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Is There A Connection Between Mental Wellbeing And Reproductive Health?

Posted: November 15, 2017

The human body works in mysterious ways – here is Pooja Jaiswal, speaking about how mental wellbeing is related to your reproductive health.

  • Many friends tell me that their doctor has asked them to reduce stress and clean up their lifestyle if they want to conceive.
  • Relatively younger girls share their struggle with PCOD and the resulting anxiety and depression.
  • A couple friend opted for IVF because the doctor told them that their cause of infertility is unexplained.

After having heard enough and more of such stories I decided to explore more. I chatted up Pooja Jaiswal, a leading fertility coach for women and founder of Meraki Life.

She shared her own story of how she conceived after making major lifestyle changes, which included drastic steps to manage her everyday life stress.

Pooja’s key message is that anxiety has a tangible effect on fertility, and you need to work on it, if you want to improve your chances of having a baby.

Read on for more.

You’ve had an amazing journey. You used to skip meals, miss exercise and work long hours. And now you tell me you plan all your meals, get in a good dose of Yoga and thoroughly enjoy your working hours. In all of this, what specific actions have helped you maintain a great emotional health?

When I was working with HSBC in London, I kept very strenuous hours. Good sleep and exercise were a distant dream. But when I wanted to plan for my second child, I decided to take back control of my life. I spoke with hundreds of people, read tons of books and picked up advice which worked for me.

And one of my biggest realizations during this period of research was that my emotional wellbeing will greatly impact my chances of conceiving. Three big changes that really helped me were:

  • Becoming conscious of my negative thoughts. I was very actively aware of what I was thinking. Every time I used to feel bad when someone else broke the news of their pregnancy, I would become aware of my own thoughts and manage them.
  • I really made BIG changes in my lifestyle to manage my every day stress. Mornings were all mine. I would exercise, do my pranayama, soak in some sun and enjoy my breakfast. I wouldn’t start working till I finished my morning routine. This really helped me balance my hormones.
  • I practiced gratitude. Every time I would feel bad about myself, I countered it by thinking about all the positive things that were happening in my life. Within a few weeks, it drastically altered my view of my life.

You’ve have met countless women who want to improve their reproductive health. One of your big ideas is to reduce their stress levels. How strong do you think is the relationship between reproductive health and mental wellbeing?

Very strong in fact. It’s more of a vicious cycle. When conception doesn’t happen, people get stressed out and because they get stressed out, they are not able to conceive.

Sometimes, when you see friends and family having children, you start feeling depressed and isolate yourself which leads to depression. For women with PCOD, they exhibit symptoms of anxiety which further aggravates their condition because with anxiety, they also release the stress hormone cortisol. Basically, their whole hormonal health goes out of balance.

When you mention taking care of their mental wellbeing to your clients, what kind of challenges do you face?

There is a lot of denial. Our social set up is such that there is anyway a lot of stigma around infertility and on top of that when you tell them to manage their anxiety or depression, I’ve seen my clients burst into tears. Another challenge in our current set up is that people don’t understand that there is a direct correlation between how happy and stress free you are and your physical health.

What are your top tips for taking care of your mental health to improve your reproductive health?

Well, there are many but here are my top 3:

  1. Keep some time for yourself in the morning. If your mornings are rushed, then the whole day you’ll feel rushed and stressed.
  2. Maintain a gratitude journal. Write three things that you are grateful for; every night before sleeping. It will help you sleep peacefully which releases Serotonin. This is extremely essential for maintaining a strong hormonal balance.
  3. Eat mindfully. One of the biggest causes of stress is eating too much without realizing; and then feeling guilty. Take out 20 minutes for your lunch and make sure you are chewing at least 20-25 times. When you eat mindfully, you’ll become aware of how much you’re eating.

Published here earlier.

Image source: Khyati Gupta Babbar

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