Guest Blog: How To Support your IVF Journey by Kate Potvin

As we near the launch of our new integrative approach to supporting your fertility treatment through diet/exercise and lifestyle adjustments, we are partnering with various experts like Kate Potvin to not only provide recommendations but give you tools to actually implement them as well.                         ~Robert

Kate Potvins Website

I know you want a baby more than anything and I know you’d do almost anything to have one.

 

So what if I told you there were a few very simple things you could do that would improve your chances of winning the baby lottery?

 

Here’s the thing: our bodies are actually very beautiful, and well oiled machines that thrive in optimal conditions. Sometimes things get out of whack and just don’t work quite the way we want them to, and medical intervention is necessary. And that’s okay.

 

But we can still do some things to help support our bodies’ natural balance and increase our odds that IVF will be successful, and this idea that small changes can make a big impact is the foundation of my signature program Flourish.

 

So here 5 simple things you can do to support your IVF journey:

 

  1. Eat regular meals

I know many of us are super busy so we end up eating in the car, at our desk, or maybe not at all! But eating regular meals at regular times can help keep our blood sugar level and keeps our stress levels down. If we don’t eat, and our bodies think we’re starving, it creates a hormonal cascade in our body that definitely does not support fertility. If you’re a grazer and snack all day, try to limit your eating to 3 meals, again to create consistency for your body. Be sure to include high-quality protein and fats with every meal to help you stay full!

 

  1. Take time to pause

Our lives can be stressful, but they don’t need to be, if we pay attention every so often and learn how to use stress in a positive way. You’re never going to eliminate stress from your life, but learning to create pauses or time-outs during your day to slow down and breathe can go a long way toward managing your stress levels. Choose 3 times during the day and set a timer to go off on your phone. When the timer goes off, stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and take 20 deep, full belly breaths. That’s it. Then go back to work or whatever you’re doing, but I’m betting you’ll feel a little calmer!

 

  1. Cultivate a positive mindset

It’s so easy to get discouraged when month after month the pregnancy tests are negative. But keeping a positive mindset is so important for our physical and emotional wellbeing. I know this is easier said than done, so don’t get down on yourself for feeling blue sometimes. I recommend keeping a gratitude or positivity journal. Every evening write down 5 positive things that happened, or 5 things you feel grateful for. They can be really simple, like the woman who complimented your shoes at the grocery store, or the rainbow you saw on your drive home. Simply remembering and savoring these small moments will help you find more positivity during the hard times.

 

  1. Power down

Sleep is so important for healthy hormone function and many of us just don’t get enough! And one of the major culprits is that phone you’re holding right now in your hot little hand. Blue light from our screens actually prevents our brains from releasing melatonin, a hormone that tells us it’s time for bed. Even if your phone has a yellow-shift setting, all the images and scrolling are really stimulating for our brains, and don’t help us feel sleepy. Set a timer and power down your device or put it in airplane mode about an hour before bed. Then do something old-fashioned like read a book! You’ll be catching the zzzz’s in no time!

 

  1. Support your body with exercise

Moving our bodies helps support healthy blood flow and hormone balance. But if you’re trying to conceive, you might want to tone it down a bit. A recent study has shown that moderate exercise like walking or yoga are best options when you’re trying to get pregnant. Think about activities that nourish you and help you feel energized afterward, instead of depleted. Try a yoga for fertility class at your local studio or online with my special Fertility Yoga series on Yoga Studio App.

 

Remember that you need to nurture yourself so that your body can nurture a growing baby. All of these tips are super easy to implement and can have a positive effect on your overall health, increasing your odds of a successful IVF cycle.

 

Looking for more ways to support your body and mind through your fertility journey? Join my 12-week Flourish Fertility program and learn how to create new, nourishing habits that will optimize your fertility. You’ll not only learn my best diet and lifestyle tips, but you’ll learn how to actually implement them and stick with your new routines. Plus, learn my most important mindset shifts that will help you feel more resilient through the ups and downs of this journey. Learn more here.

 

—-

Kate Potvin is a fertility coach and yoga teacher who believes in taking a mind-body approach to healing. She empowers women to take charge of their own fertility journey on her website katepotvin.com and on instagram @flourishfertility. Learn her 10 Secrets for Happier Hormones here [katepotvin.com/happyhormones]

 

Guest Blog: From One Patient-To-Another–an offer of support

Blog link

Hi, my name is Lisa and I recently went through IVF.  I became a mother at the age of 40 and am blessed to have our miracle baby girl who is now 10 months old. Having been through this process I understand how overwhelming everything can seem at first.  Here are a few things I learned along the way and encourage others to consider if they are beginning their first cycle.

 

  • The opportunity to be connected with other women who had either gone through infertility treatments or were going through it at that time—–

It was by chance I had a few other friends who were also experiencing infertility challenges, and I was fortunate to form my own mini support group. My openness about what I was going through enabled me to be connected by a local friend to a support group she knew of based in NYC.  The value of sisterhood support I had was immeasurable.  I encourage you to seek out support groups and would suggest searching online for local ones in your city.

 

  • To be informed of resources and specialists who could support you along this journey—-

I learned of a highly regarded acupuncturist from a technician during one of my ultrasound appointments; I wish I had been able to start seeing him sooner because of the valuable information he shared. Throughout my IVF journey I learned of many other individuals who were invaluable to me through their gifts of energy work and healing through art. Be open to healers, coaches, and therapists who may be able to help guide you on this path.

 

  • Support for the emotional rollercoaster you go through—-

There is little attention given to the varying challenges you experience being on all the medications; No one really addresses the emotional impact.  I believe it’s one of the most important factors in giving yourself the best chance of everything working out; If you’re not in a good mindset and able to roll through the low periods then it makes this process that much harder.  You need strategies to help yourself through feelings such as depression, shame, loneliness, anger, hopelessness, desperation and fear.  Try your best to continue doing things that bring you joy and your body, heart and mind will thank you.

 

  • No one prepares you for the setbacks you may experience, as it doesn’t always happen in the timeframe you may hope—–

Little did I know I would have to have 3 surgeries after my second egg retrieval to prepare my body for our embryo transfer; It was one whole year of waiting. During those months and months of waiting as I healed I learned that there were many things I could not control, but there was a whole lot I COULD control. Try not to be too rigid when things are “supposed” to happen. Everything is happening in the exact timing that is needed to help you get to your ultimate destination.

 

I feel so passionate about helping individuals through this process.  Women don’t need to go through this process alone, and partners are in need of support too.  My background as an Occupational Therapist helped prepare me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.  I want to empower others on their journey to parenthood, with the help of reproductive medicine, through sharing in my own success strategies and tools.  For further support you may contact me at www.IVFManifestingAMiracle.com where you will also find my personal blog. Cheering you all on your path to manifesting your miracles.
Lisa White, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist & IVF Mentor

Infertility hurts! For many that pain is due to endometriosis

Many women that are trying to conceive suffer with pelvic pain on a regular basis. Oftentimes, they had previously gone on birth control pills to help manage this discomfort. For obvious reasons, that isn’t an option compatible with getting pregnant. It’s important to know that there are other options.

Pelvic Pain

One of the most common reasons for pelvic pain in women with fertility problems is due to endometriosis. In fact, one study found that one of every three women with infertility has this condition. Paradoxically, the best way to treat endometriosis is to become pregnant. Yet the presence of endometriosis is associated with infertility. It is possible that the inflammation causing the pain also makes it an unhealthy environment for eggs and sperm. However, the drugs commonly used to treat inflammation can reduce your chances of becoming pregnant.

 

A recent analysis has revealed that one of the best ways to reduce pain in women with endometriosis might be through acupuncture. Better still, acupuncture can also provide other potential benefits for patients trying to become pregnant like improved pelvic blood flow and a reduction in stress hormone levels.

 

In previous blog posts we have also described the potential benefit of a naturally produced supplement called pycnogenol. We have had many patients take this supplement and achieve partial to complete relief of pelvic pain. It may even help boost your odds of becoming pregnant!

 

As always, please talk to your provider before starting any treatment to get their input on whether or not it is appropriate for you.

 

Stay informed,

~Robert

 

Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

Conceptions Reproductive Associates of Colorado

Current Estimate of Vitamin D’s Influence on Fertility and Miscarriage Rate

We have reviewed many previous studies on the why the hormone referred to as Vitamin D is so important to pregnancy. However, a new analysis resulted in a news release from the National Institute of Health. Simply put they stated the following findings:

  • Women with adequate vitamin D levels were 10% more likely to become pregnant
  • Pregnant women with sufficient vitamin D were 15% more likely to have a live birth

Simply put, now that we fully appreciate that vitamin D is a hormone produced in our skin—it makes even more sense that women insure that they have sufficient levels during their reproductive years.

 

If you’ve never had your levels tested, consider consulting your provider to discuss this simple life hack.

Shine on,

~Robert

 

Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

Conceptions Reproductive Associates of Colorado

Recharging Egg Health for Women Trying to Conceive; the role of CoEnzyme Q10

One challenge to diagnosing and managing fertility problems is our inability to estimate the healthfulness of any woman’s eggs. We know that as women age; egg quality declines. But that doesn’t really help us know the viability of the eggs that someone has now. Even more bothersome is nobody fully understands the physiology of immature eggs—the ones not yet fertilized. But we do know that they require a lot of energy.

CoQ10

CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential aspect of the part of the egg that generates power (mitochondria). This enzyme helps our cells convert carbohydrates and fats into energy. It also helps protect our cells from the enzymes that cause them to breakdown—something that most of any woman’s eggs are destined to do. CoQ10 is also a potent anti-oxidant that can help protect the DNA in the egg from damage. These are three vital functions.

 

Although your body makes most of the CoQ10 you need; we do get some from our diet as well. The richest dietary sources are meat, chicken and fish as well as soybeans, canola oil and nuts. Unfortunately there is no easy way to measure which women have adequate CoQ10 and those that would benefit from more. There is no simple test. However, a recent study did provide some insights into the potential benefit of CoQ10 supplementation for fertility patients going through treatment.

 

A prospective, randomized study followed 186 women that were considered to have a reduced chance of achieving a successful pregnancy through IVF due to them being classified as having a decreased ovarian reserve. Half were placed on CoQ10 supplements beginning about 60 days before their egg retrieval. They found that the women placed on CoQ10 had a higher number of eggs retrieved, a higher fertilization rate and produced better quality embryos. Another randomized study found improved ovarian response and higher pregnancy rates in women with PCOS given a smaller dose of CoQ10 during ovulation induction treatment.

 

So if you’re trying to conceive, consider whether or not you may benefit from this important supplement. This may be especially important if you’re older than 35 years of age, have a low ovarian reserve, history of previous treatment failure or have PCOS. If you’re looking for a reliable brand of this supplement, here’s the one that I typically recommend to my patients: https://theralogix.com/products/neoq10-coenzyme-q10-supplement

 

Stay healthy,

~Robert

Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

Conceptions Reproductive Associates of Colorado

Having challenges getting pregnant? Laughter can help!

Most of us are goal oriented. As a result, any obstacle that interferes with us achieving an important result produces changes in our physiology that are referred to as “stress.” Sometimes stress can be a positive response. It can help us think creatively, remember details better and provide motivation to try harder. Unfortunately, the stress associated with trying to conceive is not helpful.

Whether trying to become pregnant naturally or with medical assistance; we work with our patients to help reduce the physiologic obstacles created by stress. One of the simplest ways to help reduce stress is to smile. Even when smiles are artificially induced; they can reduce the physiologic impact of stress. But we encourage people to go even further.

Baby Laughing

As a scientist and clinician, I love having data to further support recommendations. Research on how your body responds to laughter has shown improved immune function. In fact, that data focused in on a specific type of immune cell (NK cell) that we know impacts implantation and early pregnancy. But the best data comes from testing the hypothesis in real world situations like what has been done on patients going through IVF.

One well-designed interventional study followed 220 couples going through IVF. They had half of them randomly assigned to meet with a comedian around the time of their transfer to promote laughter. They found that the pregnancy rate in those exposed to laughter were almost double! Although this study has not (yet) been repeated; the results do make sense. We’ve all experienced serious situations where we have laughed—sometimes even apologizing for our laughter—only to feel better afterwards.

So as you proceed, consider the following advice: “Laugh often and smile loudly”

Mirthfully yours,

~Robert

 

Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

Conceptions Reproductive Associates of Colorado

Metformin Reduces Miscarriage Risk

I have written previous blog posts about the various ways that metformin can improve fertility treatment. These studies typically focus on the influence that this medication seems to have on becoming pregnant. We now have compelling evidence that this medication can also optimize your chance of completing your pregnancy. In other words, metformin is associated with a reduction in the risk of miscarriage.

Mid Pregnancy Yoga

Most miscarriages occur in the first trimester. It is estimated that 80% of pregnancy losses occur within the first 6 to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Previous research has shown that use of metformin may help reduce this risk due to various ways that it seems to influence egg quality and by stabilizing first trimester hormone shifts. Now a study has found that continuing metformin reduces the risk of later miscarriage by 50%!

 

A very well designed study followed nearly 500 women in 14 difference centers as their pregnancies progressed. These women had been randomly assigned to take metformin based upon a previous diagnosis of risk due to either PCOS or concerns of potential gestational diabetes. Unfortunately, 10% of women taking the placebo lost their pregnancy after the first trimester. But the women taking metformin had less than half as many pregnancy losses! Since no other treatment has demonstrated a comparable ability to reduce the risk of second trimester loss—these results are pretty impressive.

 

So if you feel that you may be at risk of second trimester pregnancy loss or gestational diabetes; discuss with your provider whether or not you may be a candidate for metformin.

Stay informed,

Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

Conceptions Reproductive Associates