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Archive for the ‘cortisol and fertility’ tag

Can Napping Help Your Fertility?

By Tracey Minella

March 11th, 2013 at 7:47 pm

image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigital photos.net

Sleep deprivation is the theme of the day!

Today is National Napping Day. Yesterday was Daylight Savings Time, where we all sprung forward…and lost a precious hour of sleep. And the effect of sleep deprivation on your fertility is also in the news today. http://huff.to/WEbF93

I was already dragging, but now I’m exhausted just trying to keep up with everything that could impact a woman’s fertility. There should be a law against turning the clock ahead on a Sunday. But in all seriousness, it’s one thing to adjust to an hour of lost sleep once a year and another thing to consistently be cheating your body of a good night’s sleep.

With all the multi-tasking and demands of multiple jobs or longer work days, it seems like no one I’ve talked to is getting 8 or 9 hours of sleep anymore. The tough economy is causing people not only to work longer and harder, but to worry about keeping their jobs since new ones are not easy to find lately. Major stress.

Now add the stress of infertility and you have a vicious cycle:

Stress>Lack of Sleep>Infertility. Repeat.

It’s hard to know which came first.

Your endocrine system, and the hormones it produces and regulates, is responsible for conception and it may not function well without adequate sleep. Poor sleep has been tied to low leptin levels, which has been linked to irregular ovulation and decreased or irregular periods. In addition, adrenal hormones are increased in stress and can cause a hormonal imbalance which may also impact fertility. http://exm.nr/ZDKNCB

So while you still may need something more than 40 winks nightly in order to conceive, turning in early each night is an easy first step for any woman wanting a baby. Sweet dreams.

And may all your dreams come true.

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Did you know that sleep may impact your fertility? How many hours of sleep do you get?

 

Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Gestures_g185-Young_Woman_Yawning_p95461.html

 

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Our Complete Mind Body Program

By Bina Benisch, MS, RN

January 23rd, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Life changes.  You’ve had your intentions, your hopes, and your dreams of where life would take you.  What you may not have envisioned is suddenly being a member of the population that struggles with infertility.  Being diagnosed with infertility – for any reason – “unexplained,” male factor, or female factor, can feel like a lonely, isolating experience for many reasons.  The fact is that most women never expected to be in this position, and this is often one of the most stressful times in a woman’s life.  Feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, and anger can be overwhelming during infertility.  Often, anger masks the feelings of loss experienced month after month of trying to conceive without success. Infertility impacts on one’s marriage, self-esteem, sexual relationship, family, friends, job, and financial security.

Our Mind Body Program provides a space where you can relax, a place where you are free to express whatever it is you are feeling … a sacred circle of connection and support.  I have been told by women who have participated in the Mind Body Support Group that they experience a huge relief by connecting with other women who really “get it,” who understand these unique feelings. During the sessions, I take part of the time to teach Mind Body methods to elicit the relaxation response (emotional and physiological relaxation).  In this way, you can learn to practice these methods on your own on a daily basis.

In our Mind Body support group, patients experience the opportunity to share information, feelings, or their own personal stories. You may be surprised to see how your support can help others or you may be relieved to hear others experiencing the same type of thoughts and feelings as you experience. Often, the supportive nature of this group, and the connection that develops between members, fosters a healing process.
Feelings of isolation, anger, and stress are slowly relieved. Our Mind Body program focuses on symptom reduction and developing a sense of control over one’s life by utilizing Mind Body strategies and interventions which elicit the relaxation response. The relaxation response is actually a physical state that counteracts the stress response. You can think of it as the physiological opposite of the body’s stress response. We cannot be stressed and relaxed at the same time.
Therefore when a person elicits the relaxation response, the body’s stress response is halted, stress hormones diminish.  It is important to understand fertility holistically. Your mind and body work together, not separately. Therefore your thoughts have a direct effect on your physiology. When you are experiencing stress, your brain releases stress hormones. These stress hormones function in many ways. One of the stress hormones, cortisol, has been documented to interfere with the release of the reproductive hormones, GnRH (gonadatropin releasing hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), estrogen, and progesterone. In fact, severe enough stress can completely inhibit the reproductive system. Cortisol levels have also been linked to very early pregnancy loss. For this reason, it has been found extremely helpful when treating infertility, to include mind body strategies which help to alleviate the stress responses which may inhibit fertility.

All mind body methods ultimately cause the breathing to become deeper and slower. This causes stress responses such as heart rate, metabolic rate, and blood pressure to decrease. The way in which you are taught to elicit the relaxation response is through methods such as: breath focus, guided visual imagery, muscle relaxation and learned mindfulness, and meditation. Awareness of the mind body connection allows us to use our minds to make changes in our physiology. This holistic treatment – combining bio-medical science with mind body medicine deals with the treatment of the whole individual rather than looking only at the physical aspect.  The fact is, body and mind work together.

Let’s not forget the men. Men often feel uncertain about the ‘right’ way to support their partners, and don’t realize how they themselves are affected. We now offer our “Just For Guys Group.” In sharing how infertility affects the men, their relationships, and each man’s deepest sense of self, these men gain insight, and experience support during what can be an isolating and difficult time.

We invite and encourage you to take advantage of this unique area of support provided by The Mind Body Program at Long Island IVF.

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Ever consider putting the power of the Mind-Body program to work for you?

 

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Linking Traumatic Stress of Infertility and Hurricane Sandy

By Bina Benisch, MS, RN

November 15th, 2012 at 6:40 pm

credit: david castillo dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

If you’ve been struggling to conceive unsuccessfully, you know what it is to experience feelings of loss of control over your life and your body.  We live in a society which teaches us if we take the right steps, follow our dream, or do the work, we will produce the desired result. While it is true that our lives evolve and grow based on our attempts to attain certain goals, our true sense of safety and security is based on the most fundamental of needs being met.  These needs, for most of us, have been taken for granted: shelter, food, water, plumbing, heat, as well as the freedom to choose the way in which we spend our days.

In the same way, the lifelong vision that so many of us hold as we grow into adulthood – marriage and creating a family, are long held expectations that we take for granted. When we are suddenly faced with a new reality – that conception may not come as expected – our world, our life, as we had envisioned it, feels completely shaken to the core.  This is experienced as an emotional loss of the vision and identity we’ve known.

Now compound the feelings of emotional loss, and loss of control due to infertility with having lived through a hurricane of disaster proportions. Experiencing the loss of our very basic sense of safety due to flooding, loss of electricity, and natural wreckage of neighborhoods, has left many of us completely bereft — through experiencing at least a glimmer of our true vulnerability and lack of control. Even if we were not affected as seriously as others, this heightened sense of vulnerability produces a chronic underlying emotional trauma, as we grapple for ways to challenge or change the current reality and create a sense of emotional or physical stability. This trauma is manifested by physiological stress due to a chronic and persistent anxiety reaction. In turn, this stress causes changes in the body which may cause illness in the long run, as well as interfere with the ability to conceive.

How do you manage this anxiety? What can you do to help cope with this stress?

At Long Island IVF, we provide stress management and emotional support as part of our Mind Body Program in small group sessions for women, as well as a separate support group just for men.

Some tips for alleviating anxiety:

 

  • Cultivate breath awareness for 10 to 20 minutes by focusing on your inhalation and exhalation, as well as the nanosecond pause between each.
  • Allow your in-breath to be deep, and your out-breath to be slow and a touch longer than the in-breath.
  • Focusing on those things you DO have control over at this time – such as preparation and tasks toward your goals – can reinforce your sense of empowerment while, at the same time, allowing you to let go of the attachment to control those matters which are not in your control.
  • Creating distractions through leisure activities, writing, reading, art, music, games, social activities, or any number of ways, can be healthy coping skills which help us to decrease physical anxiety and quiet the anxious mind.

For more information on our Mind Body Program and support, please contact Bina Benisch, M.S., R.N. binabenisch@gmail.com or call 631-397-0096.

 

 

 

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Fertility and the Mind and Body Connection

By Bina Benisch, Ms, Rn

March 16th, 2012 at 10:28 pm

 At Long Island IVF, we understand the emotional aspect that accompanies infertility, and we believe it is equally important to support our patients emotionally as well as physically. It is important to understand fertility holistically. In addition to treating the various physical etiologies of infertility, we must take into account the effects of stress and anxiety. Your mind and body work together, not separately. Therefore your thoughts have a direct effect on your physiology.

When you are experiencing stress, your brain releases stress hormones. These stress hormones function in many ways. One of the stress hormones, cortisol, has been documented to interfere with the release of the reproductive hormones, GnRH (gonadatropin releasing hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), estrogen, and progesterone.

In fact, severe enough stress can completely inhibit the reproductive system. Cortisol levels have also been linked to very early pregnancy loss. For this reason, it has been found extremely helpful when treating infertility, to include mind/body methods and strategies which help to alleviate the stress response that sets off a cascade of hormonal responses which may inhibit fertility.

The mind/body work we teach here at Long Island IVF includes methods that allow the body to return to a calm and relaxed state, thereby turning off the biochemical stress response and allowing our hormonal physiology to function optimally.  Feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, and anger are common themes in infertility.  Often, anger masks the feelings of loss experienced month after month of trying to conceive without success. Infertility impacts on one’s marriage, self-esteem, sexual relationship, family, friends, job, and financial security.

One study showed that women going through infertility experience as much depression as women who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses such as metastatic cancer, heart disease, or HIV. When women face these other illnesses, they are likely to seek out the support of their friends and family.

The sad aspect of infertility is that although these women are as depressed as those facing life-threatening illnesses, they are far less likely to seek out support from friends and family. Often, thoughts of not living up to the expectation to become pregnant, thoughts such as “why is this happening to me?!”, and the intense emotions of loss related to the thought that one may never have a child, lead to feelings of isolation, anger, and depression.

Although there is a correlation between stress and infertility, the relationship remains complex. However, the research does in fact suggest that psychosocial factors such as depression and anxiety correlate with lower pregnancy rates following IVF. In addition, of the women who participated in Alice Domar’s Mind/Body program at the Mind/Body institute inBoston, 55% conceived pregnancies that resulted in the birth of a full term baby compared with 20% of the control group.

~ Mind/Body Support Group at Long Island IVF ~

In our Mind/Body support group, patients experience the opportunity to share information, feelings, or their own personal stories. You may be surprised to see how your support can help others or you may be relieved to hear others experiencing the same type of thoughts and feelings as you experience. Often, the supportive nature of this group, and the connection that develops between members, fosters a healing process.
Feelings of isolation, anger, and stress are slowly relieved.

Our Mind/Body program focuses on symptom reduction and developing a sense of control over one’s life by utilizing Mind/Body strategies and interventions which elicit the relaxation response. The relaxation response is actually a physical state that counteracts the stress response. You can think of it as the physiological opposite of the body’s stress response. We cannot be stressed and relaxed at the same time.

Therefore when a person elicits the relaxation response, the body’s stress response is halted, stress hormones diminish. Stress responses such as heart rate, metabolic rate, blood pressure, and shallow breathing decrease. Breathing becomes slower and deeper, so we have more oxygen being delivered to all the cells in the body. The way in which you are taught to elicit the relaxation response is through methods such as: breath focus, guided visual imagery, muscle relaxation and learned mindfulness, and meditation.

In Mind/Body work, we also work with “cognitive restructuring” which is examining our negative thoughts, seeing where there is distortion, and reframing our thoughts positively and realistically. Often, we have held on to certain negative thoughts and feelings we may have developed years ago. The thought pattern becomes so ingrained in us, that we take it for truth, when in fact, it is a distortion.

Cognitive restructuring will help you examine your thoughts and see which are distorted, causing you needless worry, anxiety, or depression. Once you understand how a thought is distorted, you can change those thoughts and alleviate the anxiety attached to them.

Awareness of the mind/body connection allows us to use our minds to make changes in our physiology. This holistic treatment – combining bio-medical science with mind/body medicine deals with the treatment of the whole individual rather than looking only at the physical aspect.  The fact is, body and mind work together.

We invite you to take advantage of this unique area of support provided at Long Island IVF and join our Mind/Body group.

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Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=12572&picture=meditation-by-the-lake

 

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