Can stress act a contraceptive? And what can we do about it?
What does stress do?
Stress and its resulting hormones (adreneline/cortisol) are an active contraceptive on the pregnancy journey. After a few months of unsuccessful ‘trying,’ the fear of maybe never conceiving can get very out of control. You see, the main problem is that we were not designed to procreate when we are under stress or in fear. These situations trigger the fight or flight reflexes and survival becomes the priority for both the body and the mind.
In fight, flight or flee the body produces the hormones of stress. Meaning that the heart rate increases, the blood is being pumped to the limbs, and so on. All so we can run or fight to survive a dangerous predator or situation and live another day. As a consequence, the reproductive organs become redundant in these situations. Why? Because they are not relevant to your survival and so receive no energy.
Today we spend much of our daily lives in constant states of stress and fear (about jobs, money, homes, relationships, bosses, staff, sickness, world unrest, the state of the planet, etc.) These levels only increase further when we cannot conceive easily and relatively quickly. Which in turn compounds the infertility problem even more.
We have the acute stress response (fight/flight) to help us to survive life threatening situations in the present (primitive man versus tiger.) Ideally, after the threat has passed, it would take the body 20-60 minutes to return to a relaxed state. Today however, the body rarely returns to a relaxed state, as one perceived threat seems to constantly follow another. Whether the threats are real are imagined, past or future is irrelevant. The mind believes everything we think and and reacts as if the threat is in the present.
In a 2009 study, half of the women and a third of the men said that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives. Another study showed that levels of depression and anxiety were comparable to those in cancer patients. This is the level of fear and stress that infertility is creating in people. If the hormonal effects of the fears are not receeding, – because they are relentless through every waking hour that we focus on the perceived inability to have a family – how can the body ever conceive?
Research has also shown that our brains can consciously focus on only one thing at at time. If we are in the act of doing – fear fades away. To overcome fertility stress, we need to commit to what we want (having baby) and take actions. This will result in increased confidence towards a positive outcome. Action leads to confidence, and the fear dissipates as it is not being fed: it is neutralised when we commit to what we want through action. This is how your brain works. So to overcome stress and fear, we need to take clear, decisive action in the direction of our desire. In other words, we actually do the things we ourselves can do to conceive.
Our fertile health is also a direct reflection of the overall health of the body and mind. When something isn’t working in the body as it should, it means the body is out of balance, out of homeostasis. The inability to conceive easily or to carry a baby full term is a sign that something needs addressing. Your body is telling you what you need to hear, and it’s time to listen. Of course, this is a time to seek expert medical advice. However, it is also an opportunity to embrace doing the things that you can DO yourself. Of which there are more than you would think. You do have the ability to reclaim your fertile health, to quell the causes of stress and fear, and to create a calm, welcoming environment to conceive, carry, and birth your baby.
When it comes to fertility challenges, the common response is: “this is out of my control”. And yet, we have total control over how we choose to think, what we focus on, what we choose to eat, and how we choose to prepare our bodies to conceive and carry a baby. There is always a choice. We can fall into despair or we can choose to find out what we can do to create the best environment to conceive.
We can choose an empowering journey of taking simple and natural practical steps daily to prepare body, mind and our environment for conception and pregnancy. Taking action with these simple processes will build your confidence and your belief in yourself. As you take proven, practical action steps to conceive, you release fear, reclaim your fertility and claim your baby and family dream with certainty.
Should you welcome assistance to navigate and overcome the many stresses you may be experiencing – feel free to get in touch.