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Dear Patient Care Advocates: How Can I Decrease Stress and Boost Fertility?

Dear Patient Care Advocates:

I'm stressed. Plain and simple. My husband and I really want to have a baby and the loud ticking of my biological clock combined with pressure from my parents to give them grandchildren has me feeling like a ball of nerves. We've gone through three failed cycles of Clomid and two IUI cycles. I'm sure IVF is on the horizon, but I'm worried my stress will cause IVF to fail too. What can I do to decrease stress and increase my chances of having a baby?

Kelly in Washington, D.C.

Dear Kelly,

Just relax! Kidding, kidding. I bet you've heard that one before! Honestly, we feel you on the stress thing. It is hard work trying to stay stress-free while enduring infertility. We constantly worry about taking the proper dose of fertility drugs, eating the right foods, exercising, setting the alarm clock to wake up for morning monitoring, scheduling an array of fertility tests, and making sure we can squeeze in a follow up appointment with the fertility doctor on our lunch hour. It is mentally exhausting!

A study on stress and fertility, published in a 2010 edition of Psychology Today, found that women with higher levels of stress enzymes in their saliva were 12 percent less likely to become pregnant each month than those with the lowest levels of the enzyme. I'm not saying the stress you're experiencing is causing your infertility, but it certainly isn't helping. Here are some tips to help reduce your stress level and promote fertility:

  • Take YOU time. Set aside time for yourself each day, even if it is only 15 minutes. During that time, read, take a walk, meditate, listen to music, or just close your eyes. Too often, we become consumed with work and other stressors that we forget to take care of ourselves.

  • Exercise. Start small. We don't expect you to run a 5K tomorrow, but getting in 30 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular activity three times per week will definitely improve your health, lower your stress, and make you feel better all around.

  • Reduce carbs and refined sugar; increase fruits and vegetables. The combination of stress, inactivity, and an imbalanced diet wreak havoc on our endocrine system. In turn, our baby-making potential plummets. Eat leafy greens, fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth, and use natural sweeteners (like honey) for your tea.

Keep in mind if you start recognizing your stressors and taking steps to correct them now, you will be better equipped to cope and less likely to feel so overwhelmed in the future.

Baby Dust,
Submit your question for the Patient Care Advocates by emailing me!

If you're feeling stuck in a stress and poor diet rut, check out this video where Alisa Vitti discusses five steps for boosting your fertility:

Click image to play.

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