“you guys have been such a pleasure to deal with! In particular sweet Melany and also Lee that I kept bbm’ing! I bugged you alot but you were always willing to help! “
“its a wonderful experience knowing that you have done your part in giving to people who would otherwise not be so lucky to be able to have children. Sharing is caring! “
Does stress cause infertility? It depends on which study you read. Some studies show a relationship and others do not.
WebMD wrote dramatic advances in infertility treatments — particularly in the past decade — pushed aside stress as a factor in infertility.
Now, however, some doctors are once more looking to the idea that stress may actually play a role in up to 30 percent of all infertility problems.
About.com wrote that according to some sources, stress affects the body in many ways, such as altering the neurochemical makeup which can affect the maturation and release of the egg.
Stress can also cause spasms in the fallopian tubes and uterus, affecting implantation. In men, stress can affect sperm count, motility and lead to erectile dysfunction.
All of this can factor into infertility.
While the exact link between fertility and stress remain a mystery, some researchers believe hormones like cortisol or epinephrine — which rise and often remain high during times of chronic stress — play a key role, said WebMD.
Psychology Today discussed research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility which said that women who stopped using contraceptives took longer to become pregnant if they had higher saliva levels of the enzyme alpha-amylase which is a biological indicator of stress.
Specifically, women with the highest concentrations of alpha-amylase were 12 percent less likely to become pregnant each month than those with the lowest levels.
Slate.com said that while the study in Fertility and Sterility found a connection between stress and lower fertility, another article refuted it. Pointing out the link isn’t so clear, since caffeine, food intake, and exercise can also make that biomarker rise.
When Danish researchers reviewed 31 studies on whether stress, anxiety, and depression played a role in whether infertility treatments worked. Their conclusion was that the influence of psychological factors appeared to be “somewhat limited,” reported Slate.com.
In research published in the journal Human Reproduction, doctors compared pregnancy rates in couples that reported being stressed and those who were not, said WebMD.
They found pregnancy was much more likely to occur during months when couples reported feeling happy and relaxed. It was less likely to occur during the months the couples reported feeling tense or anxious.
In Psychology Today, Alice Domar, of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at the fertility center Boston IVF, cited research has shown women who participate in mind/body programs in conjunction with medical treatment have significantly higher pregnancy rates than women who receive medical treatment only.
What’s Causing the Decline in Fertility Rates?
Sometimes our recipients and donors have a “letter love affair” that is channelled through us – it is really heartwarming, especially when the donation has a happy and positive ending. Here’s what we mean:
We think you might have started your injections a few days ago and we wanted to know that we are thinking of you, and that we are so so grateful to you, more than words can express. Having been through many IVF cycles myself I know that the drugs can make you feel a bit rough so I really hope that you feel OK on them and we are thinking of you all the time.
We can’t really believe what you are doing for us. We are having trouble taking it in. After nearly 20 years of wanting a child so much and 10 years of fertility treatments and really an endless cycle of despair and depression, always feeling like something is missing from our lives, you have given us hope again. I realised that I have been feeling spontaneously happy for the first time I can remember for the last week, just suddenly dancing around the house or starting singing for no reason.
We are feeling very emotional, and quite scared, but also very excited. We loved everything about you that you wrote in your profile, we immediately connected with you and there was no doubt in our minds that we wanted you to be our donor. We were over the moon when you accepted us.
We hope that the treatment goes OK for you and you feel OK with everything. I’m crying as I type this just feeling so emotional and I can’t really believe this is happening. This is the first time we have tried egg donation and the first time that we have gone into treatment, with any real concept that it might actually work. It goes without saying that if it doesn’t work, we would like to keep trying. It also goes without saying that if it doesn’t work, we would be so grateful to you for trying and that the fact that you are happy to put yourself through all this makes us think that there are wonderful people in the world. We are thinking about you all the time and sending you lots of love.
“Thank-you for the well wishes, it’s good to know that a part of me is going to a lovely couple that clearly deserves the help. It’s because of couples such as yourselves that I’m more than happy to be a donor I’m glad that I can give you hope, and know that I will be holding thumbs, toes and any other body parts that I can for you. Giving life is something all women should experience at least once in their lives and I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prays that this is your time.
Don’t worry to much about me though, I’m quite used to the donation process I look forward to receiving good news in a few weeks that everything went well and you have a bundle of joy on the way. I think you will make beautiful parents, you clearly have a lot of love to share and any child would be blessed to be a part of your lives.
I promise to give your eggies lots of love and care for the next week and a bit. Good luck for everything on your side.
My stomach is bloated and uncomfortable. I sit and it cramps, I stand and I experience the most excruciating spasms in my abdomen. The day of the operation has arrived. My eggs are ready and soon this will all be over. The waiting room is buzzing as usual with all the happiness in the world, but I am sitting here in complete silence thinking back on the past three months of my life.
It all started on the night of 28th April 2012. A night never to be forgotten. Sitting among friends when my cellphone vibrated on my leg as I received an email. An email that I had been craving for a long time: “Fabulous news! YOU have been selected by a recipient as their egg donor…” Little did I know that what was going to follow was a ride of emotions and pain that I could never have imagined.
The beginning of my journey started with an interview. I was shaking from head to toe as I made my way to a beautiful little coffee shop, to meet the woman who would be by my side as the process of donation continued. I wanted to make a good first impression. So many thoughts were running through my head; what to say, how to sit, watching my language and minding my manners. Everything my mother had ever taught me about being a lady I was going to put into practice.
I arrived at the entrance and glanced across the room and there she was. Melany, with long curly brown hair and I was guessing about forty years of age. She stood up as we made eye contact and I moved towards her. I felt as though I was floating. My body was moving as a whole, yet at the same time my hands were warm and sweating, my heart pounding in my chest.
I shook her hand, the lady that would get me to the finish line. Introduced myself and from that moment onwards we spoke as if we had known each other for years. We laughed and exchanged thoughts and opinions and she explained exactly what I would be going through in very intense detail. I became nervous at times, but she was very quickly able to make me feel secure and completely sure about what I was doing.
Following that interview was an appointment with a clinical psychologist at the fertility clinic. Now never having been to a psychologist before, I had a very anxious feeling as I sat there. The room was bare. The only thing that made it feel warm was the smell of burning vanilla incense. As I breathed it in the smell brought a calming feeling over me.
I thought to myself that this is not another interview; it is simply a conversation between two adults, to give a perspective as to whether I am mentally prepared for everything, which I felt I was. I had nothing to fear. I was asked a series of questions about myself and my past, which is apparently normal in that environment. She then proceeded to enquire about my perception on egg donation, asking questions like “Do you not think that your inquisitive side might get the better of you in the years to come?” as what I was doing was completely anonymous. I felt these questions to be rather unnecessary as I had given this decision years of thought, however I answered honestly and she seemed pleased. I look back now and realise that the session is very important and gives the psychologist an opportunity to separate the weak from the strong. I am the strong.
The next and final step was my very first appointment with a gynaecologist. It was uncomfortable to say the least. A Belgian man with silver grey hair came to collect me from the waiting room. He lead me to a very upmarket room where he instructed me on what to do. I proceeded to get undressed and lay down on the bed covering my legs with a towel. This was a moment in life where I could not control the earthquake going on inside of me. I was sweating, my mouth was incredibly dry and when he entered through the curtains, my heart rate tripled instantly.
Throughout the appointment he continuously asked me if I was doing alright – I must have looked like a nervous wreck. We then sat at his desk as he handed me a little navy blue briefcase which contained several injections and hormone treatment. This little blue case would be my wakeup call every morning for the next two weeks.
Never in my life have I experienced the ups and downs, both physically and emotionally, that I have gone through. My hands are holding each other tightly as I await the scrub nurse. Once again my cellphone vibrates and the alert light flashes red. “Another message of well wishes from a friend?” I thought to myself. No. an email from the recipients I was donating to. The world closed up around me as I read the black text. Well wishes, thanks and praises for three whole pages. As I read, my smile grew bigger; I felt a feeling of pride that is entirely indescribable. I am about to allow a couple a chance to become a family. There is no greater gift to give.
The scrub nurse walked in and without hesitation I stood up and felt the world release itself off my shoulders. The pain, the nerves and all the uncomfortable new experiences I had endured were all about to come to an end. That one email made every moment of this journey worthwhile. The anesthetist takes my hand. “Count to ten and sleep tight.”
For a group of teenagers, Lauren, Fazana, Flora and Mackenzie are remarkably knowledgeable about fertility. Sitting in the library at St Marylebone school in central London, they’re explaining what they’ve learned. These year 10 girls know how common infertility is, how female fertility declines with age and they understand that IVF doesn’t always work. The discussion ranges from egg donation and surrogacy through to the dilemmas they know they may face later in life trying to balance careers with the desire for a family; “There’s never a time that’s exactly the right time to have a baby,” they explain.
It’s something every girl at St Marylebone will cover in their religious studies lessons, where the curriculum covers religious attitudes to family, relationships and family planning, as well as the ethics of fertility treatments. But in some other schools this highly topical issue barely gets a mention. IVF may be covered as a technological advance in science, but infertility isn’t part of the sex education curriculum, where the focus is on preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. This may seem sensible when dealing with young people, but the reality is that pupils are far more likely to have a fertility problem in the future than they are to get pregnant while they’re still at school. The teenage pregnancy rates for England and Wales are the lowest they’ve been since the 1960s, but infertility rates are rising; one in six of the population will experience problems getting pregnant – that’s about five pupils in each class of 30.
Prof Michael Reiss, of the Institute of Education, who founded the journal Sex Education, says infertility isn’t covered because it hasn’t been seen as a priority. “It’s not wilful, but these things are determined by the previous generation’s issues. The situation was always portrayed as if everyone wanted to be a parent at 15 or 16, and as if the major job was to stop them doing so or being infected with an STI and that has dominated the discourse. It’s just that people don’t think about infertility.”
Jane Knight is a fertility nurse specialist who has been invited in to schools to talk to teenagers about fertility awareness, but her lessons are usually one-off sessions, squeezed in wherever a school feels they may fit. “There is no cohesion when it comes to fertility education in schools, nothing joined up,” she says. “I try to give teenagers information in a way that is relevant to them and I talk about protecting fertility. They have learned about IVF, but it’s so far removed from where they are at that it’s almost irrelevant.”
Of course, it isn’t easy to get teenagers to think years ahead, but there is clearly room for improvement when it comes to fertility awareness. When the sexual health charity FPA investigated young people’s knowledge about sex and reproduction, they found widespread confusion, as Rebecca Findlay, of FPA, explains. “Our research revealed many very basic misunderstandings about fertility. It showed that sex and relationships education is letting young people down, and that they are aware of that – just 4% rated the sex education they’d received as excellent.”
When it comes to fertility, it isn’t just young people who are confused. Despite what can seem like a constant stream of media messages about the impact of age and lifestyle on fertility, many people still don’t really appreciate that a woman’s fertility begins to decline rapidly at 35, or that obesity, eating disorders, smoking and drugs can all affect your chances of having a family. A recent study of undergraduates in the US found that most thought female fertility declined far later than it does and that they overestimated both the chances of getting pregnant after unprotected intercourse and the likelihood of success after fertility treatment. Attempting to redress this balance is something they are taking seriously in Scotland, where plans for a Fertility Education Project are under way, with funding for two part-time workers who will help to raise awareness of infertility among students and the wider community.
For those elsewhere in the UK, knowledge about infertility looks set to remain patchy. This has led fertility specialists to call for a change to the school curriculum, as Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer at Sheffield University and chair of the British Fertility Society, explains. “I don’t think we do sex education well enough in schools. We don’t give people the skills they need for fertility planning. I understand that from the point of view of teenage pregnancy it is essential to focus on contraception, but that is only one side of the coin. We could do so much more for young people – most are very naive when it comes to fertility. I would package it as fertility advice rather than infertility advice, but I do think it should be part of the sex education curriculum.”
It is in fertility clinics that our failure to get the message across is really felt by those who discover that their chances of getting pregnant are not as good as they had hoped. Clare Lewis-Jones, chief executive of the charity Infertility Network UK, sees at first hand the distress this can cause. “It is vital that we get information out there so that people make informed choices at the right time in their lives and avoid the heartache infertility can cause,” she says. “Of course, not all fertility problems are caused by lifestyle choices, but we do hear from those who would have done things differently if they had known more about how lifestyle choices would affect their chances of having a family.”
There are sensitivities surrounding the idea of teaching young people that getting pregnant isn’t always easy, perhaps due to anxieties that this could water down messages about teenage pregnancy prevention, but Sarah Swan, assistant head at St Marylebone, believes it is important to give their girls the full picture. “You’ve got to give young people the facts and educate them about the realities to help them make the right decisions. You can’t decide not to give them information because you are worried that it might lead to problems.”
Far from leading to problems, Reiss suggests that giving young people all the facts could bring benefits. “Teaching about infertility in schools wouldn’t increase teenage pregnancy rates. In fact, if it was part of a coherent, high-quality sex education programme, I would expect it to lower teenage pregnancy rates.”
With ever-increasing numbers seeking medical help to conceive, and warnings that infertility rates may rise yet higher, it seems that ensuring our teenagers are properly educated about fertility might not only help to prevent future problems, but could be beneficial in the present.
Via The Guardian
5 tips to improve IVF success
Eating avocados and foods high in monounsaturated fat can triple the success of your in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment. But is there anything else you can do to improve your IVF success?
A new study carried out by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that eating monounsaturated fat – found in olive oil, sunflower oil, nuts and seeds – could help women trying to have a baby through in vitro fertilisation (IVF). It’s believed that these “good fats” – which are already known to protect the heart – could improve fertility by lowering inflammation in the body.
In contrast the research revealed that women who ate a diet rich in saturated fat (found in red meat and butter) produced fewer healthy eggs for use in fertility treatment. Another study showed that drinking five or more cups of coffee a day halved the chance of successful IVF treatment.
Dr Ulrik Schixler Kesmodel, from the Fertility Clinic of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, said: “Although we were not surprised that coffee consumption appears to affect pregnancy rates in IVF, we were surprised at the magnitude of the effect.”
But along with eating a healthy diet, what else can you do to improve your chances of conceiving under IVF? Tertia Albertyn, Owner of Nurture Egg Donor and Surrogacy Program, provided the following tips:
5 tips to improve your IVF success
1. Make sure you are at the best fertility clinic for your needs. “Best” can be defined in many ways – highest success rate, best bedside manner, most value for money. You are making an enormous financial and emotional investment, so make sure your expectations are met.
2. Make sure your expectiations are realistic. If you are 45 years old and you are using your own eggs, your chance of success is probably only around 5%. Your chance of having a baby through donor eggs is around 65%. If you only have the resources for one attempt, make sure you maximise your odds.
3. Prepare yourself emotionally. Know that IVF takes a huge toll emotionally; be prepared for the roller-coaster ride. You will feel so many emotions at once: hope / fear / excitement / terror. Have someone to support you through the process. Go online and join a fertility support forum, it can be done anonymously if you are keeping it private and confidential. Don’t be ashamed to seek professional support if you need it.
4. Prepare yourself physically. Stop smoking, cut down on the wine. Eat well. Drink water. Stick to one cup of coffee a day. Don’t eat fatty foods. Step away from the cheese cake, burgers and fries. But don’t punish yourself, have that glass of wine on a Friday night. Enjoy that rare cappuccino. Infertility is hard enough without denying yourself the occasional indulgence.
5. Go alternative: Just because you are doing something high tech / traditional medicine, doesn’t mean you can’t use alternative approaches to maximise your chances. Investigate things like fertility acupuncture, fertility reflexology or fertility astrology. Make sure you go to someone reputable who has experience in this area. Always check with your doctor first.
Lastly, always have a Plan B, said Albertyn. “Having a Plan B (another IVF / another option like donor eggs) kept me sane. If this one doesn’t work, then we will do XYZ or try ABC. Knowing that this wasn’t the end of the road made the failures more tolerable for me,” she said.