Much of modern psychiatry is about using medications to try to normalize brain chemistry as a tool to help resolve mood disorders. Having been involved in considerable research on how hormonal shifts can cause changes in brain chemistry–I am always interested in trying to help my patients understand what may occur and what they may be able to do to take preventive actions. Here is a study that suggests that using a dietary supplement containing tryptophan (2 grams) and tyrosine (10 grams) may prevent postpartum blues without changing breast milk contents. Better still, this might interrupt the spiral to postpartum depression! Check out this link and then talk with your doctor before starting any program.
The impact of lifestyle upon male fertility is very difficult to study and therefore rarely gets much scrutiny. In previous posts, I have referenced studies on how healthy sleep and melatonin levels impact egg quality. Now we have a new study that found that men that sleep less than 6 hours per night or more than 9 hours per night seem less fertile than those within the 6 to 9 hour time range. Although further research would be needed to confirm the validity of this study, it could be that sleep is impacting your ability to conceive with your partner.
by Lindsay Brin
“For years, yoga has played an important role in my life. It not only helps me manage the stressful life of a fertility specialist but also assisted my wife and me in having our daughter. Since it’s much more difficult to design research studies to prove the benefits of yoga; I thought I’d share another compelling story with you by introducing you to a friend of mine, Lindsay Brin.
Lindsay is a fitness and nutrition expert as well as a former NFL cheerleader. For over 15 years, she’s been helping women achieve the balance of both healthy mind and body. For the last few years however, she has focused more specifically on helping women with infertility as well as during their pregnancy. She has done this through her books, videos, DVD’s and her website. But even more convincing has been her willingness to share her own experience as a successful fertility patient as well. ” Robert Greene, MD, FACOG
In August 2007 I went through my 3rd IVF. I knew I had the best doctor and it looked like the odds were on my side. But still I could not get over the emotional & physical turmoil of infertility. Why does my sister-in-law hold hands with her husband and get pregnant? Why did we increase my Gonal? Why did I fill my bladder too much before ET? How does my husband put up with me right now? Why? Why? Why?
Then I realized I was only in control of one thing, my body. I couldn’t control the situation I was put in but it was time to take control of my attitude, emotional well-being, stress and physical body.
Having been a pre/post-natal fitness expert for several years I knew the incredible benefits of exercise and yoga. So why didn’t I apply them through my 1st IVF? Well, I’m not really sure. All I know is I was an emotional wreck, 10 pounds heavier and cranky!
But if you’re like me, by the 2nd IVF I was willing to do anything and everything to improve my chances! I added acupuncture, read Dr. Greene’s book, Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility and got back to my daily exercise regime which included yoga. And we did better this time around…but miscarried at 6.5 weeks.
This brings us back to August 2007 when I got the best news ever! Betas 32 @ 11dpo and 130 @ 13 dpo! I believe that was always the plan but again I could only control 1 aspect of the situation: my body.
Yoga is known for stress relief of infertility and increased blood flow to the uterus. So of course it’s beneficial! But if increasing your chances isn’t enough motivation please listen to me when I say that feeling better about yourself is the reason you should try it!
Yoga is a series of postures and exercises that promote control of your body, spiritual well-being and a connection with your body. You can use safe yoga postures to build strength and flexibility along with relaxation to develop or enhance calmness and confidence.
Here are some known fertility yoga poses.
- Start in butterfly, sitting with bottoms of feet touching and knees bent;
- Twisting butterfly, first place your right hand on the outside of your left knee and look over you left shoulder as you twist, switch sides;
- Goddess pose, lie on the ground with bottom of feet still touching;
- Butterfly rest, from goddess pose pull your feet towards your center, knees still bent in butterfly, look to the right for 5 breathes, look to the left for 5 breathes;
- Bridge pose-place feet on the ground about 12-18 inches form buttocks, place hands on the ground at your sides, lift your hips and do a series of pelvic circles;
- Savasana- corpse pose, lie with feet falling open and hands to your sides, breathe so deeply the back of your rib cage expands into the floor, relax until the point your feel your limbs getting heavy.
Now I am blessed to be pregnant with baby #2 after IVF #4. And the only thing that keeps the swelling away and the energy high is exercise and yoga! I do my prenatal DVDs which have both exercise and yoga on them (although I have to mute myself). So once you do get pregnant continue your yoga program to benefit your body and your baby!
If you’d like to know more about my fertility journey please visit my blog www.lindsaybrin.com. You’ll also get to see the good, the bad and the ugly of getting rid of the fertility lbs. and pregnancy weight gain!
I’ve long been fascinated by how symptoms provide insight into underlying hormonal disturbances. A great example is the emerging research on sleep. Your body has a circadian rhythm or a daily cycle of when specific physiologic events are to occur. This process organizes everything from growth, digestion and repair to consolidation of memories and production of chemicals to regulate your mood. It also coordinates the growth and development of sperm and eggs. The hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm is called melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by an area of the brain called the pineal gland. Blood levels typically between midnight and about 4 am. Maybe more interesting is the fact that exposing your eyes to light can abruptly interrupt the production and release of this hormone that helps you sleep through the second half of the night. That’s also the time of night when various physiologic functions peak including testosterone production and ovulation.
This is just one of the many facts linking your sleep pattern with your fertility.
Most fertility clinics may not inquire about what role your circadian rhythm may be playing your chance of conception, a recent publication in Fertility & Sterility summarized over 200 studies on how melatonin may be influencing your reproductive function. Here are just a few key points:
- Melatonin is a potent anti-oxidant. Studies show that the process of ovulation produces free radicals which can damage an egg. This hormone is concentrated in the fluid that surrounds mature eggs and likely serves to protect them from harm.
- Melatonin influences the production of estradiol, progesterone and testosterone differently during varying stages of the menstrual cycle.
- Melatonin regulates the maturation capacity of an egg. One study demonstrated that women with a history of failed IVF cycles experienced improved fertilization rates after melatonin supplementation.
- Melatonin modulates the immune system. It is estimated that 30% of women with premature ovarian failure have an autoimmune component. Additionally, many women with recurrent early pregnancy loss also have an immunologic disorder. These situations offer potential intervention to improve outcome through normalization of the circadian rhythm.
- Various fertility problems may be influenced by a melatonin deficiency. For instance, women with PCOS tend to have lower than normal levels of melatonin in their follicular fluid and melatonin may influence endometriosis growth.
The best way to optimize melatonin production is to establish and maintain a normal sleep pattern. In some situations melatonin supplements or the use of long acting melatonin-like medications may be of benefit. If you haven’t considered the role that a good night sleep can play in your successful conception check out this sleep assessment tool.