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Path To Fertility Blogger Lisa Rosenthal  

Lisa Rosenthal has over twenty-five years of experience in the fertility field, including her current roles as Coordinator of Professional and Patient Communications for RMACT and teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a class designed to support, comfort and enhance men and women's sense of self. Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association, where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director

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Fertility Medications ~ An Emotional Roller Coaster or a Breeze?

  
  
  

Fertility Medications

woman injecting fertility medicationsThe questions about fertility medications abound. What are the side effects? How likely is it that I will feel any of them? How quickly will I experience them? Does my having side effects mean that I should not use that medication? That list probably just touches on a few of the questions that many of us have when it’s determined that we need to use fertility medications.

 

Let’s face it, I’d bet that there’s not a woman out there that actually wants to use fertility medications. We would prefer to get pregnant not needing to use them. And then it turns out there are side effects? Are you kidding me?

Emotional Side Effects

Today, I’m just going to talk about the emotional side effects of fertility medications. Please do feel free to post any questions to this blog about the medical side effects that you are wondering about and I will pass them on to our fertility endocrinologists. If you are in the middle of fertility treatment and have questions, please call your physicians with any concerns.

 

Back to emotional side effects of fertility medications.

 

Do fertility medications create emotional changes? Is it possible that taking medications can make you weepier, sadder, and less stable than usual?

 

The simple answer is yes.

 

The more complex answer is maybe.

 

Some women definitely react emotionally to the medications. We don’t really know if it’s because their systems are more sensitive or because they are more susceptible to increased hormone levels or another reason even less easily identified.

 

We do know that it’s not unusual either way. Any time there’s a group of women there will be a segment that feels overwrought, emotionally tender and more. They speak of being weepier than usual, more reactive than usual, less tolerant than usual. It’s as if all their defenses are down and their emotional immunity level is not as high as normal.

 

Some women, often those of us who predict we will have those types of side effects, just simply don’t. We are relieved to find that we barely notice being on the medications and there are no emotional side effects at all.

 

It becomes even more complicated though, when you either change or adjust medications or do another cycle. One set of reactions do not predict the next set of reactions.

 

Clomid vs. Injectable Medications

 

Interestingly enough, many women can have adverse emotional reactions to clomid and clomid type medications and have far less reaction when they move to the injectible medications. Interestingly in that often there is fear with the injectible medications, anxiety about fertility injections, that the reaction will be far worse.

 

It seems very safe to assume that giving yourself extra time and extra patience when you start medications would give you a buffer in case you do feel differently than normal. Extra pressure or even the normal amount of pressure may be too much at the time of starting a medical regime that includes powerful fertility medications. These medications are powerful. That is the point. For them to help your body do something that is not the typical. What’s typical for each of us is different. If you do not ovulate or menstruate normally and you start taking medication for that to occur, it is a change. Just like it’s a change for a woman who typically does ovulate and menstruate to take medications to increase how many eggs she produces.

 

These medications create changes. Changes that we want to see so that we can help you become pregnant. Changes that sometimes can create emotional highs and lows that you are not used to experiencing.

 

Give yourself a break. Please. If you feel weepier than usual, take the time to have a good cry. If you feel more reactive, getting angrier more easily, do more of the types of things that are soothing and comforting.

 

Mainly, just take it easy on yourself. These are not permanent changes; you will feel like yourself again when you are off the medications. Know that it is not easy. Really allow yourself to get that. These medications can make you feel very differently than you normally do.

 

Deep breath out. Deep breath in.

 

And repeat.

 

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Infertility Retreat, To Give Pause, Or Just Take a Break

  
  
  

Infertility Retreat - What Does It Really Mean?

cat and grumpy dog for infertility retreatI heard the phrase timely retreat recently. Yesterday in fact.

 

Me, I don’t love the word retreat. Especially as it is used in moving into introspective space, head clearing, heart open space.

 

Here are the synonyms and they tell the story about why retreat doesn’t appeal to me: move away, draw back, pull away, recoil, withdraw, leave.

 

Those synonyms are the reason that I don’t like retreat because they indicate a giving up, as opposed to regrouping or reconsidering.

Fertility Treatment Pause

With infertility, rest becomes imperative. Taking time off from fertility treatment is necessary, even when that may seem impossible. When rest is not taken, exhaustion takes over. Hysteria and obsession take over. Given that it’s impossible to make sane, reasoned decisions from a hysterical place, a pause to take a deep breath can make the difference between good choices and not so good choices.

 

I’m trying the word pause out instead. Synonyms are: hiatus, gap, silence, break in proceedings, awkward moment, recess (I really like that one) and suspension. Here are some words that I looked at to express the meaning I’m trying to convey: give pause, compose, reflect, reconsider, selah and even delay.

 

What I’m recommending is not a retreat, which is often thought of as backing away. I’m recommending to give pause. To stop and reconsider. To stop and breathe, which is not the same as hyperventilating.

 

When I stop and give pause, I find that I don’t feel less stuck, I am less stuck. Possibilities that I refused to consider on the basis of them being impossible, become possible, sometimes even attractive. My knee jerk reaction of no, with that delay, becomes a more thoughtful, “well, maybe”.

 

Focus On Fertility - Remembering We Have Choices

 

My focus on fertility, pregnancy, and babies was so specific and pointed that I rarely allowed the idea of other options in; I rarely gave pause on what an alternate outcome could look like. Giving pause, taking a break allowed me to make other changes in my life that made my life feel hospitable to other choices about fertility treatment. Breathing in off-cycle months allowed me to be more sane in fertility cycle months.

 

So maybe that’s what I’ve settled on instead of retreat; to give pause.

 

To breathe in and out. To reconsider while in a quiet, saner state of mind. To sidestep the hysteria that builds and breathe instead.

 

What I learned and relearn every day is that when I go into panic mode I forget that most decisions can wait a moment. Or two. Or ten. Or a month. That making a decision when I feel like I have no choice is no decision at all; it comes from feeling bullied, even if I’m the one doing the bullying.

 

We always have choices. Even if the choices are miserable and hard and not at all what we wanted. Still, we have choices. And taking a moment to pause allows us to consider our choices in a saner, more open way.

 

To give pause. Yep, I like it.

 

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Breathing Exercises to Calm the Nervous System | Infertility Support

  
  
  

Friday text

Infertility Support: Breathing Exercises


Hands with stars

Getting back into the swing of things with the summer rolling along. With or without children, it seems that we gravitate to the fall as the start of the new year. The summer is a time of relaxation, vacation, time off. And as the weather turns cooler, often we have a renewed determination to move forward.

 

Moving forward looks different depending on who you are, what your goals are and the feeling of the moment. Our feelings do come and go. Our hormones do help drive those feelings. One moment we feel hopeful, the next tearful. One moment we can take on the world, the next we can feel exhausted.

 

Here’s my only advice. Take it one breath at a time, which loosely translates into one moment at a time. Yes, I am a yoga teacher, so I think in terms of breath. Moments work too, but I find the idea of breath sustaining, nourishing and gratifying. We all rely on our breath, just sometimes we are more aware of it than other times.

How to Access Optimal Breathing

Read below for a few other opinions on optimal breathing from a holistic health coach:


Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) Function and the Breath

The ANS has the job to perceive the internal environment and - after processing the information in the Central Nervous System - regulating the functions of the internal environment . . . Autonomic implies “independent” of the conscious mind. The ANS is likened to a team of horses. It will follow the leader. The breath is the only part of the ANS that is consciously controllable so we put the breath as lead horse and the rest of the team will follow. 


WHO IS IN YOUR DRIVER’S SEAT?
Due to breathing’s potential dominance of the autonomic nervous system anything you do 5,000 to 30,000 times a day or two to five hundred million times per life time will influence you positively or negatively in many ways.


Your breathing can be out of control like a blind three year old child trying to drive an automobile down a straight road. Or it can be a balanced combination of skillful and spontaneous action that propels, and guides you towards the directions in life that you most care to go. Life seems to be varying degrees of the two extremes. Which end of the spectrum most resembles YOUR life?


Stress Relief Tips with Deep Breathing

 

Psychology Today has these stress relief tips in their article about how to remain calm during uneasy times with breathing, deep breathing.

 

Deep-breathing. It's remarkable how we can use this basic life function to keep our minds clear in a crisis. There's no excuse not to learn deep breathing, ever. It costs nothing. It requires no special equipment. And you can do it anywhere, any time. Deep breathing has a direct calming effect on the nervous system, so much so that it relaxes the muscles of artery walls and measurably lowers blood pressure.


Here's one very simple way of deep-breathing. Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth. Breathe in slowly through you nose to the count of five. Hold your breath to the count of seven. Then exhale slowly and audibly through pursed lips to the count of eight. If you put you hands to your abdomen you can feel it rise as you inhale. By the fourth exhale, you should feel noticeably relaxed. By the tenth, renewed.


Maybe try it this weekend. Start, really, from the beginning, even if you are an experienced yogi. Being conscious of our breath. After all, ever wonder how many breaths does a person average each day? We breathe, on average, over 17,000 times a day. Most of those breaths we do not notice, nor do we need to. But a few times a day, especially when in need of calming or soothing, perhaps take note of your breath.

 

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Finding My Own Peace Within Infertility

  
  
  

Peace in the Midst of Infertility and Chaos

Breath and Peace in InfertilityThere are places that I know bring me peace.  In the midst of infertility and the chaos that it brought, I sought these places out to bring relief.

 

The ocean.

 

The mountains.

 

The woods.

 

Meditation.

 

Yoga.

 

A book.

 

Where can you go where you feel that deep sigh from within, signaling safety? Letting you know that you have come home?

 

Sometimes those moments come in unexpected places. I’ve felt at home in places that were shocking.

 

For instance, in a coffee house with a friend after revealing a secret. In my own bedroom, letting go of everything at the door, walking in completely unburdened.

 

I almost always have a moment of lightness in a yoga class. That moment when everything melts away and I feel present to myself, to others and to the universe.

 

More and more lately, I feel at peace when I am alone. It used to be that I felt lonely or antsy or overly in my head when I was alone. These days, I find it soothing.

 

I have a suggestion.

How to Clear the Mind with Breath

Make some time for yourself. Clear your mind with deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Keep repeating. Allow yourself to repeat the word in your mind as you do the action.

 

Inhale -- bring the breath in.

 

Exhale -- release the breath out.

 

Do it again.

 

And again.

 

Notice your heart slow down.

 

Notice your thoughts become less frantic and hurried.

 

Close your eyes if it helps.

 

Let this time with yourself be the place that you find calm and peace.

 

Observe the stillness within your own heart and let the reflected light show you something new.

 

Maybe I’m not saying this so well.

 

Albert Einstein said it beautifully.

 

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

 

Our lives are miracles. Even while we’re waiting for our babies.

 

Find it in your breath and in yourself.

 

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Bleeding After a Positive Pregnancy Test? How to Manage the Panic!

  
  
  

Thursday text
Dr. Cynthia Murdock wrote yesterday concerning first trimester bleeding, about what it could mean. She also commented on a new study that supports that light bleeding is often not a reason to panic about losing a much wanted pregnancy. Dr. Murdock asked me to follow up with some suggestions on how not to panic. Especially in the midst of your panicking.

Panic, in of itself, is not a bad thing, it moves us to action, lets us know that something important is happening. We tend to attach labels to certain feelings and reactions. So called negative feelings, that are considered bad, have their place in our lives. Fear, for instance, is considered a bad thing. It’s also what keeps us alive, alert to things that are truly dangerous, and aware of things that are possibly dangerous. Sadness, anger, resentment too, are opportunities to see ourselves more clearly and honestly.

The idea is not how to prevent panicking or sadness or anger, but to recognize them when they show up and know how to handle yourself, gently, to minimize the damage that those feelings can cause in our psyches. I am not a mental health professional, you all know that. I am a patient advocate of many years, an infertility educator, and a leader of peer support groups for over 20 years, a student of mind/body relationships and a yoga teacher.

Here are a few things that I have found work. My Fertile Yoga students find that they work, as well.

Breathing deeply works. Here is what I wrote in a previous blog:

Psychology Today has this to say about breathing, deep breathing.

Deep-breathing. It’s remarkable how we can use this basic life function to keep our minds clear in a crisis. There's no excuse not to learn deep breathing, ever. It costs nothing. It requires no special equipment. And you can do it anywhere, any time. Deep breathing has a direct calming effect on the nervous system, so much so that it relaxes the muscles of artery walls and measurably lowers blood pressure.

Here's one very simple way of deep-breathing. Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth. Breathe in slowly through you nose to the count of five. Hold your breath to the count of seven. Then exhale slowly and audibly through pursed lips to the count of eight. If you put you hands to your abdomen you can feel it rise as you inhale. By the fourth exhale, you should feel noticeably relaxed. By the tenth, renewed.

Knowing the right steps to take when you are in a panic or can feel anxiety rising is also helpful. Looking honestly at what is troubling you and deciding on a plan of action lets you move forward and not get stuck feeling upset. It might be that you need to make a phone call or make an appointment or speak to someone personally. It might be that you need to remind yourself of the possibilities of what is occurring and decide how to take care of yourself. That might be sitting down and closing your eyes for a few minutes. It may be that you need to have something to eat or drink, your blood sugar being off balance will only add to how you are feeling. Perhaps you need to cancel something later in your day or add going on a walk to calm yourself. The idea is to decrease stress, not add to it. So if canceling something will make you feel guilty or uncomfortable, don’t do it. If adding something to your day will push you over the edge, don’t do it.

Maybe a cup of herbal tea? Chamomile tea has calming properties and is very soothing. A ten minute phone call with a friend, your partner, family member can help. A yoga class is always a great idea, but you knew I was going to say that.

Distraction is a possibility as well, especially if there is nothing to do but wait. Simply nothing that you can do in the moment to affect the outcome of what you are panicking about. Sometimes that is just the case, that only the future will tell you whether things will be ok or not. That is often the case with light first trimester bleeding. You wait and see if it stops. You wait and see if it happens again. And for the most part, there is nothing concrete that you can do.  In that case, I recommend pleasant distraction;  a book, a movie, a television show, a phone conversation, a walk, coffee/tea with a friend, a lovely meal, baking, shopping, a warm bath or even a nap. It’s possible that you already have a list, pick the one that is most appealing, not something that you should do or have to do; something that really feels like it would be wonderful to do.

And feel the panic recede. My experience with panic and having to wait it out is that it ebbs and flows. It’s stronger, then I calm myself, then it returns, and I recalm myself. Be patient with the process, be patient with yourself.

After all, panic serves a purpose, as do all the other emotions that we have. They have a place in our lives and often when we spend less energy shoving them away as hard as we do, they recede more easily and more quickly.

Any suggestions that you would like to add? Something important or basic that I missed? Please let me know and I will add them so that others can benefit from our collective wisdom.

 

 

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