This is the #1 question that women ask us when they are doing IVF.
Even if you’ve already made plenty of positive changes for your health and wellbeing, all of a sudden there seems to be pressure when the IVF cycle begins. Many women will urgently wonder whether there’s more that they could be doing to increase their chances of success.
Here’s the kind of advice that we give to women when they ask us “What else should I be doing to help my chances of IVF success”…
Yes. You’ve heard it before.
Oh great, yep I think I’ll just do that – why didn’t I think of this before? (*Waves magic wand and instantly achieves inner peace*).
While it’s true to the point of cliche, it is also very helpful, very beneficial, very useful and very advisable to actively reduce stress and diligently work towards promoting and experiencing relaxation.
The big question is – How?
You can break this down into two main areas: the sources of stress that you can control, and then everything that’s left over.
Can you change your work structure, cut down on extra activities, take up enjoyable hobbies, get a cleaner, streamline your grocery shopping, make peace with your sister-in-law…
What can you do that will ease your daily burden or free up emotional energy?
Take the time to make those changes. Some changes are easy, some are hard. Some are quick, some take time.
Do a “stress audit” on your life, change what you can and keep your expectations really reasonable. Don’t pressure yourself, and above all be kind to yourself.
For the rest of it – for things you can’t change, for worry or overwhelm, for niggling doubts – then you work on your mindset.
This is where you use “non-logical” processes. You “relax anyway”.
Despite the stresses or difficulties that are going on, you simply make a commitment to actively practice relaxation.
Do it daily and consider it a vitamin for the mind.
You can listen to sample meditations on your app store and download the ones that you like. There are fertility-specific meditations like Be Fertile or Circle+Bloom. Some women love these, while others prefer progressive relaxation, Yoga Nidra or guided visualisation.
There are no rules – just choose what soothes you and practice it daily. You may like to have a variety to listen to, so your mind stays interested and engaged.
Is guided meditation “cheating”? No! It’s being kind to yourself! You get the benefits of meditation without having to use a lot of effort or struggle. Is it valid? Yes! And it’s really helpful. Try it today!
Everything works better when you are getting refreshing sleep, and enough of it.
Do you sleep restfully for eight to nine hours every night, waking up feeling refreshed, and have enough energy for the next day?
If your sleep isn’t sound, if you’re getting to sleep after 10pm or if you’re waking up sluggish then this is definitely an area where some focussed attention will pay off.
If you’re not getting good solid sleep then trying to improve other areas can just feel like micromanaging. Get your sleep sorted, then so many things may fall into place – including your state of mind. You can then address what’s left over.
Get outside every morning in the fresh air and move your body.
It feels great, and “science” is constantly discovering how many positive health benefits come from daily morning exercise.
A 30-minute walk is fine; you don’t need to enrol in a gruelling bootcamp. Or you can swim, cycle, do some yoga on the balcony… Just remember to have some wet weather options so you can keep a regular routine.
Alongside sleep, movement is one of the big things to put in place. This habit tends to address a lot of niggling issues when it becomes a daily ritual.
Anxiety and overwhelm tend to reduce with regular exercise, and mood tends to lift and lighten.
Don’t overcomplicate this. Easier said than done with all the “experts” around, granted.
Here are the basic recommendations that come out of the large scale studies that look at diet and its relationship with all kinds of health issues, from cancer and diabetes to cardiovascular disease and fertility.
What makes you fertile also makes you healthier and live longer.
It’s probably worth repeating that, because it’s so simple that we tend to overlook it, trying to find a high-tech answer to things.
What makes you more fertile, also makes you healthier, and also makes you live longer.
And the opposite is true, because these are very large-scale, population-based observations.
What makes you live longer, also makes you healthier, and also makes you more fertile.
Chinese medicine has recognised this connection for thousands of years, and it’s exciting to see large-scale studies finding the same relationship.
(Of course, people have individual health situations and so population-based advice should be taken as a general guide, and may not be specific to a person with a particular health condition. Always seek advice from your health professional about what diet changes are suitable for you.)
If you’ve been in baby-making mode for a little while then you get this already, enough said.
“What else should I be doing?” leads to looking for things outside of yourself. If you start looking, options abound. You start rattling with all the latest himalayan waku powder supplements and vitamin XYZ-3P that someone told you that their neighbour’s cousin took for two weeks after trying for five years and they fell pregnant instantly. It’s tempting isn’t it.
Simplify everything. Look after the basics, as above. Be kind to yourself. Support your partner and be supported by them. Enjoy your life and smell the roses. Every day.
For the past fifteen years or so, acupuncture for IVF has been on the radar. There have been many studies done, usually hyper-focused on a single moment or two of the IVF process such as the day of embryo transfer or egg collection. Researchers are still trying to find out if, when, how and why acupuncture supports women undergoing IVF.
We prefer to support women throughout the process, including the months leading up to a cycle if that’s where you are now. Acupuncture can be beneficial for promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety, and we believe that this effect alone brings a lot of mileage when women and their partners are using acupuncture on the fertility path.
At Ocean Acupuncture, our practitioners take a whole-person approach.
We listen to you, to your history and what you’ve learned so far. We discuss with you your goals, and where you’d like to be. We then construct a Treatment Plan that is unique to you. We provide specific strategies and actions that move you towards your goals in an integrated way. This may include:
We structure your Treatment Plan to take you from where you are now, towards where you’d like to be.
If you’d like to find out more then please request your 15-minute Free Consultation at our clinic. We will listen to your history and let you know how we can help. You can ask us questions about your unique situation. You will then have the opportunity to book in your intake appointment if our services are a good fit for you.
* The Fertility Diet recommendations came mainly from of a large observational study of nurses, and pertains especially to women with ovulation irregularities. Low-fat dairy was associated with decreased fertility. Whole-fat dairy was associated with better fertility (one serve per day). The authors were able to propose mechanisms for all the findings from the study except this one. They suppose that pregnancy hormones carried over from the cows may influence human women’s fertility. Dairy may not suit everyone, and many women experience improvements in their health when they stop dairy. This is something you will need to explore, perhaps with the help of a health professional, if you would like to find out whether or not dairy works for you.
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