You have an unexplained infertility diagnosis but you are determined that this is the year you finally get pregnant.
If this is you at the start of every year then it is time to think again. I don’t mean give up. I mean literally re think what you have been doing that has got you where you are today, because whatever it was it hasn’t worked. If you are one of the thousands of women that have been told you have unexplained infertility then take a moment to see with fresh eyes the possibility in that statement. I know that when you were first told there was nothing stopping you from getting pregnant you may have felt a temporary relief but you have very likely lost sight of that feeling now.
You have probably spent time wishing that doctors would find something wrong so they could put it right, but that hasn’t happened so instead take it for the positive it really is. There is no medical reason stopping you from having a baby. There that’s it, one hell of a sentence. Lets take it as a truth. I’m not beating around the bush, what would be the point? So let this year be the one that you start afresh. Draw a line under what has gone before and do something different.
You don’t need me to tell you that trying to conceive unsuccessfully month after month, year after year takes it toll.
The crushing disappointment each month, the struggle to congratulate and maintain composure at friends and families announcements, the irritation you feel listening to everyones advice and attempts to make you feel better. Do they really think you haven’t tried that??
Instead of focusing on the fact that nothing seems to be working for you take a breath and make a decision.
This year decide to go about things in a different way. The first thing to do is recover your balance. Find yourself again; the you that existed before you started trying to conceive. The you that existed before you were labelled with unexplained infertility. That’s all unexplained infertility is – a label for something that doctors can’t explain. You have both been checked and it has been found that there is nothing medically wrong. What you need to be aware of is that normal test results don’t mean there is nothing wrong; just that there is nothing medically wrong. So the problem is not in your body but has its origins in your mind. You do have something you can take steps to fix after all!
Examples of how the mind affects the body are everywhere.
For some reason society at the moment seems to have trouble accepting that a problem may have its origins in the mind, although we do fully accept the more common manifestations of our mind body connection.
Tears are a physiological response to an emotion or feeling. We cry if we feel sad or happy, sometimes we cry in anger and frustration or we cry with laughter. It’s an instantaneous response that occurs in the body as a result of an emotion. Blushing occurs when the blood vessels in our head and neck dilate and become infused with blood. This is an instantaneous physical change that reflects a feeling of embarrassment or happiness felt inside. When it happens we can’t control it. Blushes betray a feeling and even when they increase our embarrassment we can’t stop them. Our hands might shake as we sign a marriage certificate; our mouth might dry as we wait to be called in to an important interview. These are all physiological responses to emotions and feelings. We assign meaning to emotions based upon our individual experiences and beliefs and these generate feelings that get locked in to our subconscious.
Emotions are instinctive, their ultimate and primary purpose is survival hence their instantaneous nature. Just thinking about something threatening can trigger our emotional fear response and the release of the stress hormones that give us a heightened ability to get out of danger. Emotions and feelings are closely related and trigger each other. It is not the emotional event that affects you but the meaning that you have consciously or unconsciously linked to it.
So what can you do if you have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility?
1. Regain your balance.
The ideal state for our bodies is homoeostasis. Our bodies work to maintain this state of balance and optimal health in order to work normally ‘in ease’. When some part of us stops working normally it throws everything else out of balance to compensate and we might become ill ‘dis-ease’. If a person can suffer significant physical symptoms that are not medically explained then it stands to reason that your fertility can be inhibited for a psychological reason too.
Initially your aim should be to get back in a state of balance mentally, emotionally and physically. The mind body connection is massively important in fertility and you will need to make a commitment to yourself and get your partner on board so that he understands and it becomes a shared endeavour, as it should be. It isn’t difficult once you have made the decision to change your mindset and you fully commit to it.
The first step is to specify a time frame, a month perhaps, and start to really notice your thoughts, feelings and emotions at all the different points of your day.
Notice how you feel in response to different people and situations. It might take a bit of practice and digging to get below the surface. Notice the good, bad and indifferent and write it all down as close to when the feelings arise as possible. Use your phone to jot down notes if you need to, and then expand upon them on paper as soon as you can. This action serves a few different purposes.
The act of writing down is an outlet to express your feelings and this is most beneficial to you when it is done as close to the experience as possible.
Seeing events and your feelings on paper removes you from them and enables you to view them in a more detached objective way.
They are saved as a record for you to look back on and reflect on how far you have come.
Track back to your first thoughts good or bad and notice the ones that started you off on either an upward or downward spiral of thinking. As time goes by you will be able to look back in your journal and notice patterns. Don’t just note down the negative. It is so helpful to notice what makes you feel good and positive, what gives you joy, as these are the things that you need to increase to bring balance back into your life. I am not just talking about the big things in life, the little things matter too and can be easier to drop into busy days. We are all different and you need to know your triggers both positive and negative before you can actively avoid or seek them out.
Look at the negative thoughts you have written down about yourself and question them. Are they actually true? Who told you they were? Why should you believe them? Then change it for something positive.
Read what you have written as if it was your best friend recording her thoughts and feelings. What would be your reaction to them then? We are so harsh to ourselves and often would not dream of saying to anyone else what we say to ourselves. Seeing those critical thoughts written down in black and white will make you realise that they are not true and definitely not helpful. The cycle that makes pregnancy possible begins with hormones released in the brain and is directly influenced by your thoughts and emotions which can have a positive effect on your hormones.
Going through the above exercise and taking time to notice what is going on inside will help you to see the areas that need addressing in order for you to regain your balance and reduce and manage your stress. It will help you to see and feel the positive in your unexplained infertility diagnosis.
2. Make it your mission to change the focus of your life from getting pregnant to having fun.
- Concentrate on things that will increase your feelings of wellbeing. Miserable to fun is possible I promise, but you will have to put effort in to begin with.
- Remember what you used to love doing and incorporate it back into your life so it’s a regular feature.
Make sure you spend quality time with your partner talking about things other than pregnancy.
Get out and about and experience new activities with your partner. It is very bonding to learn something new together.
- Make plans that you both find exciting and that don’t involve babies.
- Make sure you schedule in regular times to connect with nature. Long walks in the country and a pub lunch or even getting out in your local park. Go to the coast if possible. If you live in a very urban area at least make sure you get out and explore on foot and don’t spend all your time in the car. You must get out in daylight every day.
- In summer go barefoot when you can as it has been shown that health benefits come from the relationship with our bodies and the electrons in the earth.
- Power Pose – watch Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk.
- Fake the biggest smile, hold it and see how it becomes real (when your smile involves the muscles around your eyes it has been shown that it causes a chemical reaction in your brain. Your body releases dopamine and serotonin and that makes you feel happier).
- When you are feeling down watch comedy films or boxsets. It has been shown that laughter decreases stress and increases immune boosting antibodies and triggers the release of endorphins.
- Create a space in your home where you are surrounded by your favourite things where you can restore, relax and recover from stress. Go through the list above one by one and gradually layer all the suggestions together. This will drive the positive changes in your mindset necessary for you to regain and maintain mental, emotional and physical balance.
Remember your mind changes your body and your body changes your mind!