Fertility a matter of mind as well as body

Infertile women’s brains – and not just their bodies – may be blocking them from conceiving a baby, a new book says.

 Some women may be sabotaging their chances of having a baby by failing to address their emotional needs, according to Melbourne author Michaela Ryan. Her new book, Trying to Conceive, tells 15 stories of women who miraculously fell pregnant after they solved a range of personal issues.

 The stories include Deb and Keith, who endured 23 cycles of IVF and several miscarriages before Deb fell pregnant after she quit her job and reconnected with her long lost dad.

 And there is Naomi, who spent eight years trying to conceive, but was successful only when she started relaxing more and believing in herself.

 Ryan was moved to collect the stories after her own experience.

 “I tried to conceive for 12 stress-filled months, then as soon as I stopped obsessing about having a baby, I fell pregnant,” she said.

 “So I became very interested in looking at the possible effects of emotional issues and the impact this might be having for couples wanting to fall pregnant.”

 Ryan, 32, a freelance writer from Elwood and her husband Ted, 34, are now the proud parents of Declan, 3.

 “For a lot of the people I spoke to there were hidden fears that hadn’t really been addressed like fear of repeating the mistakes of the past, fear of subsequent miscarriage or fears of not being a good mother,” Ryan said.

 “It’s a really individual thing, but the common feeling is at some point there’s an emotional shift — a letting go — and many women fall pregnant soon after that.”

 Ryan said medical science “has really caught up, and there are improved pregnancy rates for those on stress reduction programs, for instance”.

 “A lot of women are only given very physical approaches and this offers another angle. “

 Dr Lynn Burmeister, clinical director of Monash IVF, said there was an underlying association between emotions and the body when it came to fertility.

 “There are no studies in humans to confirm this, but what we do know is that stress can reduce fertility in a number of ways,” she said.

 “We do our best to make sure we look after our patients’ minds as well as their bodies.”

 “Some do acupuncture and others attend our lifestyle modification clinics or see counsellors.”

 Dr Burmeister said she had seen patients with similar stories to those in the book.

 “I have had patients who have made an appointment with us and just doing that has taken a weight off their shoulders, and they ring back saying that they are not going to need us,” she said.

Posted by : Goral Gandhi, MSc,

                   Laboratory Director,

                   Rotunda – Center for Human Reproduction (Pvt) Ltd

1 Comment

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One response to “Fertility a matter of mind as well as body

  1. While I do recognize the emotional/mental/spiritual aspect of fertility, I truly believe that addressing the physical naturally is the necessary core of most infertility cases. Of course, one can not ignore that emotional/mental/spiritual side to conception, but I don’t agree that it’s women’s minds that are holding them back. In the case of the woman that did 23 IVF cycles, I would instead like to see the physical addressed for a solid year with a holistic fertility plan.

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