Archive for November, 2011

Let’s talk about marriage and infertility.  Infertility can wreak havoc on a marriage. Even the happiest marriages can be torn apart by the struggle of infertility.

Infertility can put a wedge between husband and wife like nothing else. But trying to have a baby can also bring a couple together and bond them in new ways, if they let it.

When my husband and I tried to get pregnant, we struggled.  There were miscarriages, multiple IUI’s and an IVF. Infertility creeps into your marriage in small ways. Intimacy seems futile and unproductive, making it seem like a chore rather than love. Resentment starts. And the hardest part is, both husband and wife feel sad, frustrated and alone because they can’t discuss their feelings with their spouse for fear of hurting them.

My bout with infertility lasted 3 years, but my husband and I made it out with our marriage intact because of three things. First, we decided we were in it together. No matter what happened, there would be no blame and no fault. Second, we continued to live our lives. We tried to enjoy the moment together instead of focusing on the children we wanted and didn’t have. Third, we sought outside help (counseling and support groups) because we realized this was bigger than us and even though we were a strong couple it had the potential to ruin what we had.

There were some dark days, of course. There were days I felt utterly alone. My heart goes out to anyone struggling with infertility, and I hope somehow you are able to not let it consume you or your marriage. You will have the family you are meant to have. Talk to your husband. Talk to a counselor. Get into a support group. Get the help you need to get through this time together.

I now run support groups in Oakland and Orinda as well as see individuals and couples in the East Bay.


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Some of you are beyond your earlier years of trying to starting a family. Do you ever wonder what happens with polycystic ovarian syndrome as you get older?

There isn’t much discussion of what happens when you get older.

According to one study from Erasmus University Medical Centre in The Netherlands, there is some good news. They followed 254 PCOS women for up to 7 years.

Based on their research, it appears that as you get older, you’re more likely to have a more normal cycle as well as some reduction in male hormones and a decrease in insulin resistance. These are desirable developments.

However, a Swedish study did not agree with these findings. In this study, 84 middle-aged women with a previous diagnosis were compared to 87 women who did not have PCOS.

The Swedish researchers discovered that 23% the women with PCOS had metabolic syndrome whereas only 8% of the other women had metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome has many similarities to polycystic ovary syndrome, including overweight, belly fat, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, heart disease and high blood fats. Some researchers consider PCOS to be a variation of metabolic syndrome.

We previously reported that other Swedish and Finnish studies showed that, compared to normal women, pre-menopausal and menopausal PCOS women still had more hirsutism (unwanted hair growth), higher male hormone levels, poorer regulation of blood sugar, and more chronic inflammation.

So what’s the bottom line here?

Apparently, some aspects of PCOS may improve but many of the underlying health issues and abnormalities remain.

The best way to minimize PCOS and its consequences later in life is simply to take very good care of yourself. How? By learning and maintaining good health practices.

Good health practices include a healthier diet consisting of mostly whole, fresh foods. Add to this a great deal of physical activity, regular exercise, stress management and reduction, living in the cleanest possible environment, getting enough sleep, and taking selected nutritional supplements as needed.

Brown ZA et al, The phenotype of polycystic ovary syndrome ameliorates with aging, Fertil Steril. 2011 Nov;96(5):1259-65.
Hudecova M et al, Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in women with a previous diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome: long-term follow-up, Fertil Steril. 2011 Nov;96(5):1271-4. Epub 2011 Aug 26.

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Infertility can seem pretty heavy and depressing at times, right? Sometimes, we have a feeling of futility when we try a zillion different things and nothing seems to produce the results we’re looking for.

What can we do with this? Well, one thing we can do is laugh about it. Yes, laugh!

I don’t know about you, but I always feel much better after having a good laugh about something. It seems to relieve the grimness and heaviness of even the worst situations.

Medical research has proven that laughter has physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and quality-of-life benefits. For example, laughter can help to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol damages your body and increases belly fat.

Another benefit of laughter is that it costs nothing and has no side effects!

So have you laughed today? Did you laugh yesterday?

The therapeutic effectiveness of laughter result from spontaneous laughter (triggered by external stimuli or positive emotions) and by self-induced laughter (triggered by yourself at will), both occurring with or without humor.

The brain cannot distinguish between these types of laughter so it doesn’t matter what you do to laugh. It doesn’t matter how or why you laugh. The important thing is to just laugh.

Watch a funny movie or read a humorous book. Have someone tell you a joke or funny story. Play an amusing game with someone.

You don’t necessarily need humor to laugh. You can laugh by intention. For example, you might try “laughter yoga”, a group exercise where you simulate laughter with eye contact and childlike playfulness, which soon turns into real and contagious laughter. Maybe there is a local laughter yoga group that you could join.

Mora-Ripoll R, The therapeutic value of laughter in medicine, Altern Ther Health Med. 2010 Nov-Dec;16(6):56-64.
Shahidi M et al, Laughter yoga versus group exercise program in elderly depressed women: a randomized controlled trial, Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Mar;26(3):322-7.

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If you’re pregnant or intending to become pregnant, you may be concerned about having a successful pregnancy, since women with fertility issues have poorer pregnancy outcomes than other women.

One thing you can do for a better outcome is carefully review your use of pharmaceutical drugs while pregnant.

A Canadian study has revealed that women who take either antidepressants or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) while pregnant have a significantly higher rate of miscarriage.

Women taking an antidepressant while pregnant had up to twice the abortion rate of those who did not take antidepressants. Paroxetine, venlafaxine or the combined use of different classes of antidepressants were the most risky.

Women taking NSAIDs during the early stages of pregnancy had 2.4 times the risk of miscarriage compared to women who did not take NSAIDs.

Individual drugs have different risks. Diclofenac tripled the risk; naproxen (Aleve) had a 2.6-times increased risk, and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) doubled the risk. Combinations of drugs were associated with a 2.6-times increased risk.

We all have little aches and pains at times. This is usually caused by inflammation. You can actually reduce chronic inflammation by improving your diet. There are also many natural herbs, antioxidants and other natural products you can take as well. None of these have the side effects that NSAIDs have.

As soon as you become pregnant, please consult with your doctor about the benefits and risks of every pharmaceutical drug you take.

Some specialists prescribe baby aspirin or progesterone pills in the first trimester, but again this is something you need to consult your Dr. on because everyone’s situation is different.

Source: PCO review

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