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Mind Body Coping During Infertility
A blog by Amira Posner, Healing Infertility, March 20, 2015
Growing scientific research reveals the physiology behind the mind body connections and the relationship between stress, infertility and wellness. Imagine that you are a deer in the headlights of a large vehicle at night. Imagine the anxiety you feel with your life at risk. The deer needs to move fast and get out of the way. Imagine having this feeling for a prolonged period of time. This feeling is called stress and it is likely impacting your body on a physiological level.
Going through infertility is stressful, there are no qualms about it. The good news is that we can actively alter the way our bodies respond to stress. Imagine you have your very own personal apothecary that is available at your disposal twenty four hours a day. Yes you! You can actively calm your system and reverse the stress effects of infertility.
The Science of Stress
When the mind and body are at an optimum level of balance and not in a state of reacting to stress, the hypothalamus is set to secrete specific hormones that regulate our brain and sexual organs. However, when the body is stressed, something else happens. The hypothalamus signals our adrenal glands a message that it is time to produce the hormone called “glucocorticosteroids” (women have glucocorticoid receptors all throughout their bodies, including on their follicles, corpus luteum, and ovaries). As this hormone takes effect, the ovaries are given the message that the timing is not right for reproduction. When a woman is under great stress, her energy is used to address the stressful situation that is being experience. The mind and body are told to fight and flee in order to survive.
How Mind Body Coping Can Help
Using Mind Body Coping can help address the stress effects surrounding infertility. Whether the stress felt is anxiety related to an upcoming IVF, the two-week wait or feelings of sadness, jealousy and hopelessness, mind body coping can help you rebalance the system on a physiological and emotional level.
The goal of mind body coping is to activate the body’s parasympathic nervous system. This system holds all the natural hormones that heal, calm and relax both our body and mind. With regular practices such as meditation and yoga, our bodies can rapidly go to a place of deep relaxation. Once this pathway for calm has been cultivated, your brain improves its ability to calm itself in times of stress. You can actively elicit your own calming system whenever you need to feel soothed or comforted.
There are many mind-body techniques that can be used. It is important to find one that resonates with you. Meditation can be difficult for someone who has a type A personality. Mindful walking and yoga may be a better choice. Guided imagery, visualization, breathing and the relaxation response are just a few of many mind body techniques that can calm your stress cycle and re-balance your system. Many fertility clinics offer mind body fertility support groups. Be sure to check with your fertility clinic to explore participating in such a program.