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Emotions, Fertility and the Body

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a blog by Joanne Verkuilen, Founder, Circle+Bloom, September 24, 2010

I found myself in the middle of spin class today — sweating profusely — but at the same time oddly emotional and tearful. I burst out into tears while "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel blasted from the sound system. I was wondering why the heck I thought it was appropriate to start tearing up while pounding away on that bike, and ended up almost laughing to myself while I was crying.

But then something occurred to me. Was my body "talking" to me? I suddenly realized that exercising intensely and moving my body that much enabled me to experience a certain collection of emotions that went straight from my body to my tear ducks. I still don't know exactly what I was crying about, but my body knew I needed a release.

Emotions Held in the Body

My experience reminded me of the wonderful NPR interview that I happened across of Seane Corn who speaks of the yoga she does as "body prayer." She talks about being close to God through her body — or the movements of her body and offering her poses as her prayer to God.

Repeatedly in our research we come across the theory that emotions are held in the body, while thoughts and ideas are held in the mind. Examples include when you are nervous or scared and your heart races — you literally experience a physiological change as a result of that emotion. Or when you are in love, and a certain euphoria comes over you, you seem to float a few inches off the ground.

But then what happens from the more negative emotions such as severe disappointment, anger and jealousy?

Using Your Body Expresses Your Emotions

My partner Sue and I were fortunate enough to spend the weekend with the Fertile Dreams organization for their Paths to Parenthood conference that took place on September 18, 2010. It is an excellent event bringing together couples, reproductive endocrinologists, adoption attorneys, acupuncturists and more. We were amazed by the passion of the presenters (including yours truly) and the sincerity of everyone truly just wanting to help all those TTC couples.

Every year, they give away one free IVF cycle to one very lucky attendee. It is a tradition that the woman who won the previous year not only presents her story, but also draws from the names and selects the winner for that year. Last year's winner's name is Niki, and she shared her tearful story.

After Niki's first IVF and receiving of a BFN, she felt the strong desire to run a half-marathon. She knew it was crazy because she did absolutely no training for it, but she also knew that it was her way to work through the emotions. By exercising her body that intensely, it enabled her to move on to the next decision, the next part of her fertility journey. She said some people take a break or do other things to deal with the pain of disappointment, but I "ran a half-marathon with no training — and I finished."

Like Seane Corn, she used her body as an outlet to express her emotions. And vice-versa, when I was on the exercise bike, my body gave me no choice in making me experience my emotions.

Do you experience certain insights or memories when you work out? Do you work out to help deal with your fertility journey?

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