Blog

Are You Experiencing Normal Pregnancy Symptons — Or Depression? A Psychologist Explains

by Dr. Alice Domar I've been a licensed psychologist specializing in reproductive medicine for 29 years and see pregnant women almost on a daily basis. And yet I am still often stumped when one of my expectant patients lists her symptoms and asks me if she is experiencing a normal pregnancy or not. That's because if you were to look at one of the most common depression screening tools, the Beck Depression Inventory, the symptoms look very similar to pregnancy: Changes in appetite? Check. Changes in libido? Check. Changes in sleep? Check. Changes in energy level? Check. Crying more often? Check. So how do you know whether you are simply experiencing the normal symptoms of pregnancy or experiencing symptoms of depression? Here's what I tell my … Continue Reading



Responding to Hurtful or Insensitive Comments

Alice D. Domar, Ph.D It never ceases to amaze me how intrusive or oblivious people seem to be, especially when someone is in crisis. I have been counseling individuals and couples, who are struggling with infertility, for 29 years. Whenever I think that I have heard it all, a patient comes in and shocks me with some line that a friend or relative just uttered. What were they thinking?? Everyone has heard “just relax and you will get pregnant”. But some of the newer ones simply make me wonder. There’s “you want kids so much? Take mine”.  And “I got pregnant when your father passed me in the hall. You must have done something to cause your infertility”.  Even “God … Continue Reading



Nutrition is Important for Men, Too!

By Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN Director of Nutritional Counseling The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF A new study from the journal Fertility & Sterility* has tied male infertility to higher risks of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease when compared to men without fertility issues. The study included data on over 100,000 men from 2001 through 2009, with an average age of 33. But what exactly is at play here? Does the infertility cause these health problems, or is it the other way around? According to the researchers, it’s much more likely that fertility status at a younger age provides a “window” into overall health risk that may not occur until later in life. The researchers … Continue Reading



Boston Egg Freezing Event

By Alice D. Domar, Ph.D.
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
I was at a Boston IVF/IVF New England “Egg Freezing Event” last night. This was an information session for women who are interested in potentially freezing their eggs to preserve their fertility. It was held at a bar in Cambridge, was very well attended, and the participants listened attentively to the two infertility specialists as they took turns describing the process needed to freeze one’s eggs. I was there to talk briefly about the psychological aspects of egg freezing and I also served as the moderator. One of the infertility doctors, Dr. Brian Berger, said something which really caught my attention. He was talking about why … Continue Reading



Slow Medicine

By Michelle Hay, Lic. M.Ac. Co-Director of Acupuncture Services The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF   Back in December there was an article published on WBUR regarding the "Slow Medicine" movement. It's focus was on taking more time with patients, getting to know them personally, and to support people thru their health path. I found this article uplifting and encouraging that the Western Medical world was finally listening to what people need; however, I was a touch annoyed with the revolutionary tone to the article. From the world of a TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioner, my thought is, what took you so long? Now, don't get me wrong, Western Medicine is amazing. The advancements in surgical techniques, life saving drugs, not … Continue Reading



Summer! Get Serious about Fruits & Veggies!

By Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN Director of Nutritional Counseling The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF We’ve all heard it – many times. “Eat more fruits and vegetables.” But despite the non-stop exposure to this recommendation, most Americans are still not heeding the call. Only 14% of American adults eat the recommended two fruits and three vegetables a day. At the same time, 16% of our total calories are coming from added sugars – that’s approaching a fifth of our daily calories from refined carbohydrates that add no nutrients and a lot of empty calories to our diets. The consequences of this unfortunately reality are undeniable – Americans are heavier than ever and chronic disease like diabetes and … Continue Reading



Reasonable Weight Loss Goals

By Alice D. Domar, Ph.D.
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
The relationship between weight and fertility has been studied for years, and most researchers agree that women with a BMI between 20-30 have the highest pregnancy rates. In terms of the success of fertility treatment, women with a BMI below 19 or above 35 have lower pregnancy rates, even with IVF. Some studies have shown that rapid weight loss prior to treatment can actually decrease IVF pregnancy rates, some studies have shown that a modest loss of 10-14 pounds can make a significant positive difference, and at least one study has shown that weight loss did not make any difference at all. So what is a girl … Continue Reading



Acupuncture and Cupping Therapy

By Lili Cai, Lic. M.Ac.
Co-Director of Acupuncture Services
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
So ~ what exactly is Cupping Therapy? Cupping is an ancient Chinese method of causing local congestion. A partial vacuum is created in cups placed on the skin either by means of heat or suction. This draws up the underlying tissues. When the cup is left in place on the skin for a few minutes, blood stasis is formed and localized healing takes place. Cupping therapy has been further developed as a means to open the 'Meridians' of the body. Meridians are the conduits in the body through which energy flows to every part of the body and through every organ and tissue. There … Continue Reading



Acupuncture Improving Quality of Life ~ in Animals Too?

By Michelle Hay, Lic. M.Ac.
Co-Director of Acupuncture Services
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
The opening statement of the recent article published thru WBUR regarding acupuncture asks the following question: "Could rats subjected to chronic stress "” their paws dunked in icy water "” hold the key to how acupuncture works?" Granted it is strange to think of rats and their stress level holding the key to unlocking the mystery of how this 2,000+ year old medicine works, but if it helps shed light on a Western medical approach to explain acupuncture then it is well worth the comparison. Stress is something that affects us all. No matter how we try to stay balanced life has other plans- especially … Continue Reading



Maintaining & Creating Friendships During Infertility

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
There has been increasing evidence over the past 20 years that friendships and social support are vital to good health, both physical and emotional. One study showed that people who have low levels of social support (usually defined as trusting someone enough to confide in them) are as likely to die early as are people who smoke cigarettes or who have high cholesterol levels. Another study came out this month* and once again showed an association between friendship and good health. So clearly being able to be in healthy friendships is a good thing. But what do you do about friendships when you are struggling with … Continue Reading



Making the Most of Your New Year’s Resolutions

By Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN
Director of Nutritional Counseling
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
Tis the season for New Year's resolutions, something, to be honest, I have mixed emotions about. On the positive side, it's nice to view the coming year as a new beginning, which can include renewed efforts to eat healthier, … Continue Reading



Healthy Resolutions in the New Year

By Kristin Fabbri, LMHC
Psychotherapist
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health
With the New Year comes a chance to start anew: an opportunity to revisit goals and prepare yourself to reach them. It is also an important time to temper expectations and think about whether you are asking too much of your body and mind "“ or not giving yourself enough credit for having done the hard work. Take a close look within yourself: what has worked so far in your journey towards self-healing and parenthood? What has worked against you, potentially preventing you from achieving your health and wellness goals? Lately you may have run yourself ragged, especially as the holidays reached a fever pitch. Family … Continue Reading



The Psychological Impact of Infertility

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
Researchers have been arguing for years about the best definition of stress. In my opinion, the most logical one basically says that stress results when a person doesn't have adequate resources to meet a particular demand. So Bill Gates would not be stressed if he was told he needed a new roof on his house, since he has plenty of money (resources) to meet the demand (having to pay for a new roof).  But the average person, who doesn't have a spare $20,000 would in fact be stressed. Infertility is a stressor for most people because of a lack of resources. Infertility essentially demands … Continue Reading



Rooted, Yet Resilient

By Cheryl Warrick, BFA, MEd, RYT
Director of Yoga Services
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
Go ahead, call me a tree-hugger. We can learn a great deal about mindfulness by spending time observing the natural world around us. Trees in particular have a lot to teach us about resilience and strength. One of my favorite places to see beautiful trees is Jamaica Pond. Just at the back side of the pond is this sweet little gem of a tree that never fails to get my attention. She has a wide stout trunk. Her roots are gnarling thick masses that criss cross and collide into each other at the base. This beautiful tree also has one small little knot … Continue Reading



Why Acupuncture Helps Headache Relief

By Yan Jin, Lic. M. Ac.
Senior Staff Acupuncturist
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health
  There are many neurological disorders that benefit from acupuncture treatments, one of which are headaches.  The National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization endorses the use of acupuncture for migraine headaches (headaches). Acupuncture is an effective way to treat all kinds of headaches and the results can be close to immediate. Acupuncture is also effective in the prevention of reoccurring headaches.  This is especially good news for chronic headache sufferers. The Endorphin and Serotonin Connection: What exactly are "endorphins" and "serotonin?"  Endorphins are chemicals that are produced by the pituitary gland.  They are responsible for many positive effects in our body and mind.  Primarily, they help … Continue Reading



What does Behavior Have to do With Conception?

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  Apparently, all sorts of behaviors can have an impact on how easily one can get pregnant. We have known for a while that things like nicotine, alcohol, vigorous exercise, and a high intake of caffeine are associated with longer time to conception in women trying on their own, and lower pregnancy rates in women receiving treatment.  But two recent studies add more to our knowledge. In one study, women who exercised moderately were able to conceive more quickly than women who were either couch potatoes or who had a very vigorous routine. The authors recommended that women wishing to get pregnant maintain a regular but modest … Continue Reading



Spring; the Best Time to Set Healthy Resolutions!

By Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN
Director of Nutritional Counseling
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
 
Forget about New Year's resolutions! Spring and summer are much better times to jump-start your healthy habits.  As opposed to mid-winter when it's tough to get out and exercise, Spring is a time for reconnecting with the outdoors.  Fresh fruits and vegetables also start to come into season, and are a little more affordable than the often expensive "“ and not so great tasting "“ produce we have access to during the winter months.  Try these ideas to get started: Make a list of ways to be physically active outside.  Walking has the fewest obstacles "“ all you need is a good … Continue Reading



The Benefits of Restorative Yoga

By Cheryl Warrick, BFA, MEd, RYT
Director of Yoga Services 
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  Our modern lives are full of pressures, deadlines, frustrations and demands. These pressures can often leave us feeling overwhelmed and frazzled. The additional stress of an infertility diagnosis can be an added burden, increasing the stress response. Yoga and other mind-body integration approaches help reduce the stress response and promote optimum reproductive health. When we sense a threat, our nervous system releases a flood of hormones including, cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones prepare the body for the "fight, flight or freeze" response. Your blood pressure rises, the heart beats faster, visual acuity increases, your muscles tense and prepare for quick action because … Continue Reading



Why Can’t People Understand How Hard It Is To Have a Miscarriage?

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
 
For the past few months, the psychologists at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health have begun offering an onsite, free mini crisis management session to patients who have an unsuccessful IVF cycle. I feel that it is crucial when you receive such unexpected, devastating news to have at least a few minutes to talk, make a plan as to how you can cope over the next few days and learn how to deal with the reactions of others. It is the reaction of others which really bugs me. I had a miscarriage about eleven years ago and although the vast majority of family and friends … Continue Reading



Why Can’t People Understand How Hard It Is To Have a Miscarriage?

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
 
For the past few months, the psychologists at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health have been offering a within-the-hour, onsite, free mini crisis management session to patients who come in for a prenatal ultrasound but no heartbeat is seen. I feel that it is crucial when you receive such unexpected, devastating news to have at least a few minutes to talk, make a plan as to how you can cope over the next few days and learn how to deal with the reactions of others. It is the reaction of others which really bugs me. I had a miscarriage about eleven years ago and although the … Continue Reading



Coping With Infertility During the Holiday Season

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
One of our physicians was recently scheduled to be interviewed for a morning television program in Maine ~ and in addition to speaking on the medical aspects of infertility treatment, he was told prior to the interview that they would like him to also speak about the emotional impact during the holiday season. He quickly emailed our chief social worker and I to ask what the main issues are and we were both delighted to fill him in, since this time of year can in fact be a tough time for our patients.  Here in a nutshell is what we told him and … Continue Reading



Food Journaling: A Simple & Effective Tool to Help Change Your Ways

By Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN
Director of Nutritional Counseling
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF 

If eating healthier is part of your fertility improvement plan, research shows the simple of act of keeping a food diary is one of the single most effective things you can do to change your eating habits.  Numerous studies show that keeping a food diary, journal or log "“ whatever you want to call it "“ is highly effective at raising your awareness of what, where, when and why you're eating, providing useful clues to target behavior change.  In fact, one study on people trying to lose weight showed that, along with attending weekly classes on nutrition and portion control, those … Continue Reading



More MD’s Recommending Yoga & Other Mind/Body Therapies

By Natalie Engler, RYT
Director of Restorative Yoga Services
The Domar Center for Mind / Body Health at Boston IVF
 
 
Mind-body therapies such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises are leading a wave of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in the U.S. More than a third of Americans use some form of (CAM) and that number continues to rise, according to a study from Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). The research also found that one-in-30 Americans using mind-body therapies has been referred by a medical provider. The results of the study appeared in the May 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. This data from Aditi Nerurkar, MD, Integrative Medicine Fellow, Harvard Medical … Continue Reading



The Power of Journaling

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  I have been following the research of psychologist James Pennebaker, Ph.D for almost 20 years.  He has been researching the impact of writing about one's thoughts and feelings on mental and physical health and the data is amazing. Much of his research has been with people who have experienced a trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, experiencing a hurricane or tornado, witnessing or being a victim of violence, or participating in a war. Simply writing for 15 to 20 minutes for several days can decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve immune function, and significantly reduce doctor visits for months afterwards. I have seen the … Continue Reading



Endometriosis: A Common Cause of Pelvic Pain & Infertility

By Christina Noonan, MAc., LicAc.
Senior Staff Acupuncturist
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health
  If you experience pelvic pain, abnormally heavy bleeding, dysmenorrheal (painful periods), back pain, abdominal cramping, painful intercourse, gastrointestinal upset, and/or infertility, you may be suffering from a condition called endometriosis. If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis, there is promising natural treatment available. Acupuncture has been identified as a viable treatment option. According to a 2010 study in the European Journal of Gynecological Reproductive Biology, researchers examined whether acupuncture was an effective additional pain treatment for endometriosis. The study consisted of 101 women ages 20-40. Results showed a significant reduction of pain intensity after the first 10 acupuncture treatments (Rubi-Klein, et. al., 2010). What Exactly Is Endometriosis? Endometriosis is a … Continue Reading



Acupuncture for Male Infertility

By Yan Jin, Lic. M. Ac.
Senior Staff Acupuncturist
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health


IVF is a treatment for infertility that many seek when other methods of assisted reproductive technologies have failed. We are proud of the more than 30,000 babies born through Boston IVF's exceptional  patient care.  However, for many different reasons, there are some that were unsuccessful in their quest for a baby.  Some of these reasons can be: low sperm count, issues with sperm mobility or issues with morphology.  In these cases I highly recommend Acupuncture treatment at the Domar Center. Recent research shows that even after three weeks of treatment there were statistically significant improvements in sperm count and quality.  I believe that acupuncture helps hormonal disorder, … Continue Reading



The Breath of Calm

By Natalie Engler, RYT
Director of Restorative Yoga Services
The Domar Center for Mind / Body Health at Boston IVF
 
 
There are many aspects of the fertility journey that can cause feelings of anxiety. Here is a calming breathing exercise that can bring relief when your thoughts are racing and your breathing feels shallow. Through yoga and breathing practices we learn to feel without reacting. We develop some distance from our thoughts. And we discover that undoing is often more powerful than doing. Practice it every day if needed. 1.    Lie down comfortably (you may want to use a folded blanket to support your head or place a rolled up blanket behind your knees). 2.    Notice how you feel, physically. Is there … Continue Reading



How to Cope When Everyone Around You is Pregnant

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  Within an hour of checking my email this morning, I already had three emails from patients of mine who had learned of the pregnancies of friends over the weekend. Each email was full of despair and the main theme of each was the same: "Why is everyone but me getting pregnant?" I wish I had a magic answer/solution/antidote because the pain of others' pregnancies seems so widespread, yet you rarely hear anyone talking about it. I guess jealousy is considered a sin. When a friend, co-worker, or even worse a close relative conceives, etiquette dictates that you be happy for them. And part of you probably is! You … Continue Reading



The Impact of the Mind/Body Program on Pregnancy Rates in IVF Patients

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  When I read about the results of a new research study, I tend not to think too much about the amount of hard work it takes to carry out a research project -- which is sort of odd given that is all I think about when I am the one conducting research!  I tend to focus on what the conclusions of the research are, and what this implies for patient care. Earlier this week, the results of my most recent research were released and have been widely reported in the media. The actual paper is being published in the June 1 issue of Fertility and Sterility, but … Continue Reading



Could Your Weight Struggle Be Genetic?

By Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN
Director of Nutritional Counseling
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
 
People come in all shapes and sizes "“ tall, short, heavy, thin, wider hips, rounder stomach, tiny butt, you name it. Much of how we look, including how easy it is for us to gain weight or where we store it, is genetic. Whether you store extra fat on your hips, butt or gut is passed down the family tree. But does nature dictate whether some of us are "designed" to store fat easier than others?  The answer is yes to some degree, but how much is stored has a lot to do with lifestyle.   Heredity vs. Habits What makes obesity and heredity particularly hard to … Continue Reading



Myth Busting: Can Yoga Help You Get Pregnant?

By Natalie Engler, RYT
Director of Restorative Yoga Services
The Domar Center for Mind / Body Health at Boston IVF
 
 
 
As part of National Infertility Awareness Week, RESOLVE has challenged bloggers from around the world to "Bust an Infertility Myth."  You can read beautiful postings by women who have taken the time to shatter misconceptions such as: Having a child means the infertility journey is behind you Infertility is a "lady problem" Infertility is a punishment Having lots of sex will result in conception I encourage you to dip into the submissions. Many women have written about the myth: "Just relax and you'll get pregnant" -- a topic I covered in a previous blog entry. But what about the assertion that "Yoga will help you get … Continue Reading



Acupuncture & PCOS

By Lili Cai, Lic. M. Ac.
Co-Director of Acupuncture Services
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health
  I've seen quite a few PCOS patients seeking acupuncture treatment at the Domar Center while going though fertility treatment at Boston IVF. PCOS (it's believed that approximately 10% of women are sufferers) is a condition in which a women's hormones are out of balance. Some of the symptoms: irregular menstrual bleeding, weight gain, acne, excess hair, and low energy level are easier to notice. However, more serious health consequences such as diabetes, hypertention, and hyperlipidemia might be involved and effect your fertility. Acupuncture has been seen to profoundly effect the reproductive organs through mechanisms in the sympathetic nervous system, endocrine system, and neuroendocrine system. When needles are inserted into certain points … Continue Reading



Finding Fluidity & Space in Yoga

By Jolyon Cowan, MPH
Mind/Body Program Yoga Instructor
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health
 
 How much of our bodies are made up of water?  I'm not an expert, but sources say over 55% of our body mass is water.[1]  So why with so much of our bodies composed of fluid do people often focus on  parts of our body that are solid and tight? I suppose you could ask this question of our minds too. And while I might seem like a proselytizer, I'm just a mild mannered bureaucrat by day and yoga teacher by night who fervently believes in the healing power of yoga.  I've found that practicing gentle, nurturing yoga postures can help us explore our bodies and help unlock … Continue Reading



You vs. Them: Healthy?

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
 
In my current mind/body group, we are in the middle of doing a stress management technique called cognitive restructuring.  We do it over two sessions so that every one in the group gets time to take a turn. To practice it, each group member writes down at least one recurrent negative thought, and in a small group setting, three other group members ask specific questions about that negative thought until the person whose thought it was sees that she is being too hard on herself, and together they come up with a more logical and hopefully less harsh thought. So for example, if she started with "I … Continue Reading



It’s Not What You Eat; It’s HOW You Eat It!

By Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN
Director of Nutritional Counseling
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  Given the "foodie" nature of our culture, we're very conditioned to focus on what we eat and how it might be affecting our health, good or bad.  But equally important is how we eat.  What times, where, with who, how often, and whether we're eating proactively to stay ahead of our hunger, or reactively in response to being starved, can all be big contributors to what we end up eating.  To really understand what's going on with your diet and lifestyle, it's important to be clear on what's really going on between you and your food, and the simple of act of … Continue Reading



Yay, It’s Spring! Now Pass the Tissues!

By Christina Noonan, MAc., LicAc.
Senior Staff Acupuncturist
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health
  Most of us are really looking forward to saying "farewell" to winter and welcoming in spring with open arms. The sunny weather, putting away the shovel, and getting warm, fresh air can't come soon enough. For some people, however, spring can be a difficult season due to seasonal allergies. Pollen, mold and dust can create much discomfort, especially for those with chronic sinus problems. In Chinese medicine, each organ has specific qualities and functions. For example, the spleen has many functions in Chinese medicine that are quite different from Western medicine. In Chinese medicine, the spleen likes to be dry in nature. However, factors like seasonal allergies, a diet with too much dairy, … Continue Reading



What Truly is the Relationship Between Stress and IVF Outcome?

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  There has been a huge amount of media interest in the recent publication in the British Medical Journal of the meta-analysis by Jacky Boivin, Ph.D, and her colleagues at Cardiff University in Wales.  In this analysis, they pooled the results of 14 different studies which assessed the distress levels of women prior to an IVF cycle. They found that there was no significant relationship between distress and the pregnancy rate of that cycle. The authors concluded that women can stop worrying about their stress level since it won't have any impact on their ability to conceive. My first response - I wish. I wish we knew it … Continue Reading



The “Art” of Meditation

By Natalie Engler, RYT
Director of Restorative Yoga Services
The Domar Center for Mind / Body Health at Boston IVF
  For some people, focusing on the breath or the passage of thoughts can be an effective way to calm the mind. But for others, meditation is a more individual and creative endeavor. Such has been the case for one of my yoga clients. Every morning, when she sits down to meditate, she visualizes her body as a Chinese lantern. Inspired by a favorite painting of hers, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent, she came up with the image one day when she felt "flat and deflated," she says. She began by imagining herself as one of the lanterns in the … Continue Reading



More Success and Less Stress: Acupuncture and IVF

By Kristin Wisgirda, MPH
Senior Acupuncturist
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health
  So many patients come into the Domar Center stressed about infertility and "stressed" about "being stressed," -- and it is rare for me to see a fertility patient who won't fess up to feeling some level of disruption to their peace of mind.  Research shows that acupuncture can address both aspects of that gloomy vicious circle of infertility and stress.  It helps reduce anxiety and depression as well as common symptoms of a revved up nervous system: headaches, racing thoughts, irritability, muscle tension and sleep problems. Many of my patients opt to come for regular acupuncture treatments in preparation for an IVF or IUI cycle as well as during the … Continue Reading



February – the Month to Focus on Love

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  My current mind/body group had its second session last night and participants began to share their stories, some of which focused on painful or oblivious comments made by friends. Several of the participants mentioned that they felt so isolated from the fertile world.  Since the focus of the group is on skills acquisition, rather than simply support, I wanted to come up with original ways to teach them how to insulate or protect themselves from the painful outside world. As I was pondering what to suggest, I asked which group members wanted to bring in the snack for the next week (each week, two … Continue Reading



Treat Yourself — to a Yawn!

By Jolyon Cowan, MPH
Mind/Body Program Yoga Instructor
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health
  Yawn. Yes, I just asked you to yawn! So -- how does it feel?  Do you feel more open and relaxed?  When was the last time anyone asked you to yawn, if ever?  The Merriam-Webster's on-line dictionary defines the verb to "yawn" as follows: to open the mouth wide and take a deep breath usually as an involuntary reaction to fatigue or boredom.  Yet when I yawn purposefully, in that very moment at least -- I don't feel exhausted or even a hint of boredom.  I feel as if I'm melting from the inside, I'm allowing the day's tensions to fall away in that wide mouthed exhalation. In that subtly lies the … Continue Reading



“Cloud Clearing”

By Natalie Engler, RYT
Director of Restorative Yoga Services
The Domar Center for Mind / Body Health at Boston IVF
  Yesterday, on a walk through my neighborhood, I saw an apple tree reaching up toward a winter-white sky. The clouds hung low and dense. I took a deep drink of cold air, tried to relax my body as it shivered in the cold, and continued to walk.   Over time I noticed a smattering of light across the road. Slowly the sky transformed before my eyes. White dissolved to pale blue with patches of cerulean. As the clouds grew gauzy the landscape began to glow and form shadows. I stood still and watched as the sun burned its … Continue Reading



A New Year: A New, More Fertile You!

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  This is the time of year when we all make those soon-to-be-broken resolutions like losing weight, joining a gym, making new friends, being nicer to our neighbors, and gettting more sleep. It seems to be human nature to make these promises to ourselves on December 31-- but as work and life intensify after the holidays are over, those well intentioned promises seem to go by the wayside. I don't care so much if you end up making new friends (unless of course they are friends you made during participation in one of our mind/body groups!) or are nicer to your neighbors (unless you live near me), but … Continue Reading



I’m a Believer….in Acupuncture!

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  You might be too young to remember the Monkees song but it feels like a good title for this blog, since an acupuncture session last week for my acute back pain resulted in a miraculous recovery. I have been a believer in acupuncture for years, both because there is research to support its efficacy in increasing pregnancy rates and lowering distress in IVF patients , but also because of the increasing knowledge on the positive impact of acupuncture for a whole host of other issues. Early last week, I walked about a mile in my warm fuzzy boots to listen to some local Christmas … Continue Reading



How to Thrive During the Holiday Season

By Natalie Engler, RYT
Director of Restorative Yoga Services
The Domar Center for Mind / Body Health at Boston IVF
  December can be a stressful and lonely month when you're experiencing infertility. Here are some yoga and meditation practices I've found to be particularly helpful at this time of year. Even engaging in one or two of them can help you to feel less isolated and experience more mindfulness and gratitude as the holidays approach. 1. NOTICE YOUR BODY. What happens when you are feeling distressed? Does your jaw clench? Does your belly feel like its filled with gnarled rope? In yoga we practice listening to the messages our body sends us. But you don't have to be on a yoga … Continue Reading



The Real Benefit of Practicing Yoga

By Jolyon Cowan, MPH
Mind/Body Program Yoga Instructor
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health
  To the newcomer, yoga can seem like nothing more than a number of postures to help turn yourself into a human pretzel; however, yoga's benefits can run much deeper than simply making yourself more flexible.  After all, I know many people with wonderfully long hamstrings, and no they aren't necessarily happier than the next person!  In fact, yoga as both a practice and as a philosophy, is less concerned with flexibility or exterior appearance in general than internal awareness.  The word yoga literally comes from ancient Indian language of Sanskrit and means a union or yoking together.  It is a union of mind and body. But to what end? One … Continue Reading



The PCOS Diet Plan: Make Meals a Priority!

By Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN
Director of Nutritional Counseling
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  The following is an excert from Hillary's new book,"The PCOS Diet Plan" -- the first nutrition-based PCOS book written by a registered dietician.   Make Meals a Priority! If the desired outcome is for most days to eat pretty well, you have to figure out what you need to do to set the stage for that to happen. If you think of the process of eating well (or in a way you'd like to avoid) as a Domino effect, where the last Domino to fall is "I ate a good meal," start tracking backward to see what steps need to occur to make that happen: If you … Continue Reading



A “PCOS Diet Plan” Preview

By Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN
Director of Nutritional Counseling
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  The following is an excert from Hillary's new book,"The PCOS Diet Plan" -- the first nutrition-based PCOS book written by a registered dietician. It's scheduled release date is November 9, 2010. Not everyone needs an afternoon snack, but in my experience most people who struggle with portion control need something to fill the void during that long stretch between lunch and dinner. This is particularly important given that for many of us dinner is a lot later than it used to be. If lunch is at noon or 1 pm and dinner is at 7 or 8 pm, hunger can really start to mount by around … Continue Reading



Time to Focus on the Non-Exotic Infertility Patient!

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  Last week I attended a reproductive nursing meeting in Tampa, Florida.  There were three key topics which were the focus of the meeting (plus my talk on holistic nursing) - pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), embryo donation, and infertility treatment for cancer patients. While perusing the schedule, it occurred to me that I was the only speaker who was going to focus on the needs of the vast majority of infertility patients. Before I began my planned talk, I remarked that this seems to be the norm. The infertility field is faced with so many rapidly changing technologies that health care professionals must constantly learn new science, … Continue Reading



Deciphering Food Labels Ain’t Easy!

By Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN
Director of Nutritional Counseling
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
  "When it comes to food labels, what do I look at?" This question was posed to me by a patient with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) a few days ago. She realizes she needs to watch her carbs, and she's also trying to lose weight. Like many patients I've seen, she finds food labels very confusing and would love to be able to just focus on one thing on the label and know she's making a good choice. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to give her the easy answer she was looking for. You see, when looking at a food label you must analyze at … Continue Reading



Begin with the Breath; the Mind & Body Will Follow

By Natalie Engler, RYT
Director of Restorative Yoga Services
The Domar Center for Mind / Body Health at Boston IVF
 
Breathing is a powerful tool for reducing stress. But this doesn't mean being told to "just breathe" when you are feeling upset about infertility is necessarily helpful. When we encounter stress we automatically hold our breath. As that stress becomes chronic, our breath becomes fast and shallow, filling only the top of our lungs. Sometimes we even begin to breathe through our mouth. Unfortunately, this natural response can create a vicious cycle. Our irregular breathing triggers a stress response, which leads to more irregular breathing, and so on. Fortunately, we can work with our breath to break the cycle. But it takes … Continue Reading



Yoga While Trying to Conceive

 
By Jolyon Cowan, MPH
Mind/Body Program Yoga Instructor
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health
 
  Since its surge in popularity in the U.S., yoga has often been associated more with sweaty gym workouts than its traditional goal of attaining inner peace. If you were to look for a yoga practice right now you could easily find hot yoga, power yoga, slow flow yoga, just to name a few.  But how do you choose a type of yoga, especially while trying to conceive? The short answer is easy. Come and enjoy Restorative Yoga sessions, or participate in the Hatha Yoga classes that are part of the Domar Center's Mind/Body programs! Kidding aside, choose the type of yoga that feels best for you, and if you are trying … Continue Reading



Fact or Fiction: Clarifying “Fertility Urban Legends”

By Michelle P. Hay, Lic. M.Ac
Licensed Acupuncturist & Chinese Herbalist
Co- Director Acupuncture Services, The Domar Center for Mind / Body Health
 
 
Each week, my patients (from Boston and throughout New England) ask me about numerous subject matters that I deem appropriate to fall under the category of "Fertility Urban Legends". A Fertility Urban Legend is a exaggerated rule/guideline that is floating out in the fertility community. Mostly these are broad statements that can be found online throughout various sites and blogs that don't always have hard facts to back it up. Appropriately, this blog entry shall focus on debunking the three main "myths" I am asked about by patients. True or False: Acupuncture isn't safe during an IVF cycle or pregnancy. Answer: FALSE! Acupuncture … Continue Reading



How to Be the Best IVF Patient You Can Be: A Guide to Communicating With Your Fertility Team

By Nelly Burdette, Psy.D.
Clinical Health Psychologist & Mind / Body Group Leader
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
 
  Communicating with your fertility team is a very important and often under-recognized aspect of the healthcare process. Your fertility team may include your reproductive endocrinologist, nurses, psychologists, social workers and administrative staff. The relationships between you and those individuals who treat your fertility concerns should be based on trust, feeling like your views are heard or recognized, and/or feeling like you are a part of the team making treatment decisions, to name a few. While numerous studies have focused on how physicians can improve relationships with patients, for equal collaboration to occur, patients must also have a part in the equation. … Continue Reading



Acupuncture and Embryo Transfer: What’s All The Fuss About?

By Kristin Wisgirda, Lic, M.Ac.
Senior Staff Acupuncturist
 The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
 
 
Acupuncture has a long history of treating infertility in traditional Asian cultures. The fuss in the IVF realm started back in 2003 when the first study appeared showing that acupuncture improved IVF pregnancy and live birth rates when performed directly before and after embryo transfer. This study has been repeated a number of times with similar results leading one reviewer to conclude that for every 9 pre/post embryo transfer acupuncture treatments, there is one extra baby born (Manheimer et al, British Medical Journal, 2008). But how does two half-hour acupuncture treatments make such a difference? The responsible mechanism is unclear but we do know that acupuncture can … Continue Reading



I Don’t Know How to Relax!

By Natalie Engler, RYT
Director of Restorative Yoga Services 
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
 
"I don't know how to relax." You'd be surprised at how often I hear this confession in an initial restorative yoga session.  Or maybe you wouldn't be shocked at all. Instead you might wonder how anyone could possibly relax, surrender, let go"¦ or experience any of those lovely-sounding words when life is moving at the speed of light and nothing seems to be going your way. The truth is, everyone is born knowing how to relax, and can relax deeply -- even during the most stressful times (which is when we need it most). With the optimal conditions, the mind becomes tranquil, physiological processes slow, and … Continue Reading



Believe It or Not, Nutritionists Like Food!

 
By Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN
Director of Nutritional Counseling
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
 
  When I first started as the Director of Nutrition Counseling at the Domar Center for Mind Body Health four years ago, we had a "get to know each other" meeting of all the staff starting out at the center. I was honored to be a part of the team -- as the Domar Center is a beautiful place with amazing clinicians doing incredible work (as a mom what could be better than helping other women have babies!), and I was thrilled to be there. So there we were, at this meeting -- a nutritionist and a group of psychologists, acupuncturists, and administrative support people sitting around … Continue Reading



An Amazing Reunion

By Alice Domar, PhD
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF
 
Last Friday I had the opportunity to attend the reunion of one of the mind/body groups I had led. The group has since ended and almost every member is either a recent mom or going to be a mom through pregnancy or adoption.  Today, one of the group members sent out pictures taken of me, sitting on a couch, holding one infant and surrounded by five or six others (only one of whom was screaming at the time!).  Although the pictures are wonderful, the mental picture I have of their very happy mothers is more poignant. I remember so well the first session of their … Continue Reading



About the Domar Center

The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health helps you create measurable, positive changes in your health, and your life, by enhancing the mind-body connection. Founded with the generous assistance and support of Boston IVF, the Domar Center is led by Alice Domar, PhD. --  an international leader in the field of mind/body medicine and women's health. The Domar Center clinical staff includes experts in numerous disciplines including acupuncture, psychology, nutrition, and restorative yoga. The Clinical Services at the Domar Center focus on health conditions such as infertility, PMS, menopause, eating disorders, and cancer as well as on the reduction of symptoms including hot flashes, chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, and back problems. The Domar Center takes a unique place in healthcare … Continue Reading