Going through infertility is the ultimate mind-body experience. There are issues we may be experiencing with our bodies and often times the stress, anxiety and uncertainty weigh heavy on our minds. As human beings, it is our natural default to feel things both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, for most of us it is not our natural default to stay attuned and connected to the mind-body experience in a way that most benefits us.
The psychological distress associated with infertility can impact many aspects of life. In some of the literature, the emotional impact related to infertility has been compared to dealing with a diagnosis such as HIV and heart disease. Studies have shown a correlation between fertility treatment and PTSD. It’s when the experience goes on for an extended period of time that the emotional impact can even begin to take a toll on physical health.
Many of the women I see in my practice are really struggling. Their internal suffering has superseded their ability to cope or possibly even to continue trying to conceive. The client maybe has read something about mind-body or perhaps their doctor suggested they seek out stress reducing activities. They know internally something else is needed to help them rebalance. Often times the client will vocalize that they feel so stressed and that she knows it must be contributing to her infertility. It is at this point that I assure the client that being stressed and feeling anxious is completely normal and not her fault. There is no reason to blame or self-judge. I then ask her to try something new. I ask my clients in this situation to take the deepest breath possible, count to four, and exhale at the count of seven. Now do it again. And once more.
Using a mind-body approach to fertility can compliment fertility treatment as well as address the emotional and physical side effects of the experience. It can be used in preparation for fertility treatment, simultaneously to fertility or even for a natural cycle. A mind-body approach has been around long enough that research it pretty much out there. Although I haven’t yet compiled research in my practice, I see the benefit all the time. The women who use the mind-body approach self-report feeling happier, more in control and overall balanced.
Mind-body is moving into the mainstream. It is very common now for fertility clinics to have some type of stress-reduction program, mind-body group or yoga class. Mind-body has been around long enough that the experts have been able to look at the benefits when used with those dealing with fertility issues. A recent study demonstrated that learning mind-body stress reduction techniques within a supportive group environment does more than only help to relieve stress and anxiety associated with the experience but also improve pregnancy success (Frederiksen et al. 2015). This study revealed that the women in the intervention group were twice as likely to become pregnant than those women in the control groups. Mindful meditation, the relaxation response, yoga, and hypnosis are some of the mind-body approaches that can be used to combat anxiety, ease the body and focus the mind.
If you come and see me or participate in one of our mind-body fertility groups, I will help shift the way you perceive your fertility experience. Together we will strengthen your mind-body connection while working to release any fear-based thoughts or feelings that may be arising. The thing is, as I have learned, these techniques really do work for many people.
Our next mind-body fertility group will be starting in May. Please click on the link below for more information.