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Seven Solutions for Holiday Stress, Overeating and Fertility

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a blog by Laurence A. Jacobs, M.D., Fertility Centers of Illinois

For everyone, stress and overeating can be a dastardly duo during the holidays. For infertility patients, the two can wreak havoc on your weight, your peace-of-mind and, yes, your fertility treatment.

It's no secret that patients who are at peak health and healthy weights — and are best able to manage the stresses of life and infertility — have more success with fertility treatment. That is why fertility practices such as mine partner with organizations such as Pullling Down the Moon to offer education on nutrition, exercise and stress management techniques— and how it all can impact your fertility.

Here's seven solutions to reduce your holiday stress and overeating.

  1. Understand why excess weight is a problem for fertility and fertility treatment. The holidays are probably not the best time to start a weight loss program, but they are not an excuse to gain weight. Obesity has a significant adverse effect on fertility and pregnancy outcomes. Obesity can cause abnormal hypothalamic and pituitary hormone secretions, leading to anovulation, and it is strongly related to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), insulin resistance and diabetes. Even with fertility drugs or IVF, pregnancy rates are adversely affected by obesity, and obese patients are at more risk for complications during egg retrieval and pregnancy, as well as an increased risk of adverse perinatal outcomes.

  2. To help with overeating at parties and events, try the following. Eat a high protein breakfast. Chew gum. Drink plenty of water. And eat all the raw veggies on the buffet!

  3. Set a goal for yourself. Whether it's not gaining weight, not overspending or a positive goal such as creating happy memories for your family, if you are clear on what you are trying to accomplish, you are much more likely to get there.

  4. Perfection is overrated. Striving for the unattainable adds a lot of stress at any time, but it's especially not needed when you're trying to have a baby.

  5. Sleep more. Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. You will be less likely to get sick and more likely to stay at a healthy weight if you get enough sleep. Researchers have found that people who were sleep-deprived at more than 500 additional calories daily.

  6. Take time for you. Yoga, acupuncture, massage and meditation are all good ways to relax and improve overall well-being, and studies have found that mind/body stress relief programs can improve IVF pregnancy rates.

  7. Get ready for the New Year's Resolutions! Studies have demonstrated that in obese women, as little as a 5 to 10 percent weight loss can improve ovulation and increase pregnancy rates with fertility treatments, while also reducing the risk of pregnancy complications and adverse perinatal outcomes. Don't wait — set your goals for 2013 now!