4 Empowering Mindsets Around Fertility, From A Holistic Fertility Doctor
Every fertility journey comes with struggles. If you're dealing with challenges—you might try fertility vitamins and supplements, exercise, healthy eating, and even available medical options. What many don't realize is that having a positive mindset around fertility is a key piece of a couple's conception journey.
Research shows that mind-body interventions1 can be effective in reducing psychological distress and improving marital function and fertility outcomes in couples trying to conceive. These interventions include yoga, mindfulness-based exercises, and positive affirmations and mindsets around fertility.
Studies also suggest that fertility is associated with psychological factors2. In some cases, couples have problems conceiving despite the fact that there appears to be no objective immunologic or somatic reasons. Factors such as the reaction to the diagnosis and suggested treatment and a woman's self-acceptance and self-esteem may play a role.
In my experience as a holistic fertility specialist, I've found approaching the journey to conception with positivity is crucial. To help with your own journey, here are some empowering mindsets around fertility that can help you take charge and optimize your experience:
Understand your cycles and hormones.
The menstrual cycle is a female biological process, and it's intimately related to fertility. For this reason, it's important to understand how menstrual cycles and hormones work. While exact ovulation can be challenging to determine, you can choose from a plethora of modern technologies for at-home testing to assess your ovulation more accurately. Daily basal body temperature (BBT)3 charting is one technique many of my patients use since body temperature drops a little before an ovary releases an egg.
It can also be extremely empowering to test your hormones, then review the results with a medical provider who can assess the levels, to help you understand what's happening in your body.
Do not let age define you or your fertility.
Although age is another factor in conceiving, don't be discouraged—your fertility success is not defined solely by your age. While fertility naturally declines as one gets older, the impact on your eggs and ovaries is not instantaneous but rather more subtle and gradual over time.
Your body is not failing you. Fertility challenges are a sign to discover the root of the problem.
It's really common to feel like your body is failing you when you experience challenges on your journey to parenthood. STOP. Don't blame your body. Instead, consider any fertility struggles as signs from your body, for you to discover and treat the root cause of the problem.
When other things are out of balance, such as hormones, the gut and vaginal microbiomes, higher than manageable levels of stress, or underlying thyroid dysfunction—fertility may be more challenging. Working with a naturopathic or functional medicine doctor to discover and address the root causes can make the journey to parenthood more smooth.
Give yourself more time.
Do you ever notice that when you are on a deadline at work, the work seems more stressful? That's how your body feels! However, here's the secret: It's not so much an age clock; it's your internal experience. If you decide at 32 years of age that you're ready to be a mother, your sudden shift toward wanting motherhood can overtake all else. If it doesn't happen right away, that may create more internal anxiety. It starts making you question everything.
But that timeline pressure isn't fair or realistic for your body. It's almost like deciding you want to take a monthlong vacation and expecting to fly out tomorrow. You wouldn't do that, right? Because you know that vacations take time and energy to plan. Similarly, you wouldn't decide you want to get married tomorrow. You know that it's going to take time to plan your wedding. So, why then do we expect pregnancy and parenthood to happen overnight? It's because of the cautionary language adults conveyed when we were teenagers: having sex = getting pregnant.
In reality, there is only a 20%-at-best chance of conceiving in a completely healthy, fertile cycle. So, remember, it's wise not to have your deadline for motherhood be too close. But instead, plan. Give yourself a deadline far in the future. Understand that you need to prep your body (and your partner needs to prep, too!). Take a deep breath...spend some time planning your journey to parenthood, and do your best to enjoy the process. Often just the process of planning will take the stress and pressure off of you.
Of course, in any case, if you're having challenges conceiving, consider speaking with a medical professional (ideally a functional or integrative practitioner) for advice.
Aumatma Shah, N.D. is a board-certified Naturopathic Endocrinologist, in practice for close to 15 years. She is a world-renowned specialist in holistic fertility, and the best-selling author of Fertility Secrets: What Your Doctor Didn't Tell You About Baby-Making.
Shah was awarded the “Best Naturopathic Medicine Doctor″ award locally in 2015 and 2020, and recognized as a top “Women In Medicine” Doctor in 2020. In addition to supporting couples through individualized care, she also trains practitioners who want to specialize in fertility.