Empty arms, aching hearts

Couples urged to stay positive when dealing with infertility

Couples urged to stay positive when dealing with infertility

August 11, 2008|By ASHLEY HAYWOOD / Special to The Herald-Mail

It comes as a surprise to many people to hear that conceiving a baby is not a slam dunk. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), about one out of eight couples has trouble conceiving a child. In a given month, a couple's chance of conceiving is only 25 percent.

It is a widespread condition particularly because couples are waiting until later in life to conceive - when women's fertility is diminished and men's sperm count is typically lower.

According to the ASRM, about a third of conception problems are because of factors related to the male, about a third are female-related, and about one-tenth are related to both partners.

But about one in five cases of infertility are unexplainable. The sometimes hard-to-track-down physical causes of infertility can raise fears and worries for couples, which can make the process of conceiving more difficult.


Marlene, Craig and Amy Carpentieri address fear, stress and related issues in their recent book, "His and Her Mini Toolkit for Infertility" (Tools for Life Publishing). The authors offer concise, almost poetic, insight and advice for couples dealing with infertility.

Craig and Amy Carpentieri are Sufi spiritual healers based in Berkeley Springs, W.Va. They are authors of two books on relationships, "His and Her Toolkit" and "His and Her Mini Toolkit." They advise individuals who have been struggling to conceive to visit a specialist or reproductive endocrinologist. The doctor might help pinpoint the cause of fertility issues.

It is equally important for couples to independently seek out information and to deal with emotional issues. And approach conception with a positive attitude, because sometimes things don't go smoothly.

Craig Carpentieri's mother Marlene works in Florida as the in vitro fertilization (IVF) coordinator at the Fertility and IVF Center of Miami.

"There are many therapies available to women trying to become pregnant that were not available to previous generations," Carpentieri said. These include in vitro fertilization, sperm injection, egg freezing and preimplantation genetic diagnosis.

She said that in vitro fertilization is not only becoming more effective, but it also is becoming more accessible as increased technology decreases the cost of such procedures.

Male testing is a critical component of infertility treatment, Carpentieri said. A common cause of male infertility is varicoceles, in which varicose veins in the scrotum restrict testosterone production. This can be fixed with simple surgery, according to, a nonprofit organization devoted to offering information to couples dealing with infertility.

Aside from the physical causes of infertility, it is possible that psychological and emotional factors might have an affect. It is through considering these factors that frustrated couples might achieve a brighter outlook.

The authors advise women and men to eat healthfully, exercise regularly and avoid various drugs such as anabolic steroids, alcohol and narcotics. Stress not only affects sex drive, but it might also restrict the production of hormones critical in the reproductive process, the authors said. Meditation, yoga and other therapies might help.

The Carpentieris stress the importance of communication between partners trying to conceive. Positive thinking and visualization are also important.

In their book, the authors assert, "See yourself holding your beautiful baby. Imagine the feelings of being in that state, and thoroughly enjoy the emotions and sensations."

Faith in achieving the goal of pregnancy might mean the difference between wanting a child and knowing you will have a child, according to the authors.

"My most successful patients are the ones that have the best attitude," Marlene Carpentieri said.

To learn more ...

Additional information on infertility is available

o American Society for Reproductive Medicine Web site -

o, a nonprofit organization offering information to couples dealing with infertility

o Fertility Journey - at

o "His and Her Mini Toolkit for Infertility," by Marlene, Craig, and Amy Carpentieri; available online at and

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