The Emotional Repercussions of Infertility

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photo courtesy of infertility.about.com and Paul Bradbury/Getty images

When a couple is trying to conceive a baby, it can be a thrilling time in their lives.  However, as months continue to go by with no pregnancy, the hope and excitement can turn to stress and anxiety.  While couples may know that infertility is possible, actually dealing with it can result in an unexpected emotional roller coaster.  It is not unusual for one or both partners to experience the following:

  • A sense of loss and disappointment
  • Physical symptoms of depression or grief, such as headaches, low energy, irritability, inability to concentrate, extreme sadness, and insomnia
  • Denial or numbness
  • Anger
  • Jealousy towards those who are able to get pregnant easily
  • Feelings of inadequacy, guilt, or shame

Unfortunately, infertility can also put a huge strain on a couple’s relationship, as each person struggles to cope with their own feelings.  Each may have a fear that their partner will leave them to have a child with someone else.  Couples undergoing fertility treatments may experience financial strain, or find they are not in agreement about which options they are willing to try.  Furthermore, after endless attempts at trying to conceive, having sex can feel less like fun and more like a chore, adding additional emotional difficulties.

If you are experiencing infertility, the most important thing you can do as a couple is to keep the lines of communication open and be totally honest about what you are feeling.  Take time for each other, and do not let infertility become the entire focus of your existence.  Make it a point to find fun activities you can do together to help release some tension and relax.  Finally, if you are experiencing any of these emotional issues, please know that you are not alone, and that professional help is available to you both as individuals and as a couple.

 

Sources:

http://www.resolve.org/support/Managing-Infertility-Stress/emotional-aspects.html

http://infertility.about.com/od/copingwithinfertility/a/copestress.htm

Clear Skin without Hormones

photo credited to whitneysociety.com

photo credited to whitneysociety.com

In previous postings, we have discussed how doctors are very quick to prescribe birth control pills to women suffering from acne, without considering the potential for harmful side effects to the patient’s body due to the introduction of artificial hormones.  The risks of taking hormonal birth control include liver and gallbladder disease, migraines, hypertension, depression, and more.  Thankfully, clear skin can be achieved without the use of birth control pills.  Read on to learn some simple strategies for obtaining the beautiful skin you desire.

First, there are several foods which can have an impact on your skin health.  For example, Brazil nuts, which are rich in selenium, increase skin elasticity, and walnuts, which are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, lower skin inflammation and decrease breakouts.  Macadamia nuts contain oils and fatty acids with skin repairing properties.  Foods such as watermelon, which are rich in lycopene, reduce redness and damage caused by the sun.  Red grape skins contain a strong antioxidant known as resveratrol, which fights wrinkles, lines, and sagging caused by other environmental irritants.  On the other hand, dairy products should be avoided, as they contain cow hormones that stimulate your oil glands.

Next, make sure things that are touching your face on a regular basis are kept clean.  Makeup brushes used to apply loose powder should be washed every two to three weeks, and brushes which apply foundation should be washed once per week in a mixture of lukewarm water and gentle facial cleanser.  Additionally, you should wipe down the front of your cell phone with an antibacterial wipe a few times each day.  This will keep unwanted dirt and bacteria away from your pores.

Finally, it bears repeating that one of the most important things you can do for your skin is to wear sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection every day year-round.  This can greatly reduce your risk of a broad range of skin ailments, from wrinkles to cancer.

 

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/birth-control-for-acne-treatment?page=2

http://www.womenshealthmag.co.uk/beauty-style/skin/108/30-easy-tips-for-glowing-skin/

 

How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

photo credited to fitsugar.com

photo credited to fitsugar.com

According to Prevention Magazine, regardless of if they have children or not, women tend to get less sleep than men overall, due to fluctuating estrogen.  During both menstruation and menopause, levels of estrogen, which helps promote sleep, are lower in the body.  Furthermore, symptoms associated with lowered estrogen, including headaches, cramps, and hot flashes, all do their part to interrupt a good night’s sleep.  Prevention offers several suggestions for combatting this issue.

  • While it may sound simple, researchers say the most important thing you can do to improve your sleep is to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, including weekends. This puts your body’s internal clock on a routine, which will result in better rest.  If you are having a difficult time accomplishing this, try keeping a sleep diary in which you record these times to hold yourself accountable.
  • Quitting smoking can dramatically improve how well you are sleeping at night.  Researchers say smokers are 4 times more likely to not feel rested after a night’s sleep than non-smokers.  This is likely due to the amount of the stimulant nicotine in their bodies.
  • Keep in mind that when you exercise, your body temperature will stay elevated for approximately 4 hours.  Since this is not conducive to sleep, you should plan your gym visits accordingly.
  • Pay attention to the beverages you drink.  First, caffeinated beverages are a stimulant and can keep you awake at night, so they should be avoided after 2 p.m. each day.  Next, because your body actually wakes up as it finishes metabolizing alcohol, you should stop drinking alcoholic beverages at least two hours before your bedtime.  Instead, pour yourself a glass of warm milk, as research has shown it can aid in inducing sleep.

If you do wake up in the middle of the night, doctors recommend that as long as you are comfortable, you should stay in bed and perform deep breathing exercises to help you relax and fall back to sleep.

Herbal Remedies for Joint Pain and Inflammation

photo credit to lifemartini.com

photo credit to lifemartini.com

While we all feel some aches and pains as we get older, chronic pain can really take a toll on our quality of life.  According to Harvard Health Publications, individuals who suffer from chronic pain have three times the average risk of developing mood and/or anxiety disorders, and the resulting changes in disposition and behavior can lead to isolation as well as drug dependence.  While over the counter pain medicine is always an option, persistent use can have unwanted gastrointestinal side effects, such as stomach bleeding and ulcers.  If you are seeking an alternative, there are several herbal remedies you may wish to try.

  • Found in fresh pineapple, bromelain is an enzyme which is unique in that it is absorbed directly into the body rather than breaking down in the digestive tract.  You can maximize your pain relief by juicing the hard stem of the pineapple with aloe, ginger, and turmeric, and drinking it on an empty stomach.  Bromelain is also available in pill form.
  • Devil’s claw is a root containing iridoid glycosides, which are assumed to be the reason it eases the pain of osteoarthritis.  It can be made into tea, but it is available in pill and ointment form as well.
  • Turmeric is a bright orange root similar in external appearance to ginger.  In the United States, it is most frequently found as a dried and ground spice, but it is also available in capsule form and as a tea.  In a recent study, researchers in Bangkok, Thailand found turmeric eased arthritis pain as effectively as ibuprofen.
  • The bark of the white willow tree contains salicin, which is similar to aspirin, and it is very effective for headaches and back pain.  It can be taken as a tincture, through tea, or in capsule form.

If you are interested in trying any of these herbal remedies to ease your pain, please speak with your doctor first to make sure they are an appropriate treatment option for you.

 

Sources:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14693/top-5-herbal-remedies-to-reduce-pain-inflammation.html

http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20030130/when-relieving-pain-raises-risk

Oils that are good for Your Skin

oils that are good for your skin

photo credits to: boldsky.com

Teenagers suffering from acne are often taught that oil is the enemy of healthy skin.  As a result, the habit of using only skin care products that are labeled oil free often carries into adulthood.  However, there is absolutely no reason to do so, as use of the right natural oils can actually improve your skin’s ability to heal, refine your skin’s texture, and even reduce the signs of aging.  Below is a quick primer on oils which are wonderful for your skin.

  • Acai oil is rich in antioxidants, which are critical for protecting the skin against free radicals and cell oxidization.
  • Argan oil, when used regularly, can reduce the signs of aging.  It simultaneously moisturizes the skin and gives it a tighter appearance.
  • Black cumin seed oil contains antioxidants and fatty acids. Therefore, its anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent treatment for acne, dermatitis, and eczema.
  • Both black current oil and peppermint oil have anti-inflammatory properties which reduce skin redness.
  • Carrot seed oil contains beta-carotene, vitamin A, and emollients, all of which help stabilize cell turnover and soothe irritated skin.
  • Both chamomile oil and tea tree oil have antiseptic properties which help combat acne and fight infection.
  • Coconut oil reduces bacteria on the skin.
  • Flaxseed oil has essential fatty acids which soften skin.
  • Grape seed oil contains vitamin C, which helps to regulate oil production in the skin.
  • Olive oil contains vitamins A and E, which help the skin repair itself.
  • Rosehip seed oil helps reduce scarring with vitamin A and essential fatty acids.  It also restores moisture to skin which has been damaged by dry air or a windy environment.

To achieve positive results, these oils must be used in the proper ratios.  Therefore, before adding them to your skincare routine, it is advisable to speak with a dermatologist.

 

Sources:

http://sassified.com/16-amazing-oils-skin/

http://empoweredsustenance.com/top-skincare-oils/

Quality Time with Your Significant Other

photo credit to www.rockinmarriage.com

photo credit to www.rockinmarriage.com

Time is a commodity we never seem to have enough of.  Taking care of your children, holding down a job, and juggling chores and social obligations are enough to keep you so busy that you forget to spend alone time with your significant other.  While taking time out for your partner can sometimes feel like just one more thing you need to do, it is important to realize the value of this time in nurturing your relationship and keeping it strong.  The relaxing and fun moments you have with your partner are critical to surviving the occasional bumps in the road you experience as a couple.  Below are some suggestions for ways to take time out for your significant other.

  • Create an Intimate Night in- With some planning, you can create a night in as enjoyable as one you could have out on the town.  Once you have put the kids to bed early, change into your best outfit and open a bottle of wine.  Then, make your partner’s favorite meal (or order in) and dine by candlelight to set a romantic mood.  Afterward, you can watch a movie both of you have been wanting to see while cuddling on the couch.
  • Work Out Together- Working out always seems to go more quickly when you have someone with you, and what better person than your partner?  Many gyms offer childcare services, which will give you both time to play racquetball, run on the treadmill, or lift weights.  As a bonus, breaking a sweat together just may put your mind on bedroom activities for later on in the day.
  • Take a Vacation- There is no better way to spend quality time with someone than when you are away from the rush of your everyday lives.  Family vacations that offer some options for child care, such as cruises and ski resorts, are highly recommended for some additional alone time.

 

Source: http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/family/relationships/quality-time-00100000076983/page4.html

Reasons to Get Your Body Moving

photo credit: www.blog.applefit.it

photo credit: www.blog.applefit.it

While we all know we should work out on a regular basis, quite often hitting the gym slides further and further down our list of priorities.  However, making time to work out can have many positive impacts on your life beyond simple weight maintenance.  Read on to find out how working out can help build a better you in addition to some muscles.

1)      It helps you sleep better.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, 67 percent of those who exercise regularly report getting a good night’s sleep, and these benefits are experienced regardless of the time of day the individuals choose to work out.  This is because exerting yourself physically helps to keep your body’s circadian rhythm in check.

2)      It is a natural mood elevator.  Studies show that riding a bike, running, or performing any other cardio workout two to three times per week at a moderate pace can increase your energy levels by 20 percent and decrease feelings of fatigue by 65 percent.  This is because after just 20 minutes of exercise, your metabolism is boosted and the amount of feel-good brain chemical dopamine increases inside your body.

3)      It keeps you from getting sick.  Research shows that working out two to three times per week will strengthen your immunity against bacteria and viruses, thus keeping you from getting colds or the flu as frequently as someone who doesn’t work out.  Exercise also reduces your risk of having much more serious long-term illnesses, such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and dementia.

4)      It can ease cramps!  Exercise triggers your body to release endorphins, which act as natural opioids in the body that can relieve pain.  In general, exercise increases the oxygen in your body’s cells, resulting in an all-over reduction of aches and pains.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/10-reasons-to-work-out

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201205/19-reasons-exercise

Tracking Your Cycle: More than Taking Your Temperature

photo credit to www.nanaymiriam.wordpress.com

photo credit to www.nanaymiriam.wordpress.com

One very popular method of determining your fertile times of the month is the Basal Body Temperature (BBT) method.  Specifically, your BBT is the temperature you have first thing in the morning when you are freshly awakened from three to five hours sleep.  Ideally, you will take this reading before you get out of bed or engage in any activity beyond shutting off your alarm clock, and write it down in a chart.

Over time, the chart you keep will show you how your BBT changes throughout the month.  Prior to ovulation, estrogen is the primary hormone flowing through your body.  However, when ovulation occurs, your body experiences a surge of progesterone, which increases your body temperature.  In the big picture, this should mean that your BBT is at its lowest point just prior to ovulation, and will increase approximately half a degree once ovulation occurs.

Unfortunately, while a BBT chart does tell you when you have ovulated, it will not necessarily help you predict your future ovulation with accuracy.  In fact, studies show that using the BBT method alone achieves accurate results only about 75% of the time.  Truly, a BBT chart serves as a good indicator of ovulation only if you are someone with a “perfect” 28 day cycle.  For the majority of women, such a cycle may as well be a myth.

If you are seeking the convenience of the BBT method with higher accuracy, Lady-Comp is an excellent choice for you.  Lady-Comp is a state of the art fertility monitor that can predict your fertile days with 99.3% accuracy, based on your BBT and information on your menstrual cycle which you provide.  Over a period of time, it will get to know your personal cycle and will remain accurate regardless of any irregularities in cycle length.  To learn more about choosing the version of Lady-Comp that is right for you, please visit https://www.lady-comp.com/en/fertility-computers/compare/.

Sources:

http://www.whattoexpect.com/preconception/fertility/five-ways-to-tell-you-are-ovulating.aspx

http://www.storknet.com/cubbies/preconception/bbt.htm

Reduce Your Stress

photo courtesy of www.bodyapplicators.com

photo courtesy of www.bodyapplicators.com

With so much competing for our daily time, stress is a well-established part of the lives of many Americans.  However, it is not something we should continue to accept.  Chronic stress can have a negative impact on your sleep, digestion, weight, memory, skin, and heart.  Not to mention that many people adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress, such as smoking, drinking alcohol to excess, overeating, or lashing out angrily at others.  If any of this sounds familiar to you, you are advised to take immediate steps to reduce stress in your life, as well as manage the stress you do have in a healthier manner.

The first step toward reducing your stress is to give your life an honest assessment, and move forward with the goal of avoiding any unnecessary stress.  In many cases, this comes down to simply being more assertive and remembering you can take control of your environment.  Does a certain coworker stress you out?  If so, it’s OK to not talk to them more than is necessary to get the job done.  Is there a topic of conversation that puts you on edge?  If so, you can refuse to discuss it.  Is someone putting more demands on your time than you can handle?  If so, know it is acceptable to tell them no.

Another positive step in the right direction to managing your stress is adopting a healthier lifestyle.  Avoid self-medicating with items such as alcohol and junk food.  Instead, it is very important to get enough sleep each night, as being tired exacerbates stressful feelings.  Completing at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week is excellent for releasing your body’s pent-up tension.  A well-balanced diet, starting with a healthy breakfast, is key to keeping your energy up and your mind clear as for many, just being hungry can cause stress.  Finally and most importantly, if stress has become a serious issue in your life, you are encouraged to schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss it further.

Sources:

http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/how-beat-stress-and-boost-happiness

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm

Spring Cleaning

photo credit to cachevalleyfamilymagazine.com

photo credit to cachevalleyfamilymagazine.com

Traditionally, the season of spring marks a time of renewal, making it excellent for taking care of those pesky household chores left dormant in the winter.  If you have found yourself procrastinating on getting your spring cleaning done, now is a great time to move forward with it.  Don’t let your spring cleaning carry over to the summer!  The following tips will help you get started.

The first thing you should do is stock up on cleaning supplies. This will prevent you from having to stop in the middle of cleaning to run to the store for an item, only to lose your momentum when you return.  Good items to have on hand are rubber gloves, a large bucket, a scrub brush, microfiber cleaning cloths, paper towels, a mop, a vacuum cleaner, a broom with dustpan, and cleaning products.  If you are interested in creating your own cleaners out of all-natural ingredients, click here for recipes for an all-purpose cleaner, a window cleaner, a floor cleaner, and a mold and mildew cleaner you can create right in your kitchen.

Your next step is to create a plan.  This means actually writing down what needs to be done in each room of the house.  For example, “Kitchen: Mop floor, wash drapes, dust ceiling fan, clean windows, and clean out the cabinet under the sink.”  Once you have a task list, recruit other members of your household for some help with the chores.  Providing others in your house with incentives definitely helps.  For example, you could offer to treat everyone to a movie when the chores are done, or a gift card for their favorite store.  Finally, think about ways you can make cleaning fun for everyone.  This could be as simple as playing some upbeat music or creating a contest to see who can complete their chores the fastest.