Positive Thinking for Conception
Conception is not always an easy process. Even with the advent of new fertility treatments such as IUI and IVF, pregnancy is never a sure thing. As a result, the struggle to conceive can bring on a range of different emotions, including many negative thoughts. And while it is entirely natural to experience your fair share of negative thoughts, it appears that this type of thinking may actually contribute to some fertility woes. However, research now indicates that restructuring of negative thoughts may be able to boost fertility. Here is some information on the power of positive thinking for conception!
Struggling to Conceive: Negative Emotions
While most of us take conception and pregnancy for granted, there are millions of men and women all over the United States who have continued difficulties getting pregnant. Whether you have been diagnosed with male-factor, female-factor, or unexplained infertility, you and your partner probably found the news devastating. And you may be experiencing a range of negative emotions and thoughts, including:
- self blame
These negative emotions are entirely normal and to be expected. However, if they become overwhelming, they could actually work to make conception even more difficult for you and your partner.
The Effects of Negative Emotions on Conception
Just as physical stressors, like illness, excessive exercise, and a poor diet, can contribute to reproductive problems, so can emotional stress. And the emotional stress associated with infertility and various fertility treatments is particularly great. In fact, research over the past 20 years or so has shown an increasing relationship between negative thought patterns and fertility problems.
A study published in 2005 in the Italian fertility journal, Minerva Ginecologica, suggests that emotional stress can cause severe upheaval in a woman’s reproductive cycle. Women with fertility problems were found to have very high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their bloodstream. This is the same hormone that has been found to shut down ovulation in female athletes. The study also discovered that more than 5% of all women experienced disruptions in the menstrual cycles merely because of emotional stress. This can make conception difficult or even impossible for some couples.
A study performed in 2001 at the University of California at San Diego analyzed women undergoing differing levels of depression. This study found that women who showed the most markers of depression were up to 93% less likely to become pregnant than their less-depressed peers. A study performed in 1992 showed similar results for men who were experiencing depression. Couples in which the male partner was depressed were much less likely to conceive than those couples who were not going through depression.
In 1995, a study at Brown University in Rhode Island also concluded that depression and infertility appear to be linked. In this study regarding women’s mental health, Brown University researchers discovered that women with a past history of depression were up to twice as likely to undergo examinations for fertility concerns.
Positive Thinking for Fertility
Based on the apparent correlation between depression and infertility, many fertility specialists and therapists are suggesting that couples try to increase their fertility by directly addressing these negative thought patterns. There are a few methods now being taught to couples struggling to conceive to help them reshape their thought patterns in the hopes that it will increase their fertility.
Cognitive Restructuring Therapy
Cognitive restructuring therapy is a type of cognitive behavior therapy and is taught by a number of different social workers, psychologists, and fertility counselors. It is a type of therapy designed to help you and your partner address negative thought patterns and shape them into more positive thoughts. It involves:
- learning to identify negative thoughts
- learning to evaluate triggers for negative thoughts
- learning to "thought stop," or engage in techniques to help stop negative thoughts before they arise
- learning to reverse negative thoughts so that they become more positive
Does Positive Thinking Work?
According to recent studies, there is some merit in maintaining positive thought patterns when it comes to improving fertility. A study was performed in 2000 examining the effects of positive thinking on fertility rates in women struggling with infertility.
The 184 women involved in the study were divided into three separate groups: a cognitive restructuring group (those that took cognitive restructuring lessons), a support group (those who attended support groups to deal with the emotional stress of infertility), and a control group (those who sought no additional support for their infertility). Pregnancy rates amongst the women in the control reached only 20%, while pregnancy rates for the other two groups were between 54% and 55%. Therefore, it appears that the power of positive thought really may have an influence on your fertility.
Tips for Powerful Positive Thinking
If you have been having a lot of negative thoughts or emotional concerns lately, it is important to practice a little bit of positive thinking. Even if it doesn’t help you to conceive, positive thinking can reduce your stress greatly and help you to enjoy your day-to-day life. Here are some great tips to follow:
- Avoid Thinking about the Past: It can be tempting at times to dwell on decisions you should have made or actions that you should have taken. But by dwelling on the past you are only fostering more negativity and self-blame. Do your best to stop yourself from thinking about past actions and instead focus on the present.
- Confront Your Negative Thoughts: When negative thoughts and feelings arise, you may feel like running away or even hiding from them. But it is important to confront these feelings so that they don’t have power over you. Question your thoughts and emotions and find out if they are really valid.
- Focus on Today: During infertility treatments, you may feel like you are constantly preparing for the future, and this can lead you to forget about the present. Instead, work to reconnect with your present life – take up a new hobby or skill, or visit with friends – and give your past and future a little break.