The process of undergoing infertility treatments can be a stressful time for most couples. A plethora of new information, time-sensitive medications, and the uncertainty of whether your efforts will lead to success can all contribute to your anxiety, despite your best efforts to remain relaxed. Though the disease of infertility has many causes, reducing stress can allow couples to participate in more cycles, which can have an impact on overall success rates.
Here are our top recommendations for physical ways to manage and reduce stress during IVF treatment:
Practice yoga. Yoga is an ancient mind-body technique that helps sharpen your focus while stretching and strengthening your muscles. Many studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety, both in the short- and long-term. Most yoga classes are held in a serene environment with supportive instructors who offer tips and guidance tailored to your current skill level.
Treat yourself to massage therapy. Under stress, our bodies have a tendency to unwittingly hold tension in various muscles. A skilled massage therapist can alleviate this tension and bring your body back into alignment which, in turn, promotes better circulation and strengthens both your mind and body.
Regularly participate in moderate exercise. Exercise releases endorphins that immediately make you feel better. Light to moderate cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging, cycling, dancing, enhance blood flow and can redirect your thoughts from negative to positive. Exercise also regulates your overall mood and improves sleep patterns, both of which keep stress levels in check. Speak with your fertility specialist to decide the type and frequency of exercise that is right for you.
In addition to the physical treatments above, there are also many effective mental and emotional ways to manage stress:
Meditate regularly. If you’ve ever been curious about trying meditation, the time surrounding your infertility treatments is the perfect opportunity to explore this activity. Meditation doesn’t require any special skills or equipment. Simply set aside a few minutes per day in a quiet location where you will not be interrupted. Sit or lie in a comfortable position and focus on your breath. Let your thoughts pass through your mind without giving too much attention to any one idea (for some, counting backwards from 10 to 1 can help focus attention on the present). Consult books and online resources to learn additional meditation techniques or find a specific guided mediation designed to reduce stress.
Practice mindfulness. With so many decisions and unknowns associated with infertility treatment, it’s easy to ruminate over details and get caught up in the fearful future of “what-ifs.” Instead, make a purposeful effort to slow down and connect with what’s happening right here, right now. Bringing your focus back to the present moment can lower your stress levels by prohibiting your anxious mind from hijacking your enjoyment of what’s going on in front of you.
Connect with other couples undergoing treatment. Meeting others who are undergoing the same experience can provide the welcome relief of knowing that you are not alone. In-person and online support groups can connect you to others who can share their experiences and offer suggestions to ease your anxiety and improve your journey.
Register for a mind-body class. This holistic approach reduces stress on multiple fronts. Mind-body classes combine many of the above methods, including connecting you to other couples who are also experiencing fertility issues, teaching you relaxation techniques and introducing you to cognitive realignment tactics that help you adopt the belief that your IVF treatments will be successful.
Many factors influence the success of IVF treatments, including diet, age and other lifestyle choices. Speak with your fertility specialist or visit the wellness and fertility section of our website to learn more.