in their 20th week of pregnancy were more likely to have autistic traits by the age of six. [v].  Other studies have seen an increased risk of schizophrenia with inadequate Vitamin D. [vi, vii].

When mom’s Vitamin D level is too low deficiency can be present at birth.  Babies receive this vitamin through the placenta, and after birth through breast milk or fortified formula.  Babies who are solely breastfed are more at risk of having deficient Vitamin D because human milk has a very low concentration, about 1.5-3% of the mother’s level.  So, exposure to sunlight is also recommended. [viii].  An Irish study found their dark winters produced more babies born in March and April with Vitamin D insufficiency, about 46% of births during that time.  You can read more about the importance of Vitamin D during pregnancy and while breastfeeding here.

Low Vitamin D during pregnancy has been linked to small-for-gestational-age births, increased susceptibility to infections and reduced bone density. [viii].  Kids whose moms did not have sufficient Vitamin D in their 3rd trimester had more broken bones than other children.  An Australian study published in 2016 tells us that children who have a lack of D in early childhood are more prone to developing allergic disorders like asthma and eczema. [ix].

Also, it’s very important to know that pregnant women with low D are more susceptible to developing preeclampsia, a complication of pregnancy including high blood pressure and kidney problems which can have very serious consequences. [x]. Often an earlier birth by medical induction is necessary, which increases the odds of a cesarean delivery.   Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with developing gestational diabetes, so, you definitely want to make sure your level stays within optimum range. Continue reading

Intimacy and Infertility

Intimacy Infertility An article in the New York Times displayed some grim statistics about sex and marriage. According the author’s analysis of Google searches, “sexless marriage” is at the top of the list for searches on the topic of marriage. Anyone who has been married for a while knows that we can so easily forgot how great sex, and particularly intimacy, can be for every part of our being. If you are trying to conceive or dealing with infertility, the stress around sex and the lack of intimacy can be devastating.

Most of my patients at Blossom Clinic are trying to conceive and have been for a while. If you’ve been struggling with infertility you’ve probably noticed that sex has become noticeably un-sexy. Agree?

Relationships without intimacy will crush our spirit and sense of unity, so it becomes vitally important for those trying to conceive to cultivate intimacy without the expectation of sex attached to it. This can mean different things to different people.

Setting aside 10-30 minutes each day engaging in intimate acts is a great place to start if intimacy has fizzled in your relationship or you are experiencing stress from infertility. Remember, the way I am defining intimacy here, intimate acts do not need to include sex or the expectation of sex. Intimacy means different things to different people and discussing what intimacy means to each of you is probably a good place to start.

Continue reading

Want to be part of the Blossom Clinic Team?

Blossom Clinic Team Job Opportunity

Blossom Clinic is seeking one more natural health practitioner to round out our team of excellent clinicians.

Blossom Clinic is looking for one more natural health practitioner to join the Blossom Clinic team. We are open to all modalities, as long as you practice under the Women’s Health specialty.

Are you looking for a joyful work environment where you can make a real difference as an integral member of a team? Are you a passionate person and a self-starter? Do you want to grow your business under the umbrella of a well-established natural health clinic?

Summary: Provides Naturopathic, Chinese Medicine, Massage, Therapy or other services as an independent contractor at a well-known natural healthcare clinic in NE Portland. We are a fee-for-service clinic and do not directly accept insurance. We currently provide acupuncture, herbs, naturopathic medicine, nutrition, and massage.

This is a great opportunity for someone with an established practice who would like a second location OR would like to move their practice to a better location. We treat primarily female clients and have a lot of fertility and pregnant clientele. We want to increase our offerings and have more appointments available for our clients.

Pay: This is an Independent Contractor position with percentage retained based on years of experience.

Hours available: Please email us to find out the hours we have available. Let us know if you would like one or two rooms at a time. Mimimum 20 hours/ week required.

Required: At least five years experience treating patients in your field.

Are you qualified for this position and interested in being part of the Blossom Clinic team? E-mail your resume and a brief cover letter describing your qualifications to

It is highly recommended that you visit our website and blog for more information about our clinic before you get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you!

Blossom Clinic is a natural health clinic in Portland Oregon with a focus on Women's Health, Fertility and Pregnancy .

Blossom Clinic is a natural health clinic in Portland Oregon with a focus on Women’s Health, Fertility and Pregnancy. We are seeking one more practitioner to complete our team.

Natural Treatment of PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome)

Contributed by Dr. Elise Schroeder and Liz Richards, L.Ac. of Blossom Clinic

What is PCOS?

Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance condition found in women of childbearing age. PCOS is characterized by some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Irregular periods
  • Fertility problems
  • Difficulty losing weight with a distribution of weight around the middle
  • Unwanted hair growth on the chin, jawline, chest or upper legs
  • Acne
  • Loss of scalp hair
  • Ovarian cysts (This is where the name poly cystic ovarian syndrome originated. However, since not all women have this sign, it is a bit of a misnomer)

It is typically diagnosed by the presence of any combination of these symptoms when other diagnoses are ruled out.

Twenty years ago PCOS was uncommon. Most doctors knew it as Stein-Leventhal syndrome and it was considered a very rare condition. Not so today. According to the Office on Women’s Health, US Department of Health and Human Services: “Between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 women of childbearing age has PCOS. As many as 5 million women in the United States may be affected. It can occur in girls as young as 11 years old.” Continue reading

5 Yoga Poses to Enhance your Fertility


This post is by guest blogger Lynn Jensen, E-RYT, RPYT, MBA, co-author of Yoga for Fertility: A Journey to Health and Healing. These poses are also in Nourishing Fertility: An A-to-Z Guide.

Yoga for Fertility 5 poses If you are trying to conceive, yoga can help support fertility, and ease the path to parenthood. I developed my Yoga for Fertility program in Seattle in 2002, as a long-time yoga practitioner and teacher who had dealt with personal fertility challenges over several years. More recently, I co-authored a book called Yoga and Fertility, A Journey to Health and Healing. Below, I suggest a few simple but powerful poses from the book that anyone can do at home.

Yoga poses, as well as breathing and meditation techniques, have multiple benefits for supporting fertility:

  • increases blood flow to the reproductive organs;
  • calms the central nervous system;
  • reduces stress hormone levels in the bloodstream which have been shown to have a negative effect on fertility. Also, the calming effect of the poses and breathing and meditation techniques can be very helpful in dealing with the emotional ups and downs of trying to conceive.

The yoga routines offered in the book are organized around the menstrual cycle. There are poses that I recommend doing in the first half of the cycle, prior to ovulation, which will bring more blood flow and energy to the ovaries. In the latter half of the cycle, post-ovulation, it’s best to perform poses that are more supportive and less stimulating in order to support the uterine lining as well as aid in conception and implantation. Many poses are helpful throughout the cycle. The following poses can be done at any time during your cycle. Continue reading

The Importance of the Infertility Voice

the importance of the #infertility #voice and how to deal with family when you are #TTC“When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words.” ­–Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis

Samantha was invited to her nephew’s birthday party but was struggling when she thought about going. She knew she didn’t want to miss her nephew’s birthday but she also had anxiety when she thought about the questions that would come her way like, “You are such a great Aunt! When will you have kids of your own? You guys have to get on it! You’re not getting younger!”

Julie’s long-time friend, Heather, was pregnant and having a baby shower. Julie had just been through a miscarriage and couldn’t bear to celebrate her friend’s baby, even though she loved Heather like a sister. She didn’t want to cry during the event and have the attention put on her.

Do these sound familiar? Continue reading

5 Foods for the 2 Week Wait


nutrition for fertilityIf you are trying to conceive, you probably know all about the 2 Week Wait. It is the time period between ovulation and the date that you find out if you are pregnant and it is often filled with worry. In my Nourishing Fertility e-book, I talk about “adding in” foods that are nurturing and good for you. Here is a little list of great foods for the second half of your cycle. Continue reading

Is stress lowering your sex drive?

Jill Blakeway, author of Sex Again, discusses the relationship between sex and stress and how stress can lower libido. She presents solutions for decreasing stress and increasing libido. My book Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido came out last year. I wrote the book because patients tell me they wish they were more interested in sex and when I ask them what they think lowers their libido they often mention stress. Stressed out people usually don’t feel like having sex, which is a shame really because sex is a great stress reliever. The relationship between sex and stress goes deep. Sex often becomes just one more thing on the to-do list, one more chore, one more occasion to be under pressure to perform. Physiologically, stress triggers a hormonal chain reaction that ultimately suppresses libido.

Stress also causes a wide range of other physical ailments. And anything that dents your health is likely to dampen your sex life as well. Furthermore, sex is a great pressure release, and when we skimp on that we also deprive ourselves of one of the best ways we have of dealing with stress—and create a new stressor to boot. Everyone can feel stress, of course, but it tends to show up somewhat differently in women than it does in men. The familiar “fight or flight” response to stress is really more of a male paradigm. Women under stress are more likely to go into “tend and befriend” mode under duress. Instead of running away or violently confronting a threat, women generally respond first by protecting offspring (“tending”) and joining together in groups for mutual defense (“befriending”). Once upon a time, this might have meant that when a saber-toothed tiger came to call, women rounded up the children and banded together to keep them all safe. In today’s world, the female response is more likely to involve reaching out to a friend for support and focusing on caring for others. Of course, generalizations are not going apply to every single individual, but to many. Continue reading