Relieve stress with meditation and promote your fertility10.4.2023 · 5 min reading
Get rid of stress and worries and increase your chances of getting pregnant. Stress is one of the factors that contributes to problems with conception. And of course, mental well-being is also very important for couples undergoing IVF treatment. Even just a few minutes of meditation a day can help you relax.
Before we get into the details, let’s take a look at what fertility meditation actually is.
One definition might go something like this: “Meditation means to take your attention away from distracting thoughts and focus on the present moment.” How simple, isn’t it. Except that if you’re standing in a line of infertile people who have been trying for a baby for months, then you probably have a lot of thoughts running through your head – IVF prices, diagnoses, procedures, fears… which are mundane concerns that sitting on a pillow smelling scented sticks probably won’t just go away.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t control them.
What meditation can do is turn on and off certain areas of the brain that affect what happens to you – both emotionally and physically. And that already sounds like something that can be put into practice. And, more importantly, a compelling argument for giving meditation a chance.
Long-term stress = fertility at risk
We all know that nowadays there is a pretty extensive catalogue of all kinds of stressors – but if you are stressed for a long time, your brain receives signals that start to regulate certain hormones. It flushes out more of the ones that are needed for “survival” and cuts back on the ones that aren’t so hot. This protective biological reaction then causes high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and upsets the balance of estrogen and testosterone. Simply put: The primary concern is to make sure you survive, but the need to reproduce is put on the back burner.
The good news: meditation can evoke the opposite stress response and, with regular practice, return hormone production (and other bodily functions) to healthy levels.
During meditation, the hormone DHEA and oxytocin are released
DHEA hormone is essential for both male and female fertility. In addition to prolonging cell life, it also has a direct effect on the quality of eggs and sperm, thereby increasing the chances of conception. But let’s not forget another hormone, oxytocin (the happiness/love hormone), which meditation helps to produce: you’ve probably heard that it plays an important role in childbirth and bonding with your baby, but before the baby even arrives, it can help you by being more positive… in short, by seeing the world through rather rose-tinted glasses.
Changing the internal dialogue
If you are one of those who are not yet lucky enough to have a baby, then you are probably struggling with an avalanche of thoughts – some women even describe feeling as if a little character has taken up permanent residence in their head and is constantly talking to them. The internal dialogue women have with themselves is not a pleasant one: questions about what they could have done better in life, regrets about not taking care of themselves, or just a constant barrage of worry about what’s next.
“Shall we divorce? You’ll be alone! Why me? Life without a family will be…” STOP: Here again, a powerful tool steps in to stroke that critical figure’s cheeks and bid her goodbye.
A constant stream of negative thoughts can rob you of self-love and self-worth, but meditative practices help people be kinder to themselves (and others), foster compassion, and create stronger relationships that can withstand… even the IVF journey.
So, after a few weeks of meditation, you’ll most likely find that you can consider things without a rush of emotion, you can think about them in a calm way, your decisions will be wiser, and most importantly: your inner voice will no longer be the heartless dictator it has been.
Types of meditation for supporting fertility
Relaxing, coming back to yourself and not letting your thoughts take over are the basic principles of mindfulness, which provides an antidote to the extreme speed of today’s times and, among other things, helps couples struggling with infertility.
Mindfulness can help activate our parasympathetic nervous system (the calming system), which ultimately relaxes the mind and body, If you want to get started with mindfulness, then therapists recommend starting with a body scan.
It starts by closing your eyes, finding the most comfortable position (lying or sitting), and becoming aware of your breath – every little place it enters your body and where it goes out of it. You then realise where your body touches the mat, anchor yourself and begin to explore areas of your body – spot by spot, from your toes to the top of your head. The idea is to explore as fully as possible the sensations you feel in that place, and then deliberately move your attention to the next place that you will feel fully again.
A very similar practice is autogenic training, which is also sometimes referred to as self-hypnosis. The principle is that you use autosuggestion to immerse into your own inner self: but you work with the sensations of heaviness and warmth, focusing on your breath and heartbeat, and the whole training ends by shifting your attention to the area of your head and the “cold” sensations you feel. If you find this hard to imagine, don’t despair: there are already a number of audiotapes on the market that will guide you through the whole autogenic workout, and at least at first they are a great way to immerse yourself in this pleasant state.
As mentioned above, at the time when you are struggling with a problem like infertility a very critical self-talk takes over: you have the power but to change it by bringing new information into the “system”, for example through the technique of visualization.
Visualization is the practice of imagining things you want or events/places that have a soothing effect on you. It is believed that this practice helps to promote a “fertile mind and body” and aids in physical and mental regeneration. At the beginning of the visualization, it is possible to say calm-inducing formulas, but sometimes it is enough to take a comfortable position and let the consciousness sink into the desired image (some women imagine, for example, a beach and the sea washing away their worries, but there is no limit to the imagination: visualize anything). The point is that you will be completely immersed in yourself and disconnected from everyday worries.
As in the case of autogenic training, there are a number of visualisation aids: audio recordings and written stories, with the help of which you can “travel” for a while to a place where you feel good.
And finally: the most common (and at the same time) most powerful meditation
Finally, it’s important to say that the easiest thing you can do right now is to stop, sit comfortably, and observe your breath.