Infertility and stress go hand in hand. Finding ways to relax during your path to parenthood is one of the best ways to survive what can sometimes be a rocky road. For many people, that means a glass or two of wine or a favorite spirit or cocktail. A number of patients at Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health, located in the greater Phoenix, AZ area, tell us that a drink or two at dinner helps take the edge off and enables them to unwind after a stressful day.
We hear them, but we also counsel them to avoid alcohol and, instead, recommend relaxation alternatives. Why? Arizona fertility expert, Dr. Ketan Patel, details below how alcohol can affect your efforts to get pregnant and suggests other ways to kick back and relax.
Not Even One Glass?
We all have that friend of a friend who got pregnant after a particularly boozy dinner party. It happens. We’re not suggesting that only people who never drink get pregnant. However, if you have issues with infertility and are undergoing treatment it makes sense to do everything within your power to optimize your health. That means making lifestyle changes that will increase your overall well-being and, thereby, your odds of achieving a healthy pregnancy. And that includes giving up alcohol. This goes for both women and men. During fertility treatment, you and your partner should avoid alcohol. It’s been shown to decrease pregnancy rates (Hakim, 1998, Rossi, 2009 study) and potentially increase the rate of miscarriage (Klonoff-Cohen, 2003 study).
How Does Alcohol Affect Fertility
So, how exactly does alcohol affect your fertility? It’s not fully understood, but the general consensus is that alcohol affects hormones, particularly progesterone. Moderate to heavy female drinkers have lower levels of progesterone than women who don’t drink. Progesterone is important because it’s key to maintaining a thick uterine lining, which, in turn, is vital to keeping the implanted egg in place. Alcohol may also decrease egg production and quality, which could play a role in unsuccessful IVF cycles. For men, studies show decreased sperm mobility, motility, and velocity, along with an increase in sperm deformity.
Tips for Tranquility
Clearly, it’s best to avoid alcohol if you’re trying to conceive, but what if it’s one of your primary stress reducers? We have ahhh-inducing alternatives. Many patients at AZARH have found the following stress-busting suggestions to be beneficial in reducing their overall anxiety and helping them cope with the demands of infertility treatment.
- Yoga: You may already be an ardent yogi, or maybe it’s something you’ve always meant to try. If you fall into the latter category, now’s the time to give it a try. Yoga reduces stress and promotes relaxation, but it also provides a host of fertility-boosting benefits including:
- Promotes a positive mindset
- Increases circulation to the reproductive system
- Aids in immune health
- Strengthens the endocrine system, which aids hormonal balance
- Supports detoxification
- Meditation: Even just five to ten minutes of meditation a day can have a measurable impact on stress. You don’t need an elaborate set up or any kind of training to practice meditation. There are many ways to approach it, such as walking, swimming, knitting…basically any activity that helps keep your attention focused on the present. If your thoughts start to wander, calmly bring your attention back to what you’re doing.
- Spa Time: Treat yourself to your favorite spa treatment. Massages and facials are relaxing in and of themselves, but the downtime – no phones, work, or interruptions – that you experience is just as beneficial. Taking time for yourself is imperative to reducing stress in your life.
- Rock Out: Or listen to your favorite symphony. Music has an amazing ability to affect our mood. It can be relaxing, reviving, or restorative. Choose your tunes based on what your body and soul need most on any given day.
- Reconnect: Many couples trying to conceive find that their “couple time” all but disappears during their quest to have a baby. Amidst all of the appointments, medications, injections, monitoring, and financial concerns, their connection tends to fall by the wayside. Carve time out to do special things together…anything from dinner out to a movie to a day in the park can help restore your connection and ease the stress of your shared journey.
If you’d like more information on lifestyle changes that can boost your odds of getting pregnant, call the Arizona fertility experts at AZARH today at 480-946-9900 to schedule a consultation. Our Arizona fertility specialists will work closely with you to find the treatment plan that best meets your specific needs and help you fulfill your dream of having a baby.