Categories > Fertility Health

Self-Care Abdominal Massage For Fertility

“I am feeling stressed, worried, and anxious… I know I need to relax, but I just don’t even know where to start anymore.” 

Does this feel like a familiar sentiment? The stress of trying to conceive can be high under normal circumstances, but add on what has been happening in our world the last year and that stress begins to amp up even higher. 

Abdominal Self-Massage

When I have people come to see me, one of my greatest take home recommendations for de-stressing and relaxation is actually abdominal self massage. I tend to incorporate abdominal Tui Na (Chinese massage) into my general practice to help with circulation to the reproductive organs, but it is also a great practice to help decrease stress. 

If you are looking for a different approach to bringing some calm into your life, check out the routine below! 

Mo-Fa Round Rubbing

This practice involves using the technique known as Mo Fa – Round Rubbing. This is a gentle technique that uses the palm of the hand to bring great care to a specific area of the body. 

Mo Fa is a technique that can have many benefits to the body. It can be used to regulate digestion, relieve abdominal tension, and support fertility and menstrual health as well as creating an overall sense of relaxation. 

The abdominal work can be done over top of clothing or directly on the skin with some oil. It is best to choose a fragrance-free oil. Consider an oil like coconut, jojoba, or sweet almond oil. 

These are general guidelines to follow and it is always best to consult with your healthcare provider to determine if these techniques are appropriate for you. 

Setting the Space 

Set yourself up in such a way that you can lay down comfortably and relax. Consider playing some soft music or use a heating pad under your back to make sure you are cozy.

Do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable. Prop a pillow under your knees and cover your legs with a blanket.

As you rest, close your eyes and take a few moments to observe your breath. Relax into the space and take about ten rounds of deep breaths. 

The Technique 

Place your left hand over your heart and your right palm below the belly button, over your womb, on the midline. Begin by slowly circling your right hand clockwise over the womb.

The pressure can be adjusted to your preference, but I usually recommend just the weight of the hand to start.

Circle the palm until you begin to feel warmth under the right hand. As you notice the warmth, start to spiral this circle larger until you begin to encompass the entire abdomen. Gliding under the edges of the ribs, the hip bones, and across the top of the pubic bone.

After about nine rounds, begin to spiral the circle smaller and smaller until your right palm ends up where it started, circling over the womb. 

Move through these circles very slowly. Keep your wrist relaxed and find a comfortable rhythm staying aware of your breath. 

Let your palm come to rest over the womb and become aware of the sensations underneath your palm. Is there warmth? Do you notice a subtle tingling sensation in the fingers? End the practice with a round of 3-5 deep breaths and again become aware of how you feel in your body at this moment. 

This can be practiced for about 5-10 minutes daily. 

For a live demo of this abdominal technique, you can tune into the video premiere on the Whole Family Health Facebook page on Wednesday, April 21st!

For more information on how we can support your fertility, book a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Image @angiecouple

How to Support Fertility With Sleep

According to the APA (American Psychological Association) it is best to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. When people are not getting the appropriate amount or quality of sleep, their stress increases

A nationwide cohort study out of Taiwan found that people who suffer from insomnia were almost four times more likely to struggle with fertility compared to those who were well-rested (1).  

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is important in order to get good quality sleep. 

Here are some tips for improving your sleep: 

  • Keep sleep patterns regular and sleep between 10 pm and 7 am:
    Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Schedule permitting, aim to be in bed by 10pm and wake no later than 7am. 
    You’ll feel better if you are awake during sunlight hours. Once you get into a routine where you’re getting enough sleep each night (even on weekends) you won’t miss the weekend sleep-ins after awhile. 
  • Light/darkness support:
    If it’s not possible for you to sleep when it’s dark and rise when it’s light, you can try using blackout curtains and a sunrise/light alarm to simulate those conditions at off-times.
  • Stop caffeine intake by a certain time:
    When trying to conceive, you should already be limiting your caffeine intake. But in terms of improving sleep habits, caffeine consumption should stop at least 4-6 hours before going to sleep.
  • Turn off technology:
    Turning off backlit electronics at least 30 minutes before bed is essential. Devices like cell phones, tablets, readers, and computers emit short-wavelength enriched light, also known as blue light.

    Blue light has been shown to reduce or delay the natural production of melatonin in the evening and decrease feelings of sleepiness. Blue light can also reduce the amount of time you spend in slow-wave and rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, two stages of the sleep cycle that are vital for cognitive functioning.
  • Relax your mind:
    You might be used to finishing up some last-minute tasks prior to bed. However, it’s best to skip things that might stay on your mind as you go to bed. Try doing relaxation techniques like meditation or breathing exercises instead.
  • Spend time outdoors:
    Spending an hour in sunlight each day can help with quality of sleep and the ability to fall asleep. This hour does not have to occur all at once, you can break it up into increments that fit into your schedule. For example, try to have lunch outside, take walks, and play with pets outside.
  • Short term melatonin intake:
    If you suffer from Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder (DSWPD) -a circadian rhythm disorder, I typically suggest taking a small dose of melatonin for 2-4 weeks to reset your circadian rhythm.

    It is best to stick to short durations with breaks in between, because there is a possibility of long-term use of melatonin negatively affecting your own natural production of melatonin.

    Please consult with a qualified practitioner for dosing and melatonin supplementation scheduling. 

To find out more about how we can help you reduce stress and support your fertility, book a free 15-minute phone consultation with one of our fertility specialists.

References

  1. PMID: 29136234

Dr. Alda Ngo on She Found Motherhood Podcast: Mindfulness for Fertility & Pregnancy Loss

I had the honour and pleasure of chatting with Dr. Sarah from She Found Motherhood about our Mindfulness for Fertility & Pregnancy Loss programs.

Dr Sarah is an inspiring family, maternity and addiction physician based out of Victoria, BC.

We chatted about the ins and outs of becoming parents as healthcare professionals, and how this has informed our medical practices. We also chatted about the power of mindfulness, the research, how it works and how it can increase resilience through your fertility journey and through pregnancy after infertility or miscarriage.

Subscribe and listen to the She Found Motherhood Podcast here.

A little more about She Found Motherhood:

Drs. Sarah and Alicia answer common questions such as: I’m pregnant what do I do? are my symptoms in first trimester normal? What to expect for labour and delivery? How will I know about breastfeeding? How do I care for my newborn?

She Found Motherhood aims to help take the anxiety out of pregnancy and the journey through childbirth to parenthood. We discuss the fourth trimester and how to care for your newborn. We discuss mental health in pregnancy and the postpartum period and how to navigate changing relationships. We discuss newborn sleep, starting solids and even our tips and tricks for all topics given we have had 5 kiddos between the two of us.

Are you looking for evidence based, high quality information to help you make decisions through your pregnancy, labour & delivery and postpartum journey? If so you have come to the right spot! Make sure to subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out on any episodes!

Canadian Infertility Awareness: Infertility During A Pandemic

April 18 – 24 is Canadian Infertility Awareness Week.

Roughly 1 in 6 who are trying to conceive in Canada experience infertility & this number has doubled since the 1980’s.

Research shows that the psychological symptoms associated with infertility are similar to those associated with other serious medical conditions like heart disease, cancer and HIV.

Infertility is already unpredictable, but with the added stresses of the pandemic, fertility patients are having to not only grapple with economic and societal uncertainty, but also disruption to fertility treatments related to fertility clinic closures and limited elective in-office services.

Many patients who are already on tight biological timelines are finding themselves under even more pressure.

Surveys conducted since the onset of the pandemic have revealed that infertility remains a top stressor, despite the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

The stress of infertility remains significant & is comparable to the pandemic itself.

For fertility patients, when, why, how & where become whether, if, what if or even oh no.

There are already so many loaded decisions to be made in the face of uncertainty when dealing with infertility, and all of these are made extra difficult with hormonally influenced emotions. The pandemic only complicates the process.

Additional common questions that fertility patients are having to deal with are:

“ Is it safe for me to get bloodwork & ultrasound while exposing myself to potential COVID-19 in the office?”

“ I don’t want to wait any longer, but what are the implications of starting a potentially high risk pregnancy during a pandemic?”

“How will I grieve failed treatments or delays if I can’t even get together with my community.”

“ Will my partner be able to join me for this appointment or will I have to face it alone?”

“ What if I start a treatment cycle & we have to cancel midway through because there’s a lock down again? “

Infertility is Isolating

Infertility is already an isolating experience, which is also exacerbated by the isolation of the pandemic. As fertility specialists, and in honour of CIAW, we’d like to recognize those who are currently struggling to grow your families and the hardships that you endure, often alone and in silence.

That’s why we are teaming up with Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine (PCRM) & 3 courageous women who have struggled with infertility, to offer a free virtual event on Sunday, April 25th from 2 – 3:30pm.

Together, we are taking the opportunity to educate, openly share stories, empower and change the conversation around infertility. We want you to know that you are not alone and offer you some hope and inspiration.

Join us online:

Infertility During a Pandemic

Sunday, April 25th from 2 – 3:30pm MDT

Three courageous women will share their personal fertility journeys & what has helped them most along the way.

Dr. Caitlin Dunne, Co-director of PCRM will speak to infertility & treatment options, as well as the impacts of COVID-19 on fertility & treatments.

With the increased stressors of dealing with infertility during the pandemic, WFH’s Dr. Alda Ngo will be offering some free evidence-based mindfulness tools to help you deal with fertility stress.

WFH natural fertility specialist, Christina Pistotnik will share some accessible lifestyle advice to empower you to support and optimize your fertility during this time.

Click here for more information

Or

Register:

Info@wholefamilyhealth.ca

780.756.7736

Stay tuned for more blogs throughout the month for more tips on how to support yourself on your fertility journey!

To find out more about how we can support you with your fertility, book a free 15-minute phone consultation with one our fertility specialists.

Top 5 Supplements for Endometriosis Symptom Relief

March is Endometriosis awareness month and I get a lot of questions about what supplements can help to relieve Endometriosis symptoms.  

The following are some of the symptoms and their causes that are often experienced by people who suffer from endometriosis: 

Symptom Cause 
Heavy periods Excess estrogen 
Ovarian cysts

Inflammation
Excess estrogen
Endometrial cells outside of the uterus 

Inter-menstrual pain (usually mid-month)


Inflammation due to presence of excess endometrial tissue

Menstrual cramps that increase in severity
Inflammation due to presence of excess endometrial tissue

Painful bowel movements and urination

Endometrial tissue adhering to bowel/uterine tissue (excess estrogen and inflammation) 

Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)

Endometrial tissue adhering to vaginal / cervical tissue

Pelvic pain that is all-encompassing
Increased inflammation 

Spotting between periods 
Excess estrogen / hormone imbalance


Supplements that could help with these symptoms and causes include:

1. DIM (diindolylmethane)

DIM is found in cruciferous vegetables (ie. cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, etc). DIM is anti-inflammatory in nature and is metabolized similarly to estrogen. This helps promote healthy estrogen breakdown and removal from the body. Women with endometriosis are estrogen dominant (meaning high levels of estrogen are present) and that is why proper estrogen metabolism is important. 

A 2018 study looked at the clinical effects of DIM supplementation, DNG (Dienegist-*a prescribed medication) alone, and a combination of DNG and DIM in women with endometriosis (1).

DNG and DIM both inhibited the growth of endometrial cells. Endometrial tissues from women with and without endometriosis were exposed to DIM, DNG, or both. Endometrial cell life was decreased with DIM supplementation alone (25%) significantly more than with DNG alone (9%) and had a more improved effect when used in combination (40%) (1). 

** NOTE: People who are trying to conceive should not use DNG because it inhibits ovulation. However, DIM on its own can be taken by people trying to conceive.

2. Curcumin (Turmeric)  

Curcumin is an active component in turmeric and has proven anti-inflammatory properties as well as other potentially health-promoting characteristics, such as hormone-regulating abilities.

Research on curcumin for the treatment of endometriosis is limited, however, a 2013 study found that it can help reduce endometriosis epithelial cells (these are the cells that adhere to parts of the body outside of the uterus) by reducing excess estrogen production (2)

A 2020 review published by the Journal of Molecular Science suggests that curcumin may provide relief from endometriosis-related inflammation and directly act on decreasing adhesion and invasion of new lesions, shrinking existing lesions and stimulating angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation) to healthy cells (3). The authors do suggest that further research is needed to strengthen these findings.

3. Milk thistle

Milk thistle is a plant that contains silymarin, which decreases inflammation and supports healthy liver function.

The liver is important to help manage endometriosis, it’s responsible for filtering out toxins in the body, including excess hormones such as estrogen. As stated previously, endometriosis is an estrogen-dominant condition and endometrial lesions depend on estrogen for development and growth. 

** NOTE: Milk thistle should not be taken if you are on certain medications for depression, diabetes, blood clotting disorders or to help lower cholesterol. Please speak to a qualified practitioner before taking milk thistle. 

4. NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) 

NAC is an amino acid derivative. It is a precursor to glutathione production in the liver, which is one of the body’s most important antioxidants.

NAC restores cellular ability to fight damage from oxidative stress, reduces inflammation, improves cellular detox, and helps regulate the gene that produces pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.

In a 2013 study of 92 women in Italy, 47 took NAC and 45 took a placebo. The study showed that NAC decreased abnormal cell growth, decreased inflammation and reduced inflammatory genes. Also, 24 patients in the NAC group cancelled their scheduled laparoscopies, due to a decrease or disappearance of endometriosis, improved pain reduction or because they had become pregnant! In the other group, only one patient cancelled surgery (4). 

5. Omega-3 

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). This combination can reduce the production of molecules and substances linked to inflammation, such as inflammatory eicosanoids and cytokines

A 2010 study published in Human Reproduction that took place over 12 years, showed that women who consume the highest amounts of omega -3 fatty acids were 22% less likely to be diagnosed with laparoscopically confirmed endometriosis when compared with women who had the lowest intake of Omega 3 fatty acids. Conversely, those that consumed high amounts of trans-unsaturated fat intake were 48% more likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis (5) 

Furthermore, some small European studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the symptoms of dysmenorrhea (painful periods). Researchers believe that prostaglandins (PGs) play a pathogenic part in both endometriosis and dysmenorrhea. Omega 3-fatty acids from fish act as anti-inflammatories in endometriosis and dysmenorrhea by reducing the pro-inflammatory PGs derived from omega-6 fatty acids (processed meat and red meat), and the associated symptoms of endometriosis and dysmenorrhea (6) 

In Summary

I know this list seems like a lot of pills to swallow (pardon my pun)!

Fortunately the first three supplements (DIM, Curcumin, and Milk Thistle) can be found in a single formulation. I recommend Estrovantage by BioClinic or EstroSmart by Lorna Vanderhaeghe.

NAC and Omega 3’s need to be taken separately. 

I do want to stress that supplement intake should not replace the care of a medical doctor and the importance of consulting with a qualified health practitioner before taking any dietary supplements. Not all supplements are safe to take and there is no one-size-fits-all plan. Practitioners at Whole Family Health look at everyone individually and make decisions based on each person’s needs. 

If you would like to find out how we can help you, please feel free to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation.

References 

  1. PMID: 30001982
  2. PMID: 24639774
  3. PMID: 32244563
  4. PMID: 23737821
  5. PMID: 20332166
  6. PMID: 23642910

Image: IG@theurbanharvest

Erectile Dysfunction: A Functional Approach

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) affects a startling amount of people, and has been for hundreds of years.

10% of people under the age of 40 experience ED, and by the time they are 70 years old, 60% will experience ED. This is incredibly common, and not an easy situation to deal with.

Yet there are so many aspects of health that can be impacting this vital function. It is possible to view the body as a whole and get to the root of the issue before resorting to the little blue pill to achieve the end result. 

ED Can Be A Precursor to Cardiovascular Issues

It is  important to get to the root of the imbalance, as the disharmony that causes ED is not always isolated to sexual function.

One of the main pathomechanisms is vascular endothelial dysfunction – meaning that the lining of the arteries are hardening, making dilation difficult. This reduces blood flow.

The kicker is that if it is affecting sexual function, it could in the future, affect the rest of the body’s arterial health. Over the long term, vascular endothelial dysfunction can become much more rampant than ED, causing cardiovascular issues such as heart illness, neurological issues and dementia. 

There Are Multiple Reasons Why

Both functional and Chinese medicine view the body as a whole, meaning that there could be seemingly unrelated issues that lead to ED. It might be surprising to know that what we eat and how we process our food could be affecting sexual function like this.

Insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, obesity and hypertension are all connected to vascular endothelial dysfunction – which can cause ED. Again, this could be impacting the blood flow to all of the organs, not just the reproductive organs.

What You Can Do:

Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation and toxins can also damage the blood vessels and lead to ED. For example, chronic alcohol use can impact the health of the blood vessels.

Here’s how:

  • Limit processed foods
  • Limit sugar and simple carbohydrates
  • Choose an anti-inflammatory diet plan

Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Chronic alcohol use can cause short term endothelial dysfunction, which can also lead to a psychological cascade of performance anxiety.

Here’s how:

  • Reduce alcohol consumption or choose to stay sober

Reduce Stress

Stress is another huge factor when it comes to arterial health. Stress causes systemic inflammation as well as issues with blood vessel dilation due to excess cortisol levels. 

Here’s how:

  • Engage in mindfulness practice
  • Try Acupuncture and counselling to help process stress

Balance Testosterone Levels

Another aspect of the picture is the complex hormonal orchestra that is involved with sexual function – particularly testosterone. Testosterone can have an impact on ED as it impacts the enzyme PDE5 and Nitric Oxide, which are both responsible for allowing the blood vessels to dilate.

As people age, there is a natural decline in testosterone. However, some people can have low testosterone earlier, also known as andropause.

Some things which impact the body’s ability to produce testosterone include sleep apnea, alcohol, diabetes, stress and obesity.

Here’s how:

  • Mindfulness practice and stress reduction
  • Exercise – particularly aerobic activity, HIIT and weight lifting
  • Eat healthy fats, they are the precursor molecules that help the body to maintain testosterone levels

As you can see, all of the pillars of health can be a part of the picture when healing ED. This common issue is a complex imbalance with an avenue of healing that will radiate to all aspects of health.

If you would like to find out how we can help you, please feel free to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Image IG @krisarchielee

Exercise When Undergoing ART

It is best to maintain healthy exercise when trying to conceive, but what about if you are starting ovarian stimulating medications as in IVF, medicated assisted IUI cycles or other ART?

These medications stimulate follicle growth in the ovaries. Some of them are oral and others are in the form of injections.

Gonadotropins

Injected medications contain gonadotropins. Gonadotropins help the ovaries to develop more than one egg at a time (typically the ovaries only develop one egg per cycle). This can put a lot of strain on the ovaries and their supporting ligaments, because the size of the ovaries are a lot larger than they normally are.

Ovarian Torsion

The concern around exercise and larger ovaries due to medication lies in the rare, but real concern surrounding ovarian torsion.

Ovarian torsion is when the ovary twists on itself. The ovaries are supplied with blood running through the ligaments that suspend them, and these ligaments become cut off in the twisting process, which is extremely painful and also dangerous.  For this reason, many people are told to radically reduce exercise, especially if they are used to doing high intensity exercises. 

I want to differentiate ovarian torsion from the normal aches that can occur during the ovarian stimulation phase.

Ovarian torsion is rare, it occurs in 0.03% of IVF cycles (6). When torsion has occurred, it has been described as extreme pain that makes you want to double over and is accompanied by nausea or vomiting. It typically has a sudden onset in the setting of a moving or twisting motion.

Always consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Note

This does not typically apply to people taking oral ovarian stimulating medications such as Clomid or Letrozole, because these meds do not stimulate the ovaries in the same way that gonadotropin meds do. 

However, because the ovaries are larger than usual when stimulated by these oral meds too, you are still advised to be cautious with exercise when taking them.

Always consult with your primary care provider to make sure the exercise you are doing is safe.

So What Kind of Exercise is Typically Safe?

It is still important to do some light/low impact movements during ART because it can improve mood, sleep, and recovery.

So, what are safe movements that can be done? 

Exercises that are typically safe to do (always consult with your fertility clinic to make sure, advice can vary depending on individual cases):

  • Walking (but no quick twisting)
  • Light jogging (But not near the end of injections or close to retrieval time and again no quick twisting)
  • Swimming (but no twisting or flip turns at the end of the lane)
  • Yoga (but no twisting or inversions)
  • Light weightlifting (2-5 lbs)  (but no quick twisting)

Exercises to Avoid:

  • High impact exercise with quick changes in body position
  • Running 
  • Vigorous acrobatics (ie. trapeze, aerial silks, etc..) 
  • Pole dancing
  • Pilates
  • Barre Classes 

General tips

Exercise is good for you whether you are trying to conceive or not and if you are trying to conceive, you may want to modify your routine.

Always speak with your primary care provider about your personal situation to help find a routine that is right for you. 

For more advice on how to support your reproductive health and wellbeing, book a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Photo www.chloehphoto.com IG @chloealexisham via @yogateau

How to Remedy the Brain’s Negative Bias

OLIVE GUEST BLOG

I have the honour of guest blogging for Olive Fertility Centre this month.

Here’s this week’s blog:

Do you struggle with fear of unwanted outcomes on your fertility journey, yet you can’t stop the fearful thoughts?

Are you caught between not wanting to be negative or pessimistic & being too hopeful, because you want to protect yourself from disappointment?

Consider changing your relationship to the negative thoughts rather than trying to stop them.

Our brains are like velcro for negative experiences & teflon for positive ones

The brain has a negative bias, it actually preferentially scans for & hangs onto unpleasant experiences. Evolutionarily, it has been more critical for survival to become aware of danger to protect against it. So our neural pathways for the undesirable tend to be stronger.

Negative memories grow faster than positive ones & according to neurologists, our brains are like velcro for negative experiences & teflon for positive ones.

It’s easier to become fearful & pessimistic, especially when constantly faced with intense disappointment – like unsuccessful natural or medicated cycles, or pregnancy loss.

Stop & Savour Your Experiences

So be kind to yourself, your mind is designed to want to protect from disappointment. It takes conscious effort to integrate positive experiences & to heal negative ones.

The remedy is not to suppress unwanted events & associated thoughts, as we simply can’t control everything life hands to us.

It’s about cultivating space to be with the unpleasant & notice the pleasant at the same time.

Know that it’s important to stop & savour positive experiences, which stimulates more neurons to fire & wire together, creating stronger neural pathways for positive implicit memories that can define our habits & behaviours.

Here’s how:

  1. Consciously notice a pleasant event. It doesn’t have to be special, it can be ordinary like a sip of your favourite drink, curling up into bed, or snuggling with a loved one.
  2. Stop & stay with the experience for at least 5-20 seconds.
  3. Notice what sensations (smells, sights, tastes, touch), thoughts & emotions are present.

    This creates stronger healthy somatic experiences, memories & neural pathways.

For more info on Mindfulness & upcoming Mindfulness for Fertility & Pregnancy after Infertility & Loss programs go to www.mindfulnessforfertility.com

Mindful Breath Awareness

OLIVE GUEST BLOG

I have the honour of guest blogging for Olive Fertility Centre this month.

Here’s this week’s blog:

Are you feeling anxious or stressed?

According to Mental Health Research Canada, anxiety & depression levels have increased significantly since the pandemic. On top of the usual fertility stress, finding effective tools to support yourself is more needed than ever.

Try Mindful Breathing

The breath is like an anchor, often our mind & body are in 2 different places. We’re often doing one thing while thinking about something else. Bringing our attention to our breath unites the body & mind, actually re-wiring the brain. It’s like a brain workout: enlarging the frontal lobes to increase emotional regulation, while shrinking the amygdala, decreasing stress hormones.

Mindfulness helps you increase your capacity to concentrate & manage strong emotions, so that you can respond to stressful situations with more flexibility when you’re overwhelmed. It helps you to recover more effectively & sustainably from stress.

Here’s how:

  1. Find a comfortable upright posture, where you’re alert & at ease.
  2. Gently close your eyes.
  3. Try to adopt an attitude of open, gentle & kind curiosity.
  4. Now bring your attention to your breathing, wherever it’s easiest to feel. Usually at the belly, chest or nostrils.
  5. Focus your full attention on the sensations of breathing, with each inhalation & exhalation. There is no need to change your breathing, just notice it coming & going as it is.
  6. When you notice your mind has been pulled into thought, don’t’ worry – this is normal! As best as you can, notice that your attention has moved & simply notice the thought as a thought. Then kindly escort your attention back to your breathing.
  7. Continue focusing on breathing sensations & gently guiding your attention back to the breath whenever you notice it has been pulled elsewhere.

It’s all about noticing when your mind gets distracted & starting over & over again. Each time you do this, it’s like a bicep curl for the brain – strengthening healthy neural pathways!

For more information on Mindfulness & upcoming Mindfulness for Fertility and Mindfulness for Pregnancy after Infertility & Loss programs go to www.mindfulnessforfertility.com

Image: IG @worldwide.art.sharing

Exercise When Trying To Conceive With PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can present along a spectrum of numerous signs and symptoms that some people exhibit, while others may not.

The symptoms can include irregular menstrual cycles, high levels of male hormones (androgens/testosterone), acne, excessive hair growth on the body, head hair loss, insulin resistance, difficulty losing weight, and infertility.

However, the biggest component that contributes to infertility in people with PCOS is anovulation (lack of ovulation), due to insulin resistance. This is when cells do not respond efficiently to insulin, making it more difficult for the body to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. This in turn leads to anovulation because higher blood glucose levels cause the ovaries to produce too much testosterone, which interferes with the development of the follicles and prevents normal ovulation.

The relationship between physical activity, higher BMI, and insulin resistance associated with PCOS has been studied extensively, and one review showed improved ovulation, weight loss, and insulin resistance with moderate exercise for 12- to 24-week exercise programs (1).

General Guidelines: 

  • If you are of average BMI or higher, and are sedentary (not exercising):
    • You should be doing light to moderate exercise at least 3x/week but no more than 5x/week.
  • If you are exercising at least 3-5x/week:
    • Maintain this and do not exceed 5x/week of exercise, especially if it is higher intensity exercise.

Types of Exercises Best Suited to PCOS (do one or the other, not both in the same week):

  • Resistance exercise 3x/week for 45 minutes per session. 
  • Vigorous exercise 75 minutes/week, which can include high intensity interval training (HIIT) but for no longer than 20 minutes each time.

For more advice on how to support your reproductive health and wellbeing, book a free 15-minute phone consultation.

References

PMID: 20833639

Image:
Stephanie Deangelis
www.stephaniedeangelis.com
IG @steph_angelis

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