Can Medititation Improve Fertility?
YES! And probably for more reasons than you would think. The most obvious is stress reduction. Today, we lead very stressful lives, whether it comes from the busyness of our work, family life or the nonstop mental chatter we have going on in the background. The added pressure from the roller coaster of trying to get pregnant (or being pregnant for that matter) can lead to even greater stress. What you might not realize is that all this stress can produce prolactin, cortisol and other hormones that affect progesterone production and can interfere with or even prevent ovulation. In addition, every time our nervous system goes into fight or flight mode it sends blood away from the core to the extremities to prepare for “flight”. This disrupts blood flow to the uterus and can negatively affect the uterine lining making it more difficult for an embryo to implant, grow, and thrive.
Here are some other things research has found meditation to help with, all of which can directly or indirectly impact your fertility:
- Higher levels of DHEA which has been shown to improve fertility
- Reduced anxiety attacks as it lowers the levels of blood lactate.
- Increased serotonin which influences moods and behavior. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, headaches and insomnia.
- Enhanced energy, strength and stamina.
- Lower cholesterol levels, and lowered risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduced stress and tension
- Increased ability to concentrate
- Weight loss
- Improved flow of air to the lungs improving blood oxygenation
At our clinic we often tell clients that our job isn’t necessarily to get them pregnant. Rather, the goal is to get their bodies functioning as healthy as possible to create the ideal environment and opportunity for a baby to grow and thrive. With all of the health benefits meditation has to offer, it is yet another tool you can use to help foster that ideal “baby making” environment.
Okay, so maybe you’re willing to try it out, but what exactly does meditation entail? Wikipedia defines it as “a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself.” I would describe it as a practice that brings awareness to what is in the present moment and remaining focused on that rather than being lost in thought about things that aren’t happening. For many people that entails sitting with your eyes closed, body relaxed and mind focused on a singular thing like the breath. You will be amazed how quickly and how often you are off in whirlwind of thought and how long it takes to realize it and then come back to the breath.
If you have an especially busy mind like me, sitting to meditate for 45 minutes probably sounds about as fun as scrubbing the mildew from your bathroom tiles. I’ll admit that at first it can be really difficult to sit with such a bombardment of thoughts. However just like a muscle that you train, if you work it out regularly it will get stronger. Regular meditation will strengthen your ability to stay focused and aware of thoughts that come and go without being swayed by them. If you stick with it, a certain kind of calm will begin to come forth in all areas of life, not just when meditating. This type of meditation will not only reduce stress to lower cortisol levels and improve fertility, but can also help create clarity about difficult decisions that are often involved with trying to conceive. I envision it like a pond and our many thoughts create ripples in the water. When we quiet those thoughts and the water is calm we can see more clearly to the bottom.
But who has time for meditation when life is already so busy!? There are many options for those challenged by time. Research shows that even just 10 minutes a day can improve stress levels. Headspace offers a free and simple Take Ten meditation program.
Believe it or not you can multi task to get your meditation in. Since the goal is to remain focused on the present moment you can also accomplish this while doing other tasks like washing dishes or working out. Just notice how the soap feels in your hands as you wash or how the pavement feels as your feet hit the ground while jogging instead of letting your mind wander. I recently listened to a Ted Talk podcast about happiness where Matt Killingsworth’s research at trackingyourhappiness.org suggests people are much happier when they are focused on the present moment regardless of whether they consider the moment pleasant.
There are many different types of meditation styles that derive from a multitude of traditions. Find the one that speaks to you and get started! Here are a couple of links to get you going:
Circle and Bloom offers fertility specific meditation/relaxation.
Seattle Insight Meditation Society is where I got my start; they offer a free online (and very thorough) beginning meditation class.
Mantra for Fertility from a Kundalini yogi
Huffington Post gives a guide for how to easily get in 10 minutes of meditation per day
Headspace as I mentioned above has a Take Ten program for a quick meditation