Stress and Fertility

Stress and Fertility: 6 reasons you should rethink your pregnancy planning.

1. Stress and fertility planning

Many of us plan when we want to have a baby. And we really want our pregnancy to fit into that plan. So when it’s not happening, it’s no surprise we start to feel pressure.

We make a decision – this is when I want it to happen. The more it doesn’t happen according to our expectations and plan, the more pressure builds up. We find ourselves experiencing an overwhelming sense of loss and disappointment because we aren’t pregnant, and that things aren’t going the way we want them to.

We start to seek reasons why. We go see a fertility specialist, seek natural therapies, and try to improve our health and chances to fall pregnant, so it all happens in the time frame we want. 

This pressure, disappointment, and then more pressure – the hope that maybe it will happen this cycle, and the fear that it won’t – all builds up stress and pressure. And then there’s the pressure we put on ourselves that we are stressing. It is all truly exhausting. ALL of this affects our fertility. And not in a good way.

According to Chinese Medicine, this sense of control we want to have on the timing of things negatively impacts the flow of liver qi in the body. 

2. What is Liver Qi and what does it have to do with stress and fertility?

Liver qi is energy that flows around our body.  It is responsible for the smooth flow of energy around the body. It keeps things moving. The nature of this energy is outward, expansive movement, like leaves of a big tree, growing up and out. The energy of the Liver also needs flexibility and adaptability. If the flow of liver qi or energy is blocked it loses the ability to flow and move outwards.

When we are in this state of stress, energy builds up, creating too much heat. The tension that develops from this control, and pressure that we put on ourselves can effectively restrict and block our liver qi.

Pressure on the liver qi comes from internal causes such as meeting high expectations and many demands on ourselves. It also comes from external demands such as work pressures, fertility treatments and pregnancy planning. 

So when it comes to stress and fertility, planning a pregnancy can put a great strain on our liver. And, in modern life, it is already the most congested organ in our body. 

Pregnancy is beyond our control. 

It is something we can’t plan. Try – yes. But with planning, with the expectation of success, we lose our adaptability, our ability to go with the flow and let what happens, happen. 

In Chinese Medicine, the liver regulates the relationship between our desires and the adversity of life. In this way, if you picture bamboo, it stands tall, but also has the flexibility to bend in the wind. However, if it is rigid like a tree, tall with strong roots, it breaks in the wind, not bending. 

Like bamboo, we need to cultivate this flexibility in ourselves. Especially when it comes to elevated stress and fertility planning. The emotions of not getting what we are hoping for when we want it causes great strain on our liver. This increases our stress levels. And increasing our stress levels has an adverse effect on our fertility health.

3. How can relationships affect the flow of our Liver Qi?

Lack of communication between couples can also lead to blockages in the flow of liver qi. Communication failures about what is going on, hidden feelings, wishes and expectations can cause blockages. These blockages affect the flow of our blood to our reproductive organs. In women, this causes blood to congeal, which leads to menstrual cramping and menstrual pain. In men it affects the quality of sperm cells.

The pressure of timing can also affect our sexuality, where the spontaneity of love making is lost and sex becomes a planned event. Now there’s a pressure to perform, laced with the fear of failure to get pregnant. This can affect our self esteem and self confidence, and that of our partner. All of this can create more stress and fertility issues.

4. Practice benevolence, openness and understanding

This is where benevolence and understanding come into play. 

To resolve blockages in the liver qi, when it comes to relationships, cultivate and encourage open discussions and ‘walking in each other’s shoes’. This will help us to gain a better understanding of each other’s feelings and pressures, and help to unwind and relieve the tensions we’ve been holding. And in turn, this will naturally help to unblock the liver qi.

Benevolence and understanding also needs to be directed towards ourselves. Take the pressure off, emotionally and physically. We can’t control when we get pregnant. That is up to nature. And while we can do everything in our power to prepare our body, it is our mind that needs the most attention and care. 

5. The best things you can do

If you are embarking on a fertility journey and struggling to conceive, caring for mind, body and spirit, as a whole, is the most important aspect of this journey. 

What practices will you use to help with the stress and disappointment? This is actually the most important aspect when trying to conceive. Thoughts and emotions have a profound effect on our physical body. Our thoughts can cause a lot of issues for the smooth flow of liver qi and the functioning of our reproductive organs.

It takes a lot of resilience to go through fertility treatment.

You could consider learning meditation, practice yoga or tai chi, or receive acupuncture for stress relief. Any of these could help to bring balance and calmness to your world.

Start looking for a fertility counsellor. Be open and communicative with your partner. Gather supportive friends and family that can lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on.

6. Letting go

Pressure causes stagnation of liver qi which creates blockage not only on a physical level but also on an emotional and spiritual level. On the physical level we have muscular tension which then creates heat. Movement is the key to clearing the heat and blockages. Movement on the physical level, but also on an emotional and spiritual level. We need to learn to let go of the demands and pressures we put upon ourselves. The fertility journey is often fraught with highs and lows, hopes and fears, devastation and exhilaration.

Wishing you every success and happiness on your fertility journey!

If you have any questions about the impact of stress and fertility, or you would like to share your thoughts, please do leave a comment below. 

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