The Power of Positive Thought
You and your partner have been trying to conceive for months now. Yet every month it’s the same: you get your hopes up only to be disappointed again when the home pregnancy test comes out negative or when your period arrives. While you know the odds of getting pregnant in any given month are only 20% for the most fertile couple, that fact doesn’t offer you any reassurance. You find yourself growing more and more depressed with each passing month.
For many couples, experiencing fertility problems often leads to very high stress levels and depression. Unfortunately, one of the effects of stress on the body is decreased fertility. Even if you are going through an infertility treatment like IVF or are using fertility drugs, dealing with stress and depression can actually decrease your chances of these treatments being successful; which is why many alternative infertility treatments focus on the health and wellness of their clients.
Despite the fact that women and men experience infertility equally, research has shown that women are more likely to suffer from emotional distress than men. Numerous studies done over the years have proven that depressed women are less likely to get pregnant.
A study done at the University of California, San Diego in 2001 found that, when compared with women who were the least depressed, women who were the most depressed were 93% less likely to get pregnant. This study echoed findings by a Brown University study from 1995 which showed women who had a history of depression were twice as likely to be investigated for fertility problems than women with no history of depression.
Many fertility experts believe that stress and depression are leading causes behind unexplained infertility. Some even go so far as to say that these emotions are the reason why medical treatments don’t work for some couples. This is why many infertility clinics have begun offering cognitive restructuring therapy through their Mind Body treatment programs.
Cognitive restructuring therapy is becoming a standard feature in many Mind/Body programs to compliment other therapies including yoga, guided imagery, meditation and massage therapy. While this complementary alternative medicine won’t resolve actual physical problems like endometriosis or prolonged impotence, cognitive restructuring therapy can help you with stress management techniques. Specifically, cognitive restructuring aims to change a person’s way of thinking, letting you leave behind the negative thoughts that are causing you to feel depressed.
It is easy to fall into negative thought patterns when you have troubles conceiving. Many women and men find themselves feeling guilty, angry, anxious and suffering from low self-esteem when they experience fertility problems. Often, all of these feelings can be attributed to the negative thought patterns you are having. Through cognitive restructuring therapy, you learn how to recognize these pessimistic thoughts, and analyze and challenge them, thereby allowing yourself to change your way of thinking to be more positive and productive.
Even if you decide not to do a Mind/Body program, there are many psychologists who specialize in infertility cognitive restructuring therapy. These psychologists can treat you individually and talk with you and your partner. Or, you can benefit from the therapy in a group setting.
Studies have shown Mind/Body retreats and programs to be very helpful for those with infertility problems as they teach ways of managing stress, help you meet other couples who are also experiencing infertility problems and just generally help you relax through massage, acupuncture and yoga classes. In fact, women who are very depressed seem to benefit the most from Mind/Body programs and are the most successful at getting pregnant afterwards.
Some Tips to Think About
The next time you have a negative thought about your infertility problems, or any other problem, use these tips to help improve your way of thinking and your mood:
- Don’t focus on the past. Dwelling on what could have been uses up too much of your energy, which could be used on better pursuits. Using "if only" statements are especially harmful as they only perpetuate negative thoughts.
- Take the future with a grain of salt. While looking forward to the future can be good and offer hope, it can also lead to disappointment and negativity if too much anticipation is placed on it. Constantly using "what if" statements can be just as damaging as "if only" statements.
- When you do find yourself having a negative thought, confront it. Consider whether the thought actually adds to your problem and whether it is even logical. Restructure your thought to be a more positive statement that does not cause any guilt, self-blame, stress or anxiety.
- Focus on the here and now. Consider how you can improve your life right now. Take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Focusing on your fertility problems can be very draining. Use that time and energy to make yourself happy right now.