How can hypnosis help fertility problems?
by Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer
When people ask me about my work and I tell them that I specialise in treating fertility problems using hypnotherapy, many of them respond with surprise. People who are not familiar with hypnosis are curious to know how hypnotherapy could possibly help people with fertility problems. Reducing stress tends to be the most widely known application of hypnosis for fertility problems. And yet people are often interested to learn exactly how and why this works.
The effects of stress on health have been widely documented and have become recognised as one of the major contributing factors to poor health. Recently I read an article that said 43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress and that 75% to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Since all the different systems of are body, are in constant relationship with each other and the environment, it is not surprising that anything which affects our overall health will have a negative impact on fertility. It is also know that stress directly affects the hormonal system.
The Hypothalamus regulates both the stress response as well as sex hormones and so prolonged periods of stress will create hormonal imbalances which can result in problems conceiving. During times of stress a hyper stimulated nervous system will send less blood to the uterus and ovaries, thereby impairing their optimal functioning. The fight or flight response, which is nature’s way of helping us to deal with the stress, will trigger the release of adrenaline which also inhibits the production of progesterone. After a prolonged period of stress and decreased levels of progesterone, the menstrual cycle will be affected and fertility may also be impeded.
Fortunately, when we enter a state of hypnosis by directing our attention on increasing comfort, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, giving rise to what is known as the relaxation response. When the relaxation response is activated we enter a state of deep physical relaxation. This response works in opposition to the ‘fight or flight response’ and counteracts the body’s physical and emotional response to stress allowing it to return to a calm balanced state. Whilst in this state there is a measurable decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, stress hormone levels and muscle tension and people experience a wonderful feeling of relaxation. So simply being in the state of hypnosis can help to increase fertility.
If however we don’t deal with the underlying issues that are maintaining these high levels of stress, the person is likely to continue feeling anxious. So whilst teaching people self hypnosis can be of huge benefit, it is equally important to address any unhealthy beliefs and lifestyle habits that may be contributing to high levels of stress.
Although reducing stress is an important goal during hypnotherapy, there are many other ways in which hypnosis can be useful. In order to increase fertility it is often necessary that people address their diet and lifestyle. We know that making fundamental changes to lifelong habits is most easily done using hypnosis since this tool gives us access to that part of us that stores these patterns of behaviour. Many couples are encouraged to follow a detox regime prior to undergoing fertility treatment, which can be really well supported through hypnotherapy.
When working with fertility problems it is important to always bear in mind that what the couple wants is to conceive and most importantly to go on to have a family and become parents. Helping couples to prepare for parenthood can be a vital part of the therapeutic process. Often couples have spent so much time ‘struggling’ to conceive and navigating through all the various medical treatments available that they have lost sight of what it is all about. Helping couples to prepare, includes helping them to feel they have all the tools and resources they need to for medical treatment, as well as helping them to prepare for pregnancy and birth. Sometimes during this work the woman may become aware that she is in fact terrified of giving birth. Helping her to address this fear so that she feels confident and comfortable about giving birth, can often help increase the chances of conception. Our fears are registered and acknowledged by our bodies, and we unconsciously work towards avoiding situations and experiences which we perceive as threatening or dangerous. Equally I have found that any strong fears about pregnancy, parenthood or their relationship can unconsciously prevent conception.