On Hold…Maintaining Hope During this Time of Uncertainty

Whether or not you’ve completed a cycle before or this was to be your first, hearing from the Center that your treatment is being put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak is undoubtedly disappointing, and that’s probably an understatement.  In the meantime, you’re dealing with all of the anxiety the rest of the world is feeling about coronavirus, with the added concern about its unknown impact on fertility and pregnancy. It’s a lot to take.

The rational side of you probably understands that this decision was made in accordance with the recommendations from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine in an attempt to protect you and your potential pregnancy.  But the emotional side of you is devastated and grieving the hope of conceiving this spring. You have been living with uncertainty about conceiving already; the added uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus crisis might feel overwhelming. And the hormones aren’t helping either.   

You are probably experiencing lots of emotions right now: anger, sadness, frustration, disappointment, grief, anxiety, or all of the above.  These are all completely understandable and normal. No one can tell you differently. You are the one going through this and owning the emotional response you’re having is only fair to yourself.  But what’s not fair is to believe you have to continue feeling that way. These are very strong emotions, and they will fade. Own your negative emotions, then try to figure out ways to get past them.  They aren’t helping you feel better.    

Let’s talk about some strategies that might help you feel more in control of your emotions right now.  Here are some techniques aimed at coping with the negative emotions related to your treatment being put on hold and the crisis our country is in at present:  

Keeping Perspective: Although it’s very tempting to start catastrophizing, whether it be about coronavirus or your fertility treatment, this unhealthy thought pattern serves no purpose. It just pushes you further down the dark rabbit hole. Everyone is confronting challenges right now, and trying to remember those things in your life for which are grateful can keep you from falling into that hole. Whether it be your partner, your friends and family, your job, your home or the excellent blueberry muffin you had for breakfast, gratitude can go a long way in helping you keep perspective. So can remembering that others are dealing with worse and scarier situations at the moment.  And lastly, remember that this is a crisis, and crises are temporary. No one knows how long this will last, or when cycles at CARS will get back to normal, but rest assured they will get back to normal. Keeping in mind the temporary nature of this unpleasant situation can help you get through it and remain hopeful about what awaits on the other side! 

Self-nurturance: Now more than ever, this is the time to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally.  This is an opportunity to get as healthy as you possibly can so that you can be in a really good place for your next cycle.  This might include eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep. It might also include pampering yourself so that you can feel as good as possible during this difficult time.  Take some time to do something that is soul-nourishing for you. Some examples are: Learn a new skill or brush up on a foreign language. Read a book or magazine that you haven’t gotten to (I usually save Elin Hilderbrand for my summer beach reading, but I just ordered a few of her books for my coronavirus reading–we all need some happy endings right now!) Take a mindful walk, appreciating the outdoors, fresh air, and extra time you have.  Make a decadent dessert that you haven’t had time to make before. Learn to knit. Binge watch that show everyone has been bugging you to watch. Practice deep breathing, meditation or visual imagery (you can find some great videos on YouTube or on the fertility coping app–FertiCalm, which I recommend highly.) Anything that helps you feel better–you deserve to feel better!     

Social Connection Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation.  If you have shared your fertility journey with others, reach out to them now for support and distraction.  If you have kept this journey private, possibly consider opening up to at least one trusted person in your life for support and as a sounding board.  It can be a huge relief to open up about what you’re going through. But be patient with people–no one can say the exact right thing all the time. They mean well and are trying.  If that’s all too much, and you still want to keep things completely private, still reach out to a friend or loved one for mutual support in this difficult time.  

Take a Break from Media Coverage: Right now, hearing about the details of the pandemic over and over again can essentially result in re-traumatization and can be exhausting.  Take breaks from watching the news and reading about the crisis. This includes social media–especially if you tend to be drawn to the more heartbreaking stories.  I know we are all yearning for some reassurance and confirmation that we are doing the right things to get through this. And it’s OK to watch some news coverage or check out a news source you trust.  But focus on getting facts, and if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, stop! At least for some time, most of the statistics are going to get worse before they get better and none of us needs to hear bad news getting worse.  So be selective in what you are taking in and know your limits.     

In uncertain times, finding some aspect of your life that you can control can be beneficial.  These coping strategies can help give you a healthier sense of control and remain hopeful about the future.  Pick and choose which ones of these fit best for you. Your goal is to be healthy, energized and ready to go when it’s time to get back to CARS and get closer to your dream of growing your family.  

Take care of yourself and be well!  Feel free to call me at (860) 830-8862 to discuss some additional support options.

Kim Crone, PhD
Psychologist, Center for Advanced Reproductive Services

Schedule Your Virtual Fertility VIsit

Working from home? Now you can get your fertility care from home too. Introducing Virtual Fertility Visits. All of our physicians are maintaining full clinic schedules and meeting with clients “virtually” either by phone or video conferencing, eliminating all social distancing concerns. Be ready to proceed once the immediate crisis is over. Call us to make an appointment, or fill out this form on our website.

Looking forward to “meeting” with you!

Announcing New Virtual Support Group

Missing the support of our community? Introducing a new virtual peer support group offered by the Center and hosted by Ami Chokshi. Fashioned after the Resolve New England (RNE) support groups, we will hold informal discussions, provide information, and most importantly, support each other.  Like all our support groups, everyone is welcome.
Start Date:  Friday, March 20th, 1 PM
Schedule:   3x/week. Mondays at 9, Wednesdays at 7, and Fridays at 1
Sign up:     Registration is required. Click here to register; once registered, a link will be sent to you.
Ami Chokshi is the Center’s Integrative and Functional Nutrition Health Coach, as well as a former IVF patient and RESOLVE Group Support Leader.
(If the above link does not work for you, please put this URL into your browser: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/vpIldu-qrjgpSabicsJkDsjCGI0RfehXpw)

Introducing the Fertility Wellness Visit

Interested in taking a peek at where you are in terms of your “fertility wellness?” The Center is offering a Fertility Wellness Visit. At this visit, you’ll learn more about your future potential to conceive and how to best set yourself up for future success.

When you come in for your Fertility Wellness Visit, you’ll meet with one of our providers. You’ll complete a brief fertility questionnaire, and you’ll have an AMH test. This is a simple blood test that measures Anti Mullerian Hormone, which helps to inform women about their potential to become pregnant now and in the future. You’ll also receive information on egg freezing, an important tool more and more women are using to take control of their fertility. The greatest benefit to egg freezing is that your eggs remain at the same age as when you froze them.

In about one week we’ll receive the results of your AMH test, and we’ll call you to discuss your results relative to the fertility questionnaire you completed and where you are in your life and family building plan.

Find out more today!  The Fertility Wellness Visit is FREE for the month of March!

Boost Your Fertility with this Essential Mineral

Do you crave chocolate in the second half of your cycle? Does stress have a toothbrush at your house? Are caffeine and sugar a fixed staple on your weekly meal plan and shopping list? If you answered yes to any of these, you likely are in need of magnesium. 

Magnesium is an essential mineral for your health and fertility.

​It’s responsible for 700-800 enzyme systems in your body. It supports chemical reactions in the body, helps you detoxify the fertility muggers through your liver, and is responsible for converting the food you eat into cellular energy. 

Magnesium is life-enhancing, but if you don’t have it becomes life-threatening. 

Most Americans – around 80% – are deficient in magnesium. Because the western diet is so focused on grains and processed foods, the majority of the magnesium that is in the grains is lost when foods are processed. Eating refined sugar also depletes magnesium. In the Women’s Health Study at Harvard, where17,000 women were studied, women with a high carbohydrate diet were seen to be more infertile than those that ate fewer sugars. These high sugar diets are responsible for increased insulin resistance, which is often seen in women with PCOS. This can lead to an ovulatory dysfunction. Magnesium-rich diets help preserve insulin sensitivity and ovulatory function

Because magnesium is responsible for so many functions, there are numerous benefits to making sure you have enough magnesium in your diet. 

Magnesium supports stress and sleep.

When you are trying to conceive and not having success, I know how stressful it can be and your sleep may be affected too. Magnesium can be depleted in times of stress, so having enough magnesium will help you relieve stress because it’s a powerful relaxation mineral. It works by keeping your cortisol levels under control, so your insulin levels do not spike, which drops your blood sugar. Keeping your blood sugar stable is a key component of what I teach with my fertility clients. Steady blood sugar ensures steady energy going to your cells. When you take magnesium before bed, magnesium can also help you get a restful night’s sleep, which is THE most critical lifestyle component to optimal fertility.

Magnesium helps balance fertility hormones progesterone and estrogen.

Magnesium controls follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, because estrogen-dependent on magnesium status, and FSH is the hormone that stimulates the ovaries. Low magnesium can also signal to low progesterone levels, which can lead to a short luteal phase and increased miscarriage risk. Finally, for those of you that struggle with PMS, magnesium should become your friend. Magnesium levels fall before your period, so ensuring enough magnesium helps you produce serotonin and feel good. 

Magnesium also helps decrease inflammation. 

If you are trying to conceive with IVF, this means that having a diet rich in magnesium can improve your chances of a successful embryo transfer. This is because you are lowering your overall inflammation and increasing the chances of implantation. 

Magnesium is anti-aging. 

Fertility is often about turning back the clock, and magnesium can help with this. When your body is deficient, it ages at an accelerated rate. Many of you may be taking CoQ10 to support your cellular health, including egg cells and sperm cells. And while CoQ10 supports egg quality, it is responsible for only one (of eight) of the steps related to converting food into energy. On the other hand, magnesium is necessary for six of the eight steps where carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are converted to energy. In other words, for improved sperm and egg quality, continue taking the CoQ10, but also supplement with magnesium.

Magnesium supports your male partner’s fertility.

In many instances, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and magnesium is responsible for enzymatic functions in your partner’s body as well.  Male factor infertility has also been associated with men have lower magnesium levels, so be sure to share your magnesium foods and supplements with your partner.

What are the best magnesium-rich foods?

Typically foods rich in dietary fiber like green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are good sources. Additionally, seaweed and low sugar, dark chocolate are as well, but I would hold off on too much chocolate. While craving chocolate in the second half of your cycle is common, the better solution would be to supplement with magnesium.

There are a couple of ways to supplement with magnesium. 

One way is to take a powdered form or ionic form of magnesium. Natural Calm and ReMag are two brands that I recommend. Natural Calm may have a laxative effect on some people, so sip it throughout the day instead of taking it all at once and start on a lower dose (based on the label recommendations). Another effective and calming way to absorb this mineral is to take an epsom salt bath (or foot soak), which is a great way to receive magnesium transdermally or through your skin. Simply, add a cup of epsom salt to your warm bath, and step into the tub for a dose of relaxation and self-care. 

I believe your fertility is a function of your whole health, and sufficient magnesium is necessary mineral for you as well as your future child.

Photography by Dean Batchelder

Ami Chokshi is the Center’s Integrative and Functional Nutrition Health Coach. As a former IVF patient and RESOLVE Group Support Leader, Ami guides fertility patients towards optimal wellness and helps them navigate their fertility journey. Through lifestyle and behavioral adjustments, she provides patients with education and support to achieve their health-related goals. She also partners with your provider to help implement their recommendations for your health and treatment plan.

To contact Ami for a complimentary consultation or register to receive her fertility lifestyle tips, please click here to go to her webpage.

Make Dreams Come True While Pursuing Your Own

Become An Egg Donor

Did you know that February is not only Valentine’s Month – but also National Donor Month? This is a great time to raise awareness and explain how someone like you could possibly help make dreams come true by becoming an egg donor. In fact, just one donor can help multiple couples achieve their dream of having a child.

The Egg Donor Program at The Center for Advanced Reproductive Services assisted in conceiving the first child born from a donor egg in New England in 1987. Since then, we’ve helped many women conceive with donated eggs and our program continues to grow. The gift egg donors provide is truly the answer to many couples’ dreams and we are reaching out to healthy women between the ages of 21 and 32 to help identify more potential donors.

The Process of Becoming A Donor

Candidates interested in becoming an egg donor go through a careful screening process that helps us determine if you are medically and genetically appropriate and emotionally prepared for donation. All information is kept completely confidential. Insurance coverage is provided, and there is no cost to potential donors for any tests or consultations.

Here’s a look at the process to become an egg donor:


Compensation 

To complete an egg donation cycle, donors commit time, energy and emotion. Donors who complete the cycle will be compensated $8,000 for their time and inconveniences. Following the experience of egg donation, most donors feel a great deal of satisfaction from this act of giving.  

To Learn More

If you think you would like to be an egg donor at The Center, please call our Coordinator at (860) 321.7082 EXT 8014 or visit www.donoreggct.com.

Three Ways to Kick Fertility Muggers to the Curb

When you take your car in to be serviced for an oil change, does the mechanic add new oil to the existing oil? Nope. That would gunk up your car. You have to get rid of the old oil before you add the new oil to it, so your car runs more efficiently. 

 Your body needs this as well. 

 It needs to eliminate the old – the stuff that’s clogging it up – before adding anything fresh and new in order to get better results. 

Our body is an amazing and complex system and helping it eliminate and cleanse naturally can sometimes be challenging when we’re constantly being bombarded by toxicants from the food we eat, to the breath we breathe, and the products we put on our skin and hair. There is a seemingly never-ending number of chemicals we’re bringing into our bodies that make it less able to function and detoxify like it was meant to. So to reach your optimal health and fertility, you need to give your body a helping hand because these harmful substances and pollutants are affecting your hormones. They’re known as endocrine disruptors, and while you may not recognize it, these disruptors can show up in other ways in your body as well, 

For example, if you have skin issues like eczema, if you’re congested on a regular basis or foods make you congested,  if you’re constipated, if you are gaining weight, a lot of that can come from these toxicants coming in contact with your body, either through your skin or by ingesting or by breathing it.  From a reproductive standpoint, this may show up as endometriosis or fibroids. We technically have six organs in our body that support detoxification or the process of removing toxic substances out of our bodies. These organs are your skin (your largest organ), your colon, your liver, kidneys, lungs, and lymph. And the products and foods that come into contact with your body either help or hinder your fertility.

When you change your environment, you can support your ability to get pregnant and stay pregnant by improving your overall health at a cellular level. This means you’re boosting egg (and sperm) quality, and you’re reducing inflammation overall.

 Again, while your body naturally detoxifies, certain toxicants can keep it from doing this efficiently, such as –

  • Foods like sugars, refined products, sodas, caffeinated drinks;  
  • Environmental pollutants like herbicides and pesticides; 
  • Household items like new furniture, a new rug, or Teflon cookware 
  • Skincare and Beauty Products

These substances come into your body, and they need to be eliminated. Here are three simple tips to boost your body’s ability to detoxify that pack a punch and support multiple systems.  

 Drink, Drink, Drink

First, hydrate your body.  Water helps move your bowels (and toxins) out of your system, it helps urine (more waste) flow out of your kidneys, and it builds circulation, which delivers nutrients to your egg and his sperm cells. This step is so important, and you may be thinking you’ll be in the bathroom a lot. Frankly, you probably will be there more often, BUT know that this is a key factor in getting rid of the chemicals that may be harming your fertility.  

I recommend starting your day with lemon water. Add the juice of one half of a lemon to warm water and continue drinking at least half your weight in ounces of water.  In other words, if you weigh 150 pounds, you will be drinking 75 ounces of water.  Drinking more water may help you feel more awake, more alert, and full, so you are less likely to overeat.

Not all liquids are alike. Your caffeinated coffee or that milk- and sugar-laden Starbucks latte does not count towards your daily dose. However, green, herbal, and fruit teas are a good option as long as they are unsweetened or lightly sweetened with pure honey. 

Veggies with Each Meal

Next is to eat 2-3 servings of veggies per meal. This includes any vegetable, especially leafy greens and cruciferous ones like broccoli and cauliflower (which seems to be in everything these days). These grown-from-the-ground babies pack a major fertility-boosting punch. Not only do they help you stay regular (and move that food out), they’re also packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, which your body needs.

Two to three servings may look like two handfuls of spinach with eggs or added to a smoothie.  Lunch can be like a big salad (like A Fruitful Body Salad), and dinner can be a stir fry or a big pot of soup with lots of vegetables.  

Don’t forget to add spices and herbs. They’ll make your veggies more delicious and enjoyable, and it will be easier to stay consistent.

Brush Your Skin

Third, brush your skin. You brush your hair and you brush your teeth. Now try brushing your skin. That’s right. Your skin is your biggest organ, and about one-third of your body’s impurities are released through the skin each day. 

Dry brushing helps remove dead and sometimes toxic skin cells, and it promotes lymph flow. I recommend doing this before a morning shower, since it can energize if you were to do it before an evening shower. 

To dry brush, use a natural bristle brush like this one. They’re pretty inexpensive, and I recommend doing this 1-2 times a week, typically before you shower. I usually do this on the days I wash my hair. Take the brush, and start with your feet and brush upwards in a circular motion. Then, from your fingertips toward your body. And then, brush from your neck towards your heart. Dry brushing increases your blood flow, it brushes away dead and possibly toxic skin cells and smooths your skin. 

The mindful time you take to brush and exfoliate your skin is also a great form of self-care.

I believe that your fertility is a function of your whole health, and if your body is your home, it’s important to clean it and take out the trash on a regular basis. 

Photography by Dean Batchelder

Ami Chokshi is the Center’s Integrative and Functional Nutrition Health Coach. As a former IVF patient and RESOLVE Group Support Leader, Ami guides fertility patients towards optimal wellness and helps them navigate their fertility journey. Through lifestyle and behavioral adjustments, she provides patients with education and support to achieve their health-related goals. She also partners with your provider to help implement their recommendations for your health and treatment plan.

To contact Ami for a complimentary consultation or register to receive her fertility lifestyle tips, please click here to go to her webpage.

Recognizing Reproductive Donors on National Donor Day

February 14th is best known for Valentine’s Day, but it’s also a day that marks another act of love. It’s National Donor Day—a time to celebrate those who are living organ donors and to remember those who donated organs in death so that others could live. We’d especially like to recognize those generous reproductive donors whose gifts, while not life-saving, are absolutely spirit-saving— the egg donors, embryo donors, and sperm donors. 

While not technically “donors”, this is also a good time to also recognize gestational carriers and surrogates. These women generously agree to carry a pregnancy for someone else who is unable to do so due to lack of uterus, uterine abnormalities, or other factors that make carrying a pregnancy impossible or inadvisable. Upon birth, they give the baby to its intended parents. Because of them, many gay male couples and many other straight and LGBTQ couples or individuals have become parents. 

If you are interested in learning more about becoming an egg donor yourself, go to www.eggdonorct.com for more details. And if you think building your family using egg donation, sperm donation, or embryo donation, is something you might be interested in, call any of our offices to schedule a consultation.