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Will the Real Contra-Ceptive Please Stand Up!

Opinions vary as to whether stress causes infertility. Certainly, dealing with infertility causes stress. But can it be implicated as an ongoing “cause” of infertility? This leaves room for feeling blamed. And what if feeling stressed is an issue prior to trying to conceive? Does stress cause infertility? Here, too, there is a short leap to feeling blamed. Blame is counter-productive and irrelevant and here’s why:

Stress is a fact of life. And there are highly stressed people who do conceive. Furthermore, effective mind/body techniques can be learned which reverse the physiology of stress. And if effort is made to learn how to reverse stress then it can’t be implicated as a cause.

But what if there is another factor to consider—a factor that might be lurking out of conscious awareness, which could be interfering as you seek to build your family? What if you are unwittingly at the mercy of an underlying belief? Underlying beliefs tend to be out of conscious awareness and as such are sneaky little devils.  Underlying beliefs are like the part of the iceberg that the Titanic didn’t see.  How can you be held responsible for stress that would be “causing” your infertility if you have no awareness of an issue that’s wreaking havoc? You can’t be!

Underlying beliefs are out of awareness of the mind, but not out of awareness of the body. How we can “get under the hood” of an underlying belief—the thing that your body knows, independent of your mind? You might say, “How can I do that if the underlying belief is out of my conscious awareness?” Good question. Do not despair. What follows is a list of common underlying beliefs that can undermine (from under your mind, if you will) the conception process. I’ve seen the release of these worries or conflicts provide relief that may explain the conceptions which follow.

But two things first:

  • We must leave room for your physical/medical reality to be considered here. Releasing an   underlying belief would be fine and dandy, but conception cannot occur if tubes are blocked or if sperm is severely compromised.
  • I reiterate that the physiology of stress is real but can be reversed. It can make a huge difference if you are aware that your body is in a grip and you reach out to learn mind/body stress reduction techniques.

But back to the list of common underlying beliefs:

  1. Fear that you will not be a good parent. This can be lying in wait somewhere, especially if you were less than enamored with the way you were parented.
  2. When you know that you’re biological clock is ticking but you do not feel quite ready because:
    • You haven’t finished your medical training, law degree or PhD, or feel that you haven’t climbed the ladder high enough yet…
    • You haven’t found the right partner …
    • You are unsure of the solidity of your relationship…
  3. You sense that your partner doesn’t want to be a parent. On occasion, couples do not clarify parenthood as a common goal in advance, or they commit to the relationship presuming the person who is open about not wanting children will change their mind.
  4. You are conflicted about your ability to meet the demands of your career and your child’s needs. You see others doing it but perhaps they have help that you cannot afford, especially if you’ve dumped your savings into fertility treatment.
  5. You are concerned about your history of depression or anxiety. Having experienced these states, you worry that the demands of parenthood will trigger another episode.
  6. You fear the impact of the drugs that can get you to your goal of pregnancy.

Bring any of these issues into conscious awareness and work with them and you’ve got a shot at loosening the way that unconscious knowledge, or even subconscious knowledge, can hold your body hostage. You may need to seek the guidance of a mental health professional in order to unravel any of these or other issues.

Beyond freeing the underlying belief from its prison, mind/body stress-reduction exercises can be very powerful in letting go of the grip of stress caused by a stressful job, stressful relationships, an inborn high-strung personality or role models who failed to teach you adequate coping skills. You can find an array of stress reducing approaches in some of my other blog posts ( http://mind-body-unity.com/on-fertile-ground-blog/ ) or in my book, On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility.

And whatever you do, DO NOT assault yourself with blame.

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About the Author:

Helen Adrienne, LCSW general psychotherapist, clinical hypnotherapist, and practitioner of mind/body therapy with a specialty in infertility. New York City