If you follow world news at all, especially since the beginning of 2020, you’ve probably felt the burden of negativity weighing you down.  The same can be true in your personal life, your work life, or anywhere that people are present, if you look for it there is plenty of negativity to go around. 


So how could a little positivity possibly be a bad thing?

The truth is… it’s not! A positive outlook, at its core, is a great asset. In fact, there’s plenty of research backing up the benefits of taking a more upbeat outlook on life.  For example, when medical researchers studied a group of people with a strong family history of cardiac disease, they found that patients with a more positive outlook were a full third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiac event!

So What Is Toxic Positivity? Can You Be Too Positive?

Dr. Susan David defines toxic positivity as “forced, false positivity. It may sound innocuous on the surface, but when you share something difficult with someone and they insist that you turn it into a positive, what they are really saying is, ‘My comfort is more important than your reality.” 

(This incredible quote from Dr. David was taken from her guest appearance on Brene Brown’s podcast.)

The Consequences of Toxic Positivity

While being overly positive may not seem too destructive on the surface, it has many consequences. This can even be true when we find ourselves speaking with toxic positivity in our own self-talk!

Denying Emotions

Toxic positivity can lead us to deny the reality of the emotions that we’re facing. Depending on your personality type, you may tend to deny your emotions (or at least the ones you deem negative!) in general. This rarely ends well. Usually, it ends up with the negative feelings building and building and building.


In the end, these feelings will be released. It’s only a matter of time. They might “seep out sideways” through passive aggression or snapping at a stranger in the grocery store. Or you might wind up having a major meltdown.  But regardless of how these feelings end up presenting themselves, the fact is this: emotions that you deny and repress never stay repressed.

Guilt for Feeling Negative Emotions

Some people tend to deny or repress emotions they don’t want to feel. Others of us feel that we have no choice but to experience feelings like sadness, fear, and anxiety. But even people who don’t struggle to feel their feelings can have a tendency to feel guilty for them!


And toxic positivity can intensify this guilt. But in reality, feelings are just that: feelings. They don’t define who we are, and we aren’t defined by our fears or worries. And we don’t need to feel guilty for being fearful or worried.


Fertility treatments can be trying, even in the best of circumstances! Worrying about the outcome of a treatment or test is a sign that you’re normal, not that anything is wrong with you!  People who operate in a mindset of toxic positivity will make statements like, “You should just be grateful for the things you have in your life!” “Everything happens for a reason!” “Don’t focus on unwanted test results!”  These kinds of statements are not helpful. In fact, they are dismissive of your true feelings.


But the fact of the matter is that it’s completely possible to feel more than one emotion at a time. The fact that you are disappointed with a negative pregnancy test doesn’t mean you are any less grateful for your friends, family, or all the other wonderful things in your life.

Not Seeking Support

One of the most dangerous things about toxic positivity is this: It can discourage us from seeking emotional support during the very times we need it most!  When we feel shamed for our feelings by others, we tend to shut down and not seek help from them again. No one wants to share their darkest feelings if we know that our supposed source of support is going to encourage us to “think happy thoughts!”

Things To Try Instead

Whether you are tempted to scold yourself or others for feeling sad and downtrodden, resist the urge to act as if life is all rainbows and unicorns.  Acknowledge your feelings, and let them flow through you. Sit with your grief. Acknowledge when you or a loved one has experienced a loss, even a perceived loss.  As painful as it can be, it’s important to acknowledge the possibility of undesirable outcomes.


Possibly the most important part of this process is acknowledging that poor outcomes are a possibility. And, that you can handle whatever comes your way. So much of toxic positivity comes down to a belief that we can’t handle the difficulties that life throws at us!


When you’re supporting others, empathize with them.  Let yourself feel the emotions that they are describing. Ask yourself how you would feel in their situation.  Avoid jumping straight into encouragement. Let them share their feelings without judgment.

Need a Place to Vent Without Being Told to Think Positive?


Life can seem uncertain, and you aren’t sure where this journey will take you. That’s completely normal.  Even though we are generally upbeat and positive at The Integrative Fertility M.D., we understand the road that you are walking during your fertility testing and treatments. We understand the confusion that comes with test results you weren’t expecting.


We empathize with the disappointment you feel when treatments don’t have the outcome you’d been hoping for. Even after pregnancy is achieved, mixed feelings are a normal part of the process! And even in your celebration, you might feel anxious, scared, or ambivalent. It’s okay (and healthy!) to acknowledge these mixed emotions.


If you need a place to turn for support without the toxic positivity, consider The Integrative Fertility M.D. for your fertility consultation, testing, and treatment needs. We are here to help and hold space for you!

Nothing beats getting all your necessary vitamins and minerals from a diet rich in nourishing, whole foods. But unfortunately, it’s just not always possible to achieve this with our modern diets. One day you’ll knock it out of the park with healthy fats, but neglect to eat enough calcium. The next day you cover your calcium and magnesium bases, but hardly get any zinc.

This is the reason you may want to include supplements as a part of your daily life. Though we shouldn’t rely on supplements to give us all the nutrients we need and neglect our eating habits, including some of the best supplements for fertility can help.

Prenatal vitamins

When you’re trying to conceive, one of the most important supplements to include in your routine is a prenatal vitamin. It takes an egg about three months to complete its journey to ovulation. So the nutrients you take in today are actually playing a huge role in healthy egg development and production months down the road!


Not all prenatals are the same, though. Be sure to read labels, and select a prenatal without artificial flavors, dyes, and hydrogenated oils. A lot of supplements on the market are coated with phthalates, which can disrupt your endocrine system in powerful ways.


Look for a prenatal that contains vitamin B12, choline, iron, calcium, selenium, zinc, iodine, and biotin. It should also offer vitamin A, most of which comes from beta carotene. Finally, be sure the brand of prenatal vitamin that you choose contains methylfolate rather than folic acid. Though most prenatals contain folic acid, methylfolate is the more bioavailable, readily-absorbed form. This is especially important if you have an MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) gene variant.


A lot of the prenatals available at the grocery store contain vitamin D and DHA. These nutrients are both vital during pregnancy and preconception, but prenatals usually contain very little of either of these. Look for separate vitamin D and DHA supplements!

Vitamin D

A vast majority of people in the Western world have low vitamin D levels, despite all the “vitamin D fortified” foods we ingest. This is primarily due to the lack of sunshine that we get, since we spend most of our hours inside. And it’s pretty common for women with PCOS to have very low levels of vitamin D.


Vitamin D is fat-soluble, and it has hormone functionality. It’s actually a vitamin that your body produces in response to sun exposure and foods like eggs, liver, and fatty fish.


It’s incredibly difficult to get enough vitamin D from foods alone. In addition to adding a vitamin D supplement, though, aim to spend at least 20 minutes in direct sunlight every day to encourage vitamin D production. Know your skin type, though, and use caution if you tend to burn easily!


The research surrounding fertility rates and vitamin D levels is a bit mixed. One study concluded that vitamin D deficiency was associated with lower success rates of in-vitro fertilization in non-hispanic White women. But other data don’t show any increase in conception or live birth with vitamin D supplementation.


Levels of vitamin D can be lower due to inflammation, which could possibly be the reason we see lower levels in women with PCOS. Several small studies have suggested that vitamin D supplementation may help regulate the menstrual cycle in PCOS patients. More study is needed in this area, though.


Women with a vitamin D deficiency may also be at increased risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and premature birth.


There’s some evidence that males who supplement with vitamin D can have improved sperm motility. Higher vitamin D levels were associated with a higher chance of one’s partner conceiving.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is a nutrient that naturally occurs in the body. It’s a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to improve ovulation rates in women using Clomid. CoQ10 can also help to support improved egg quality during IVF cycles..


Men taking CoQ10 also showed a possible improvement of sperm concentration and movement.


While we definitely need more human studies on the benefits of CoQ10, it’s considered a safe supplement to take during conception and pregnancy, so most practitioners feel that it is safe and that the possible benefits outweigh the risks.


Myo-inositol is a sugar found in the brain, and it’s part of the group of B-complex vitamins. When studied in women with PCOS, it was shown to decrease insulin resistance and lower levels of serum testosterone. It also improved menstrual irregularities and increased ovulatory frequency! 


Pregnancy rates were increased in PCOS patients after they had taken myo-inositol for three to six months. And myo-inositol has also been shown to possibly improve egg quality during IVF. Gestational diabetes levels were also lowered in women who continued supplementing during pregnancy.


Myo-inositol can be a great supplement to consider if you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS!


N-acetylcysteine is a great antioxidant to add to your supplement routine to protect your cells from the stress caused by oxidation. Oxidation can reduce the body’s ability to produce a healthy egg, and antioxidants can help fight this oxidative process. This is especially helpful to your egg cells!


N-acetylcysteine can also benefit sperm quality. One study showed that men who took selenium supplements along with N-acetylcysteine demonstrated increased semen quality. 


N-acetylcysteine might also benefit women with PCOS by reducing their testosterone and insulin levels. It’s possible that N-acetylcysteine and myo-inositol could be an option for women who can’t tolerate the side effects of Metformin.

Don’t forget to discuss this with your care provider!

When we talk about supplementation, it’s important to remember that each case is different. Your unique history and medical issues may make any of these supplements inadvisable in your case. Be sure to discuss the advisability of adding these supplements to your routine with your fertility doctor.


Dr. Salem is extremely knowledgeable about the benefits and drawbacks of various vitamins and mineral supplements during fertility treatments, conception, and pregnancy. Request a consultation with her to discuss which of these supplements could benefit you!