Stanford Fertility and Reproductive Medicine Center  

Emotional Support

Emotional Support

We recognize that receiving fertility treatments can be a very stressful and emotionally difficult journey. To address the psychological aspects of infertility, challenges in decision making, and other reproductive considerations, the Stanford Fertility & Reproductive Medicine Center offers individual and group support through our professional and caring counseling staff.

Penny Donnelly, RN LMFT

Registration Information

Email: pdonnelly@stanfordmed.org
Call: 650-723-6408 (option 1)

Penny Donnelly, RN LMFT is the director of the support programs at Stanford’s Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Center. She has developed and led a number of counseling and health education programs for patients and facilitates support groups for infertility, third party reproduction and a mind body program.

Support Group Schedule, April – June 2014

 Most groups meet from 6:00-7:30 pm
900 Welch Road, Suite 200
(There is no charge to participate in these offerings)

Trying to Conceive

This group is for women (or couples) that would like support as they negotiate the “ups and downs” of fertility treatments.  We will share strategies for improved coping including some mind/body modalities.  Sharing, restructuring negative or distorted thinking patterns, improving communication skills, and learning the gift of forgiveness and resilience are some sample agendas.  The spirit of this on-going and open group is to provide the attendees with a sense of optimism and emotional stability as they undergo treatments and make decisions about fertility options. 
April 15th, May 13th, and June 10th

3rd Party Reproduction Support Group

This group is for those exploring or moving towards using donor egg, donor sperm, or using a gestational carrier. We explore the many educational, emotional, ethical, and logistical considerations.
April 1st, May 6th, June 3rd

Wellness Program

This dedicated group is for women that are overweight or obese and would like to focus on Health and Wellness to improve their success with fertility treatments.
April 22nd, May 20th, June 17th

Lecture Topics

4/29/14 - Communicating as a Couple

Please join us for an informational session evening to learn how to improve your communication skills with your partner as you go through fertility treatments.

5/27/14 - Making the Most of Your Fertility Treatments

6/24/14 - Resilience, Mindfulness, Restructuring Thoughts, and Spirituality

For more information please go to: www.stanfordivf.com.  If you are interested in more personalized information about our programs please  call Penny Donnelly RN, LMFT, at 650-723-6408 or email pdonnelly@stanfordmed.org.

*Private and couple’s counseling also available; NO charge first session*

The Disclosure Decision

Couples considering pursuing 3rd party reproduction- ovum donation, sperm donation, or the use of a gestational carrier have some important decisions to make over what they will share with others, and most importantly their intended child.

This lecture focuses on what the current research has shown us about disclosure and how to best go about the process to best meet the needs of your family.

Where: 900 Welch Road, suite 200
When: Tuesday, March 25th at 6:30-8:00 pm
RSVP: Penny Donnelly at pdonnelly@stanfordmed.org or ph. 650-723-6408

Fertility Health and Wellness Program

Support Group for Women trying to conceive that desire to become “their best self” by losing weight and focusing on having healthy eating and lifestyle  behaviors.
Who – Anyone trying to conceive who is overweight or obese
Where – 900 Welch Road, suite 200
When – This is an open group, so please start on any date and come whenever you are able.   April 22nd, May 20th, June 17th from 6-7:30 pm.

The group is designed to be both educational and supportive in nature. The intention is to provide a dedicated and safe place for women struggling with their weight, and to assist them in achieving their goals and increase their likelihood of conceiving.

If you would like to learn more information about this program please call Penny Donnelly RN LMFT 650-723-6408 or email pdonnelly@stanfordmed.org

(There is no charge for this program)

Lifestyle Recommendations for Women Trying to Conceive

Diet – Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Try to stay away from processed foods and eat less trans fats and processed sugar.

Weight – Both those significantly underweight and overweight have more difficulty conceiving.  A BMI of less than 19 or greater than 25 is associated with decreased fertility.  Obese women that lose 5-10% of their body weight can significantly improve their chances of conceiving and staying pregnant.

Caffeine – It is safe to consume the equivalent of one caffeinated cup of coffee per day (or tea) when trying to conceive or when pregnant. 

Alcohol – If you consume alcohol, drink minimally when trying to conceive.  Avoid all alcohol when pregnant. 

Exercise – Regular exercise is important for both physical and emotional health.  When done in moderation, it helps with weight control, insulin sensitivity, and ovarian functioning and is safe during early pregnancy.  Bed rest after an insemination or embryo transfer is unnecessary.  Check with your doctor for further guidance.

Stress – Stress is unavoidable.  Take steps to eliminate what you are able.  It is difficult to quantify the effect of stress on fertility rates. Mind Body programs, meditation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, yoga and acupuncture may improve fertility rates.   
 
Environmental factors – There is no reliable research that demonstrates that computers, microwave ovens, high-energy electric power lines, or high altitudes have any association on infertility or pregnancy.
Exposure to environmental toxins should be minimized when possible.
There are some things you can do to minimize exposure to BPA

Sexual intercourse – It is OK to remain sexually active during infertility treatment and early pregnancy. 

Vaccinations - All women pregnant or trying to conceive should receive the flu shot.  Being vaccinated is an effective and safe way to protect you and your baby from serious illness and complications of the flu. 

Medications:
There are some medications that may be harmful to both male and/or female infertility.  Please be sure to review all current medications with your doctor. 

Consider joining a support group.  Sharing your story and getting support and guidance from others that have experienced loss can be invaluable.  If you want more information on participating in our support programs please call Penny Donnelly RN LMFT  at 650-723-6408 or email pdonnelly@stanfordmed.org.

Lifestyle Recommendations for Men Trying to Conceive

Diet – Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  A diet high in antioxidants is helpful for sperm quality .

Weight –  Men that are obese are at increased risk for lowered sperm counts and erectile dysfunction.

Alcohol –Drinking alcohol occasionally is likely not going to negatively impact sperm counts.  Binge drinking is not good and may compromise sperm quality. 

Exercise – Regular exercise is important for both physical and emotional health.  Long distance bike riding may contribute to erectile dysfunction for some men.  

Stress – Stress is unavoidable.  Take steps to eliminate what you are able.  It is difficult to quantify the effect of stress on fertility rates. Mind Body programs, meditation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, yoga and acupuncture may improve fertility rates.   
 
Environmental factors – There is no reliable research that demonstrates that computers, microwave ovens, high-energy electric power lines, or high altitudes have any association on infertility or pregnancy.
Exposure to environmental toxins should be minimized when possible.
There are some things you can do to minimize exposure to BPA

Smoking - Smoking is known to be harmful to one’s overall health and decreases sperm quality.  Smoking marijuana also appears to reduce reproductive potential. 

Avoid excessive heat to scrotum - Ideally the sperm should be a few degrees cooler than body temperature.  Avoid hot tubes, saunas, heated car seats, and computers directly on the lap.  The sperm quality today is generally reflective of one’s lifestyle 120 days ago. 

Medications:
There are some medications that may be harmful to both male and/or female infertility.  Please be sure to review all current medications with your doctor. 

Consider joining a support group.  Sharing your story and getting support and guidance from others that have experienced loss can be invaluable.  If you want more information on participating in our support programs please call Penny Donnelly RN LMFT  at 650-723-6408 or email pdonnelly@stanfordmed.org.

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