September 17, 2020 by Mackenzie Timbel
Hello Future Stim Cyclers,
First off, congratulations! You have made it to your stim cycle, which is no easy feat when it comes to managing doctors appointments, new medications, and the stress and anxiety that comes with fertility treatments. After some careful combing of the internet and picking the brains of friends, family, and other fertility warriors, I learned that health and wellness during fertility treatments has a lot to do with habit, building routines, and listening to your body. These focuses can really improve your quality of life during a stim cycle and keep you as happy and healthy as possible. Check out these different wellness practices and specific resources. Pick and choose, stick with it through your cycle, and be kind to yourself. Fertility treatments are HARD and we at Best Shot are thinking of you.
Mackenzie, Operations Manager at Best Shot
P.S. Best Shot did not accept any compensation to promote the following app or products. We simply wanted to share what keeps us happy in hopes that it will make others happy too. If at any time you’re unsure of these activities and how they might affect your health during your stim cycle, we encourage you to check with your reproductive endocrinologist or your nurse.
Meditation is a great activity to add to your daily routine. The focus and breathing techniques are beneficial for down-regulating your nervous system which can be greatly affected by stress and anxiety. Meditation doesn’t have to be hours of silence or sitting in the uncomfortable lotus position, I promise. It can occur at any time of day: waking up, before breakfast, during your lunch break, before bed, etc. There are new mobile applications that can kickstart your meditation practice with guided stories, reminders, and easy-to-use trackers. There are also free meditations done on YouTube by meditation experts who are often featured on the paid apps. Find something you like that is within your budget and add meditation to your routine to relieve stress and anxiety.
Getting in the routine of walking every day is a great way to ensure outdoor and self care time each day. You can choose a specific route to do every day or walk somewhere different each time. Use this time to notice the sounds and activities going on around you. This is also a great time to check in with yourself without the hustle and bustle of your life swirling around you in a stormy cloud of stress. If you feel glued to your phone all day, challenge yourself to leave it at home or leave it in your pocket with the sound/vibration off. Beyond being great for your mental state, walking is an excellent way to stretch your muscles and stay active even if you have a busy schedule or have had to cut back on more vigorous activities during your cycle. Pick a route, turn on Do Not Disturb, and check in with yourself for 20 minutes a day.
Practicing yoga during your cycle will certainly look different than before your treatments. In order to take care of your health, it is important to avoid inversions and twisting movements or poses as well as vigorous, high intensity workouts. These parts of yoga can aggravate your ovaries which will be in “overdrive” growing follicles due to your medications. That means anything that is upside down, crunching to your abdomen, twisting, and high-intensity is something you should avoid. However, yoga and its corresponding breath work and stretching are awesome ways to get active and take a break from the stress of treatment. In particular, standing balance poses are a great option for yoga during treatment as it does not include major crunching or twisting but keeps you strong and centered.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, free online yoga classes have become common. Here are some of our favorites along with a resource for expanding your intentional yoga practice off your mat. Check them out and try to modify any poses or actions that don’t take care of your ovaries. Leave them to continue the hard work of growing follicles.
Have you ever noticed that deep breaths feel so damn good? Turns out that intentional breathing can have a whole host of positive effects not just our physiological makeup but also on our minds. When the thought of doing another injection just seems like too much or when you feel like the pit in your stomach weighs 100 pounds, bust out a breathing technique. The Himalyan Institute (a big deal in the traditional yoga world) uses this blog post to explain the benefits of many different types of breathing techniques here. Try these out and remember that there is very little in the world that isn’t at least improved with one large deep breath.
Starting your stim cycle, taking injections on injections on injections, and going into the clinic almost every day completely kills routines. But routines are part of our coping mechanisms as humans and when they are completely destroyed, we find ourselves grumpy, stressed, and anxious. As you move through your stim cycle, stay mindful by picking and choosing 3 to 4 activities/chores/habits that will make up your “so sacred, even fertility treatment can’t touch it” routine.
Ideas from the Best Shot staff: daily walks with your partner, listening to a chapter of an audiobook a day, doing the NYT Daily Mini crossword, a 10-minute morning meditation, and a nice self-care-focused bath to calm down at the end of the day. And if you’re looking for some visual planners to schedule in your new routine, check out these planning materials and journal options recommended by Abby Mercado, Best Shot’s Co-Founder & CEO. No matter what you have in your routine, stick with it so that you have something positive to look forward to every single day.