Fertile, Pregnant, Conceiving, ConceiveAnxiety, Depression and other conditions linked with Stress can stop you conceiving naturally, but why does stress affect fertility?

To understand why stress affects fertility we need to bear in mind two things:-

  1. We are mammals
  2. Our brain still operates as primitive man/woman

Reproduction is one of our most basic functions, it is part of evolution, essential to keep the species going, so it is understandable that reproduction part of our make up, our design and is hard programmed into the original primitive part of our brain.

Over the last 200,000 years, our human brains have developed an vast intellect which can accomplish unimagined breakthroughs in technology, it can achieve the unachievable and it can adapt and manipulate nature to our benefit.  We are a species of control freaks, but still our primitive brain trumps that great intellect when it comes to basic human functions, not matter what the intellect can invent to control the world around us.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a helpful theory in understanding why.

fertility, needs, anxiety, stress, depression

Physiological and safety needs at the bottom of the scale are all about survival, arguable so is love and belonging, in primitive times if you didn’t belong to a tribe your survival was threatened and these are needs shared by all animals – if you’ve ever tried dog training, you will know that food will motivate most dogs.  Esteem and self-actualisation are very much human traits, your dog may appear to be motivated by problem solving, but I suspect the reason is actually based in obtaining food.

Also at the physiological end, right at the bottom of the scale is sex or rather ‘reproduction’, because after all, reproduction is the essential reason for sex – yes, you might disagree, but it was built into our design for reproduction, whoever or whatever designed us, was just in a good mood that day 😉

According to Maslow, humans are still motivated to have sex even when their safety is not guaranteed, it is in reality, much more intricately linked.

If you were to look at birth statistics during wars or a particular crisis what you will see is the birth rate initially dropping dramatically, but if that war or crisis is prolonged, the birth rate will normalise and after the crisis has past, there is usually a boom in birth figures.  In the UK in the 50s and 60s there was a baby boom.  When you frame it in the context was a war, it sound very plausible doesn’t it, but we are not in the midst of a war in much of the world, so what has this got to do with fertility now?

Our primitive brain, the bit concerned with physiological and safety, needs to be satisfied that the personal world in which it lives is safe and physiological needs are balanced before it will allow you to bring a child into the world and some people are more sensitive to this than others.

If your primitive brain thinks that there is some sort of crisis, emergency or danger, it will not allow you to reproduce and the way you think about things will determines the perceptions of this primitive brain.

If you negatively forecast the future (worry), or negatively introspect about the past, you are thinking in a negative way.  It is this negative thinking which is converted into anxiety and as your anxiety levels rise, the primitive brain starts monitoring the situation closely and if it rises past a certain point, the primitive brain will step in because it thinks that there is a crisis, emergency or danger.

Your primitive brain can’t tell the difference between a sabre tooth tiger chasing you and an impending bill or whether you’re at risk of being made redundant.  It can’t tell the difference between you worrying that the sabre tooth tiger might come back tomorrow and worrying that you won’t be able to conceive a child.  Your primitive brain just understands the anxiety created by worrying as crisis, emergency or danger which are not good conditions for bringing a child into the world, better to wait until the crisis is over.

It is really important to understand also that the brain does not know the difference between imagination and reality, it takes what you choose to believe as real, so even if its an imagined negative outcome, it will interpret that as reality.

Unfortunately, for people with anxiety or who worry, the crisis is never over, they always find something to worry about and sadly, the paradox about worrying about fertility is that the worrying isn’t over until the birth, so the worrying is the thing preventing the conception.

You’ve probably heard about people who have tried IVF and every fertility treatment without success so have given up and adopted, only to get pregnant naturally.  This actually happened to a close friend of mind who spent thousands on fertility treatment and unfortunately it didn’t work for her, so she resigned herself to the fact that she wasn’t going to have children and started looking forwards a different life and stopped trying – then got pregnant and now has a beautiful son.

Hypnotherapy for fertility is about helping people, both men and women (because it can affect both), get into the best emotional, physiological, physical and mental health conducive to conception.  It’s about balance, eating healthily is of course important, not consuming chemicals which affect your physiological balance such as nicotine or alcohol and also not creating chemical which tip off that primitive brain that there is a crisis.  Worrying creates adrenalin and cortisol, both stress hormones which are released to deal with impending danger.   But you also need to be producing good chemical, neurotransmitters such as serotonin which is also a signal to the brain that all is good in the world.  People with depression will have very low levels of serotonin, so this can also be a factor inhibiting conception.

If there is no physical reason why you can’t conceive, hypnotherapy can help you conceive by helping you maintain this all important balance.  We regularly use hypnotherapy with people undergoing IVF to help them cope with the emotional roller coaster and be in the best possible state for the IVF to work.

We also see many clients, both male and female who are suffering from either low sex drive or erectile dysfunction, both commonly affected by stress or anxiety and can be effectively helped with hypnotherapy.

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