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Stress and IVF


Friday November 1st, 2019

More often IVF is not the initial plan in the mix of having a baby.  For most couples, moving from natural fertility to assisted conception comes with a great deal of stress and anxiety on many different levels.   By the time the decision is made to transition to IVF, it’s likely there has been months (sometimes years) of trying, waiting, possibly testing, poking and prodding, questions, more questions, procedures and for some there is no definite outcome or explanation.  Equally for others they may be faced with a diagnosis or reason as to why conception hasn’t been and easy road which can provide much needed answers and a moment of relief (if you actually can see WHY you aren’t falling pregnant) but for others a great deal of worry and angst (now I KNOW there is a problem.) … There isn’t necessarily a better outcome, but fair to say whatever camp you find yourself in, the fact remains, you’ve been ready for your baby for what seems an eternity and simply want it in the quickest and most safest way possible.  

It is a simple conclusion to make; stress really is wrapped up in the entire process of IVF and assisted conception which only adds to the imbalances as play.  In fact, trying to conceive naturally can come with the same amount of pressure.  Not necessarily great news and so often a factor which is overlooked but a really important piece of the puzzle, especially according to Chinese medicine theory.  Stress causes imbalances within the body.  

Couple this with the cost not only financially but the strain on relationships not just with your partner but other friends too - it is definitely a time of much needed love and care where possible.  At times, trying for a baby is nothing short of an emotional rollercoaster and physically feeling like you’ve been through the wash and rinse cycle of your washing machine and spat out.  IVF is indeed extra stressful.

IVF itself ticks off a bunch of physiological boxes, quickly taking care of key events - ovulation, timing of sex, implantation all become well out of a patients control as drug protocols and administration manipulate reproductive function to precisely time egg collection, fertilisation and transfer of the embryo when the time is just right.  

But the reproductive system doesn’t just work alone and whilst the schedule of events is most certainly necessary in the timing of it all, a body riddled with issues as a result of stress, be it inflammation (key sign is pain), a compromised immune system (recurrent illness like colds or flu) or other autoimmune reactivity (natural killer cells or compromised internal environment), can result in less than favourable outcomes.  To say that stress isn’t a factor in fertility is like saying is like saying you can drive your car around all day in 3rd gear.  It sure is possible but most certainly not the smoothest ride you’ll ever have.

For all the amazing technology, research and precision tied up in the IVF process, there are a few factors that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) fills the gap(s) that Western Medicine seems to either place lesser value on or dismiss altogether.  If you saw my recent article about the emotions HERE (can we hyperlink pls) you will quickly see just how much emphasis TCM places on emotional wellbeing for overall health.  In TCM we treat the organs them from both their physical and emotional components as we see each organ as being driven by 50% equal parts, emotional and physical.  In doing this we see outstanding results as so often a physical symptom is driven by emotional pain.

Many patients have reported being told stress doesn’t matter when it comes to conception.  Whilst maybe this is true when physiologically manipulating hormones, your reproductive system does not work alone, in fact the body is likened to a symphony orchestra.  Not only does each instrument need to be in tune but it must all work together for a beautiful result. Both elements are equally essential - how a system works alone and how all systems impact each other.  For this reason it is always best to address stress to support overall fertility.  In my opinion it is the leading cause of hormone imbalance to date.

Our case studies have also shown tremendous results when combining Sunny Pills with IVF treatments. Not only have patients had great success with pregnancy even after failed IVF attempts but many of their other symptoms dissipated in the process (prior to falling pregnant).  These patients all had a long standing history of excess stress, worry, insomnia and general overwhelm.  

Stress impacts the body in so many ways, a few of which require special mention;

  • Sleep.  So often when we are stressed, it spills into sleep.  Often patients find themselves waking at the same time each night.  This can be a wonderful clue as to how best treat the problem when you turn to the Chinese Medicine clock which is a useful tool to understand where energy flow moves through the meridians and organs in a 24 hour cycle.  So for example, waking at 1am each night would indicate liver disharmony (which would come with a host of other symptoms like easy to anger, troubled menstrual cycles, poor vision, headaches just to name a few possible in a magnitude of symptoms).

 

  • Appetite.  People seem to fall into one of two camps.  When stressed they either overeat or have no appetite at all (another useful diagnostic tool).  If digestion is compromised either way (overeating can equally damage the digestive systems as to not eating enough), assimilating key nutrients can become a problem.  We can never underestimate the importance of nutrients when it comes to fertility.  Your body requires key nutrients for health, but for fertility even more so.

 

  • Mindset.  Through all the stress of conception it can become really difficult to keep an open mindset.  For some even reading this can be confronting because the whole process can quickly become soul crushing.  But, when we are operating from a place of less stress we innately become more positive and more open to the tremendous possibilities at be.  IVF is indeed a wonderful tool for conception - having the right approach emotionally can truly play a part.

With these in mind there is simply no way we can say that stress does not impact fertility.  Stress hormones are indeed precursors for sex hormones, meaning we require small amounts to make our sex hormones which are essential for fertility and reproductive function.  

But our body is smart, and when our stress hormones reach a certain point, it can effectively ‘turn off’ or impact our sex hormones.  They become weaker or switch off completely - after all we don’t really need progesterone to survive.  What’s more, when the body is in survival mode, that is all it is thinking about - survival and most certainly not about procreation. 

For these reasons, you may begin to see why TCM receives such positive results when it comes to fertility and conception.  Over my 15 years as a TCM doctor, I have had the privilege of working alongside some of the top IVF specialists, clinics, gynaecologists and obstetricians who whilst may not fully understand the intricacies of oriental medicine (because that’s not their job…), they appreciate that it really does fill the gap in supporting conception, assisted or otherwise.  Combining western and eastern medicine works beautifully.

It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to addressing stress.  For my patients I try and quickly find the simplest and easiest rung on the stress ladder to address first - after all, it starts with one foot in front of the next and trying to address the big, audacious or scary elephant in the room in this instance isn’t necessarily the best place to start.  Just ticking one smaller box can really get things moving in the right direction, the simpler the better.  

You might be reading this thinking - that’s all good and well, but really I’m just over it all or really have no idea where to start.  Or maybe you recognise that you are indeed feeling the pressure of it all and want a simple solution.  And of course ThisHerb is here to the rescue with the most intricate and effective formula to address this aspect of the fertility puzzle.  

Sunny pills work to effectively support two key organs that support overall health and wellbeing - the liver and the heart.  When we talk about the heart in TCM there are many aspects involved outside of what we would ordinarily look at from a western perspective - we say the heart governs all emotions.  Herbal ingredients like Wu Wei Zi help to calm and support the heart energy whilst Suan Zao Ren nourishes the heart and calms, especially for those who are qi and blood deficient, often a result of ongoing stress or rigorous drug protocols.  Also herbs like Gui Zhi help to support overall circulation and boost wellbeing and mood.  

When we look at the liver in terms of overall health and especially emotional wellbeing, it’s role in accordance with TCM is to help to regulate and soothe, this particularly important when addressing stress which stagnates energy within the body.  When the liver energy becomes stagnant we can find ourselves increasingly frustrated, overwhelmed, angry and tense.  We can see anxiety build too.  Using herbal ingredients like Di Huang and Shou Wu Teng whilst they have various actions individually, they each hold properties that nourish the body by supporting energy, clearing heat and regulate the liver.

These are just some of the wonderful ingredients found in Sunny Pills.  The power of the ingredients in Sunny Pills is within the interaction and properties that each of these hold when they work together not just for their individual actions.  When formulas like Sunny Pills are crafted, they are done so very carefully with much consideration around how the ingredients can work synergistically together to really create an intricate, safe and effective formula.

Breaking the cycle of stress need not be a difficult choice when we can drawn on the benefits of Sunny Pills.  It isn’t always easy to work out where to start and most certainly becoming more mindful of where our stress lies is absolutely key for long term health and wellbeing.  But when we can easily drawn on the benefits of Chinese Medicine to help support the body, we are effectively breaking the cycle and by supporting the body better, we immediately begin to address stress with very little effort required.  

Whilst IVF may not have been part of your original plan, we are so fortunate to be able to draw on the benefits of modern medicine.  Couple this with the wisdom of ancient healing and we can begin to really see positive changes and results too.  Stress can be many things but making the internal workings of your body run smoothly really can assist in helping the overall result when it comes to your fertility and pregnancy.

-By Nat Kringoudis
 

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A pedigree of 3,000 years of Traditional Chinese Medicine, melded with twenty-first century modern technologies, makes ThisHerb an extremely potent force in offering only the purest and most natural therapeutic treatments and remedies. 


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