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Archive for March, 2011

Infertility Myths

More than 7 million women in the United States struggle with infertility. Adding to the weight of the issue are the many myths and misunderstandings being spread about infertility — perhaps because it’s an emotional subject that people have a difficult time discussing openly.

Here are six common myths about infertility, and explanations from the specialists at Reproductive Laboratories of Augusta, a member of MCG Health System:

Myth No. 1: It’s easy to get pregnant. False. With each menstrual cycle, a couple has a window of opportunity in which to conceive. The egg survives for only 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. To get pregnant, a couple must have intercourse either in the period prior to or during ovulation. The bottom line: Couples who are trying to conceive have about a one-in-five chance of getting pregnant each cycle at their peak fertility.

Myth No. 2: Everyone should try to conceive for a year before seeking medical help. False. Infertility is defined as not achieving pregnancy after 12 months of attempting to conceive for most couples. Experts recommend that women over 35 years old see an infertility specialist after six months of unsuccessfully attempting pregnancy. Why? A woman’s fertility decreases significantly with age. It is important to seek help before treatment success is affected by age.

Myth No. 3. Infertility treatment is always complicated and expensive. False. There are many medications which are available to treat infertility which are not expensive and can be taken orally. These medications can be used in patients who ovulate and don’t ovulate regularly with success. Certain lifestyle changes can also help improve fertility, such as changing or adding certain prescription medications in men and women, or diet and exercise in women.

Myth No. 4. Stress can cause infertility. False. Stress is not felt to be a cause of infertility. Of course, stress or extensive work commitments can indirectly affect fertility if these things affect a couple’s personal relationship. Severe stress can interfere with ovulation or depress sperm production. But both situations are rare.

Myth No. 5. There’s nothing you can do to prevent infertility. False. You may not realize it, but sexually transmitted diseases can lead to infertility. Infections caused by Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause scarring and damage to a woman’s reproductive organs that can interfere with fertility. You can reduce this risk by using condoms.

Myth No. 6. Infertility is primarily a woman’s problem. False. Infertility is a couple’s issue. In at least 40 percent of cases, a fertility problem is diagnosed in the male partner. It is important that both partners be evaluated at the initial appointment.

In 30 to 40 percent of cases, there is more than one problem when a couple can’t conceive, or infertility can be from an unknown factor. It is important to make sure there are no genetic conditions or other health problems that may be contributing to problems conceiving.

Don’t believe everything you hear. If you are having difficulty getting pregnant or are concerned about conception, talk to your doctor or seek advice from a reproductive specialist.

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Stay Happy

How do you stay happy during this infertility journey?

Since infertility presents so many emotional challenges, it’s always helpful to think of ways to live a happier life.

1. Optimists live 7 – 9 years longer than pessimists.

Optimism and pessimism are explanatory styles. Optimism is a learned skill and if you have the desire, you can alter the way you choose to look at the world. It takes a while to break old habits of thinking, but I’m living proof it can be done.

2. Happiness is a choice.

It’s a decision, a way of looking at the world. How good can you stand it? Can your raise your tolerance for bliss and joy? I see happiness as a “practice.” I work at it every day. The physiological and psychological benefits of positive emotion are worth the effort. “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.” Wayne Dyer

3. Get your brain on your side (your left side that is.)

The fight or flight reaction produces 50+ compounds that shut down the thinking brain and your immune and digestive functions. We’re hard wired for hard times. Happiness is a state of the body — distinct heart rhythms, brain patterns and biochemistry. When we are experiencing a positive emotion there is increased blood flow to the left prefrontal cortex and there is a distinct and beneficial biochemical reaction in the body. However, neurons that fire together wire together, so you must be sure you are creating new positive pathways over and over and over again for them to become easy to access.

4. Outsmart your happiness “setpoint.”

Happiness is 50% genetics, 10% circumstances, and 40% habitual thoughts, attitudes, actions- things within your voluntary control. You can change your happiness levels by changing your habits.

5. There are three faces to happiness: Pleasure, Engagement and Meaning.

Ask yourself: What gives me pleasure? What are my strengths and how can I use them more often? What matters to me? Make sure you bring your strengths to work every day. To increase happiness, find new ways each week to use those strengths. We can prove that it will increase your happiness.

6. Shine the light on what is right.

Learn to ask, “Where’s the good in this?” Do an Appreciation Audit — 3 -5 minutes at a time, three times a day. How? Bring to mind things in your life you deeply appreciate. Dwell on them, focus on them. What you focus on expands.

7. Don’t believe everything you think.

Watch your ANTS – those Automatic Negative Thoughts. (We all have them.) Catch them before they hijack your amygdala and throw your body into “emergency” mode!

8. Exercise is more potent than drugs.

Three times a week at least 30 minutes each time – it’s proven to beat Zoloft! Exercise produces its own drugs, naturally, and they are more potent and a whole lot healthier than the kind that come from the store.

9. Develop your own Happiness Practice.

Gratitude alone can increase happiness by 25%. Try: meditation, exercise, “blessings book,” keep a gratitude journal, write a gratitude letter, practice forgiveness, do random acts of kindness, volunteer.

I have found in my own life that my happiness practice is priceless. Taking time out of this busy world to focus on the things that really matters makes a difference.

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