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I’m writing this in the UK and a quick Google is telling me that probably the best IVF success rate you can expect here is around 32%-35% decreasing with increasing age.

Not brilliant by any means! In fact if you think about it would you pay any sum of money, let alone the huge amount that IVF costs for any other service, knowing that the odds of it working were so small? No of course not. Imagine paying thousands for eye laser surgery after being told that it might be a roller coaster journey ahead of you, and at best you have a 32% chance of it working! Madness! However it is what it is, and as this is the current reality of IVF statistics doesn’t it make sense to do anything you can to increase this measly success rate? I think so and that’s what I’m about to help you with.

The truth is that although IVF is genius it doesn’t have all the answers.

It ticks all the boxes of what we know physically and medically but it plays no part in the magic. Okay so it’s not quite the same, but come with me for a moment as I attempt to illustrate my point using house hunting as an example. A house can tick all your boxes on paper. It can have the right number of rooms, the ensuite and the garage, it can even be in the right location, but somehow, something indefinable is missing. You can’t even say what exactly but it just doesn’t do it for you. It doesn’t feel like home. You can’t imagine yourself living there. You don’t want to live there.

Then you view somewhere else that doesn’t even exactly match what you said you wanted, but you fall in love with it anyway.You’re excited by it. You can see yourself living there because it feels like home. To all the people that viewed before it was just ‘okay’ but to you it’s ‘The One’. This happens because we’re all different.

We’re not identikit humans.

We may be made up of the same skeleton and organs but into that mix goes ‘us’. Our unique dna, our adaptations, often the imprint of our ancestors along with all our experiences and conditioning, swirled together in a heady delicious mix that makes us, us. So what can you do? Will IVF work for you? How can you play your part and make the most of your IVF opportunity?

What can you do to increase your chances of a successful cycle? What is it that makes some eggs fertilise and implant and develop into tiny humans and others not? Medical science doesn’t know. It can make best guesses but it doesn’t know, not really. It just does what it can. It puts all the elements it’s aware of together and creates an environment for them to flourish. Then everyone crosses their fingers and hopes that the magic shows up. I don’t pretend to know all the answers but what I do know is that somehow the obvious impact of the MindBody Connection is being missed. Honestly? No one can predict or guarantee the outcome.

However, there are lots of things you can do to increase your odds of a successful IVF cycle.

I’ve listed some below but I leave you to do your own research on each. Please promise not to go to extremes! Extremes aren’t necessary and can turn anything into another source of stress.

Nutrition – Research what your body needs for optimal fertility and within that make sure that what you are eating is ‘real’ food not fake food (processed fat, sugar and chemicals combined to look like food and advertised and sold as food).

✔ Make sure you are getting enough sleep.

✔ Avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs (it might help to think of it as acting as if you are already pregnant).

✔ Maintain regular exercise that you enjoy and mix it up to keep it sustainable. Dancing and yoga can be especially helpful for mindset too.

Support: Participating in support groups or seeking therapy or sharing what you are going through with a supportive friend or family member is very helpful emotionally.

Relaxation techniques such as hypnotherapy, meditation, guided hypnosis or meditation audios, breath work, and visualization can help reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calmness. Research has shown that these techniques can positively impact the IVF process by improving the quality of eggs and sperm, increasing implantation rates, and reducing the risk of pregnancy complications.

    Overall, the mind-body connection is a critical factor in the IVF process. Stress and anxiety can interfere with the body’s ability to conceive, while relaxation techniques, emotional support, and a positive mindset can increase the chances of success. When you are going through IVF It is important for you to prioritize your mental and emotional well-being and seek support when you need it.

    What is the MindBody Connection?

    ‘The mind and body are not separate entities but are intimately connected. Our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs can have a profound impact on our physical health, both positively and negatively’
    The Body Says No – Gabor Mate.

    Your mind affects your body and your body affects your mind. You as a whole are a magical powerful machine with multiple interdependent systems that function at their best when they are in balance (a state called homeostasis that you might remember from science lessons at school) Get yourself back into homeostasis and consider your fertility within the context of yourself as a whole and you are already ahead of the curve.

    Our thoughts, emotions and feelings, beliefs and actions affect our biological functioning. This is scientific fact but is traditionally ignored by western medicine. Our physical state affects our mental state and vice versa. IVF is genius but it is one piece of the puzzle, the physical piece, and the other half of the puzzle is often forgotten. You are not just your body and your reproductive system and you are not just your mind. You are a whole, a whole being, a whole person, and to give yourself the best chance of a successful IVF cycle it makes sense to take your whole self into consideration.

    Some common manifestations of our MindBody Connection.

    Tears are a physiological response to an emotion or feeling. We cry if we feel sad or happy, sometimes we cry in anger and frustration or we cry with laughter. It’s an instantaneous response that occurs in the body as a result of an emotion. Blushing occurs when the blood vessels in our head and neck dilate and become infused with blood. This is an instantaneous physical change that reflects a feeling of embarrassment or happiness felt inside. Our hands might shake as we sign a marriage certificate; our mouth might dry as we wait to be called in to an important interview.

    When your physiology changes in response to your emotions you are influencing the environment the cells of your body are bathed in. You can bathe them in stress hormones or you can bathe them in feel good hormones!

    Stress

    We know that the stress hormone cortisol suppresses fertility so reducing stress and anxiety is an important job that only you can do, because you are the only person in charge of your response to stress. You are the one in charge of how you perceive and respond to situations and how you recover from them. If you can take on board the premise that what matters is not what happens but what you make what happens mean then you are well on your way to being able to take charge of your stress levels and calm your nervous system.

    Hypnotherapy

    Hypnotherapy has been proven in studies to help with this. I help clients with both traditional hypnotherapy and RTT depending on the unique needs of the individual. A research study in Israel came to the conclusion below.

    Conclusion(s)
    ‘This study suggests that the use of hypnosis during ET may significantly improve the IVF/ET cycle outcome in terms of increased implantation and clinical pregnancy rates. Furthermore, it seems that the patient’s attitude to the treatment was more favorable’.

    The IVF journey truly is a tricky one because it involves a combination of medical appointments, procedures, medications and waiting periods that would take a toll on anyone’s mental and emotional well-being, but at the same time, research has shown that high levels of stress can interfere with how the body responds to medications, ovulation, egg and sperm quality and count, and implantation.

    So what are you supposed to do!?

    Well, the reality is that life is stressful, and going through IVF can be stressful. The answer is to let yourself off the hook. Don’t try to be perfect. Do your best most of the time. Accept that it is what it is and just make sure that you mop up after you’ve made a mess.

    What do I mean by that? Well stress in itself is not intrinsically bad because there is positive stress as well as negative. The important thing to remember is stress recovery. If something stressful has happened or you fell into a wormhole of worry, the important thing is to prioritise recovery from that stress (mop up the mess). You need to let your brain and body know that the stress is over so that your brain can let the stress hormones subside (adrenaline and cortisol). This lets your brain and body regain their sense of safety so that they can return to a state of homeostasis (balance).

    Stress recovery methods vary from person to person but might include:

     

    ✨ Meditation
    ✨ Listening to a guided hypnosis or meditation audio
    ✨ Going for a walk in nature
    ✨ Singing
    ✨ Exercise you enjoy
    ✨ Laughter (watch some comedy)
    ✨ Expressing your worries to trusted friends or family
    ✨ Breathwork
    ✨ Journalling
    ✨ Mindful activity

    Remember the point of the recovery method you choose is to send a strong and clear signal to your brain that all is well. Experiment to see what works best for you. Tip – you actually have to do these things not just think about them or plan to do them! The sooner after stress the better.

    What would be amazing for your mental fitness and sense of safety and well-being would be to use these activities regularly as a preventative measure as well. This is because they will help to build your resilience and coping skills.

    When you’re about to undergo IVF it’s important to prioritise your sense of mental and physical well-being. Start every day with activities like those listed above and you are setting yourself up to be more resilient, calm and positive in your responses throughout the day. Also, ensure you are acknowledging and setting aside time to recover from stress. Stress is inevitable and nothing to be afraid of once you are aware of, and have and use the skills to allow yourself to recover from it.

    These days the main stressors that threaten homeostasis are feelings of lack of control, uncertainty and lack of information.

    This is valuable information. Think about how you can address and counter these issues in your life and during your IVF journey. Focus comes in here. Focus on the things you can control, gather information, ask the questions (even if you feel embarrassed or silly) focus on what you can be certain of and work on coming to terms with the fact that mother nature always has the final say.

    Many women believe they have no choice but to put their faith in the clinic they’ve chosen and hope for the best. But actually, that’s not true. I’m here to let you know that you absolutely can increase the chances of IVF working for YOU. Rather than abdicate responsibility for your treatment to the clinic and look at it as something that is just being done to you, it’s important that you approach the whole process as a collaboration between yourself and your clinicians.

    This will help you to maintain a sense of control and will positively impact how you feel about your treatment and how you feel during your treatment. That, in turn, will impact your stress levels and in fact your whole experience including the outcome.

    So when you ask yourself the question ‘Will IVF work for me?’, know that although there is no way of knowing the answer, you absolutely can make a difference yourself. You can increase your odds of a successful transfer by taking your MindBody Connection seriously and by ensuring that the message you are sending your body is making it crystal clear that having a baby is in your best interests.

    Your conscious and unconscious minds need to be aligned and absolutely clear that pregnancy, birth and motherhood represent pleasure and are no threat to your survival. Your primitive brain needs to register safety. You can also get that message directly to your body by using some of the methods listed earlier in this post.

    This is another way of looking at yourself.

    Tune in with your body and notice the sensations so that you more easily recognise when you are beginning to feel stressed or anxious. Once you are aware of your bodily state you can begin to calm it and you can also track back to what prompted the state. With this awareness you can think about options for doing things differently.

    This isn’t about never being stressed or anxious. That’s unrealistic and ironically trying to achieve that would be very stressful! This is about becoming more aware of how you are feeling physically and mentally, and being kind and compassionate with yourself so that you can consciously choose to factor in stress recovery time and techniques. This sends clear messaging to your brain that any perceived danger is over so that it comes out of the sympathetic system (aka fight and flight) and back into the parasympathetic system (aka rest and digest/feed and breed) so that homeostasis can be achieved. It’s in this state that all of your bodily systems including your reproductive system can work optimally.

    There really is so much you can do to maximise your chances of IVF working for you and I hope that’s what you have taken from this post. I hope you are feeling empowered and encouraged because that’s what I want for you!

    Would you like help with this?

    I have developed an audio collection called ‘A Positive IVF Experience’ to help you (click the text to find out more). I’ve designed it to accompany you every step of the way on your IVF journey. There are audios to optimise every stage of the process. It includes hypnosis audios, guided meditations and visualisations and even a 20 minute fertility yoga session.

    If you’ve not signed up for IVF yet, or you have a couple of months to wait that just means you can go even deeper and start work on discovering, addressing and resolving any subconscious blocks to pregnancy, birth or motherhood. I love helping clients with this life changing work and supporting them in becoming a mum. I work 1-1 and I also have an online course that you can work through in your own time called ‘Find Your Fertility Formula’.  Click the text to find out more about it. It’s a course you can go through in your own time and I think you’ll find it really empowering!

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