Mind and body therapies are defined as complementary and alternative therapies used to address the “ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, experiential, and behavioral factors can directly affect health.” 1 The understanding is that the brain interacts with the rest of the body, impacting our physical health – including fertility.
Stress levels are powerful. Chronic stress quickly runs the body down causing normally functioning systems of the body to “shut down” (even if temporarily) so that the vital functions of the body – heart, lungs and nervous system – can maintain function to keep us alive. One of the body systems readily affected by stress because it is not necessarily vital to keep us alive, is the reproductive system.
Research has proven that stress impacts fertility health by causing levels of stress hormones such as cortisol to increase, in turn inhibiting the body’s main sex hormone GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) and subsequently suppressing ovulation in women, sperm count in men and sexual activity and hormone balance in both women and men.
Infertility definitely causes varying levels of stress, but stress from our daily lives – work, a commute, an overbooked schedule, managing a home and the demands of family – also impact our levels of stress. It is important to create a stress reduction plan for yourself that includes mind and body therapies, as well as a few small indulgences, that you can use at a moment’s notice and in any stressful situation.
10 Mind & Body Therapies to Help With Fertility Stress
1. Positive Affirmations
Combat and change negative self talk and thought patterns to benefit, empower and heal from the emotions of your fertility journey by creating positive affirmations through these 4 Steps to Creating Affirmations for a Positively Fertile Life. Declare it to be true that you are fertile! Say it, “I trust, I do not doubt! I am fertile!”
2. Circle + Bloom
Proven through scientific and medical research, Circle + Bloom is a “doctor-recommended audio relaxation program designed specifically for women who are trying to conceive.” This mind and body therapy is used to help the mind help the body be healthy – reduce stress and anxiety and to improve the chances of conception. Click the link above to try a FREE Fertility Relaxation Program.
3. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
This technique involves physically tapping various energy points on the body to unlock or open them (think acupuncture points). EFT is based on ancient Chinese medicine under the theory that “all negative emotions are caused by a disruption in the body’s energy system.” It can be used to reduce stress, quell anxiety, quiet the mind, and help to release emotions like fear, worry and sadness. Reduce Stress and Enhance your Fertility with EFT…
Mindful meditation is a tool that can be used literally anywhere and at any time. Learning to harness the thoughts and quiet the mind, can create inner calm, quiet the inner critic, strengthen endurance to counter stress and help you let go. Two easy meditations may be the Point of Focus – One Minute Meditation and the simple Fertility Meditation: Blue Sky Mind. Know that this is a practice and learning to quiet the mind can take time, but it’s well worth the effort.
Breath is aligned with both body and mind and it alone can bring them together. – Thich Nhat Hanh
5. Massage Therapy
Massage is the practice of physical manipulation of the muscles and soft tissues of the body to relieve tension and pain, improve circulation, manipulate the positioning of certain muscles, fascia, tissues and organs, promote relaxation and relieve depression and anxiety for both men and women experiencing infertility stress. Many spas that offer massage therapy offer couples massage, so you can experience stress relief together!
Created by Natural-Fertility-Info.com founder Hethir Rodriguez, Self Fertility Massage™ is specific to female reproductive system health and has proven to help the female body become balanced – supporting healthy circulation to the reproductive organs, boosting immune system health, decreasing stress, and supporting reproductive organ health and vitality.
6. Fertility Yoga
Yoga is widely known for its ability to increase agility and tone the body. It is also instrumental for boosting immunity, increasing blood flow, balancing the breath, strengthening the heart and bones, focusing the mind, and releasing tension. It can also be used to improve fertility. Yes, specific poses are known to be beneficial to fertility. Click here to learn the benefits of Fertility Yoga…
Aromatherapy by definition is the use of aroma to enhance a feeling of well-being. Through our sense of smell and the olfactory system, essential oils can elicit certain mental and physical responses within the body. They have the potential to act on hormonal balance, reduce inflammation, promote healing, reduce pain, boost endocrine and immune system function, and reduce stress.
In The Healing Power of Art – Interview with Artist & Doula Amy Haderer, Amy herself says it best, “I think symbols are powerful and can sometimes communicate more than words can. Someone can see a piece of artwork and it will mean something different to them because it is steeped in their own experience. So, I think that creating a piece about something difficult can be very healing for people and can symbolize different things about their own journey.”
I think a similar sentiment can be uttered about music. While many of us won’t ever write our own song, many other artists have and each of us is likely to have a few songs that take us to our happy place, or bring our minds to a meditative state. I know I do! What are your favorite songs? If you haven’t already, create a playlist to listen to in a quiet place with your favorite herbal tea. Music has the power to help you let go and move past tension through dance or emotional release and inspiration.
10. Counseling/Support Groups/Therapy
Having someone to listen to you is therapeutic. Being able to talk through stress, pain, heartache, frustration, guilt, sadness, etc. can provide a powerful release physically and emotionally. Having a supportive place in which to share feelings and concerns can be validating and clarifying, and also enrich a couple’s relationship. Counseling helps you learn coping skills to manage challenging situations. Know that you deserve support and there is nothing at all wrong with seeking it!
Putting Mind and Body Therapies to Work
Stress is more common than we think. Even behind the most positive, smiley faces, there is some level of stress. Anyone dealing with infertility will probably tell you the stress of a fertility journey is all encompassing and the hardest stress they’ve ever had to deal with. My hope is that this article provides you with a resource for at least one mind and body therapy you can use to help cope with fertility stress, but certainly use them all if you wish! Take care and be well!
– Albers, S. (2009). 50 ways to soothe yourself without food. Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications.
– Circle + Bloom at www.circlebloomcd.com
– Massage Therapy for Health Purposes: What You Need To Know. (2015, May 1). Retrieved June 25, 2015, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/massage/massageintroduction.htm
– McCall, T. (2007, August 28). 38 Health Benefits of Yoga | Yoga Benefits. Retrieved June 22, 2015, from http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit
– NIH Fact Sheets – Mind-Body Medicine Practices in Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2013, March 29). Retrieved June 24, 2015, from http://report.nih.gov/nihfactsheets/viewfactsheet.aspx?csid=102
– Rodriguez, H.. (n.d.). Mind and Body Therapies for Fertility. Retrieved June 21, 2015, from http://natural-fertility-info.com/mind-and-body-therapies-for-fertility.html
– Rouff, L. (n.d.). Dealing with infertility is stressful. Retrieved June 24, 2015, from http://www.lisarouff.com/infertility.html