Guest blog by Dr. Tory Wegner DACM, LAc, FABORM, a women’s health/ fertility specialist and founder of Acupuncture Wellness Connection.
Infertility is the epitome of emotional struggle. The journey is often fraught with worry, sadness, grief, loss of control, and loss of connection with oneself and partner. Failed cycle after cycle takes its toll. What was once a beautiful exchange of intimacy, becomes a rigid schedule that is dictated by ovulation. Couples struggling with infertility often only focus on the physiological events going on. Questions like “Am I ovulating? Did my temperature rise? Is my cycle the right length? What’s wrong with me?” give women sleepless nights.
However, physiology is just one piece of the infertility puzzle. Emotional health has to be addressed as well, so a woman can maximize the chances of conception. Emotional turmoil takes its toll and can lead to menstrual irregularity. This can be explained by Chinese Medicine, which is based off of pathways that interconnect the body. One of these internal pathways is called the “Bao Mai,” which is simply the connection between the heart and the uterus. This connection is an important driving force throughout a women’s whole life cycle from menarche, to childbearing years, through menopause. This heart-uterus connection explains why mental and emotional well-being can greatly impact the regularity of a woman’s menstrual cycle and her ability to conceive, because the emotional strain of infertility blocks the heart-uterus connection. Some outward signs this might be happening are irregular menstrual cycles, amenorrhea, heavy periods, or vaginal sores to name a few. Emotionally there might be feelings of anxiety, sadness, grief, feeling disconnected, feeling like there is a void in your life, lack of joy, or no interest in sex or lack of enjoyment of it.
Whether we are enhancing natural fertility or supporting assisted reproductive techniques like IUI or IVF, the focus of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is to improve blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, restore the heart-uterus connection, and address both the emotional and physiological imbalances that are impeding pregnancy. When the emotions are settled, the cycle is regulated, and the body is functioning optimally, there is flow between the heart and uterus.
Since infertility is inherently stressful, telling a woman to “just relax!” is really just not helpful. If it were easy, they would happily relax. The good news though is that there are ways to ensure the heart-uterus connection stays open and minimize the negative impact of the infertility emotional rollercoaster.
Here are seven simple action steps you can take to restore the heart-uterus connection, let the love flow in, and boost your fertility:
- Visualize the connection between the heart and uterus being open and flowing smoothly. You can even place one hand on your heart and one hand over your uterus while picturing the flow from the heart down to the uterus and back up. Circle and Bloom meditations help you visualize this relationship. Experiment with meditations and mindfulness practices to connect your mind and body and find what works best for you.
- Regular Exercise like walking or yoga (gentle and restorative, not high intensity). Moving the body calms the mind.
- Regularly partake in the activities that bring you joy and make you happy. Carve out time for the hobby that you love, playing an instrument, walking in nature, reading, snuggling your pet, crafts, put the electronics down and spend quality face-to-face time with your loved ones etc.
- Set aside time for your partner. Go on a date night, have a picnic in the park, hold hands, share intimacy that has nothing to do with ovulation. Keep this time sacred and don’t talk about infertility. Reestablish and nurture the feelings and bond between you.
- Laughter is a fast way to restore the heart-uterus connection. A good deep belly laugh calms the mind and nervous system. Have a lunch date with your bestie who makes you laugh, watch a comedy, or play a game. Avoid high drama, thrillers, and even take a break from the news.
- Gratitude. Each night before bed write down at least 5 things you are grateful for. The more consistently you do it, the easier it will be to find things to be grateful for even when situations feel bleak.
- Look at yourself in the mirror and say “I Love You,” every single day! Let the love flow in.
Our emotions play a huge part in our physical well-being. Doing things that bring you joy every day opens your heart, contributes to your overall health, strengthens your relationship to yourself and others, and supports your efforts to conceive.
Dr. Tory Wegner DACM, LAc, FABORM is a women’s health and fertility specialist. She is a Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine and founder of Acupuncture Wellness Connection in Holly Springs, North Carolina. She provides acupuncture and holistic services to help people deal with infertility, PMS, menopause, pain, headaches, and a variety of other health complaints. You can find out more at her website.