Thursday, June 20, 2013

Clearblue Expert Tips: Stress Reduction May Help Couples to Conceive

I was 30 when my husband and I started our life together. He was 36. He had his amazing son from his first
marriage, but we wanted more kids together as well. We figured we'd just let nature take its course, and then we'd have our family filled up and complete in no time. I really wanted a couple of more kids. Three is a great number.

Turns out, it wouldn't be that easy for us. It was 5 years before we finally conceived Little Boo. Five years of charting my basal body temperature, five years of fertility drugs, IUI and IVF treatments. Five years of stress.

The process of trying to conceive can become so very stressful. Especially if you're already in your 30s when you start. You can hear the proverbial clock ticking. And, guess what? The stress can make it even more difficult to conceive. It's a bit of a vicious cycle. So, today I'm sharing with you this article, "Conception Tips," by Beverly Beuermann-King, a Stress and Wellness Expert. I hope you can find some useful tips here to help you relieve your own stress, whether or not you are currently trying to conceive!

Stress affects many Canadians and many may feel that their stress levels rise each year. At the same time, infertility rates in Canada are also increasing with roughly 1 in 6 (16%) of couples now experiencing fertility issues.

There are several studies that link or strongly suggest the connection between, emotional stress and fertility issues in women. These studies revealed that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can disrupt menstruation or prevent it completely, as well as inhibit the implantation of a fertilized egg.
Studies have shown that couples have an increased chance of conceiving when less stressed. Most recently, a 2012 study in the Journal of Human Reproduction compared pregnancy rates in couples that reported being stressed and those who were not. Results showed that pregnancy was much more likely to occur during months when couples reported feeling happy and relaxed.

Here are some tips to reduce your stress and increase your chances of conceiving:

1. Find Ways To Relax:

  • Enrol in a yoga class. Yoga helps you stay centred, get relaxed and manage your stress.
  • Go for a relaxing massage. Take some time out of your week to get a massage, which can help give your body and mind some time away from daily stressors.
  • Read something uplifting or look at a beautiful scene. These types of activities activate our positive emotional centers and promote relaxation.
  • Try acupressure. Reconnect with your partner by trying acupressure (a blend of "acupuncture" and "pressure") which is a known relaxation technique that may help reduce stress. A common technique to relax and unblock emotion involves placing your fingers on your spouse’s foot, on the line between the big toe and the second toe, and moving your finger in a counter clockwise direction over this point.
  • Take a couple of quiet moments to yourself. Noise increases our stress. Try creating a quiet space, where you can be alone in your thoughts. You may enjoy a quiet moment soaking in a bubble bath with some scented candles.

2. Get More Sleep:
Stress may cause insomnia – here are some tips to maintain a normal sleep routine:

  • Maintain a regular bedtime routine. This will help regulate your energy and hormones.
  • Aim to get between 7.5 - 9 hours of sleep per night. Stress increases our need for sleep.
  • Ensure that your bedroom is conducive to getting a good night's sleep. Keep it dark, quiet and cool.

3. Be Nutrition Wise:
Our nutrition impacts the way in which our bodies function, both efficiently and effectively. Here are some tips on how to maintain healthful living:

  • Cut back on sugar. If you have a sweet tooth, look for other ways to satisfy your cravings. Reading labels is a great way to ensure that you’re not over-consuming on sugary foods. Sugar raises blood glucose rapidly which can cause the body to secrete high amounts of insulin. Once blood glucose levels plummet, the body can release cortisol and adrenalin which can affect both menstruation and fertility.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake. Coffee is often the go-to beverage during a long and stressful day, but excessive caffeine has a suppressive effect on the liver and this may affect hormone balance. Caffeine may also reduce blood flow to the uterus.
  • Increase your water intake. There are many reasons why Canadians should consume water. Staying well hydrated is important for every part of the human body.
  • Treat yourself with purpose. One way to help you cut back on over-indulging is to connect special treats with a special social outing. Instead of eating ice cream by yourself in front of the TV, enjoy it with purpose by making it a special afternoon outing with friends or family.
  • Floss for Fertility. Maintaining good oral health is important for the overall health of moms-to-be and their babies. In fact, gum disease can potentially lengthen the time it takes for a woman to conceive. Some studies have also shown a correlation between maternal gum disease and premature birth. Visit your dentist regularly, floss daily to loosen plaque, brush at least twice a day for two minutes, and use an antiseptic rinse to maintain your oral health.

4. Aim For Emotional Balance:
Watch out for negative emotions such as anger, guilt, or resentment, which many women may feel at some point in their journeys to conceive. Set realistic expectations - most couples do not get pregnant right away. It is normal for conception to take several months to a year. A Clearblue Fertility Consumer Insights Survey revealed that 45% of those trying to conceive admit that it took/is taking longer to get pregnant than what they expected and nearly one in three described “uncertainty” as the most stressful element relating to conception. To help reduce stress and alleviate uncertainty, pinpoint your two best days to conceive with the Clearblue digital ovulation test, and have sex on those days.

5. Laugh More:
Laughter can take the edge off of a stressful day. Think about something funny, or go see a comedian.

6. Take Advantage of Support and Counselling:
Sometimes we need to ask for help to manage our stress. Connecting with a doctor or psychologist and undergoing ‘talking therapies’ can help you work through your fears and anxieties, which can reduce your overall stress levels and help boost your chances to conceive. Friends and family that may have undergone similar difficulties may be helpful to speak with as well.

Of course, stress is only one factor impacting on a couple's chances of conception. There are also very real physical issues that may be in play, including the progressive deterioration of egg quality and numbers after age 30. If you have been unsuccessfully trying to conceive for more than a year, you should consider visiting your doctor for a consultation.

Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events and opportunities. The opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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