Worrying about stress is stressful. And stressing about how much stress you’re undergoing is stressful, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and manifest in physical ways that can seriously affect your health. Add the journey of mini-IVF into the mix, and… yikes. There’s only so much a non-GMO apple a day can do.
“While the burden of infertility itself creates stress and tension, the treatments are often worse. That’s why I’m so excited to offer highly specialized, minimal stimulation IVF. At Pearl, we aim to lessen that burden, even during treatment with additional services such as nutrition counseling, couples counseling, acupuncture, and more,” Dr. Anne Davis says. Learn more about the benefits of mini stimulation IVF.
In a 2015 study, doctors tracked women undergoing IVF treatment, where about half of the participants were assigned a mindfulness-based intervention throughout the process, and the other half (the control group) proceeded as usual. The results? Women who participated in mindfulness had a significant increase in positive self-compassion and coping strategies and showed a decrease in negative emotions. Happier mental health can mean less stress in the body, which could increase your chances of a successful IVF cycle.
“Once patients find their outlet, their perspectives on infertility and treatment change significantly,” Dr. Davis says. “Patients who manage stress report a sense of calm and happiness, and this is so crucial to maximizing the chances for a great outcome.”
It’s important to remember that what works for one patient may not work for you, so consider these jumping-off points to explore what helps you unwind:
1. Yoga for Mini IVF
Yoga encourages you to slow down, stay mindful, and help you tune into your body. The only catch here is to make sure you practice safely: avoid twisting poses, inversions, and keep abdominal muscles soft. Not sure where to begin? YouTube is a great place for beginners to find free videos for home practice (even specifically for IVF!).
2. Meditation for Fertility Treatments
Taking even a few minutes a day to meditate can make a big difference when it comes to stress levels. And these days, there are many apps to help guide you (many of them free!): The Mindfulness App, Headspace, Calm, and Ten Percent Happier are all popular apps to get you started on your meditation habit.
3. Gentle exercise to reduce stress
“Exercise is usually the first thing I discuss as a way to start reducing stress,” Dr. Davis says. “I love walking because it's great exercise and allows me to gather and process my thoughts at my own pace.” Walking is a great way to not only increase blood flow but hopefully get some extra sunshine. Swimming, stretching, Tai Chi, and, yes, yoga are also all great options for gentle movement.
4. Journaling your fertility journey
Let it all out. Set a timer for 15 minutes, and keep your pen moving. Expressive writing can actually reduce blood pressure, improve your mood and memory, and help you identify your emotions as you process your IVF journey. Plus, it can be beneficial to have a record of what you’re going through!
5. Spending time with pets
Our furry friends make us feel calmer, happier, and can actually improve our health. Bonding with our pets triggers oxytocin, a stress-reducing hormone, as well as decreasing cortisol, a stress-inducing hormone. Animals are also really good listeners and can offer us comfort when we need it most.
6. Aromatherapy for relaxation
Essential oils, candles, and diffusers all fall into this category. Aside from simply smelling nice, there is proven research that certain smells (like lavender, lemon, or chamomile) can help us relax. (Just note: there are certain kinds of essential oils that are toxic to pets. Be sure to check with your vet!)
7. Limit Instagram for your own sanity
It can be impossible to avoid social media and the news these days but make your endless scrolling end. Set a time limit for social and news apps on your phone, don’t check email an hour before bed and don’t reach for your phone first thing in the morning. Intention matters.
Laughing has been shown to help your immune system, relieve pain, and improve your mood (obviously). So next time you’re feeling stressed out about, well, everything, put on a fun sit-com, watch your favorite stand-up comic, or call a loved one to relieve funny memories.
Attempt to establish a habit or routine that you enjoy and will keep doing not only throughout your IVF journey, but during pregnancy, post-partum, and beyond. We all could use a break these days, and managing your stress levels while undergoing IVF will improve your health, and likely increase your success of a healthy pregnancy and happy baby. And that’s definitely something to be relieved about.