by Meredith Nathan, Pulling Down the Moon Massage Director
'Just relax and you’ll get pregnant…’
Well-meaning friends and family offer advice like this with the best of
intentions, but these words can be some of the least welcomed by a woman
or couple going through fertility challenges. How do you ‘just relax’?
Especially when every failed attempt and month that passes can bring disappointment,
questions about your body, and anxieties about what the future holds?
The truth is, infertility causes stress. But does stress cause infertility?
Not to oversimplify, but in some cases, the answer is actually yes. Though
the connection between stress and fertility may seem vague and intangible,
stress causes a very real physiological response in your body. Stress
stimulates your sympathetic nervous system, the same nervous system that
helped our ancestors run away from lions and tigers and bears! During
this state, the body releases excessive adrenaline and cortisol, stress
hormones that flood the body and compete with reproductive hormones for
receptor sites. This can affect the hypothalamus, the pituitary glands,
and create hormone imbalance in the body.
This sympathetic response may have helped our ancestors survive as a species,
but it often gets over-taxed with today'ss constant deadlines, financial
worries, and even rush hour traffic. Chronic stress depletes the body’s
resources, and in its innate wisdom, it may start to shut down functions
that don’t involve immediate survival (including our reproductive systems).
Starting to get stressed out reading this? Don’t! There are ways
to proactively create relaxation in your life, and despite your circumstances
you are in control! Building in time for long walks, warm baths, gentle
exercise like yoga, belly breathing, aromatherapy, prayer, or meditation
can go a long way. And if you are on this journey with a partner, engage
him/her in the process. Give each other a massage, try a new activity,
or enjoy a long, romantic evening together (remember, sex isn’t
just for making babies - it’s a phenomenal way to relieve stress!).
Though ‘just relax’ may not be the cure-all for every situation,
creating relaxation in your life certainly can’t hurt! Not only
does relaxation encourage a healthier body, it’s may just make this
journey a lot more enjoyable!