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The Simple and Surprising Physiology of Stress


a blog by Joanne Verkuilen, Founder, Circle+Bloom, September 3, 2010

What exactly happens to our bodies when we are stressed? Why does this impact our reproductive ability? It's a simple and surprising answer, and with this answer you can improve your health anytime, anywhere.

A Definite Link

I was fortunate enough to have been asked to present to all of the staff at East Coast Fertility only days after the study linking stress and fertility was released. Let me first say what a great bunch of people at East Coast — and I highly recommend anyone seeking advanced fertility care to look into Dr. David Kreiner and his staff.

The question of stress was discussed. It was clear that this study was a simple confirmatory statement for these professionals who knew all along that there was most definitely a link.

The question, however, is how and why. Some people point to our primitive past and say that in times of stress the body shuts down reproductively to allow the body to wait until a more opportune time to have a baby that needs food, etc. Makes sense. But I am more interested in what goes on at a physical basis. Once we understand the physiology, our brains can move into the driver's seat.

Understanding the Physiology

I have since stumbled across the work of Dr. Bruce Lipton, and not a moment too soon. Dr. Lipton is a cellular biologist who has written the book "Biology of Belief."

He explains it this way: Our bodies (and therefore our cells) are either in growth mode or protection mode. Protection mode activates our "flight or fight" response and we become stressed. When we are in growth mode, our energy and blood flow stay within the organs and body cavity, also called the "viscera." When we are in stress fight-or-flight, our blood flow and energy gets compressed out of the viscera and moves to our arms and legs so we can move quickly out of harm's way. Everything — even our immune system — shuts down in order for a complete focus of energy on the fight-or-flight imperative.

This is the where it gets interesting! Our reproductive system needs blood flow and energy, simple as that. With the introduction of stress, blood flow and energy are
restricted. No stress, lots of good love and energy to our ovaries, uterus, etc.

So how can you use this knowledge to reduce the effects of stress? The simple step of being aware of how this works on a physical basis can be enormous as you can constantly
bring your attention back to relaxation of the body cavity for improved warmth, blood flow and energy.

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