by Melanie Hackwell BSc (Hons(, Li AC, Lic Tui na MBAaC AFN
The effects of stress on fertility are well known and numerous studies have shown that stress reduces the probability of conception
When an individual is experiencing stress, high levels of the hormone cortisol (often referred to as the stress hormone) is secreted in the body, which is produced by the pituitary gland.
In normal circumstances, cortisol has a positive effect on the body, and is responsible for the regulation of blood pressure, insulin release, assists with the immune system and the inflammatory response. It is, however, important that following a stressful event, the body’s relaxation response is activated so the function of the body can return to normal.
Sadly, in our active lives, the body’s stress response is activated so often that the body does not always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic stress. Thus high levels of cortisol continue to be secreted. This can result in Impaired brain function, suppressed thyroid function, an imbalance in blood sugar levels, decrease in bone and muscle tissue, raised blood pressure and lower immunity.
Impact on your body and fertility
This will all have an impact on fertility as the body is not operating at its optimum level. This is where the relaxation response, which can be induced by regular meditation, has a very positive effect. This response creates changes in metabolism, heart rate, respiration, and even blood pressure. In some cases, brain chemicals and neurotransmitters are physically altered because of the practice as well.
In our stressful lives, the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for the function of body organs) can operate at a sub-optimum level. Paradoxyically, the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for arousal, preparation for vigorous activity) can be overstimulated. Studies of brain activity show that meditation can reduce the activity of the sympathetic nervous system while increasing the parasympathetic, resulting in profound long term health effects.
Meditation has a proven positive impact on your body
A recent study found that an average of 27 minutes of a daily practice of meditation showed decreased grey matter density in the amygdala; an area of the brain instrumental in regulating anxiety, fear and stress.
Meditation, practiced regularly, visibly reduces the amount of cortisol and increases hormones such as oxytocin and melatonin, responsible for rest, relaxation, loving emotions, and feelings of trust. Meditation can reverse the impact that stress has on your body and your fertility.
Often people can become daunted (and sometimes, quite frankly, terrified) by the thought of becoming parents
Those thoughts, if they become dominant, can actually hinder the very process in which one is undertaking. Meditation can help prepare oneself mentally and physically for pregnancy and parenthood.
It teaches patience, helps you get in touch with yourself and see yourself as a ‘creator of a life’. It also teaches you to relinquish the control we like to have over our body and mind, releasing them to Mother Nature.
In this way, meditation can remove mental and spiritual barriers to pregnancy and help you ease your fears about pregnancy, parenting, or the birthing process.