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Monday, October 11, 2010

Jane Says Relax

I wanted to get to this before I put it off any longer. I promised you a review of Circle + Bloom's IVF/IUI program, and so here it is.

(Before I begin, I should clarify that I paid out of my own pocket for the IVF/IUI program, I am not affiliated in any way with Circle + Bloom, and was not paid for this review.)

I first heard about Circle + Bloom through Jin's blog, The Truth is Out There. Jin at the time was trying naturally, after doing several clomid cycles. Pretty much 2 weeks after she mentioned on her blog that she was using Circle + Bloom's "Natural Cycle Fertility Program," she announced her BFP.

Hmmmm.... I thought to myself.

That was back in March. In July, Self published an article called "Breaking the Silence on Infertility." In that article I noticed some interesting information in this paragraph:

In a small study of 97 Boston IVF patients younger than 40, women who had participated in 5 to 10 mind/body sessions were 160 percent more likely to get pregnant after a single IVF cycle. And more than two thirds of women with a clinical diagnosis of depression got pregnant after these sessions, whereas none of the depressed women in the control group conceived. The meetings teach relaxation techniques to ease anxiety and cognitive-behavioral strategies to fight depression. "These results can absolutely be replicated," Domar says. "Isolating oneself during fertility treatment is not helpful to getting pregnant."

Hmmmm.... I thought to myself.

On July 17th, when I got my period, and my 4 last-ditch natural cycles before embarking on IVF were over, it was time to get the IVF show on the road.

One month later, on CD1 of my IVF cycle, I purchased the Circle + Bloom IVF/IUI Program. The program comes with 3 sessions to listen to pre-cycle, so I missed out on those (although I listened to 2 of them in addition to the ones I was supposed to be listening to).

So here's how the program works: There are 18 "sessions" total, 3 for pre-IVF; then one every 2 days (so one session for cycle days 1 +2, one for cycles days 3 +4, etc.); one for trigger/retrieval; one for the cycle days in between retrieval and transfer; one for transfer (IVF)/insemination (IUI); and then one every 2 days for the 2ww. Each session is 13 to 19 minutes long.

The sessions start by asking you to take several deep breaths, and then use several different techniques for relaxation. The most common relaxation techniques used are: 1) asking you to concentrate on relaxing each separate part of your body (toes, feet, ankles, calves, knees, etc.); and 2) asking you to imagine that you are in a warm bath, and then imagine each separate body part as it is soothed by the warm water. I found these relaxation techniques to be effective, especially the more sessions I did.

In the second half of each session, once you are very relaxed, you are asked to think positive thoughts specifically related to the part of the cycle you're in. So, during stims, you are asked to visualize your follicles growing and responding well to the meds. In the 2ww, you are asked to visualize the embryos implanting and growing. I found it very therapeutic to lie there in a relaxed state and think these good thoughts about my body and my cycle.

The only 2 complaints I have are that: 1) the woman whose voice you hear is, I believe, the founder of the company, and I'm not sure she has the best voice for relaxation; and 2) although mostly the descriptions used of the various things going on in the cycle were extremely accurate, when talking about the embryo implanting, it was often referred to as "the egg" implanting, and this bothered me a bit, but I have to give them credit that they got things mostly right.

Also, I was a bit worried, since this was an IVF/IUI program, that it would be too geared toward IUI, or try too hard to be totally fair to both IUI and IVF and end up just being confusing. But, if anything, this is actually more geared towards IVF than IUI, although not in a way that I would recommend against it for those undergoing IUI.

So, in summary, I feel that my $59 was well spent. Except for the fact that I didn't get my BFP. I guess that would have been the ultimate recommendation. But I do plan on using it on any future IVF cycles I may have.

And speaking of future IVF cycles, we are getting, little by little, closer to being accepted into this IVF study. We went down to Philadelphia for the first time in the 2ww of our IVF cycle for our initial consultation, then I went back a second time on CD3 after our IVF BFN for an ultrasound and bloodwork (which was considered "testing" and thus not part of the study, so I had to pay for); and then DH and I went back last week (my 3rd time, his 2nd) for a genetic consultation and IVF nursing consult. Now, we just wait for my next period, and then I'll go back for another ultrasound and bloodwork and THEN they will FINALLY submit our paperwork to the study and I will find out a couple weeks after that if I've been accepted into the study. If I am accepted, I'll start stims at my next period, so about a month and a half from now. Oh, and I've found out that they don't do any suppression before the start of stims: no lupron, no BCPs, nothing. This seems weird to me, and I assume it will mean that I end up having a lower response to the stims.

I also want to mention that if anyone reading this is interested in participating in an IVF study, you can go to www.clinicaltrials.gov and search for "IVF" and then, in the refine search tab, limit the studies shown by state to find studies in your area.

Oh, and I finally ovulated, it looks like, yesterday. Cycle day 25 for those not following my cycle obsessively. This is 4 days later than my last latest ovulation, and 9 days later than my average ovulation (average is CD 16, according to Fertility Friend). I was getting a bit worried, but I guess this is somewhat normal the first cycle after IVF. We had "relations" at optimal times and I am now hoping for a miracle, between IVF cycles, BFP. I am not, however, holding my breath on that one.


  1. Hey there, thanks for reviewing the the Circle + Bloom Cd's. We're doing IVF in January and I've been thinking seriously about investing in them. I'm a big fan of Alice Domar (from the article). After our six dIUI's failed I turned to one of her books and it was very helpful.

    Hope your miracle BFP works out, and if not that the Clinical trial swoops in shortly thereafter. =)

  2. Thanks for sharing all the great information!!!

    My fingers are crossed for both the study working out for you and/or a surprise in the mean time;)

  3. I have been thinking about getting Circle & Bloom too and I think now that I might. I might get the natural one as that is what we are doing. Yay team natural.

    I have been almost obsessive with the mind body connection. Every morning in the shower I try to imagine myself pregnant and my baby growing. Every evening before I go to bed i repeat my mantra and try to imagine the embryo implanting (BTW understand why you were slightly peeved they call it an egg - if only right!) and then yesterday mnorning i woke up and I said I am not infertile. so it must be finally starting to seep in to my sub consious and hopefully to my uterus!!! Good luck for the natural cycle :)

    Also (wow incredibly long post) my cycle after IVF all over the shop. I don't even know when I ov'd this month. Think it was around CD10 but completely normal. Ok think i have said enough!!!

  4. Thank-you for reviewing Cicle & Bloom.

    It sounds like they're doing the short protocol for the study - some women have a better response than the long protocol, and I hope you're one of them.

    Good luck with your natural cycle this month.

  5. thank you for the info, I am going to look into this right away for our upcoming IVF cycle. Good luck with this research study, that is so great that you were accepted :)

  6. i never heard about these tapes until after my cycle. i kept trying to do visualisation on my end during stimming, and wound up falling asleep every time. perhaps if i had someone actually doing the talking, i would've paid more attention. but the little meditation that i did do, really helped to keep me calm. yaay for these tapes!!!

    everything crossed that you get accepted into this study :o)

  7. Thanks for the review. I haven't tried the IUI/IVF ones but I used to use the "normal" ones regularly -- and edited them in my mind for IUI cycles. I haven't in a while. I'm not sure why, though. I keep wanting to get back to it.

  8. Thanks for the review. It was really interesting and makes me wonder if I shouldn't hop on that train sometime soon.

  9. Hmmmmm, indeed. You’ve made me think with this. That study is mighty interesting – I hadn’t heard about it before. I’ve done the C+B natural cycle tape and agree about the voice. Also – and this is going to sound really petty – her pronunciation of certain words was a bit jarring.

    In terms of the trial, and starting without stims, I actually think you might have more of a reaction. I’m not certain about that, but I suspect that in my IVF cycle being on birth control oversuppressed me. Since then, I’ve researched it a bit and some people think this can’t be the case, but some think it’s a real possibility. Not sure.

    (The late ovulation is completely normal post-IVF. A really infuriating side effect of a BFN cycle. But I’m crossing fingers for those relations.)

  10. Thanks for the review - I never checked any of that out, but anything that provides some relaxation and methods for de-stressing sound good to me.

    Fingers crossed for a surprise BFP!

  11. Nice review. I loved your comment abt the woman's not-100%-relaxing voice. I downloaded a sample session a couple of weeks ago and thought the exact same thing.

    I was also REALLY moved by that paragraph in the SELF article and it inspired me to invest in a couple of meditation CDs. I used these (the ones for medicated cycle, basically you get two tracks...one for before ovulation/retrieval and one for after: http://www.anjionline.com/pages/InfertilityMeditationCDs.html. I really, really, really liked them (tho I did fall asleep sometimes while listening to them!). I also began taking meditation classes geared toward infertility at a place called Pulling Down the Moon. I wonder if there is a similar place in NYC?

    While I was (thank you Lord) successful in the cycle I went meditation-crazy (zen zen zen zen), I think the benefits were more about making the process more bearable, rather than actually physically changing things so my stars could finally and miraculously align (I credit Dr. Awesome and specifically the addition of low-dose HCG in my protocol with that). But still.....feeling more at peace and zen-ful during such a ridiculously stressful time is HUGE.

    I can't wait to hear how the final hurdles go with this study. I hope you get in! And (sorry, this comment is literally a novel!), I just wanted to mention that not doing BCPs does NOT mean you will not have has big of a response. My 3rd injects/IUI cycle was the ONLY one where I wasn't suppressed with BCPs beforehand (because Dr. Awesome let me cycle through a cyst instead of benching me with BCPs for a month like clinic #1 always did) and it was my highest E2 ever and best follicle response. Dr. Awesome only uses BCPs on patients if he's holding them for an IVF start date....it's a convenience thing, not a better-response thing. (Believe me, I asked in our IVF consult!) So. Just saying!


  12. I have always wondered about that series! Do you think it would be applicable to people who are just trying naturally (I dont' think we'll be doing ART again for quite a while)?

    Cheers to a surprise BFP for both of us!

  13. thanks for posting about C+B. i'm really enjoying it right now.

    i hope you guys get accepted into the study, but i hope even more that you get your miracle instead! :)

  14. Hi Jane! Hanks for posting on my blog. Sounds like you and I have a ton in common. So I'm ALSO using the circle & bloom IVF program for this study I'm participating in and I love it too! But do agree her voice not the best. Lol! Hope you make it into the study. So far, the protocol seems to have agreed with me. I'll be following you and hoping this is the golden ticket for both of us.

  15. Thank you for posting this review! I've been having those "hmmm" moments, too. Best Wishes for qualifying for the IVF study and thanks for the link.

  16. I'm late to the party, but just had to chime in about Circle+Bloom -- I've been listening to the natural cycle version the past few months. I mostly like it too -- the relaxation techniques really help, and they mix in some visualizations related to letting go of past disappointments, etc., in addition to the more anatomical stuff. The production quality bothered me at first, but now it is almost guaranteed to help me fall right asleep at night. I listened to one while waiting for my 2nd IUI while my husband did his thing, and it made me so much more relaxed and even less crampy than the first time.