Friday, June 11, 2010

It's Not You, It's...

Last time I talked about how your weight can affect your fertility. Today I'd like to talk about how infertility (IF) affects your weight. In truth, your weight is partly a physical manifestation of the psychological toll IF takes on you. Three studies have shown that a person who is going through IF experiences the same psychological distress as someone going through cancer. Yes, cancer! I just don't understand how our law makers can know this and still not make IF coverage a mandate in all states. But I digress...

As much as the psychological effects of IF is the elephant in the room, it is often overlooked by REs/IF clinics. Unless you are going through a donor or gestational program, no one in the medical field hands you a list of therapists to visit along with your the stack of brochures. Many women feel deep anxiety, depression and a great sense of loss. After all, we played with our dolls when we were little girls and eventually got married with dreams of filling our home with kids, but now we're stuck with this ordeal. These feelings of sadness are further exacerbated by the hormones that are associated with the medications that we take during the course of IF treatments. Several studies have confirmed that the use of medications like gonadotroprins (GnRH) increases the patients' feelings of depression. So the equation goes something like this:

Stress of IF + Meds + Pregnant Women Around You = Depression

We each have our own way of coping with depression and some of us translate this pain into an unhealthy relationship with food. This relationship can turn unhealthy and lead to eating disorders, which perpetuate the IF issues: anorexia in one's desire to control the only thing you can (i.e., your weight) or compulsive eating in one's finding comfort in food. Our loss of self and self-esteem cannot be taken lightly. I always encourage you to seek some counseling.

Unfortunately, in additional to the extreme mood swings that comes along with IF medications, there are also physical ramifications that are involved with GnRH drugs (ovulation stimulating drugs) -- primarily bloating and weight gain. So you're not imagining things, you really are a few pounds heavier. You might find it petty to bring up your weight concerns to your RE in light of the complexities of your IVF cycle, but I do think it's reassuring when you get validation from your RE of the physical transformations you are reluctantly experiencing. Most of the weight is likely to go away after you've ended your IVF treatments. Although, I know for many of us who have done back to back cycles through the years, the weight gain just keeps adding up, making it more difficult to get out of the vicious cycle. Staying away from strenuous exercise, you should take part in light activities like walking or swimming. It will help release some of the tension and make you feel more connected with yourself. 

Which ever aspect of weight/IF scale you fall in, be good to yourself. While your weight is not just a number, don't let it define you either. You are strong and determined to have this baby. Be kind, be accepting and do not be too proud to seek help. 

There is a song by Alanis Morrisette that I love and that I would like to end this entry with: "That I would be good." I hope the lyrics give you the same comfort it gave me.


Slackie O. said...

Wow - this made me feel so much better! Thanks for addressing this issue!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! It's an interesting connection. I am overweight but not obese, and my doctor told me that weight gain is correlated with high estrogen, which is also correlated with my fibroids. (I am not sure about how the causation works there.) It's a cycle, I think.

the2weekwait said...

1. Your posts are always so comforting and helpful. Go you!
2. I LOVE that song by Alanis. I was always dissapointed it didn't get more attention. It's EXACTLY how I feel sometimes...
3. Really... you rock. :)
-- Jay

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