With the new year underway, it seems like every news article or talk show is sharing content about wellness. Whether it’s weight loss, meditation, exercise, there’s plenty of research that supports creating a mind-body balance. More than ever, we are recognizing the benefits of addressing well-being from a mental, physical and emotional perspective, so why not utilize this approach to wellness to optimize your fertility goals in 2020?
The Physical, Mental and Emotional Aspects of Fertility
No doubt, you are highly aware of the physical aspects of fertility. Making the decision to have a baby might start with a physiological checklist that includes tracking your menstrual cycle, determining your LH surge, having intercourse on your most fertile days, and then waiting for results. Check, check, check. Ah, it feels good to be productive! Focusing on the physical aspects of fertility can be effective for many women, resulting in an easy conception and pregnancy. From a physiological perspective, a woman’s body inherently knows exactly how to conceive and nurture a healthy baby.
When conception does not occur after a period of time though, you might start to question your body’s natural ability. The physical simplicity of pregnancy becomes more complex as mental and emotional states shift, and uncertainty and doubt surface. When this happens, your fertility takes on a new status as a challenge to overcome, and so you default to problem-solving mode and activate your mental tenacity. Physical supports, such as assisted reproductive technology to enhance your body’s natural ability, are explored, and decisions are made to increase opportunities for conception.
Making the mental decision to proceed with physical supports to conception can be a critical mindset shift to enhance fertility. In the modern world, when the results we desire are out of our reach, we activate our problem solving skills to maximize our success. Utilizing logic and intelligence to sort out solutions to fertility challenges allows us to feel smart, confident and productive. As healthy and intelligent human beings, we gravitate toward decisions that help us feel in control. When our physical body does not produce the results we want, we make the necessary changes, directed by our mental abilities, to identify what the next steps are. For optimizing fertility, this may mean pursuing reproductive endocrinology and exploring the many options that a fertility doctor can provide. It could also mean setting up appointments with an acupuncturist to enhance the body’s fertile potential. By making these arrangements and going to the appointments, we mentally feel more in control of our fertility. We are taking action toward accomplishing the goal, and for many women, this mental shift to decision making and problem solving is all it takes to conceive a healthy baby.
However, we would not be fully human if we did not acknowledge that all of this physical and mental efforting toward conception can take an emotional toll. It makes sense, in a way, because here we are in the process of creating another human being, so how can the fertility journey tap into only the physical and mental realms of our well-being? None of us would want a child devoid of emotion. So, let’s acknowledge that the very idea of having a baby is exploring deeply emotional territory. In the process, if we lose faith in our physical ability, and if our mental acuity can only take us so far, and still there is no conception, we are left feeling unsuccessful, hopeless and out of control, creating a state of emotional despair. The fertility journey can expose vulnerabilities that challenge our sense of well-being at every level.
Clarity About Aligning Mind & Body for Fertility
What does maximizing the mind-body connection mean as it relates to optimizing fertility? Imagine three layers of the mind (the unconscious, conscious, and subconscious) aligning with the three cornerstones of well-being (physical, mental, and emotional). At the first layer, human physiology is managed largely by the autonomic nervous system which is directed by the unconscious mind. We don’t need to be consciously aware of follicle development, ovulating, and implantation, because our bodies unconsciously perform those tasks routinely. So it makes sense that, at the first layer, the physical body is aligned with the unconscious mind.
The next layer is the clever and logical conscious mind which is paired with mental well-being. In this realm of well-being, we purposefully utilize intelligence to determine logical explanations for any fertility obstacles, and work to resolve them in order to get results. This pairing of mental insight and taking action towards resolution is a successful combination in many aspects of our lives, so it makes sense to apply it to surmounting fertility challenges, too.
Finally, let’s pair the emotional layer of well-being with the subconscious mind. The subconscious rules emotions, so this match makes good sense. The subconscious mind is where habits, imagination, memories and intuition exist. According to modern brain science, the conscious mind accepts only 7-10 bits of information each moment, while the subconscious absorbs millions simultaneously. Even though we can’t always easily recall, the subconscious stores away every event that happens to us. Our subconscious is designed to protect us, so it does what it knows has worked for us in the past, because it has no ability to think critically. It’s not lazy, but it prefers the path of least resistance. As a result, occasionally the subconscious can work against our best intentions and efforts. Even when it’s something we desperately want, like conception. It’s not purposely trying to sabotage things, it’s just doing what it knows, habitually, to do. Many women have spent a significant portion of their lives trying NOT to get pregnant. The subconscious mind has accepted this desire and embedded the belief for so long that it takes time to switch gears. Once the decision to have a baby is made, it can take awhile for this new message to be accepted by the subconscious mind.
It’s also important to recognize that these three layers of the mind are all interdependent and can impact fertility. Every day, our emotions directly affect our physiology. For example, what happened the last time you were anxious? Did your palms sweat, did your heart beat increase, did you feel a tightening in your chest? These physical manifestations of emotions happen frequently, and often without conscious thought. Negative emotions can have a negative impact on the body’s fertility. When the anxiety and stress of infertility causes the release of cortisol in response to that stress, those hormones direct the blood flow away from reproductive organs and activate fight or flight response, fueling the body to escape danger. In fact, reproductive hormones become more suppressed as stress and anxiety about fertility increases. Emotional stress can have an unintentional impact on reproductive desires. It’s a vicious cycle.
Subconscious Blocks to Fertility
According to research, there are several subconscious blocks that can impede fertility. Past sexual abuse or trauma can wreak havoc with emotional well-being thusly impacting fertility. Likewise, past abortions or miscarriages can also negatively impact the subconscious. Because these past events are highly emotional, it is likely that thoughts of guilt, shame and/or inadequacy are stored away in the subconscious mind, whether they are legitimate or not. Since the subconscious is also incapable of critical thinking, it does not discern between what is real and what is imagined, and therefore accepts and stores these negative memories and emotions as truth.
As a child, the world is experienced through the subconscious lens, so any type of family dysfunction from the family of origin can impact fertility. This could include the death of someone close, a parent with mental illness, a family member with addiction issues, or a sibling with special needs, for example.
Lastly, and most commonly, many women experiencing infertility suffer from the gift of perfectionism. Highly accomplished women develop high expectations of themselves and others. They crush goals at work, excel in their personal lives, and get what they want because they work hard for it. These women carefully determine when the time is right to have a baby, and when things don’t go according to plan, they can be incredibly hard on themselves.
Certainly, there are other possible subconscious blocks to fertility, but in my professional experience, if the subconscious blocks identified above are not addressed and resolved, the chances for successful conception can be affected.
Curating Compassion and Kindness
Supporting emotional well-being and harnessing the subconscious mind’s key role in enhancing fertility is a critical step. This may seem to be a daunting task, but it is easier than you think. Remember, your overprotective subconscious wants what it thinks is best for you. So imagine that it’s like an adoring puppy that needs to be trained. Start by being kind to it instead of frustrated. Remind your subconscious that it does a wonderful job of protecting you, and for that you are grateful, but you are now ready and willing to embrace big change. You welcome this change to your life at every level, physically, mentally and emotionally. Your body is incredibly strong, powerful and beautifully feminine, and it knows exactly how to conceive and nurture a healthy baby. You recognize that pregnancy and parenting might be challenging, but you have the grit and tenacity to handle all that comes your way. You have unshakable belief in your fertility. Tell yourself these messages regularly and often. Whenever worry, fear, sadness and doubt percolate up into your conscious mind, say something kind and loving to your fertile body. Instead of repressing your emotions about your fertility, curate a state of compassion and kindness toward yourself. Harness that essential emotional power. Believe in your amazing self at every level. It may feel silly or childish at first, but those messages are exactly what your subconscious is craving. Treat your subconscious mind the way you intend to treat your baby, with unconditional love. Then sit back and allow the journey to unfold.
Thank you Lisa Brent, for being a guest blogger for Denver Fertility.,Lisa Brent is a highly trained psychotherapist registered with the State of Colorado. She is also a certified hypnotherapist specializing in HypnoFertility®. Lisa's therapy practice is dedicated to supporting women in their fertility journeys. She uses hypnosis as a therapeutic technique because it effectively addresses subconscious beliefs, which can impact fertility. Lisa is a member of the Mental Health Professional Group of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. She is also a member of the National Guild of Hypnotists and is one of only 13 Premier HypnoFertility® therapists worldwide. Lisa has received special training in 5-PATH® advanced hypnosis and is certified to teach 7th Path Self-Hypnosis®. She works closely with a network of fertility practitioners and clinics to get results for her clients.For more information about her practice, visit callingharmony.com.
If you are struggling with infertility call Denver Fertility at 720-420-1570 or contact us online.