Does the mind-body connection impact women’s health, especially women’s fertility? An introduction to women’s health at an emotional plane.
By Anika Puri
The greatest healers of today’s day and age believe that physical ailments are all related to mental anguish. For example, Louise Haye has shown a link between emotional situations and physical ailments; a throat ache often comes at the time where we are unable to express ourselves or knees giving way could be because of our own inability to change. Brandon Bays developed a ‘Journey Process’; a mental journey through our physical body bringing up issues from the past and healing our present through the cleansing of those issues.
Our generation is afflicted with a wide variety of diseases and disorders due to stress. We are competitive. We are discontent. We want more and more and we are clearly paying the price. We are so busy that we don’t have time to care for ourselves, to rest, to sit up and take notice when we are falling apart.
Back in the olden days, couples made love and got pregnant. Today, we plan. We plan when to ‘do it’. We plan how to do it. We calculate the time and day and month and year. Add to that, all the baggage that we carry from our past – lost pregnancies, other surgeries which may have caused scarring in the uterus, mechanical problems like PCOS, Endometriosis, sperm issues, egg issues and so on. By the time we actually get down to it, we are so mentally exhausted that we just don’t have the physical ability to relax and enjoy the process. And if we don’t enjoy the process, trust me, it’s not going to happen, judging by 95% of the fertility clients who come to me with ”unexplained fertility issues”.
Immediately we might think of our stress in the context of work pressures, but this is only one drain on our resources. The amount of emotional or mental upheaval is not the critical factor, it’s more about how we react to the events in our life, how we perceive our position, what we can and cannot affect. Apart from physical issues like poor nutrition or high sugar levels, emotional stress also plays a large role in our fertility.
Back in the olden days, couples made love and got pregnant. Today, we plan.
Shelly Jain*, aged 33, was married for 10 years and had a 6 year old when she came to us with secondary infertility. She had been trying for the last 4 years for her second child; however 3 IUIs and 2 IVFs later, she had reached a point of utter desperation where nothing was helping. She had previously had a C-section, a Laproscopy and a history of PCOS so we had quite a few mechanical issues to work through with focused bodywork.
But as we spent more time together, I also learnt that like many Indian women, Shelly had a lot to deal with at home being a wife, mother, daughter-in-law and running a home. As she grew more comfortable with me and confident in me, I learnt that she was forced to have a termination a few months after her marriage. She had not grieved for this baby. As soon as her emotional release happened, on our 8th session, Shelly conceived and is now the proud mother of not only her first lovely little boy but another one as well.
In 2006, in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Dr. Sarah Berga reported that women who did not ovulate had excessive levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the brain fluid.
Professor Berga, based at the Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, stated that “Reducing stress through psychological intervention could restore ovulation in women whose ovarian function had previously been impaired.” She adds, “Contrary to what had been previously believed, we found that multiple small stressors that seemingly would have minimal impact on reproductive competence can play a major role in causing fertility issues.”
How and what we think not only has a tremendous effect on overall physiological health but also on our fertility. When we work with women who are trying to conceive, we use therapeutic tools to explore the roots of conflict that underlie difficulty in conceiving and holding a baby to term.
Parents and other relatives are the architects of family life; their relationships and the way they related to us, created our expectations of love, intimacy, self worth and self image. By examining the emotional climate of our family we can uncover the conscious and unconscious internalized messages that govern our adult lives.
Quite simply, how you perceive your ability to conceive and mother a child is affected by generational beliefs and patterns.
Christiane Northrup, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. renowned Gynaecologist, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom says, “When it comes to getting pregnant, your “programming” about fertility is critical. The emotional energy of conceiving is one of being open and receptive. You have to come from this very trusting, almost vulnerable place in order to conceive. You must honestly believe that it’s possible for you to get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy and baby at any age. This is the best way for you to maximize your chances of getting pregnant.”
Probing deeper into an emotional and physical history of your life will help identify some conflicts that could be sabotaging your chances of having a baby.
Take the case of Mrinalini Seth*, aged 37, married ten years but never conceived a child. Mrinalini and her husband were actively trying for 4 years with two IUIs and one IVF in the bag. She had no history of any mechanical problems and so was physically completely fit. No one could understand why she wasn’t getting pregnant. She came to meet us once she had “lost all hope” and this was an avenue worth giving a shot. Three sessions later, she had conceived.
It turned out Mrinalini was the fourth daughter of a conservative Indian family. She had always felt that she was the unwanted child and her whole life worked in that stream – trying to please everyone to gain approval and to justify her very existence – to the detriment of her own health. Two of Mrinalini’s older sisters had genuine physiological fertility issues and these had transferred over to her; her subconscious simply would not let her have it easier than them and so internally she was blocking herself from conceiving. We revisited those memories through deeper therapeutic work and then relaxed her into slowly changing those memories to clear her cells. She is now in her second trimester.
…how you perceive your ability to conceive and mother a child is affected by generational beliefs and patterns.
Sometimes, in our efforts to not become our mothers we reject their example, which means we also block the reproductive capacity we should have inherited. What we need to do is understand how our parents came to be like that in the first place, so that we can understand why they came to parent in the way they did. Your drive to not become your mother was ingrained from an early age, and as an adult you have become used to this disappointment. However these beliefs have become part of your biology and your body gets used to the negative programming set down. Unconscious conflicts, as we have explored can underlie ambivalence about having a baby, and can prevent conception or the ability to hold your baby to term.
In the mere act of becoming aware of how our family history has affected our fertility, we begin the process of recreating new possibilities and babies. Rather than spending time denying any similarity with our mothers, a significant change in approach is to look at the ways in which we are similar to our mothers.
As with any deeper mind related work, we must also work on the body to bring about complete wellness. We do this through massage and reflexology working through any mechanical issues like an imbalanced endocrine system, blocked tubes, adhesions or even to raise egg quality with particular strokes and essential aroma oils. Cleansing and energizing through Pranic Healing and Reiki also helps us to work at the level of the chakras as well and so it is a technique we use in all of our treatments.
*Names changes to protect identities.
*Photo credit: amrufum (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
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