Receiving a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is very scary and confusing for many women, especially when trying to conceive. PCOS is a syndrome—this means one size does NOT fit all. Classically, women with PCOS were overweight, had inappropriate hair growth and did not menstruate regularly. However, many of the PCOS patients I see do NOT fit that description. Some women have insulin resistance, acne, irregular periods or cysts on their ovaries. Or not. Traditional treatment for PCOS involves birth control pills, blood sugar regulating medications, low carb diet and exercise. When trying to conceive, all of those options are great—with the exception of birth control pills! [Read more…]
As a practitioner that specializes in the childbearing year, I treat a lot of couples going through the process of getting pregnant. I’ve found that across the board, the journey can be very stressful. From checking your temperature to taking medication to timed intercourse, it certainly takes the fun out of trying to get pregnant. One thing that can be helpful is being intentional of your mindset during the process. Patients often oscillate between trying to control the situation and feeling desperately out of control. Creating an intention for yourself can alleviate a lot of that anxiety, stress, and depression.
Creating an Intention for your Fertility
This practice is simply used to focus the mind, rather than letting anxiety and fear get the best of us.
Release the past: If our mind is cluttered with memories of yesterday or anxiety regarding tomorrow, we cannot truly create from a blank slate.
Breathing in, I allow myself to come into this present moment. I choose to consciously release the past at this moment. I internally declare that the past has no power over me and I release and let go. (Deep sigh of relief).
Step 2. Create an intention:
With an intention, you begin by stating your desire. Be sure to use juicy adjectives like loving, nurturing, and fully self-expressed. You want your intention to feel like it really resonates with why you desire to have a child. Be sure NOT to intend things that are out of your control (like by when you will be pregnant, that it will be genetically yours, that you won’t have to do IVF, etc.) These thoughts generally arise from the ego and are our way of trying to control situations. In an ideal world, you want to be able to live into this intention no matter if you get pregnant or not. The “bigger” you create the intention (see numbers 3 & 4 below), the less likely it will be about trying to get what you want, and the more it will be about becoming the person you want to be in the world. Who we are for the world is the biggest gift we have to offer ourselves and others.
The flow of the intention can go something like this…
- I would love the opportunity to be a loving mother to a healthy child.
- My intention at this time is be a nurturing mother in a beautiful family with a child.
- Who I am is the possibility of peace, love, and joy.
- I am a stand for loving families on the planet.
Step 3. Release and let go.
Oftentimes this is the hardest part. But just practice it and see how your heart opens. You can speak your intention with love and gracefully follow it with a releasing meditation.
“I have shared my intention with the universe and know that it has been received. With that knowing, I release and let go. I release the attachment of my intention and choose to stay focused on who I am being, rather than what I am asking for.”
“I choose to have faith in this life. I know it is not always easy but regardless of the outcome, I choose to have faith in my journey.”
Step 4. Rinse and repeat
I recommend writing down the intention you’ve created and include the releasing meditation. You can carry it around with you in your wallet. You could put it on the mirror in your bathroom. The honest truth is that you might need to say it a lot during each day. Worry and anxiety can be so familiar to our brains that it becomes our automatic thought process. This will truly be a lesson in consciously creating your thoughts. Overtime, your efforts to make a shift in your mindset will leave you with a sense of peace and optimism.
Monica Mae Leibson earned her Masters degree at the Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine (SBCOM), and is a NCCAOM Board Certified Acupuncturist. Monica has been trained in the treatment of physical and musculoskeletal injuries, working with alcohol and drug detoxification, as well as working with hospice patients. She has received extensive training in Chinese herbs, physical medicine and anatomy and physiology.
Monica has also obtained specialized training in Chinese Medicine and Infertility, studying under both Dr. Randine Lewis (author of The Infertility Cure) and Jane Lyttleton (author of Treating Infertility with Traditional Chinese Medicine). Monica and her infertility practice focuses on integrating Traditional Chinese Medicine with Reproductive Medicine.
Monica has been trained as a Birth Doula and Postpartum Doula. As a specialist, she educates clients about their options during birth. Through acupuncture and education, she supports a woman’s body during pregnancy so they are less likely to need induction or medical intervention. She also uses acupuncture and acupressure during birth to relieve pain and assist a smooth birth.
Her Postpartum Doula work includes educating women about breastfeeding, hormone regulation and infant health.
Monica is the past Treasurer and Membership Chair of the Michigan Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and uses Chinese Medicine to empower her clients to access their physical, emotional, and spiritual power. Monica combines her art of healing to express the divine creativity within all of us. When she’s not assisting patients in their healing, Monica spends her with time with her family, and also enjoys singing, dancing, and painting.
I am proud to announce that I recently became a fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (ABORM), the first in the state of Michigan. The ABORM is a group of acupuncturists that have extensive experience in treating infertility and work together with Western medical practitioners to create a level of professionalism and excellence within the field. Many long-time ABORM members are the leaders in the community of Chinese medical reproductive medicine. The ABORM was created to set a standard of excellence in treatment of Chinese medicine and infertility. Fellows must acquire a specific amount of continuing education credits in Chinese reproductive medicine and at least 2 years of practice before being eligible to sit for the ABORM certification exam. Fellows are only inducted after passing this examination. [Read more…]
Ask the Acupuncturist: For Couples Trying to Conceive
The infertility journey can be a long and confusing one. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is a useful and important tool to use along the way. Many people have questions, don’t understand or want to learn more about acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Join Julie Shindler-Cohen, MSTOM, Dipl. OM for an evening to learn more about Chinese medicine, ask your specific questions and gain support from others. These meetings are limited to a few couples per session, so RSVP soon!
When: Thursday October16, then
Every 1st Thursday of the month, 7-8pm
Where: MI Associates of Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine
7001 Orchard Lake Road #120
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
RSVP: (248) 737-7126
There is no cost to attend
Julie Shindler-Cohen, MSTOM, Dipl. OM, is a registered acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist. Julie earned her degree from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago and completed an internship at the Zhejiang College of Medicine in Hangzhou, China. Julie has obtained additional training in infertility under Jane Lyttleton and pregnancy under Debra Betts. Julie has a passion for treating couples experiencing infertility and uses her knowledge and experience to assist couples during their journey.
I have been working as an acupuncturist specializing in infertility for over 8 years now. If I told you all the stories of loss and despair that I’ve heard, you probably wouldn’t believe it. In summary, it is devastating to be told that you may not be able to have children. I know there are people who may not want children, but that is their choice. But to be told you may not be able to conceive takes away the freedom to choose. And when a couple who is struggling with infertility is asked, “when are you going to start having kids?”, it’s like pouring salt into the wounds.
One thing I see regularly, patient by patient, is that as a society we are very under-educated in regards to taking care of our bodies. Think about how many hours of schooling you needed in order to get a degree. Now compare that to how many hours of training you’ve received in regards to your health. For most people, they’ve had practically zero hours of training in how to take care of their body. To make matters worse, infertility is even more misunderstood than other diseases. As a culture we have a basic understanding of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure but when it comes to infertility, there are actually a multitude of issues someone could have. Infertility can be attributed to things like; a woman not getting her periods or not ovulating regularly, having blocked tubes or poor egg quality/quantity or having hormonal imbalances. There may also be male factors like low sperm count or poor morphology. The reasons for infertility are different for everyone and can also be very difficult to pinpoint
Our societal understanding of infertility is that a woman must “relax” in order to get pregnant. Over the years, I’ve found that stress can be a contributing factor to infertility but generally, it is not the only factor. One comparison I use for this is thinking that
someone needs to “relax” in order to have a bowel movement. Infact, having a bowel movement is the culmination of a specific series of processes in our bodies that our minds really have no control over. We can do everything we can to stay relaxed but we cannot force it, just like we can’t will ourselves into being pregnant. There are some disease that our minds are not capable of shifting. I don’t deny that relaxation and endorphins are good for the fertility client, but it’s simplistic thinking to assume that if all women would “just relax,” they would become pregnant.
The subject of whether or not a couple wants to have children is a very sensitive one. What I’ve hoped to shed light on is that the issue is not always whether or not they want to have a baby. So next time you’re speaking with a couple and are tempted to ask them when they are having babies (Moms and Grandma’s: I’m talking to you too!), please think twice. Even though your intentions are good, you may cause sadness and anxiety for your loved one. As with anything in our society, let us strive to become more educated and more compassionate to others. Because, as Plato says, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is in the midst of a great struggle”.
Research: The Relationship Between Stress and Infertility
A Synopsis for Harvard Medical International and their Centers of Excellence and Constituents
Alice D. Domar, Ph.D.
The Mind Body Centre for Women’s Health at Boston IVF
Infertility has been defined by the World Health Organization as “the inability of a couple to bring pregnancy to term after a year or more of regular unprotected intercourse”. Approximately 10-15 percent of couples of childbearing age experience infertility. The psychological impact of infertility can be profound and depressive symptoms are more common in the infertile population than in matched fertile women.Approximately 10 percent of infertile women meet the criteria for a major depressive episode, 30-50 percent report depressive symptoms, and 66 percent report feeling depressed after infertility treatment failure. The majority of infertile women report that infertility is the most upsetting experience of their lives. Infertile women report equivalent levels of anxiety and depression as women with cancer, HIV status or heart disease.
Recent research indicates that psychological distress may impair fertility and that depressive symptoms may reduce the efficacy of infertility treatment. Several studies conducted within the past three years support the theory that psychological distress can have a significant adverse impact on successive rates in vitro fertilization (IVF). In one of the studies, women with depressive symptoms were half as likely to conceive as women who were not depressed, and in the most recent study of 151 women scheduled to undergo an IVF cycle the chance of a live birth was 93 percent higher in women with the highest positive-affect score. Researchers have concluded that the success rates of high-tech infertility treatment can be adversely affected by psychological stress.
Mind/body treatment of infertility patients has been shown to both increase pregnancy rates as well as reducing psychological distress. In a recent study conducted at the MBMI, 185 women who had been trying to conceive for one to two years were randomized into either a 10 week mind/body group, a ten week support group, or a routine care control group. The birth rates during the one year follow up period were as follows: – Mind/body 55%, support 54%, and controls 20%. In addition the mind/body patients reported significantly greater psychological improvements than the support or control patients. Patients in the clinical Mind/Body Program for Infertility show benefits as well; in four published studies on several hundred women with an infertility duration of 3.5 years, 42 percent conceived within six months of completing the program and there were significant decreases in all measured psychological symptoms including depression, anxiety and anger.
Infertile women report elevated levels of psychological distress and this distress may reduce their chances of conceiving. Mind/body treatment has been shown to be effective in both significantly increasing pregnancy rates as well as reducing psychological stress.
|FERTILITY, INFERTILITY, PREGNANCY, OVULATION – Micronutrients, Vitamins, Minerals|
|Reference:||“Prospective randomized trial of multiple micronutrients in subfertile women undergoing ovulation induction: a pilot study,” Agrawal R, Burt E, et al, Reprod Biomed Online, 2011 Oct 14; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: University College London and The Royal Free Hospital Medical School United Kingdom).|
|Summary:||In a prospective, randomized, controlled trial involving 56 subfertile women who were undergoing ovulation induction using standard treatment regimens (including clomephene citrate/gonadotrophins), adjuvant treatment with multiple micronutrient supplementation was found to be associated with significantly higher cumulative clinical pregnancy rate (66.7%) compared with those on folic acid (39.3%) alone. Women who received multiple micronutrients were found to require fewer attempts to achieve pregnancy, as compared to women on folic acid alone. The authors conclude, “The implications of the study are potentially far reaching as they suggest MMN supplementation in women undergoing ovulation induction improve pregnancy rates. Larger studies are now required to confirm these preliminary findings.”|
Experiencing infertility can be so difficult to emotionally deal with. I am always speaking with patients regarding how they are doing emotionally and what they can do to bring themselves to a brighter place. One patient of mine (as well as many others) has always inspired me in terms of how she deals with her infertility struggles. She is authentic when things are hard but she does not let herself stay in that place. Rather she focuses on gratitude and enjoying her life just the way it is as she moves forward in her fertility journey. When she told me that her and her husband had started a blog, I knew I would want to share it with all of my clients. I am sure you will enjoy their honesty and humor as much as I do.
Both Endometriosis and Fibroids are influenced by hormones. Endometriosis is the result of abnormal growth of endometrial tissue outside of
the endometrium (the inner wall of the uterus). Uterine Fibroids are muscular tumors that grow in the walls of the uterus. Although these tumors are benign,
they, as well as endometriosis can cause many problematic symptoms for women throughout the menstrual cycle. The most common symptoms include: painful
cramping, excessive menstrual bleeding and clotting, painful intercourse and infertility. These symptoms can dramatically impact a women’s quality of life.
There are a number of theoretical causes of endometriosis and fibroids. [Read more…]
Excerpt from Marina Lombard’s Blog:
Emma had been planning for weeks to attend a local fertility support group meeting. But every time the regularly scheduled Wednesday night meeting came up on her calendar, she found a reason not to go. Finally she realized that there was more than just last-minute scheduling conflicts that were holding her back. Going to the meeting, she realized, felt like an admission of failure. She felt like she was “coming out of the closet,” acknowledging her infertility for everyone to see.
Not everyone has difficulty becoming involved in infertility support group meetings. For some, this setting may immediately feel like a port in the storm, a safe place to meet like-minded others. But if you find that this is not the case for you, that your first steps are hesitant or even guarded, know that you’re not alone. It can takes a lot of courage to admit that you are struggling with anything, especially fertility issues. One way to ease your entry is to reach out to a close friend or your partner, and ask them to accompany you to your first infertility group. Another idea is to seek out an evening when a group topic is of interest to you, so that this seeking of information can be your focus.
However it is that you get there, just remember that the results are well worth it. As Emma soon discovered, “I felt as if I was finally with women who really understood what I was going through.”
To find out more about Marina Lombardo, please visit http://iammorethanmyinfertility.wordpress.com/
She is the author of “I am more than my Infertility” along with Linda Parker.
Please also join us for our Holistic Fertility Support group at Acupuncture Healthcare Associates.
Our upcoming meetings are Sunday June 12th and Sunday July 10th from 10:30 to 12:00 in West Bloomfield, MI.