Infertility & Insurance: Outside the Doctor’s Office
When you sense that your body has failed you, you carry around an ever-present weight. You long for a heavy belly, but instead you grow a heavy heart. You ache for good news, but are met with puzzled looks and negative tests. You plug along trying to reassure yourself, “this doesn't define me.” But day after day you notice you are drifting apart from friends. Baby showers, kid birthday parties, even couples dinner parties are harder to attend. Perhaps the most difficult part of the infertility journey is the emotional toll it takes, sending you into a spiral of isolation and fear.
We are in a 4 part series looking at the physical, emotional and financial aspects of infertility. Last post we peered into the financial world of insurance and fertility. This post, we conclude our series looking beyond the doctor’s office for ways to tend to the gnawing ache within. We will specifically look at the importance of finding a support network and the role of traditional Chinese Medicine.
The Power of “You Too?”
Support group? No way. What could be worse than opening up to strangers about a problem I feel utterly helpless to control? I kept finding excuses not to go: struggling alone felt safe. But after my first failed IVF, I was in shambles and didn’t know where else to turn. By taking a courageous risk to go, I learned the power of “you too?” Listening around the room as women confessed feelings of shame, guilt, fear and sadness: I realized I wasn’t alone.
Support groups are generally designed to help woman and couples work through the emotional journey of infertility. Groups can be found through infertility specialist’s offices, local faith communities, counseling centers and the National Infertility Association, RESOLVE.
If you find that you are facing a more severe or sustained time of grief, a licensed professional counselor might be a better place to start. Please let your doctor know and they can help connect you. TakeCommandHealth can help you find out if your insurance covers mental health counseling.
Acupuncture: Friend or Foe?
I was surprised when my fertility doctor told me that she encourages her patients to see a licensed acupuncturist alongside her prescribed treatments. In fact, she so firmly believes in the benefit of traditional Chinese Medicine in congruence with traditional Western medicine, she welcomes an acupuncturist to share office space in her booming Atlanta practice.
What does the research say?
Traditional Chinese Medicine aims to re-establish balance within the body through hormone regulation and stress reduction. According to the Cochrane Library of medical research reviews, acupuncture yields mixed results. Some studies point to the benefits of acupuncture when used along with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to increase live birth rates. Other studies show no improvement. Because research to this point is relatively inconclusive, many insurance companies do not cover acupuncture when used for infertility. However, it is worth a conversation with your fertility specialist, as many couples have seen very favorable results and it is a huge cost saver when compared to Assisted Reproductive Technology. While the cost of acupuncture will vary, without insurance, first time visits generally run around $125, with follow up appointments $75.
Tending to the Soul
When I asked a friend recently what her support group, Shiloh, meant to her, she responded: "Shiloh to me is a place to come and rest, a place to share hopes and fears, a place to laugh and to cry, but mostly a place to love and be loved. In short, Shiloh has been my biggest blessing in our fertility journey. Between the friends I've made and the salvation I have found, I have to say Shiloh has been my saving grace."
What is your saving grace during this time of trial? Whether you find mind-body connection and stress reduction through acupuncture, yoga, meditation or prayer, tending to the soul in the midst of infertility is crucial. And do not suffer alone.
TakeCommandHealth can help you learn what your insurance benefits cover inside and outside the fertility clinic. TakeCommandHealth is also working on providing a team of licensed individuals that are a phone call, email or text away with answers about what is and is not covered based upon your unique insurance plan. Sign up below to stay connected and learn more!
- Cheong YC, Dix S, Hung Yu Ng E, Ledger WL, Farquhar C. Acupuncture and assisted reproductive technology. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD006920. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006920.pub3.
- Cochrane, S., Smith, C. A., Possamai-Inesedy, A., & Bensoussan, A. (2016). Prior to Conception: The Role of an Acupuncture Protocol in Improving Women’s Reproductive Functioning Assessed by a Pilot Pragmatic Randomised Controlled Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2016, 3587569. http://doi.org.ezproxy.gsu.edu/10.1155/2016/3587569
- Lim CED, Ng RWC, Xu K, Cheng NCL, Xue CCL, Liu JP, Chen N. Acupuncture for polycystic ovarian syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD007689. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007689.pub3.
- Tan L, Tong Y, Sze SC, Xu M, Shi Y, Song XY, Zhang TT. Chinese herbal medicine for infertility with anovulation: a systematic review. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2012; 18(12): 1087-1100 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0053352/