Infertility can be super stressful so if you are going through treatment, it’s a good idea to use every trick at your disposal. Maybe hacking your happiness endorphins won’t make or break your IVF cycle but trying can’t hurt your chances. And if it trains you how to use your body chemistry to alleviate stress, then that’s building a transferable skill you can use in other parts of your life – like when your future baby has a blowout in Target.
First, let’s review your body’s happy hormones:
- Dopamine. This messenger is associated with pleasurable sensations, like love along with learning, and memory. It helps you plan for your future and find things interesting.
- Serotonin. This hormone (and neurotransmitter) helps regulate your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory.
- Oxytocin. Oxytocin levels generally increase with physical affection like kissing, cuddling, and sex. It is also good for breastfeeding and bonding with a child.
- Endorphins. Endorphin levels increase when you engage in reward-producing activities, such as running, working out, eating, or having sex.
Here’s a look at how to make the most of these natural mood-boosters.
- Get outside. Just being in sunlight can boost your endorphins and serotonin levels. Soak up some rays.
- Exercise daily. Along with all the other benefits, exercise helps boost all four happy hormones. 30 minutes a day will keep you heart-healthy and happy. Just, if you are doing fertility treatments, check with your doctor and don’t overdo it. Think brisk walks and yoga, not marathons or even half marathons. Fertility treatments are no time to start a new hardcore workout routine. Just keep it consistent and steady.
- Watch cat videos on the Internet. Laughing with friends boosts dopamine and endorphins and alleviates stress. Some say the Internet was invented to share cat videos, watch them or whatever else makes you giggle.
- Boogie to a theme song. Dancing with your partner to a song you’ve heard too many times will kick a number of hormones into a frenzy. Duo Lipa’s Levitating works or choose something more your style. The goal is when you hear it 15 years from now, you still let loose.
- Cook with a loved one and then enjoy the meal together. For fertility treatments, we recommend a Mediterranean diet of lean proteins and colorful vegetables. Preparing the meal (anticipation) will release oxytocin and eating and sharing the experience will release dopamine and endorphins.
- Try Probiotics. The gut has been called a “second brain” because it produces many of the same neurotransmitters as the brain does like serotonin and dopamine. It is estimated that 90% of serotonin is made in the digestive tract. Happy gut; happy brain.
- Meditate. Take yourself on a mini mind vacation. A tropical paradise or maybe it’s your own bedroom but with your future baby in your arms. Just focus on the feeling of love you have for the child – not the wanting of the child. Imagine you already have your heart’s desire and let that feeling of love and joy wash over you.
- Spend a romantic evening with your partner. Spending time with someone you care about will boost oxytocin production. This can help increase closeness and positive relationship feelings, making you feel happy, blissful – even euphoric. And if you are both going through infertility, do not take each other for granted. Schedule time to enjoy each other.
- Pet your dog – or someone else’s. Cuddling furry friends increases oxytocin. The more affectionate you get, the more hormone you release so go ahead and gush — be ridiculous. Dogs don’t mind.
- Get a massage. Research shows serotonin and dopamine levels increase after massage. It can also boost endorphins and oxytocin. You can pay for one or better yet, teach your partner how to give you a really good one. Foot rub competitions may start you on the right path to releasing many happy hormones.
With so many natural ways to boost your happiness, it goes without saying that for fertility, stay away from drugs, alcohol, and even reduce caffeine intake. Staying happy during the ups and downs of fertility treatments is easier said than done, we know. But challenge yourself to use your perspective to increase your happiness. And remember that with your partner, your goal should not be to grow old together but rather to remain childlike in your playfulness — and get those endorphins flying. In life there are so many things we can’t control but we can alter how events affect us. A prison can be a garden. A battle with infertility can be a training ground for a life intentionally well lived.