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Integrated Fertility & Wellness - A Holistic Approach to Family Building Blog Feature
Emma Lott

By: Emma Lott on February 26th, 2021

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Integrated Fertility & Wellness - A Holistic Approach to Family Building

Wellness | Fertility Treatment | Mental Health

If you’re considering making an appointment with a fertility specialist, there are so many factors to consider.

Location - does this clinic have offices near enough to where I live and work?

Success rates - does this clinic or provider have a proven track record of success?

Personality - do I get along well with this provider? Do I feel taken care of?

All of these factors (and more) should play into your decision, and choosing a clinic that goes above and beyond can make all the difference as you navigate your fertility journey. Here at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut, we are proud to have a team that does just that - and a few of those key players are the women who make up our Integrated Fertility and Wellness program.

What is Integrated Fertility and Wellness (IFW)?

At RMA of Connecticut, we believe in treating the whole patient. While your dedicated fertility care team (your reproductive endocrinologist, fertility nurse, patient navigator, and finance and insurance representative) will help chart your course through fertility treatment, there are so many other factors that contribute to your health and wellness during this time. In the words of a former patient turned RMA of Connecticut’s Content Manager, Virginia Furnari, “going through fertility treatment can seem like a part-time job” alongside work stress, existing relationships, and a host of other life responsibilities.

That’s where our Integrated Fertility and Wellness (IFW) team comes in. IFW is a program dedicated to your mind/body support throughout the fertility journey which helps with your ability to persevere, deal with complicated emotional situations, and more generally, succeed in family building. Our IFW team offers a variety of disciplines, including acupuncture, nutrition, mental health services, fertile yoga, and a number of specific, tailored support groups.

These providers are here to supplement your treatment plan, help you maintain balance, and de-stress along the way. Read on to hear from a real patient about their IFW experience, and to learn more about each member of our IFW team.

A Real Patient Experience: IVF Success Amidst COVID Stress

As an employee of RMA of Connecticut, I know how hard our IFW team works to make patients feel heard, supported, and wholeheartedly cared for. What might be most meaningful to you, however, is a real patient’s experience with the team.

The following testimony is from a patient who shared her story anonymously, in her own words. We are so grateful to be able to share it with you.

I switched to RMA of Connecticut after one failed IUI at another practice, and I’m so happy that I did. After meeting with Dr. Murdock, I did another IUI, and then my husband and I moved on to IVF. I had to take a few months off because of COVID-19, which was another stressor during this process!

I was actually supposed to start IVF in March 2020, but I ended up starting in May 2020. My first transfer was unsuccessful, but my second transfer led to baby boy, due in March of 2021 (how exciting!). I am endlessly thankful to everyone at RMA of Connecticut for this miracle.

If it weren’t for COVID, the IFW team would have played an even bigger role in my fertility journey. As it was, coming from a practice that didn’t have any offerings like that, it was mind-blowing to see the support that was offered at RMA of Connecticut.

During my fertility journey, I made use of the following resources:

  • Acupuncture - I saw and still see Dr. Elaine Malin- she is so sweet, calming, and nurturing. I went quite often through my fertility journey, and I also did acupuncture before and after both transfers with Dr. Amy Matton. Acupuncture truly helped me, especially with my anxiety.
  • Ladies Night In and Fertile Yoga - I only went to two support groups and Fertile Yoga pre-COVID, but I never attended them virtually. I definitely would've kept going in person!
  • Nutrition Counseling - I saw Jill Hickey, RDN, twice I think, while my long-time dietician was on maternity leave. She was so sweet and supportive. I had about 10 lbs to lose before meeting the BMI requirement for IVF, and I truly believe that she gave me the motivation (and some really helpful tips) to get there.

I still speak to someone that I met at a Ladies Night In, and I’m in all of the Facebook groups. My husband and I also saw Melissa Kelleher for couples counseling, which helped us get through some of the toughest parts of IVF.

If I could give one piece of advice to someone starting fertility treatment, I would say, “trust your journey.” This was hard for me at first because there were so many unknowns. I found that when I was finally able to calm down, find outlets for my anxiety, and stop worrying about when it would be “my turn” is when things started to come together for me. When I went into my successful transfer, I was so calm, and I have no doubt that helped the success.

I would also say to trust the doctors and nurses, and to stay away from the internet! Everyone's situation is so unique and different, so don't compare yourself to others.

Lastly, be kind to your body and your mind. This is not an easy road, but there will be an end.

We thank this patient for sharing these pivotal moments in her journey and for giving meaningful advice to current and future patients. We couldn’t agree with her sentiments more, and we wish her the best of luck with her baby boy on the way!

Acupuncture and Fertility Treatment

Did you know that acupuncture is actually clinically proven to help enhance fertility? That’s right - studies show that acupuncture reduces stress and improves blood flow to the reproductive organs, which in turn enhances fertility. According to Dr. Amy Matton, DACM, L.Ac., “Acupuncture is about encouraging balance for body and mind and creating an environment that is optimal for pregnancy to occur.” Acupuncturists Dr. Amy Matton, Dr. Elaine Malin, DACM, L.Ac., and Melissa Sommer, MS, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., help patients reap both the physical and emotional benefits of these practices through traditional and laser acupuncture.

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Fertility Nutrition

A personalized nutrition plan can help support your fertility treatment and general wellness, while maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Registered Dietician Nutritionist Jill Hickey helps patients from all walks of life make changes to their diet and lifestyle that can have a lasting impact, from those trying to conceive to those managing PCOS symptoms.

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Mental Health Support During Fertility Treatment

We know that a fertility journey can be stressful. Developing a personalized plan to help you maintain equilibrium and find your center throughout treatment is the ultimate goal for our mental health counselors, Lisa Schuman and Melissa Kelleher. In the words of Lisa Schuman, LCSW, “the number one reason patients drop out of fertility treatment is stress. Our mental health team helps make that journey more manageable so they can remain in treatment and achieve their dreams.” For Melissa Kelleher, LCSW, finding ways to help patients “manage the roller coaster of emotions as they’re going through fertility treatment” is her personal motivation.

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Fertile Yoga and Finding Community

Our last IFW provider brings years of her own personal experience as an infertility patient, yogi, and a patient advocate to the table. When Lisa Rosenthal went through her own family building journey, she recognized the lack of support and community - and didn't want anyone to go through fertility treatment feeling that sense of loneliness. She now is the facilitator of many of our support groups, which range in topic from Ladies Night In (for moms-to-be), to LGBTQ+ parenting, to pregnancy after infertility treatment. Lisa is also the founder and teacher of Fertile Yoga - a gentle yoga and mindfulness practice that has been proven to reduce stress and increase hopefulness for fertility patients. 

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Want to learn more?

If you are a current RMA of CT patient and you want to book an appointment with one of these IFW providers, please reach out to your nurse or navigator! To learn more about the Integrated Fertility and Wellness team, click through to our IFW page

About Emma Lott

Emma is the brand specialist for Gay Parents To Be, helping to build awareness of the brand not only as a direct path to parenthood, but also as a general resource for fertility information in the LGBTQ community. She loves the chance to attend conferences on LGBTQ health and family building, and meet prospective patients.