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Five Things To Know Before Starting Fertility Treatment

Five Things To Know Before Starting Fertility Treatment

If you want to start a family, but are struggling to get pregnant you may feel that your world is over. However, you need to know that you are not alone. Statistics show that one in six couples will suffer from infertility and require treatment.  Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year of unprotected sex (this is reduced to 6 months for women over 35 years old). [1]

It is important to realise a diagnosis of infertility does not mean that all hope is lost, there are many options available for couples who are struggling to conceive naturally.

Couple hugging

    The following are some of the most important things to remember when you are considering and undergoing infertility treatment.

    1. Understand the fertility treatment options and which is best for you.

    It is impossible to know what option is likely to best for you as a couple without getting professional advice, however, your clinician or specialist does not need to be the only source of information. There are excellent sources of information both online and from various organisations including fertility clinics and charities.

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    Often when people think of fertility treatment they immediately think of IVF, however, this is just one option amongst a wide selection including surgery, drug treatment and surrogacy.[2]

    If you are not suitable for one type of treatment there will be others which can work for you, taking the time to understand what is possible will reduce the stress of the whole experience.

    2. Ensure you are fit and healthy for fertility treatment

    As with any pregnancy, it is good practice to ensure you are as fit and healthy as you can be. Improving your diet will ensure you have healthy eggs and sperm. A healthy diet for conception should include:

    fruit and veg
      • Plenty of fruit and vegetables – try adding fruit with your breakfast and green vegetables or salad with your main meals
      • Complex carbohydrates – these include whole grains such as brown rice, oats and wholemeal bread. Simple changes like using brown rice instead of white and enjoying wholemeal bread instead of processed white will help.
      • Try to include oily fish, nuts, seeds and natural oils
      • Increase the amount of fibre you eat
      • Reduce the amount of red meat you eat
      • Try to avoid additives, preservatives and chemicals including artificial sweeteners
      • Reduce or avoid sugar – be aware of the amount of sugar in manufactured food.
      • Reduce or eliminate caffeine, e.g. coffee, tea, chocolate, colas and alcohol
      • Try to drink at least 1½ litres of fresh water per day, this will help your hormone balance and blood flow.

      You should look to reduce your alcohol intake and of course quit smoking. Following these simple steps will increase the chance of your treatment being successful.

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      3. Consider your age

      When considering treatments such as IVF, age is important. Doctors can support your biology and will do their best to help you become pregnant however they cannot change your body.

      A survey in 2006 showed the average age of a mother at the birth of her first child was 25 (up from 21.4 in 1970).[3] Statistics are now showing that many couples are planning to wait until they are at least 30 before starting a family stating that focusing on their career or being able to afford to start a family being the major reasons stated for the delay in starting a family.

      Whereas the reasons for the delay are understandable, couples should be aware that the later you leave having a family the more difficult it may become.

      Fertility Treatment - IVF Success rates by age

        As you can see from the chart, once you reach 35 years old your chances of having a successful pregnancy via IVF reduces rapidly. It is a similar case for natural pregnancy with the risk of miscarriage or Down syndrome increasing above the age of 35, and you are more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy.

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        This does not mean that you cannot have a family if you are above the age of 35, however, you should ensure you are aware of the risks and speak to specialists to ensure you are provided with the most suitable infertility treatment. If you are told that treatment is not advisable you should not give up hope, there are options like surrogacy, fostering or adoption.

        4. Understand this is going to be a stressful journey…

        Going through any form of infertility treatment is going to be a long and often stressful journey for both of you, statistics show 61% of couples feel infertility is more stressful than divorce [4] You need to be a strong team and be prepared to support each other. The outcome is highly likely to be positive, however, the light at the end of the tunnel may seem a long way away.

        Your partner needs to understand that, with your hormones unbalanced due to infertility drugs or pregnancy, you may have moments when anything they do will be wrong or that you will be over emotional and stressed. Certain fertility drugs can cause mood swings and you both need to be aware of this and be ready to support each other.

        Infertility treatment will be series of highs and lows. It may be that the first attempt of any treatment fails to achieve the successful pregnancy you crave, the pressure and stress of waiting for a positive result only to find it has not occurred can be crushing. In IVF, for example, you will be told to give the process three full cycles which, for a woman under 40 years old, will generally yield a greater than 70% success rate. After this, if you are part of the small percentage for which this treatment fails, there are still other options available to you.

        You need to build a strong team around you, with your partner and supportive members of your family (you have the right to be selective and pick those who will help you on your journey!) There are also online groups and Facebook groups where you can meet like minded couples and get shared advice and support. Of course, you have your medical professionals you can turn to when you need to. Remember, whatever happens, you are not who are not alone and there are people who can help you.

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        Ensure that you make time for yourself, even if it is just five minutes per day to relax and reduce your stress levels.[5]

        5. All’s not lost…

        After struggling to conceive naturally it can feel that you will never hold your own child, you may feel like a failure or that you have let your partner down. None of this is true.  You are not a failure and you are not alone, many thousands of couples are going through the same feelings right now and many more thousands now have their own families thanks to successful infertility treatment or surrogacy.

        Infertility treatment is changing all the time, for example in 2016 scientists were able to sustain the life of an embryo beyond the seven days previously thought possible. This innovation will allow doctors to better monitor the embryo and improve the chances of successful implantation. [6]

        It is true infertility treatment will seem stressful at times, however, the potential outcome will make it all worthwhile!

        Reference

        [1]CDC:  https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/
        [2]Fertility Treatment Options: https://www.growinggenerations.com/about-us/fertility-treatment-options/
        [3]Mathews TJ, Hamilton BE. Delayed childbearing: More women are having their first child later in life. NCHS data brief, no 21. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2009.
        [4]RMANJ: Infertility In America 2015: http://www.rmanj.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/RMANJ_Infertility-In-America-SurveyReport-_04152015.pdf
        [5]5 Minutes a Day to Find Happiness: http://www.lifehack.org/454873/5-minutes-a-day-to-find-happiness
        [6]IVF Research: https://www.growinggenerations.com/news/new-study-promotes-ivf-success-rates/

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        Last Updated on October 16, 2018

        The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

        The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

        It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

        If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

        One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

        Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

        In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

        Why you can’t sleep through the night

        The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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        Stress

        If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

        Exposure to blue light before sleep time

        We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

        While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

        Eating close to bedtime

        Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

        Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

        Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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        Medical conditions

        In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

        The vicious sleep cycle

        The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

        Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

        You get a bad night’s sleep
        –> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
        –> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
        –> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

          You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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          How to sleep better (throughout the night)

          To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

          1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

          What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

          Here are a few suggestions:

          • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
          • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
          • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
          • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
          • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

          2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

          What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

          • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
          • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
          • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
          • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

          3. Adjust your sleep temperature

          Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

          Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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          Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

          Sleep better form now on

          Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

          I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

          As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

          Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

          Reference

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