Happy Heart Month – and we aren’t just talking about your Valentine’s Heart. February is American Heart Month. This month is dedicated to bringing attention to women’s heart health – and the fact that women are every bit as susceptible to heart disease as their male counterparts.
Since Fertility Solutions is dedicated to helping women and their partners start families, we’re honoring Heart Month by providing healthy heart tips during your fertility treatments.
Fertility treatments take their toll on your heart, ranging from the stress and anxiety of your infertility factor and treatment results to the grief that is inherent in an infertility diagnosis, failed IVF cycles or recurrent pregnancy loss. Then, there is the physical toll that underlying health conditions or infertility factors take on your body.
That’s why it’s so important that women take care of their bodies – and their hearts – every step of their fertility journey.
Anti-inflammatory diets focus on foods that are good for the heart and eliminate or significantly reduce ingredients that contribute to inflammation. This is especially good for the heart because inflammatory foods are also those most linked to heart disease, such as foods high in saturated fats, sugars, processed foods, and chemicals.
The same foods that support conception also protect your heart, waistline, and BMI. Best of all, women with conditions like PCOS or endometriosis often find that switching to an anti-inflammatory diet reduces their symptoms and increases their chances of conceiving.
It’s never been more important to find and practice healthy stress management and relaxation tools than when you’re in the midst of fertility treatments. Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Women’s Mental Health reports, “Stress, depression, and anxiety are described as common consequences of infertility. A number of studies have found that the incidence of depression in infertile couples presenting for infertility treatment is significantly higher than in fertile controls….”
And as heart.org states, “Stress may lead to high blood pressure, which can pose a risk for heart attack and stroke.” So, the more you can do to process and manage stress during fertility treatments, the healthier you’ll be. Fortunately, some of the best practices to reduce stress in your life also support healthier fertility outcomes, such as eating well, exercising regularly, practicing daily breathing exercises and meditation/prayer, and spending time in nature.
If you aren’t a regular exerciser, now’s the time to establish a moderate exercise routine that supports a healthy pregnancy. If you are an extreme exerciser, we recommend doing the same since your current routine may put undue stress on your body, making it more challenging to ovulate and conceive.
Healthy pregnancy exercises can be done throughout your fertility treatment journey (physician permitting) and continue through your pregnancy. These include walking, hiking, water exercises, stationary biking or riding your street bike as long as it feels safe, and prenatal yoga or other exercise classes.
Sleep is essential to heart health because it is when the body does the bulk of its healing and restoration. Studies show that sleep issues increase your risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Among other critical tasks, hormone production and regulation largely occur during peak sleep cycles, which is why healthy sleep habits are also essential for women during fertility treatments and beyond.
Some of the things you can do to establish healthy sleep patterns are:
- Observe the same sleep and wake times every day
- Stop using screens or bright lights at least 30 minutes before you want to sleep
- Use blackout curtains and red night lights to support melatonin production if you wake up in the middle of the night
- Create a soothing nighttime ritual such as listening to peaceful music, taking a warm bath, using relaxing aromatherapy, or using a favorite relaxation breathing exercise.
5. Keep up with your wellness visits
We understand that the rigors of fertility treatment appointments make it challenging to keep up with other appointments. That said, we are fertility specialists, and our primary goal is to help you get pregnant. It’s just as important as ever that you keep up with annual wellness visits with your general physician and OB/GYN – as well as any specialists you see – to maintain a holistic picture of your overall wellbeing and heart health.
The physicians, nurses, and caring staff at Fertility Solutions wish you a very happy and healthy “heart month.” Please feel free to schedule a consultation if your heart is weighted down by infertility suspicions.