Thursday, 12 August 2010

#2 of 3 (stress, 'just relax' and getting pregnant)

so apparently stress reduces conception probabilities across the fertile window: evidence in support of relaxation. (or, according to the BBC, High stress 'delays pregnancy'.) 274 women were followed in the trial, so it's not huge but not tiny. women who had a high level of an chemical that is an indicator of adrenalin levels in their saliva had a 12% reduced chance of getting pregnant compared to those with the lowest levels.

and eliza has started a thread on relaxation and ttc and pregnancy on glow yesterday (presumably before she saw this report).

this is all very interesting, because the last few days i've been thinking about something i found a little while ago. the item is here but if you get wound up by such gems as 'Do talk positively to yourself. Your body believes every word you say. If you’re moaning and saying that you’ll never get pregnant, you won’t.', then please don't click that link (i cannot take responsibility for pc monitors broken by people who ignored that advice and ended up smashing their computer screen, ok??). instead i'll post the part that i've been thinking about.....
Harvard psychologist Alice Domar, Ph.D. recently completed the first five-year study on the effects of stress and depression on fertility at the Mind/Body Medical Institute, a division of the Harvard Medical School. Her subjects were women who had been infertile for up to three years, with depression levels as high as those of terminally ill patients. They were given a ten-week course comprised of support groups, with lessons in meditation, self-nurturance, exercise and nutrition. Their depression levels were brought into the normal range and within six months, nearly HALF were pregnant!

now, isn't that of more practical use than such sentiments as 'Don't anticipate trouble. It can become self-fulfilling. The value of a positive mindset cannot be overstated. Envision yourselves as parents and stay focused on that picture. It will reassure and sustain you.' (again from the same page... i don't know how such useful information and such immensely annoying phrases can coexist!)

i think i was reminded of this because the study was also mentioned in page 6 of this article. it's also worth clicking to this page of the same article, which states 'In a small study of 97 Boston IVF patients younger than 40, women who had participated in 5 to 10 mind/body sessions were 160 percent more likely to get pregnant after a single IVF cycle. And more than two thirds of women with a clinical diagnosis of depression got pregnant after these sessions, whereas none of the depressed women in the control group conceived.'.

see, telling people to 'relax and it'll happen!!!!' is not helpful. telling people that support groups, meditation, exercise, counselling and nutrition advice might increase their chances of conceiving, and will aid their mental health anyway so that they are more able to cope even if they do not fall pregnant, is far more useful. what does 'relax' mean anyway? 'trying to relax' is an oxymoron, and telling people to relax is not only counterproductive but also blames those having difficulty conceiving, or those post-babyloss, for the stress and anxiety and depression that are an absolutely normal response to the circumstances they find themselves in through no fault of their own.

i'm not saying that i think meditation, exercise and eating right are some magic cure for infertility. just in case anyone thought that was what i meant. if you've been diagnosed with a condition that means you're not going to conceive then these things aren't magically going to cure you. but knowing that these things, plus proper support from medical professionals and friends and family, might actually improve success rates for the interventions that exist? that's useful.

my point is that last year i went to some sessions at work about countering stress levels. at these sessions we were given cds with guided meditation sessions. we were given hints and tips on how to cope with stressful situations. we were given little yellow stretchy rub.ber people to remind us not to let ourselves get stretched too thin.

and the last few days i've been doing the relaxation cd again daily.

and i might rejig our budget and find some money to join a nearby gym, with a lovely pool, which might make me more likely to go swimming.

and maybe if i do those things i'll manage to make myself go to bed earlier, instead of sitting up blogging til after midnight.

and maybe then i'll have the energy to make myself proper food.

and maybe (just maybe) i'll lose some weight, and get closer to the weight i was when i got pregnant before.

and maybe

just maybe

if i can do all those things?

maybe it will happen again.

maybe i'll get pregnant again.


but even if i don't, at least trying all those things has to be a better way of living than letting myself get tossed around by stress and depression, hasn't it? it might not cure them, and it might not make me get pregnant, but at least i'll be in better health and less likely to stay on the antidepressants for ever, no?

(not that there's anything wrong with staying on ADs forever. but because my depression is reactive i hope that i won't need to. but if i do? no biggie. i'd just rather not.)


Melissa said...

Thank you for posting this. I've been getting hit by a rash of people telling me to just think positive it helps, and to relax, because as soon as I relax, it'll happen. (yeah no pressure. Might as well just scream at someone to relax, it'll work as well.)

I am trying to focus on me, because I'm still stuck with me no matter what happens, and it's hard. It's frustrating, it's tiring, draining, and it wears down at your self-worth and your demeanor to keep slogging through not getting pregnant, not ovulating, not having the life you wanted, almost had.

It's an uphill battle. But don't just sit there and tell me that if I could just relax it'd happen. Don't put any more onus on me for my failure to get and stay pregnant. I don't need that. I already have the voices in my head that make everything my fault.

lis said...

i love that you posted this. i am currently trying to get into a mind/body class modeled after the harvard program. and i meant to post about this a week or so ago. but hey, then my husband got shipped to iraq. yay.

the attendants would be infertile girls only and the counselor was hoping to run it in the fall. i am just waiting to find out if she comes up with enough people to fill the class. hope, hope, hope!
even though i may not be doing an IVF when i thought, id still really like some coping techniques and to learn how to chill the f out.

IF and i tend to think it is a big if, i get in, then i will certainly share the gems that i learn with all my bloggy friends.
glad you had a good day, and cake is super nutritious ;)

mare said...

Thank you so much for this blog post! I have been meaning to start meditating and working out for a while now, and keep putting it off. You have inspired me to download a guided meditation TONIGHT! (There is a beginner one on under mp3 downloads for free!).

Lately I have felt like I am coming apart at the seams and am losing control of everything, even my finances.

I hope you get the pool and meditate and start feeling better too!

Big Love, Big Acceptance - or so I say said...

Thank you for this post. I *know* all these things, but haven't been doing anything to help me "relax" lately. And of course I HATE hearing - relax!...THEN you'll get pregnant. These concrete suggestions are so much more helpful!

B said...

i'm sorry things are tough for you too melissa. thinking of you.

lis that sounds great! i hope you get to do it and soon. also, iraq?!? that's bad. i had no idea he was going to be somewhere so dangerous :( thinking of you and t.

mare and BLBA - thank you :) i hope the tips are helpful to you both!