Two years of fertility struggles. Too many needles and internal ultrasounds to count. Multiple failed Intrauterine Inseminations (IUI). I doozy of a failed In Virto Fertilization (IVF) that included a missed ectopic pregnancy where I almost lost my life.
This period of my life left me feeling dizzy like I was spiraling out of control worrying about the unknowns and ‘what-ifs.
I wish I had known what I know now…
Fertility challenges often leave parents-to-be feeling helpless, fearful, and like a giant piece of their life is missing. It’s truly all-consuming and, frankly, it’s exhausting. During my journey my mental health was tested; the hopeful highs and devastatingly low lows were almost too much to bear. I definitely needed something to better cope with my circumstances and to feel like I was doing everything I could to get pregnant. However, I was too overwhelmed to put the pieces together on my own.
Two kiddos later my fertility fog has lifted (and been replaced by 2 busy toddlers). After diving into the research, I compiled all the information I wished was available to me during my challenges and helped launch a successful business that provides research-based lifestyle programs for women struggling with their own fertility challenges. Here’s what I learned:
3 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Fertility
Research has shown that the psychological burden associated with fertility treatments is one of the most difficult aspects of a fertility journey. In fact, it is the leading cause of patients discontinuing treatment. Finding ways to reduce the psychological burden can help parents-to-be feel more positive, optimistic, lighter, and may enable them to persevere with the treatments that will increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.
In this study, mindfulness (an intense focus on what one is feeling in the present moment without the lens of judgment) was shown to improve self-compassion, fertility quality of life, and revealed statistically higher pregnancy rates in the group that practiced mindfulness over the group who didn’t practice it.
Each person will resonate with different techniques, here are a few examples:
- Quiet meditation
- Guided meditation
- Positive visualizations
Regular movement wasn’t a part of my lifestyle during my fertility challenges. Truthfully, the time it just felt like another thing to do. Had I taken the time to do the research I might have realized that regular, moderate exercise has been shown to actually support fertility. In fact, this one study demonstrated that women who engaged in regular, moderate exercise had higher implantation and birth rates following assisted reproductive treatment. I wish I had known this.
What does regular, moderate exercise look like? Simply put, it means aiming for 20-30 minutes of exercise most days a week at a level you can talk in short bursts at, but not sing.
Do you eat Mediterranean? Even before my fertility challenges, I encouraged my clients to follow a Mediterranean style of eating. This includes fresh fruits and veggies, healthy plant-based fats like olive oil, and moderate amounts of fish and poultry. It was a delight to learn that this way of eating also proves to be supportive of fertility and assisted reproductive technology, like IVF.
In this study, a greater observance of a Mediterranean-style diet while going through IVF was associated with a higher likelihood of achieving clinical pregnancy and live birth among non-obese women <35 years of age. And in this study, more embryos were able to be obtained via IVF when the participant followed a Mediterranean diet.
It’s easy to look back on my fertility challenges and beat myself up for not exercising enough. Or for eating too much chocolate for that matter. Hindsight is 20-20, right? I wish at the time I known what I know now. I hope these tips help you make some positive steps forward in your journey. The goal is to help to provide some semblance of empowerment on your journey towards two pinks lines.
P.S If you need more support you are in luck! We have research-backed fitness, nutrition, and mental all being programs for all stages of the fertility journey – IVF, IUI Prepping for treatment, for those with PCOS, and even women in the 1st trimester of pregnancy (at the request of our fertility clinic partners). Get more info ==> here!
Being a food nerd and clinical nutritionist for the past 11 years taught me a lot, but nothing like struggling with infertility for 2 long years. Since then, I’ve shifted my focus to helping those on their personal road to motherhood. I know the emotional and physical toll the process can take and now after having gone through a healthy pregnancy and delivery, I want to help you too!