Wow – that title sounds big – My biggest piece of advice (and action you can take) to improve your fertility journey…. and I guess it kind of is, guys.
I’ve been on this journey for such a long time now, both for myself while I’ve been trying to have children, and now, through helping others, and truly, if there is one piece of advice I can give, and the subsequent action you can take, this is it.
You need to prioritise your emotional and mental well-being… because you’re probably not.
Time after time, I see in our Facebook Group women who are hurting – you feel battered and bruised by the struggle of trying to fall pregnant, desperate for answers and a crystal ball, worried about your relationship, and anxious about your future.
My heart genuinely breaks every time, because I can feel that pain. It’s the same way I felt on my journey and the same pain I would never wish on someone else.
I am driven to help.
And what I want to scream (or maybe rather put my hand on your back and let you know) is that you CAN do something about it.
I found out pretty late in the piece on my journey, but I wished I had done something about it earlier.
Prioritised me. Prioritised my mental and emotional wellbeing.
And so often I feel like we don’t because we feel like it’s being selfish, and we feel that all of our emotional and physical energy needs to be devoted to the task of falling pregnant.
But we’re missing a key piece of the puzzle.
Feeling this way is contributing to the long time it’s taking to fall pregnant.
And there is SO much research to back it up – below is just SOME of the research, which time and time again comes back, showing that if we can better manage this situation, then we are going to achieve better outcomes on our fertility journey:
1. A study by researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, found that cognitive behavioural therapy can aid fertility by reducing anxiety, which often inhibits ovulation. A study by Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia took 16 women who had not had a period in six months. Half were introduced to cognitive behavioural therapy for 20 weeks and half were merely observed. At the end of this, six out of the eight women given CBT regained full fertility and two of them became pregnant within two months. In the eight women who didn’t, only one recovered her fertility.
2. Another study showed that women who were undergoing IVF had a success rate of 52% when undergoing mind-body interventions (compared to only 20% in the control group).
3. A 2000 study showed that procedural stress, the stress experienced during treatment procedures, was found to negatively impact on the end points, that is the number of oocytes retrieved and fertilised.
4. Women undergoing IVF who were ‘worried’ about the medical aspects of their treatments, retrieved 20% less eggs (Klonoff-Cohen and Natarajan, 2004)
5. In a 1988 study, women undergoing IVF with donor insemination, those with higher levels of anxiety took much longer to conceive, and had higher miscarriage rates (Demytennaere, Nijs, Steeno and Konninckx, 1988)
6. A 1990 study compared 63 women about to undergo an IVF cycle. Those who attended a 2 week relaxation course, showed significantly improved success rates on their first cycle.
This. Is. Important.
So I want to ask you the question – what are you doing, on a daily basis, to foster greater emotional well-being?
What daily habits do you have that are helping you to manage the intense stress that this journey can bring?
A simple way to bring things into check and to the forefront is to write a list of the different elements of your life:
- Physical Health
- Emotional Health and Happiness
And when you’ve done that, check how much of your physical and emotional energy is being devoted to a particular area.
But then I want you to rate these items in terms of priorities in your life…. and see where this might be giving you a disconnect.
Some things, like work, will naturally take a lot of our time – but are you devoting too much of your emotional energy to the strains of your workplace and the petty issues that occur there? Do you need to reassess your overtime and see where you can cut back?
No doubt, many of us would say that we don’t really devote ANY time and energy into our emotional health and happiness, and yet the prime goal for most of us is, to simply feel happy.
I’d love you to reach out to me and let me know your thoughts.
And if that IS how you feel, then the thing I want to scream is to take action.
If you want to continue feeling that way, do the same thing. If you want to feel different, do something different.
It can be scary to devote time and energy to ourselves.
But it’s well invested, I promise.
Because when you take the time to look after yourself, and to foster resilience and other skills, not only does it improve your physical health (and fertility!) but your relationships, your work productivity – it has a ripple effect throughout all of the other areas in your life.
So, what action can you take?
The number 1 thing I recommend, is to start a gratitude journal. Make it a habit, just as you brush your teeth at night.
There have been multiple studies that have also shown the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal – it affects the wiring in our brains.
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