How hypnotherapy could help you get pregnant
It’s estimated that infertility affects one in seven heterosexual couples in the UK, with several recent reports confirming that these rates are actually rising. But why is this, and what can we do about it? It seems that there may be many physiological, psychological, and emotional factors involved.
The first reason may be to do with the age that both men and women decide to start the process of getting pregnant. Better career and educational opportunities, for women, in particular, have led to many women delaying motherhood until their mid-thirties when fertility starts to decline. We know that women begin life with a fixed number of eggs in their ovaries and that this number decreases as they get older. The quality of both the woman’s eggs and the man’s sperm deteriorates with age.
On an emotional and psychological level, the longer it takes a couple to conceive, the bigger the impact. Growing up, many people believe that when they are ready, it will be easy to conceive (in fact, many spend their younger years avoiding pregnancy and being terrified it might happen by accident). So, when it doesn’t happen quickly or naturally, this can come as quite a shock, and this can lead to a multitude of negative feelings such as inadequacy, shame, guilt, and sadness. The longer it takes to conceive, the more stress and pressure can build up, and the more these negative feelings can grow.
So, what is the effect of these negative thoughts and emotions, and how do they affect fertility? Several recent studies have found links between stress and lowered chances of pregnancy. Women whose saliva had high levels of alpha-amylase, an enzyme that marks stress, took 29% longer to get pregnant compared to those who had less. Prolonged negative feelings of stress and anxiety may also have other consequences such as depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal problems, all of which are likely to impact fertility. Your body is smart, it knows that periods of stress aren’t good times to have a baby.
How can hypnotherapy help?
More and more people are turning to hypnosis as a way to increase their chances of conception, and as a way of coping with the challenges involved with their fertility journey. As a hypnotherapist, there are many ways we can help you if you’re struggling to conceive, with studies showing that hypnosis can actually double the rate of fertility in some circumstances.
One of the main strategies is to reduce stress as this affects a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus controls the level of stress hormones in your body and also regulates the gonadotrophins which are hormones that are vital for conception. Stress can affect the delicate hormonal balance necessary for ovulation, fertilisation, fallopian tube functioning, and sperm quality and motility.
Under conditions of stress, the entire sympathetic nervous system is activated, producing an immediate widespread response called the fight-or-flight response. This is characterised by the release of large quantities of epinephrine from the adrenal gland and can have a drastic effect on the body. Through hypnosis, we can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and create calm and relaxed feelings in the mind and body. This will also lift mood, strengthen the immune system, and reduce blood pressure. This can be done through the hypnotherapy sessions themselves, but also by teaching relaxation techniques and self-hypnosis.
Although, as hypnotherapists, we have a huge number of tools and strategies at our disposal, one of the most important things we can do is to allow the time and space needed for couples to express their emotions. Through specific questioning and the use of investigative techniques, we can really begin to understand exactly what is needed and how we can facilitate positive change.
This will also help us to identify and reduce any emotional blockages or negative beliefs that may be affecting conception. Therapy must be tailored to the individual person or couple and could include support with things such as low self-esteem, previous trauma, fears about becoming a parent, or tokophobia (fear of childbirth). Therapies such as regression, timeline therapy, rewind technique, and parts therapy can be useful at this stage. Reframing or healing negative thoughts and feelings can really help to create hope, optimism, and control.
Much research has been carried out on the connection between the mind and body, and the huge impact each can have on the other. Perhaps nothing highlights this as well as the concept of a phantom pregnancy or pseudocyesis, where a woman believes she is pregnant, but isn’t. In these rare cases, when there’s a strong yearning for a pregnancy, the mind has an incredible influence over the body and can actually generate pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, lack of a period, food cravings, and breast tenderness. What greater convincer is there that what the mind can conceive, the body can achieve? Through the use of positive visualisations during hypnosis, we can tap into this mind/body connection and shift the focus to a positive outcome.
We can also offer practical help, and eliminate certain behaviours that are not conducive to conception. For example, a fear of needles, insomnia, weight loss or gain, alcohol use, or stopping smoking. In addition, we can share information about optimum conditions for conception. For example, it may not be widely known that there is research linking fertility struggles to hot tubs, saunas, laptops, and other sources of scrotal hyperthermia.
Hypnotherapy can also be used to great effect at different stages of fertility treatment. In particular, it is a wonderful way to support the woman during the implantation stage of the IVF process. It can help her to remain relaxed and calm, and also help her to visualise its success. Similarly, it can be used to help cope with the waiting time after implantation. This period of time is referred to as the two-week wait and can be a very challenging time for couples.
Trying to get pregnant is a unique experience, and everyone’s journey is different. We are not here to judge or make assumptions, we are here to listen and do everything in our power to help. Whether you have been trying to conceive for a month or 10 years, our interventions will be tailored specifically to each individual need.