The Mind Body Connection for Fertility
By Verity Paz
Do you believe that you will get pregnant? Of course you do. At the start of your fertility journey you think within a few months of trying you will be pregnant like almost everyone you know.
I know when I started my fertility journey I thought that I would be pregnant very quickly but after 6 months of trying I started to worry “Why wasn’t I pregnant? Could there be something wrong.” After 18 months to TTC I went from worried to obsessed. I could think of nothing else: I spent almost every waking minute researching and looking for reasons why I wasn’t pregnant. I went to the Doctors, was referred to a Fertility Consultant and to my horror they couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t pregnant either.
I felt very alone, very isolated and ashamed. My friends and family where telling me to “relax, go on holiday, it will happen!” Did I believe that at this stage in my life I would get pregnant? No, I thought I would never be lucky enough to have my own child. I felt my life had spiralled out of control, it was only when panic attacks started to become a regular part of my day that I realised something had to change and somewhere on the difficult journey I had lost ME!
I knew I was incredibly stressed and had stopped ovulating, deep down inside I knew that unless I started to change the way in which I thought about things I wouldn’t get pregnant.
I started by looking at the impact stress was having on my body and discovered that our bodies are equipped to prevent conception at times of stress. Stress reduces the secretion of estrogen from the follicle which reduces the thickness of both fertile mucus and the uterus lining. When we are stressed we produce too much adrenaline which in turn inhibits us from utilising progesterone which is essential for sustaining a pregnancy. Stress can potentially increase prolactin levels which inhibits ovarian function. Stress is thought to negatively impact many other health concerns which may impair fertility, such as thyroid health, autoimmune conditions, PCOS, endometriosis, and gastro conditions.
I was convinced that if I reduced my stress levels significantly and told my mind that my body could conceive I would have my much longed for baby. I starting investing in both my body and my mind, instead of eating for conception I starting to eat well for me, I had weekly reflexology sessions for my stress levels, to make me feel better and more balanced.
I learnt to meditate, and still solve most of my problems today whilst in meditation. I took long walks, appreciating my surroundings, I enrolled on a mindfulness course and learnt to visualise myself with children. I started to spend more quality time with my husband, and we actually started to enjoy each other’s company again.
Most of all I started living in the NOW, not the 2WW, not the days leading up to ovulation but the present. I was happy again, I did still focus on conceiving, I allowed myself 15 minutes per day to think about it and the rest on the day I concentrated on doing what would make me happy and fulfilled.
Most importantly I knew I would have a baby! I really started to believe that It was possible for me to conceive.
The single most important thing I discovered on my fertility journey, was that the mind is so powerful in can influence the body in a very negative way. I realised that I might not be pregnant but I could still be happy. Within 4 months my cycles went from 70 days to 28 days and within 6 months I was pregnant, by doing what made me happy, calm and content.
It was after I had my first daughter Elana, that I learnt that my stress levels may well have medically prevented me from having a baby. I was diagnosed with a benign pituitary tumour which would have increased my prolactin levels preventing me from ovulating and therefore getting pregnant.
I went onto have my second child 3 years later practicing the same things I had learnt trying for Elana. I now run a busy reflexology practice in Wokingham and specialise in treating couples struggling to conceive. I believe so passionately that changing the way I think helped me conceive that I run one day positive fertility retreats to inspire others to do the same.
Whilst the fertility journey is the hardest and single most stressful thing I have ever been through I have learnt that you can still be happy whilst TTC.
Love Verity Paz