Have you been told that you just need to relax?
That is, if you just relax and stop thinking about it, you’ll get pregnant?
That if you stop “trying”: you’ll get pregnant...
I wanted to put some science behind this, to discuss how it fits in with our instrinsic primal fertility design
I mentioned in the last episode, which looked at whether IVF clinics are exploiting women over 40, following an emotive headline in the news.
Let's consider our original fertility design, which is there in order to reproduce, and ensure survival of the species.
The 3 elements that are needed in order to ensure this are,
I touched upon it in the last episode, when I discussed how people get pregnant accidentally and how the instinctive fertility design aids that.
But, I wanted to break down further this area of Safety and how this affects fertility.
The Triune Brain
Through evolution our brain has developed with 3 parts, and it is referred to as the triune brain, made up of the reptile, mammal and human brains
The reptile brain, known as the survival instinct brain, is responsible for fight or flight and automatic pilot,
The mammal brain, referred to as the emotional brain, is responsible for emotions, memories and habits, and helps us with decision making at a basic level
The Human brain, referred to as the Thinking brain is responsible for language, abstract thought, imagination and consciousness, as in that functioning in our conscious mind, and this is what allows us to reason and rationalise
So this whole system of survival is under the primary control of our reptile brain, and is there to ensure continuance of species, based on absolute instinctive behaviour.
The issue we have as humans, of course, is that our chattering brain within our neo cortex, the area of logic and reason, enables self awareness and questioning, and as a result things can seem less instinctive.
This is the part of the brain that asks why we're not getting pregnant, what are we doing wrong?
the area with self awareness that compares us to other people. Other people getting pregnant, why can they and not me?
The area that looks for reasons and causes
And this affects the emotional brain, fear, upset, worry that then triggers the reptile brain to go into fight or flight.
So for reproduction to happen the species needs to be safe, and more importantly is to feel safe.
You're perhaps not under threat from life endangering tigers, Or are you?
I refer to our modern day fertility specific Tigers that elicit the stress response of fight or flight
And these tigers can be many things.
And the one thing that we need to be really clear on is, you may think that the worries that you're facing are not the same as your life being endangered by a tiger.
But your body doesn't know that.
Your body responds to the chemicals that are produced as a result of your thoughts, from the emotional brain.
So let's take it back to real, life endagering tigers for a moment.
The fact is that there is a tiger.
You won't consider the tiger itself as necessarily dangerous. Unless you know that tigers are dangerous.
So you could be a small child who has never seen a tiger before and a tiger comes into your path. and you think, Wow, what a big fluffy thing, until it roars perhaps?
Because you know that tigers are dangerous, because you know, that being in the presence of a tiger out in the wild, is a dangerous situation.
You will have a though such as, Oh, my goodness (insert alternatives here) that’s a tiger, with me here and life is in danger which leads to..
The emotions of fear, and terror, and fear and terror signal the fight or flight response
Lets think of situations daily that cause this same response even on a smaller level,
As a result adrenaline is produced, heart rate increases, blood is pumped to the arms and legs so that you can fight or flight.
You run to safety
Where are your tigers?
It may not be fertility related, it can be small or large stress inducing thoughts, You may have work deadlines, you may have worries about career progression, family issues, being busy, being late.. it goes on. These in themselves affect your bodies perception of safety
It may be that you have anxiety, general, or specific anxiety relating to something else entirely. It may be a feeling of a lack of control,
Add in fertility worries, you may feel you will never get pregnant, t
There may be financial worries, because you're not getting pregnant. And you're thinking oh no, this means that we're going to have to have assisted methods,
That if the first round doesn't work on the funded cycle, if you have access to a funded cycle,
Then we're going to need to pay for fertility treatment. And that's really expensive.
This one thought, rolls and gathers speed and size as it moves
You might have the pressures upon you of conceiving, due to age, it may be a worry that you've only got a short window, you haven't got the time for this not to be happening,
And at this point, it's not safe to reproduce.
The human brain which controls logic, thinking and reasoning, when fight or flight is at play, cannot step in, there's no time for logic, this is survival.
These tigers are everywhere,
You might not think that you're particularly stressed. And so that's not going to have an impact on your fertility.
But Stress doesn’t have to be a huge big thing, as I said earlier it could be big or small stresses, these small stresses can be lots of little hits throughout your day.
In this instance your body responds as though you are in constant danger.
So how soon after you wake do you check your phone?, and there might be something there that creates a small dose of stress response.
As you get ready, throughout the morning, on your journey to work, reading an email, a conversation with a family member, the to do list all of these individually might create a small stress response.
So they're short, sharp, but they're consistent.
And when we are consistently producing adrenaline, then our body starts to produce cortisol, which is an anti inflammatory.
Hormone steals and diversions
Cortisol’s function is to reduce the inflammation in the body, the inflammation that's been caused by stress.
And here's the thing with stress.
If cortisol is being produced, then the production of progesterone
Progesterone is one of your female reproductive hormones. For the body to make cortisol, it has to use a basic ingredient first. And this basic ingredient is a hormone builder, if you like, and this is called pregnanalone. Now, what's key here is that in order to make cortisol, the body needs needs to use
The same hormone builder,.
Now here's the thing, which is going to win who's going to get the pregnanalone?
Well, your life is in danger, so reproduction is really not a vital system right now. So it is going to be used to make the cortisol.
These tiny stresses in continued doses, or the big continual stresses, or the stresses about fertility, or about your work or about your life, are going to affect the production of your hormones.
Hormones are chemical signals that cause the body to do something.
They are situated in glands around the bod, all with separtae function, but are all controlled by the Hypothalamus and Pituatory Glands
They work together looking over everything and making decisions on potential diversions,
So hormones can be increased, decreased, and diverted,
Stress, whether it be big, little, intermittent or consistent can have an impact on your fertility
You can look into ways to reduce stress, maybe make some fundamental changes to work life balance, maybe implement measure that help you relax after a stressful day, signal the body to go into rest and digest mode
It's really important to know your tigers. Recognising and managing your thoughts is a key part of the work that I do personally and with clients
Its what I have used to manage my own health challenges both physically and emotionally.
What if I told you that you were in control of the tigers, its you who released them?
The tigers, they are your thoughts, your scary negative thoughts
So we just have to stop thinking them? If only things were that simple?
Controlling your tigers
What we needs to do is recognise them as thoughts.
In order to recognise thoughts, you have to be able to notice them and one of the best ways to be able to tune into this is by being present, to be able to get to the point of saying, here is the thought that…
But thoughts seem so real, when you think of something sad, you cry. Your brain does not know the difference between what is real or imagined. It will react to the emotion. This as well as being a potential downfall in emotion health is also incredibly powerful, your brain works with the information you give it, so when we look at visualisations, this is huge
Lets go back to the negative are thoughts, thoughts that you have made yourself, from memories, fears, past experience, via the sub conscious, so in many ways you are not consciously in control of them, but you can get control in their management and your responses
Being able to recognise and manage thoughts can change things hugely.
The process is, there is a situation, this leads to a thought, which leads to an emotion, which leads to chemical reaction in the body, which can lead to a physical change, and could also lead to a behavior
Recognising thoughts can mean the reactions change and over time, this can lead to physical changes within the brain
One of the key things we realise when we are able to recognise thoughts is that we are in control of them, when experiencing fertility issues, we don’t feel in control, but we can be in control of ourselves, our actions and our thoughts and in doing so, we take control
What can we do? Well as I said earlier we can look at supporting out bodies to relax, to reduce the cortisol.
I have a free relaxation audio available to you that you can access in the show notes, or by visiting fertilityrewire.com
But perhaps for those of us who experience these significant stresses, anxiety, depression or continued negative thoughts patterns, a system to recognise and manage thoughts is needed.
By being present, by noticing..
If you wanted to learn more, about how thought management within Fertility rewire can help, then jump on a call with me, get in touch