Finding & Discerning Information
It is amazing how much information there is out in the vast universe about infertility. Of course it can be informative. Of course it is overwhelming. Of course it is difficult to know where to start. And, of course it is difficult to wade through it, all in the name of finding the answers you need for you.
Once you find good sources and great information, it can be hard to discern what is truly accurate, what coincides with your value system, and what will be beneficial to you and your specific situation. Here are some suggestions straight from someone who has waded through it all…me.
- Start by getting a spiral notebook. This notebook will become a gathering place of questions, ideas, and other information relating to infertility. Of course, I always recommend that the notebook should be inviting and fun. It could be your favorite color. Little things like these are bound to bring joy to a not-so-joyful topic. Maybe even a fancy pen purchased specifically for this research project would be a nice touch. If you are doing most of your research on-line, just cut and paste things you find into a Word Doc–but make sure it is in a font that is exciting and different.
- Write down basic questions you might have right now…for those of you who are organizational nerds like me, you could even itemize the questions into categories, such as emotional/mental, physical, spiritual, and social. As you gather information, put it into your categories. I know that I sometimes need a little encouragement to prime the pump; here are some question suggestions:
Emotional/Mental: How can I express all the emotions I am feeling with my spouse? What emotions are normal? When should I seek professional help? How can I make myself happy and more content?
Physical: What are the causes of infertility…both male and female factor? When should I start worrying about if I am dealing with infertility?
Spiritual: How can I feel like Heavenly Father knows me individually and that He is not punishing me? How can I feel more comfortable at church?
Social: How do I feel like I belong in a world that is family oriented? How can I respond to the constant questions of others?
- As you gather information, make sure that you cite your sources. Do I sound like an English teacher? I can’t tell you how many times I have written something down, go back to review it, and wonder where I got it from. You’ll love yourself in the end!
- Start with professional organizations. Anything with “Association”, “Council”, or “Society”, in the name is definitely worth checking out: The American Fertility Association, The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, The National Infertility Association, The American Pregnancy Association, National Council for Adoption, etc.
- As you search sources, pay attention to information that shares your values. What does the LDS church believe about infertility and treatment options available to couples seeking to build a family? Click here to learn where you can find out. It is very necessary in your education to seek information from a medical perspective as well as a religious perspective. Keep in mind that you could also search online for “LDS infertility” or “infertility christian perspective”.
- Beware of discouraging sources. I have read message boards and blogs that can be what I call toxic…they only focus on the negative. There are all sorts of negative things associated with infertility and it is okay to address those negative things, but it is easy to allow negativity to perpetuate negativity. I have seen the negative feelings move to blaming the LDS church or the Gospel for this thing or that thing. When that happens, I believe it goes too far. Be careful that the sources you frequent encourage and strengthen you (see next bullet point).
- As you look at or read through information, pay attention to the feeling you get as you read. Are you inspired by it? Does it energize you? Is it encouraging? Is it boring? Does it put you to sleep? Does it answer questions? Does it provide information you can understand? Is it concise? Does it take a long time to dig for what you need? (anything that consumes too much of your time is not worth it). Your time is valuable. Make sure you focus on sources that are uplifting, provide helpful information quickly, and is easy to understand.
- Seek for reliable sources. I think there is a place for personal websites and blogs; it is good to see real life experiences and to hear the thoughts of others. There are some wonderful blogs out there that I follow that have changed my perspective about infertility. I do caution against obtaining all of your information from blogs or personal websites. In fact, I caution you against obtaining all of your information from any one source. Spice things up…add variety. Moderation is good in many things, even when seeking sources of information.
- Go beyond the internet. The internet has fantastic resources available immediately…it is overwhelming sometimes to do a search and come up with pages and pages of information. But, the internet is not the only place to gather information–there are GREAT books, too. I have done so many searches for books about infertility, and even though the number is limited, here are some that I found to be extremely helpful, to have interesting perspectives, and to be comprehensive:
Empty Womb, Aching Heart: Hope and Help for Those Struggling with Infertility, by Marlo Schalesky
Love and Infertility: Survival Strategies for Balancing Infertility, Marriage, and Life, by Kristen Magnacca
Infertility and Involuntary Childlessness: Helping Couples Cope, by Beth Cooper-Hilbert
- Check out Professional Journals. Yes, for some professional journals, you may need a medical dictionary or degree in medicine to understand, but others are written in lay terms. There are some great ones out there…ask your librarian for help. Sometimes you can get home access to some of the journal databases. Some journal articles I have found to be helpful include:
Atwood, J.D. & Dobkin, S. (1992). Storm clouds are coming: ways to help couples reconstruct the crisis of infertility. Contemporary Family Therapy. 14(5), 385
Callan, V.J. & Hennessey, J.F. (1989). Strategies for coping with infertility. British Journal of Medical Psychology. volume 62, p. 343-354. ISSN 0007-1129
Newton, C.R., & Houle, M. (1993). Gender Differences in psychological response to infertility treatment. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. 2(3), 129-139. ISSN 1188-4517.
- Seek sources that give you more than medical advice and guidance…seek for sources that will help you spiritually and emotionally. Beyond the books I have read, I have found some very useful articles in our Church Magazines. Do a search at lds.org for the topic of infertility. There are some intriguing articles that come up that can help. Some additional articles that I love which are not specifically about infertility include:
Boyd K. Packer, “Patience.” Ensign, October 1980
David A. Bednar, “The Tender Mercies of the Lord.” Ensign, May 2005
Dieter F. Uchtdorf. “The Infinite Power of Hope.” Ensign, November 2008
Sheri L. Dew, “Are We Not All Mothers?” Ensign, November 2001
Russell M. Nelson, “Lessons from Eve.” Ensign, November 1987
Richard G. Scott, “The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness.” Ensign, November 2006
David E. Sorensen, “Faith Is the Answer.” Ensign, May 2005
Jeffrey R. Holland, “None Were with Him.” Ensign, May 2009
- Ask your Gynecologist or a Reproductive Endocrinologist’s office for information. They will most likely have many resources to which they can point you.
- Finally, the scriptures provide us with a great formula for discerning information…
“But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually;
wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good,
and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.”