Between the stress, cost, and endless questions, fertility treatments can come with a lot of baggage.
Going through a decade of infertility taught me a hell of a lot, but the main lesson was this: I needed to be an advocate for my own health.
The other lesson was that fertility treatments come with so much baggage. There’s the cost, the stress, and the endless questions.
I cried at the $600 a month price tag on the loan my husband and I took out to pay for 4 of our 7 rounds before our daughter was born. I felt lost when it came to trying to understand why certain friends didn’t seem supportive. I felt clueless when it came to my labs and fertility testing. I needed help.
Enter: fertility coaching. I had never even heard of this concept until after I gave birth to my daughter — five IVF treatments later.
While your physicians are there to give medical advice, fertility coaches are there for everything else. They look at the whole person — not just the infertility diagnosis.
They’ll help with diet, stress management, and how you perceive and think about the diagnosis. They can also act as a sounding board when you need to make a treatment decision or need someone to explain exactly how an egg retrieval works.
Saskia Roell, a clinical hypnotherapist and founder of Get Pregnant Now, has run an international fertility coaching practice for 20 years. She says a fertility coach can be really helpful to those of us feeling overwhelmed because fertility can be really hard work.
“The women I work with have tried everything like IVF, IUI, yoga, acupuncture, supplements, affirmations, and change of lifestyle, but the spartan regimens and scheduled sex often rob them of the joy and happiness that getting pregnant can offer,” says Roell.
Roell’s focus with her clients depends on what they need most.
“With all of (my clients) in their first session with me, we map out their fears. All of them, even the tiny ones. Then we release the fears on a deep level so they are gone for good,” she explains. “I help them reset their thinking which resets their body.”
For Wesley and Abby Keesler, this type of tailored support was essential during their infertility struggles.
Married 11 years, they had one son and decided to expand their family using IVF. They became pregnant with twins but ended up losing one of their babies at 10 weeks, the other at 33.
They looked into getting a fertility coach with Future Family, a healthcare services platform focused on providing fertility support and flexible payment options.
“(My coach) was there emotionally for the stillbirth, and when I started bleeding at the beginning of this pregnancy,” says Abby. “I could text her any time. She was able to be there to support me and know what to say to reassure us that things would be okay.”
When Claire Tomkins started Future Family, it was with the intention to remove some of the barriers to fertility treatments many single persons and couples face. In fact, it’s what makes Future Family stand out from other coaching companies — providing help directly with the stress of paying for IVF.
“For me, there were two parts that were broken. First, you don’t have any support systems when you go through it. It’s this intense self-managed care process,” Tomkins explains. “And second, people are going into debt with treatments.”
One IVF cycle costs around $12,000 according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.
But of course, it’s more than the money. There’s also the emotional and mental toll that people going through infertility endure — oftentimes alone.
Fertility coaches can be there to answer the questions that feel impossible to answer on your own. Instead of spending hours on the internet searching for possible solutions, you can go straight to your fertility coach for personalized support.
“There’s so much on the internet and people can read about what works for one person, but certainly that’s not going to work for everyone,” says Annalisa Graham, BSN, RN, fertility coach at Future Family.
Though a fertility coach isn’t something everyone going through IVF needs, having their expertise can help supplement the medical guidance from your physicians and give you extra physical, mental, and emotional support while navigating infertility.
Fertility coach credentials aren’t set in stone. They range from registered nurses to a licensed therapist to a fertility acupuncturist to a nutritionist. Some don’t carry any credentials at all.
Yes, you heard that right. Fertility coaching isn’t limited to one standard, so you’ll need to do some research into who you hire. It’s important to consider what your overall goal is and what you’re looking for in a coach.
If you’re unsure about fertility medical procedures and want concrete support and direction pertaining to treatments, it may be beneficial to have a coach who’s also an RN, as many of them have worked in a fertility clinic themselves.
If emotional support is important to you as you journey through infertility, a coach who’s a licensed therapist may be a bonus.
If you want to really get in touch with your mind and body and how they work together while going through infertility, it could be a good idea to go with a coach who’s a hypnotherapist or functional medicine practitioner.
And since some infertility diagnoses such as polycystic ovarian syndrome can be improved by changing lifestyle habits, it might help to work with a coach who has a nutritionist background.
How to find a coach and what they charge can vary as much as the type of coach you hire.
Since there’s no governing body that certifies fertility coaches, there’s no online registry to locate one. You’ll have to do your own searching online or get recommendations from others who have used them.
Almost all fertility coaches work over the phone or by text or email, so finding a coach in your geographic location isn’t necessary unless you were interested in in-person support. Many of them will let you schedule an initial discovery call at no cost.
You could expect to pay anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand.
Unfortunately, if you were hoping your insurance would help with the cost, you’ll be left disappointed, as most mainstream insurance companies don’t provide benefits for fertility coaching.
“The number of available fertility options has increased dramatically in recent years, but the reality is that insurance is not keeping up,” says Tomkins. “In most U.S. states, fertility care itself is considered ‘nonessential’ and therefore not covered by mandated insurance programs. Only a handful of states, like Illinois and Massachusetts, have mandates for IVF coverage.”
However, only by starting the conversation with your employer and insurance company can you send the message they should start covering it. The more people who ask, the more likely the response will be positive.
Having a fertility coach’s expertise can provide extra physical, mental, and emotional support as you navigate infertility.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to do your own research online or through people you know to find one, and that most insurance companies don’t cover the expense of having one.
Fertility coaches have all kinds of backgrounds and it’s up to you to decide what kind of support you think you need throughout your journey.
Risa Kerslake is a registered nurse and freelance writer living in the Midwest with her husband and two daughters. She writes extensively on fertility, health, and parenting issues. You can connect with her via Facebook, her website, and Twitter.