Fertility Medications and Placebo Effect
Sometime last week I wrote about my chance meeting with Dr. Katherine Scott, RMACT’s IVF Lab Manager. Our conversation sparked some ideas that have been percolating ever since.
How much does it matter how a message is delivered? This is a question that is fairly rhetorical as we know it makes a difference. We know it makes a big difference, that’s why such mind-boggling amounts of money are spent on advertising and marketing research. We know that what we call something and how we describe that same thing affects how we think about it; how we take it in.
Last night I spent some time with our PA, Diana D’Amelio. We were discussing the efficacy of medications and supplements and the effect of the placebo. I love being surrounded by such smart people who think about matters in such deep ways. Speaking with her sparked some new thoughts.
Infertility is a science. And it’s an art. And there is so much that every one of us can do about our own health, treatment and general well being. The placebo effect gives us a lot of power. Thinking something will work, will be powerful, helps make it that way. In essence, that’s what the placebo effect means.
Taking a pill or tablet that has no medication in it can often give the same physiological reaction as taking a pill or tablet that has specific medication in it. This has always been true. This is how double blind studies create research that we rely on. And it is frequent that the placebo is very effective in treating whatever ails you.
I am not suggesting that you all stop taking your medication because you can just believe your way into becoming pregnant. Fertility medications are powerful and using them will often bring a response of more eggs/follicles that we are looking for, especially when undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilization). This blog is not about knocking fertility medications.
What I am suggesting is that believing they will work is a great idea. What I am suggesting is that believing that eating in a healthy way increases the healthiness. What I am suggesting is that believing that sleeping properly makes our sleep more restorative and healthy.
When you’ve had disappointments, it’s challenging to put your heart into it. It’s a natural reaction to guard against more disappointments by keeping an awareness of failure. We all get that. And sometimes the best that you can do is take the medications and keep your heart protected. If that’s where you are, please know that suspending judgment around yourself is more important than anything else.
Mantras for Health
If you feel you can add a little something to your already rigorous fertility treatment regime, I have a suggestion. Once or twice a day, (or every hour if you are ambitious), create a mantra for yourself and repeat it three or four times. It can be simple and easy or very specific and personal. Your own mantras for health. Here are a few suggestions.
- My fertility treatment will be successful
- I am creating health for myself
- I am healthy
- Everything is exactly as it should be
- I am bringing my baby closer
- Peace (shanty)
- I am doing whatever I need to do to create my family
- I am one with the universe
None of these may float your boat at all. Again, no judgment. You may have a prayer or a poem that will work for you.
Try it for a week if you can. It’s painless, calorie free, alcohol free, caffeine free. In fact, it’s free, costs nothing. When you say your mantra, close your eyes bring your thoughts deep into your cells and organs. Create health and well being.
My mantra for this week: everything is as it should be, in this moment.
I would love to hear your mantra.
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Fertility Commitments to Myself
With infertility, I spent so much time--seeing myself for what I did not have, what I was not, what I could not do. That was what I saw and felt when I looked in the mirror; what reflected back to me was what I could not do. What I was not.
I was not fertile. I was not enough. I could not do what I was designed to do; born to do. I could not do what I so deeply and genuinely dreamed of; conceiving a baby.
I spent enough time in fertility treatment that I got tired of that view. Eventually, I chose to look at myself differently. It took diligence and time. There were plenty of slip ups and back sliding. I persisted. I made the commitment to myself to see something different in the mirror.
Here were some of the choices that I made in looking at myself. Some of them I made more frequently than others. Some I repeated every single day. Some I repeated several times a day. Some I literally chanted in the morning and evening.
Infertility Support - A List of Reminders
I found it comforting to remind myself that I was more than infertility or fertility treatment.
Here were the things that I chose to see about myself; that I chose to say, in the most loving possible way:
I will hold myself up tall, with pride
I will think well of myself and my partner
I will remember that I am a whole person, not an infertility diagnosis or a sperm count
I will remind myself that I have value and worth, whether I am pregnant or not, whether I am a parent or not
I will see myself as healthy and strong
I will do what I need to do to create my family
I will breathe deeply and think clearly
I will see those things in my life that I want and all ready have. I will feel gratitude
I will see how incredibly beautiful I am when I look in the mirror
I will surround myself with people who love and respect me
I will see the growth that is happening because of the circumstances that I am experiencing
I will rest and know that it will restore me
I will sleep well
I will eat healthy foods, most of the time
I will respect my body and notice all the ways in which I am healthy and vibrant
I will remind myself that I learn something about myself every day and that what I have learned about myself because of infertility is that I am strong and courageous. I know how much easier it would be to accept my infertility and remain childfree. I will remind myself that I am brave enough to move forward and farther than I thought I could in my goal of becoming a parent.
I will embrace myself as I am, in this moment; strong, vibrant, smart, funny, healthy, vital, loving, loved, gracious, grateful, confident, beautiful and fertile enough.
I am enough. Just as I am, in this moment.
What do you tell yourself?
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A Gift From Ladies Night In
Fertile affirmations for the weekend. All generously given from our beautiful women last night in Ladies Night In.
Pick one. Use them all. Switch them up. Create one of your own. Tell me your favorite.
My infertility does not define me
I am more than my ability to become pregnant
I am strong and courageous
I am persistent and introspective
My strengths and my weaknesses cross boundaries and create a whole me
I am on my own path to create my family
I live in the present moment and neither dwell in the past nor demand that the future arrive early
I believe that I will become a parent
I find balance in caring for myself and caring for others
I seek help and support because I deserve it
I am worth all the effort that I am using to find my family
My losses make me more compassionate and more capable of loving even more
My heart is expanding with every breath I take
I can feel something without becoming that feeling
Breathing is my way of finding my way home to my heart
I deserve shanti, peace
I am whole and complete
Carrie Van Steen and I are truly fortunate to be able to facilitate this group of women who bring their whole selves to the party.
Thank you, as always, for the smiles, laughs, tears, honesty.
You are all inspiring.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
Part of my weekend plans, every weekend, include teaching Fertile Yoga. On Saturdays, class meets from 9:30 until 11:00 in Norwalk, (20 Glover Avenue, Norwalk, CT); 4:15 until 5:30 in Brookfield (777 Federal Road, Brookfield, CT.) It's a part of my week that I truly look forward to. It's not part of the true "business week and so feels different than the Monday through Friday routine. It doesn't have the same feel as Sunday, with even less responsibilities. My teaching on Saturday gives structure to the day, my time and my energy.
Teaching Fertile Yoga is my opportunity to speak to our patients, hear how they are doing, and answer questions. Otherwise, I would have very little contact with them. The classes are very gentle, in the style of restorative yoga. There is absolutely no creating pretzel like poses, or balancing on one hand while the other three limbs are up in the air. One of my students describe the class as a mini-vacation that she treats herself to each week; a way to take a formal break from the rest of her routine. Classes focus on very gentle movement (often not getting off the mat at all), guided meditation, focused breath and relaxation.
My intention is to teach different mechanisms of releasing stress that we learn in class to take and use out of class. Each class is different, with a focus on new tools. One major tool that we use is a Mantra to keep you focused in the moment. Ariel Joseph Towne , of the Outrageous Mantra Experiment (OME) says, "Repeating the mantra silently throughout the day also brought clarity to other areas of her life." (From Yoga Journal.)
There is a lot of information about mantra's and how they are used in life, in spiritual practice in religion and in yoga. Perhaps I should not even use the term mantra. My personal way of using and teaching a mantra is to emphasize the moment. Inhale the word inhale, exhale the word exhale. Block everything else out by bringing those two words into focus. The focus prevents you from both rushing forward into the future anxiously and also from stumbling backwards into the past that does not exist in that moment. A mantra can be as simple as inhale and exhale or as personal as one makes it. I have one student and friend who uses the mantra, "peanut butter" on the inhale, "jelly" on the exhale. (I have permission to tell you this.) She finds great comfort in this; I love the sense of humor that she allows to peek in. This is what comes into her head and makes sense to her.
I will be there this Saturday. If you have not joined me yet, maybe this will be the week?
I'd love to have you
Classes will be led by Lisa Rosenthal RYT200 (Registered Yoga Teacher).
Lisa is a former fertility patient, who also worked for over 17 years as a national patient advocate for couples and individuals going through infertility. Lisa trained with Lotus Garden for her 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher certificate, through Yoga Alliance. Lisa is uniquely qualified to understand the specific stresses and challenges that men and women trying to conceive encounter. The class is designed for those with all different diagnoses, being mindful that stress reduction is a major component to these classes. BEGINNERS WELCOME!