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Archive for July, 2009

Reduce Stress with Breathing Meditation

An effective way to gain the upper hand over PCOS in the long run is to reduce chronic stress. Chronic stress produces alarm hormones that upset your overall hormonal balance and have been shown to worsen some symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.

When you’re feeling stressed, you may notice that your breathing becomes more rapid and shallow. When this happens, take a few deep, slow breaths.

Then take a little bit of time for a brief breathing meditation. A breathing meditation is a great way to calm yourself and reduce production of stress hormones.

Find a quiet place and get into a comfortable position. You could sit down in a chair or lie down. The important thing is to be comfortable so that you’re able to focus solely on your breathing.

Once you’re comfortable, close your eyes.

Start to notice your breathing. We breathe so often that we tend to take breathing for granted. So take the time to notice your breathing.

Notice the air filling your lungs. Then notice as you breathe out and the air leaves your lungs.

Repeat the process of noticing your breath.

As you do this, you’ll find thoughts coming up. They might be about family, friends, work or anything else. It doesn’t matter. It’s all part of the process and it is perfectly normal to continue to have thoughts while meditating.

When these thoughts come up, let them drift out with your next breath and bring your mind back to focusing on your breathing.

Continue for as long as you need to.

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Is fertility treatment really the emotional roller coaster I keep hearing about?

For most people, it is. While undergoing fertility treatment, many couples tend to live in month-to-month cycles of hope and disappointment that revolve around ovulation calendars and menstruation.

As they navigate a tight schedule of tests and treatments, they place their lives on hold — postponing vacations, putting off education, and short-circuiting their careers. Others find that the sorrow, anger, and frustration that can come with prolonged fertility problems invade every area of life, eroding self-confidence and straining friendships.

Realize and accept that you and your partner will have some ups and, most likely, a great many downs as you deal with your fertility problem. Examine your commitment to becoming parents and consider joining a support group if you decide to go ahead with treatment. Connecting with others in your situation is extremely important!

Why do women seem to suffer so much more than their male partners?

Most women are raised to think that they’ll become mothers someday. From the first baby doll to the last baby shower, girls and women are surrounded by images and expectations from parents, peers, religion, advertising, and the media.

For some women, motherhood is a large part of their self-image as a female. For others, it’s their highest ambition. Even women who don’t necessarily want to become mothers are aware of social expectations to do so.

The pressures to marry and raise a family can be enormous — to the extent that women who are unable to do those things can feel as though something must be deeply wrong with them or sorely lacking in their lives.

Men are not pressured in the same way to become fathers. And many men are brought up to repress their feelings or at least keep them to themselves.

A man may be feeling similar frustration and disappointment as he and his partner go through yet another treatment and yet another month without a pregnancy. But many see their role as being strong for their partner. Or they may be so used to holding in their feelings that they don’t know what they feel or that they can ask for help.

If the fertility problem is clearly his, such as poor sperm quality, then a man’s image of himself can start to suffer.

Studies show that, as a group, women with fertility problems are as anxious and depressed as women with cancer, heart disease, or HIV. One reason for this may be the physical demands of fertility treatments — blood tests, pills, daily hormone injections, ultrasounds, egg retrievals, and surgery can all be a source of stress and emotional upheaval in women.

Also, society often fails to recognize the grief caused by infertility, so people denied parenthood tend to hide their sorrow, which only increases their feelings of shame and isolation.

Our love life seems so mechanical now. Does this happen to other couples?

Yes. Many couples say that once they start worrying about having a baby, sex becomes more of a chore than a pleasure. Most fertility treatments require you to make love at very specific times — hardly an ideal way to set the mood for romance or enjoy sexual spontaneity.

If you find your sex life deteriorating and yourselves unable to remember the meaning of romance, take a break from your treatment regimen for a month or two and try to revive the love and fun that brought you together in the first place.

Keep in mind that this crisis is temporary — sooner or later, it will be resolved, and once it is, you’ll want to continue a healthy, fulfilling sexual relationship with your partner. For now, if difficulties persist, consider couple’s therapy with a counselor who has experience with fertility issues. Look for a referral through RESOLVE, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, or the InterNational Council on Infertility Information.
Learn how to avoid the most common pitfalls for couples facing fertility problems.

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