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Emotional Health of Infertility

by Sunnie Sabol

For couples that are trying to conceive with out results find themselves dealing with stresses they have never experienced before, and are at a loss has to how to deal with them. Being diagnosed as infertile is difficult, but for a woman it can be divesting.  The primary function of the female reproductive system is reproduction of life. Facing the possibility that our right as a woman may not happen leaves some feeling broken and as a failure. Studies show that women undergoing fertility treatments have the same stress levels as women who have cancer or HIV (CBS News.com) Women are tenacious as a whole and will not give up there dreams easily, Western medicine offers women a chance at their dreams and millions are responding to well publicized miracles that are being produced. Unfortunately for many who choose this path the miracles they read about soon turn into fairy tales and not reality. Learning how to deal with stress of fertility is crucial if couples want to experience the joy they dream of.

Chinese Medicine offers a whole body approach to treating fertility.  TCM and Tao see us as microcosms of the universe. Our bodies are tied to the ebb and flow of nature. In our modern society we disconnect from the natural laws of life. When this happens our qi begins to stagnate and deplete, Qi is our vital life force when qi becomes deficient disease will occur and we are not living in a state of vitality.  In the Yellow Emperor of classic internal medicine states

“ Only man, among all the manifestations of energy in the universe, collectively & constituently has a choice to follow or defy these laws. All other manifestations of this energy from rocks to apes follow their inner rhythms” (Ni, 1995).

Nothing disconnects us more from our inner rhythms than receiving treatment for an illness in the western world. While grateful for the science intervention during a heart attack or stroke. Receiving treatment for infertility in the west is a very sterile and cold process. Drugs are administered to alter the way a woman’s body ovulates, Blood is drawn & tests are administered.  Even the natural way of creating new life is cold and sterile, instead of the warm embrace of love and compassion between two people during conception, men are sent to a room to deposit there “essence” in a plastic cup and women are sent to another room to lay on a cold table with doctors and nurses who use medical device’s to surgically assist in conception of life.  The chronic imbalance of the process creates more stress. Our body response to stress is to go into “Fight or Flight” mode, rising cortisol levels, triggers our immune system to protect the body from foreign cells. We can’t be in fight mode and a receptive mode at the same time, the body will not allow it. Our own bodies are fighting the vary thing we want most. Couples whose path has not yet lead them all the way to medical intervention also have a great amount of stress also. The daily routine of taking our temperature in the morning and recording it on the basal body temperature sheet, the monthly quest of the highly coveted “blue stick” and the constant up and down roller coaster of emotions leave couples feeling overwhelmed. For some couples the added stress to the relationship is too much, relationships that once were solid are now broken. Studies show that the divorce rate is higher in childless marriages.

Intimacy between couples is challenged, once a way for couples to connect and recharge their relationship is turned into a timed and mechanical event. A recent study in Fertility and Sterility showed 40% of infertile women suffered from sexual problems that caused them distress, compared with 25 percent of a control group of healthy women. (Fertility and Sterility, March, 2010. www.fertstert.org) Not only is sex timed but for some women with various conditions such as endometriosis or pelvic adhesions sex can be painful, leaving the woman feeling more depressed about herself. Couples must find ways to reclaim their reproductive health and relationships.

Eastern Medicine views are bodies tuned to the time and tide of nature, the rhythm of day and night, the four seasons, and so on, our health is directly tied to the environment we live in. You see this correlation in when we wake and when we sleep, and in the winter we “catch” more colds. A women’s monthly cycle is one of the most natural ways women are connected to nature. Studies show woman’s monthly menses correlates with the lunar phase of the month. Increased numbers of women ovulate and conception rates peak during the full moon, and during the new moon menses begins. Traditional Chinese medicine’s philosophy is based on the connection of humanity and nature, and the interplay of opposites. The theory of Yin and Yang, Yin is light and Yang is dark. The two cannot be separated and you cannot have one with out the other. The interplay between yin and yang is constantly shifting in our body. For example in women’s reproductive system estrogen is yin and progesterone is yang. The yin hormone estrogen dominates the follicular phase of menstruation, and the Luteal phase of menses is dependent on the yang hormone progesterone, you cannot have a healthy normal cycle with out the hormones present. 

Acupuncture and Eastern medicine have personally helped me conceive two beautiful children when western medicine could not. If you or someone you know is dealing with fertility problems please share this with them!