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Archive for the ‘Tips for Managing’ Category

Be Honest About Your Feelings:

It’s perfectly normal to be angry about your infertility, as well as intensely sad.  The level of depression and anxiety in the infertility population is the same as in cancer, heart disease, and HIV-positive patients.

To hate pregnant women is a normal, natural, negative thought. It’s the pain and grief speaking. Mixed emotions are natural, too. You can feel happy for the good fortune of a friend, while feeling like life has cheated you at the same time.
In a nutshell, it’s OK to be angry and all right to be sad. Jealousy is part of the package, too. Those feelings don’t make you a bad person. They make you a real person, with real feelings. Feelings that happen to hurt like hell right now.

Be Selective about how and where you hang out:
What’s the one topic that dominates the conversations of all pregnant ladies and new mothers? Babies. Intelligent women with masters degrees, exciting careers, stimulating hobbies, and a passport full of stamps from around the world are suddenly unable to discuss anything except runny noses and car seats. It’s not their fault, of course. Nature gives relatively sane women a bad case of baby tunnel vision for the sole purpose of the perpetuation the human species. But all that baby talk can be total agony for someone who can’t participate. Pick social situations that you can handle.

I recommend that women get back to the interests and activities that they enjoy. Our whole life can become our fertility treatments and women feel like their not doing anything useful when they are not in cycle.

Infertility is a medical condition that takes a heavy physical and emotional toll on every woman who lives with it. Between the fertility drugs, the surgeries, the egg extractions and the acupuncture, our bodies become misused and exhausted. Add in the mindless comments from strangers, plus the way we tend to mentally beat ourselves up for our “failures” and it’s no wonder our self-esteem spirals downward and our psyches crumble.

Now, more than ever, is a time to look inward. I think it’s important to do a lot of self care because we want to do the antithesis of what will add to our depression. I recommend some form of relaxation and says to take care of your relationship since baby making can become all-consuming.

Therapy is another great option. There’s also an organization called Resolve whose goal is to “provide timely, compassionate support and information to people experiencing infertility.” It’s a national group with regional chapters set up to provide local support. And more informal support groups, such as the Advanced Fertility Issues message board on BabyZone, can give you a place to vent, get information and support, and be with others who understand your situation.

Whether the pregnancies of others make you happy, make you cry, or leave you with a mixed bag of emotions, always remember that you have the power to choose the situations and conversations you’ll join. And own up to the fact that infertility is a major life crisis that affects your well-being and relationships, so take time out to take care of yourself.

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Having infertility issues can really be a drag.  But you can’t
let it drag you down.

Remember when you were a child?   You did
things for the sheer joy of it.  You didn’t care about
what others thought. You did things simply to have
fun.

Think about reclaiming that childhood exuberance
and joy of living in the present moment.  Can you
lighten up a little?

Life is what you focus on and that focus will
determine your enjoyment of daily reality.

Your emotions are created by your thoughts. To
stop taking yourself so seriously, it’s important to
create an internal environment that supports you.

To deal with the stress of infertility and life, it’s
important to be able to laugh at yourself.

Let’s face it, there will be a lot of things you can’t
change and the better your sense of humor, the
better you’re going to feel about you and your life.
Humor keeps us sane and gives us a sense of
balance.

Give yourself a break and try out these ideas for
brightening up your perspective on your life.

1.  Even if you don’t consider yourself a good joke
teller, tell a joke every day for the next 21 days. (It
can be the same joke told to 21 different people.)

2.  At least once a month, go with friends to the
local comedy club or an entertaining play. One of
the reasons why an entertaining night of comedy
leaves you feelings so good, is that it helps you
forget all your troubles for a short time and just
laugh. Laughter enables you to gain a new
perspective on your problems.  Exposing yourself
to humor can often help you realize others have the
same problems and you’re not the only one.

3.  Watch funny TV shows or go to funny movies.
Life is serious enough without compounding it by
watching drama, soaps and the news.

4.  When you read your local newspaper, turn to
the funnies first. This helps you not to take the
negative news so seriously.

5.  Associate yourself with people who are have a
sense of humor, are optimistic, and enjoy life.

6.  Pretend you’re a writer for the Tonight Show.
Look around you for humor everywhere. It’s there
if you will look for it.

Smile!

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If you’re like me, you encounter many challenges in life. As a woman who is dealing with infertility in additional to all the other important issues in life, you are more likely to be faced with challenging situations than many others.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, do we have a defeatist attitude, or do we have a “can do” attitude?

You can only use your life energy effectively to solve problems if you are in a state of mind of being solution-oriented.

No one can make decisions for you or find the best solutions to your situations. You can make better decisions if you are in a positive frame of mind.

The way you label yourself and think about yourself with your self talk will determine how you make good decisions about critical issues in your life.

For example, negative thoughts about yourself are like having somebody sit on your shoulder whispering bad things in your ear about your inability to be successful.

We are self-fulfilling prophecies. What you say and think about yourself does come true. I know you want to debate this topic, but research is now proving that we can change the molecules in our body by our thoughts.

It’s as if we unconsciously believe that we can say negative things about ourselves and get away with it. We mistakenly believe negative thoughts won’t have an effect on our future. But the truth is all those thoughts, self-talk, and labels keep us stuck with old behavior patterns.

You are now the sum total of all the programming others have given you and that you have reinforced through the thoughts you have had about yourself.

You have the power to train your mind to choose what you think, instead of allowing random thoughts to hold you hostage.

Your goal is to become inner-directed and focused, so that you decide what you want to think, rather than have your thoughts and emotions determined by the world around you. An untrained mind will have more emotional ups and downs because it is reacting to random thoughts. Focus on what you want with joy and enthusiasm.

Just like the earth, your brain does not discern what you plant. It will work just as hard to grow weeds as it will to grow beautiful flowers. You determine the seeds that are planted by what you say to yourself over and over.

To increase your self-awareness, take a notebook around with you for the next 2 weeks and jot down all the negative things you say and believe about yourself. If you’re not having the results in your life you want, it’s because you are holding yourself back with negative self-talk.

To move to the next level of success you must take responsibility for the caliber of information that you feed your mental computer daily. Sure, it’s a challenging task, but the rewards will amaze you!

This can be applied to anything in life, not just your infertility struggle!  Looking back I see how my infertility struggle has helped me become more aware of my thoughts and stay focused on the things I want rather then the negative.  Once I finally understood the power of my thoughts things started to work and finally there wasn’t a struggle anymore.  It’s a practice like anything, so you just have to keep working at it.

Source: PCO Review

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I suspect you know this even if your doctor doesn’t: A major part of your infertility disorder is psychological and emotional.

I don’t have to describe the distress, suffering, frustration, embarrassment, desperation and hopelessness many of you are experiencing. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

You are not alone, according to emerging research. For example, the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine studied 60 PCOS women over 22 months. 40% were depressed, 17% had major depressive disorder or other depressive syndromes. This rate might have been worse but 23% of the women were taking anti-depressants.

11.6% had anxiety syndromes, and 23.3% had binge eating disorder.

56.6% of all the women had some kind of mood disorder. The Iowa researchers also noted that 18% of the women did not start out depressed but became depressed after 22 months.

They discovered that the women with infertility issues were much more anxious. Their most troublesome symptoms were reduced sleep, worry, phobias, and pain.

We can’t just sweep the mental/emotional part under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist. There’s an 800 lb. gorilla in the room and we all need to find ways to deal with it.

Your body and being is one whole. In your body, there is no separation between your physical parts and your mental/emotional parts. Your physical and mental aspects are in constant communication with each other and influence each other.

But think back for a moment. When your doctor gave you a diagnosis, what did he or she do? Prescribe fertility pills, tell you to lose weight if overweight, and dart out the door to the next patient?

And what about your feelings? Your emotions? Your depression and anxiety? Your stress level? I’ll bet these critical issues were never discussed or dealt with.

So it’s really up to you. I encourage you to acknowledge the mental aspects of infertility and find some ways of solving the issues of depression, anxiety, binge eating, etc.

Here are a few quick ideas to get you started.

1) Find a psychologist or other mental health professional to help you. You need to get outside your little bubble of isolation and helplessness. An experienced mental health professional can be very helpful to you and give you the support you need to make positive changes.  Support groups are also extremely helpful and I run two groups, one in Oakland and one in Orinda.

2) Take walks. Simple physical activity such as walking can relieve depression and anxiety, reduce the urge for compulsive eating, reduce stress, and more.

3) Keep a daily journal. Doing so will help you maintain greater awareness of what’s going on in your life.

4) Find some good self-help books and read them. Maybe they will give you some good ideas. Example: “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life” by Martin Seligman, PhD.

5) Ask a health professional about nutritional supplements that may help with mood disorders. Two examples are: inositol and fish oil.

Source: PCOS review

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This is a topic that has surfaced in the support group in Oakland recently and I thought I would share some information regarding stress and infertility.

There are women who get pregnant easily even if they smoke like a chimney, drink a six-pack after dinner, and think of exercise as a waste of good texting time. Then there are the women who do all the right things but months and years pass and the strip in the home pregnancy kit refuses to change color. Relax, say well-meaning friends. Chill out. Let it happen. Gee, thanks, thinks the beneficiary of their insight, gritting her teeth.

// Click here to find out more!

But as unwelcome as the advice may be, it may be right. New evidence suggests that stress does affect fertility. A recent study found that women with high levels of alpha-amylase, an enzyme that correlates with stress, have a harder time getting pregnant. Saliva samples taken from 274 women over six menstrual cycles (or until they got pregnant) revealed that those with the highest enzyme concentrations during the first cycle were 12 percent less likely to conceive than were women with the lowest levels.

What’s more, women involved in the study, published earlier this month in the journal Fertility and Sterility, had no prior record of infertility. Participants were either planning to get pregnant or had been trying for less than three months.

Researchers do not yet understand the role stress plays, since women can and often do get pregnant even under the intense stress, for example, that follows the death of a spouse. “I suspect that some women are more reproductively sensitive to stress than other women,” says Alice Domar, who directs the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health in Boston. And the effect can feed on itself. “If you are stressed and you don’t get pregnant quickly, then you get more stressed,” says Domar, citing evidence from a study in Taiwan in which 40 percent of participants seeking infertility treatment were diagnosed with depression or anxiety. The treatment itself can be stressful, she adds, adding even more uncertainty.

[Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success]

If stress can influence the chance of conception, managing it may improve the odds. Researchers like Sarah Berga, who heads the department of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine, have been trying to prove just that. Berga and her colleagues studied women who had stopped ovulating for more than six months and found that they had high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. In stressful situations, cortisol, like adrenaline, pushes metabolism into high gear; sustained high levels can raise blood pressure, cause weight gain, or lead to other health problems. In a small study by Berga published in 2003, seven out of eight participants who received stress management therapy began ovulating again versus two out of eight who got no intervention.

What are some practical ways women trying to get pregnant can reduce stress? Experts make these recommendations:

Enlist your partner. Research shows that women handle infertility-related stress differently from men. Women more often seek social support, for example; men lean towards problem-solving. That disconnect can strain the relationship. Constant attention on procreation, according to psychologist Julia Woodward of the Duke Fertility Center in Durham, N.C., also contributes, siphoning the fun and joy from sex. She advises couples to act as if they were dating again. Set aside time during the week to go to a movie. Take a dance class together. And put a time limit of 20 minutes or so on pregnancy discussions. Fertility talk that goes on and on can make matters worse, she says.

Rethink your attitude. Thinking “everybody else gets pregnant so easily” only causes distress. Woodward helps women counter their negativity with positive coping statements: “If getting pregnant was so easy, there wouldn’t be fertility clinics.” Recognize pessimistic thinking and practice forming a response that is more realistic.

Try journaling. Setting down on paper how you feel can take some of the pressure off, says Tracy Gaudet, executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine. It’s a way to off-load concerns you feel uncomfortable sharing, she says. And you can shred the pages or throw them out, a physical act that contributes to the effect.

Stay active. Continuing activities you enjoy is critical, says Woodward; otherwise the pregnancy project becomes the sole focus. Take pictures, plan special meals—whatever your passion, indulge it. Doing something enjoyable also boosts serotonin, a mood-enhancing brain chemical. That’s an added bonus.

Work on relaxation. One easy way, Gaudet suggests, is to spend time once or twice a day coaxing the body into a state of deep relaxation. Take five minutes or so to close your eyes and transport yourself to a far-off destination, a mini-mental vacation. Allow yourself to experience all the senses of your surroundings, says Gaudet, and your body will respond as if you are actually there. The benefits of the “relaxation response” include a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure. If a specific kind of technique is preferred, there’s no shortage of choices. Meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation are just a few.

[Relax! Stress, if Managed, Can Be Good For You]

Exercise. Walking, swimming, yoga, or other moderate exercise may take the edge off stress, and it has additional advantages. Overweight women who trim pounds through physical activity benefit, for example; extra body fat produces excess estrogen, which interferes with ovulation. Higher-energy workouts like running or jogging stimulate the release of feel-good endorphins. Berga warns that too much exercise for women who are already stressed, however, can make matters worse, since exertion triggers the release of cortisol. Relying exclusively on exercise to relieve stress, moreover, won’t do anything about what is causing it—a hostile boss, for example.

[5 Mind-Blowing Benefits of Exercise]

Get individual counseling or group support. A woman struggling to get pregnant needs someone who can empathize, says Woodward. Counseling can be an outlet for feelings of confusion, sadness, and frustration. Group support, says Woodward, is particularly helpful for women who feel isolated as a result of infertility. Resolve.org, a website of the National Infertility Association, has links to local support groups across the nation.

Source: By Megan Johnson U.S. News & World Report

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1) Take a 10-30 minute walk every day and leave your cares behind. Have a spring in your step and smile. If you encounter someone, smile or say hello.

2) Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Talk to your God about what is going on in your life.

3) When you wake up in the morning complete these statements: ‘My purpose is to__________ today. I am thankful for______________’

4) Don’t compare your life to others. In spite of appearances, you have no idea what their journey is all about.

5) However good or bad your situation is, it will change. Nothing stays the stagnant, time moves forward.

6) No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

7) Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil your present.

8) You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree, or simply accept the other person’s perspective for what it is and move on.

9) Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

10) Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

11) Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. But your friends will. So stay in touch!

Source: PCOS review

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I am frequently hearing from my clients their concerns about doing IUI or IVF are primarily because of the stress it puts you through emotionally and physically.  Most of these concerns are a result of what others have experienced and have either shared with these women or posted online somewhere.  In my experience we are more likely to hear the horror stories rather than the good ones. So I am writing this post to discuss how to keep your head screwed on straight during the treatment cycle and how to have a positive experience.  You may be thinking, yeah right that’s not possible. But it really is and from personal experience with IVF recently you can do it!

First word of advice is to not compare yourself to anyone else who is going through or has gone through IUI/IVF.  We all have different reactions to medications and no one’s experience is identical to another.  Also we tend to follow in people footsteps when we hear about how badly it went for them. We then anticipate a horrible experience, work ourselves up and therefore, have a horrible experience.  So avoid chat boards with negative stories and avoid getting other peoples opinion other than your Dr. or therapist.

Next I would suggest to make sure you are getting the support you need.  That may be going to a support group or getting your own individual therapy in order to have a place to process your anxiety.  Getting the fears and anxieties off your chest can make for a much easier experience and being able to connect with others in a group is extremely validating.

Focus on the miracle you are making everyday rather than the negative aspects of the medication or the fact that you have to resort to extreme measures to achieve pregnancy.  It’s a miracle how far fertility treatments have come and some of us would never have the opportunity to get pregnant if it wasn’t was the advancement in science. So remember how lucky you are to even be able to get to take advantage of it…some people just can’t afford it and therefore their journey stops there.

Take care of yourself whether that would be giving yourself time to be alone and read a book, take a nap, go for a run, or get acupuncture.  Make sure you are doing something for yourself daily and it can be just taking 20 minutes to focus on your breathe….just make sure you do something.  This is the time to baby yourself and enjoy your body and the miracles it brings you on a daily basis.

Again this doesn’t have to be the worst experience ever.  I wouldn’t sign up for it as a good time, but I don’t think it has to be dreaded and you definitely don’t want to go into this IUI/IVF experience thinking you will fall apart.  Good luck to you all, you are true warriors and what great parents you will be after going through this journey!  Be proud of yourselves!

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