Stress and Infertility
Stress and Infertility
Why am I passionate about infertility?
February 1st 2009, marked the 20th anniversary of my very first day of working as a clinical embryologist. We all know the saying “find a job doing what you love to do and you will never have to work a day in your life”. Except for one relatively short period of my career this has been true for me. I am exceptionally blessed to have been able to fund my and my children’s lives with a career that has kept me engaged and challenged. I have been richly rewarded for my dedication and passion to the medical field of infertility. I have been able to travel to all continents of the world to attend workshops and conferences to exchange ideas with world leaders in infertility treatment and research. I have lived and worked in three different countries, my native Australia, Hong Kong and currently the United States. My competitive nature has been an asset in this field of medicine where pregnancy rates are the major currency in the struggle for greater professional recognition.
I have always felt proud that my efforts were channeled towards helping to build families but it was the success I prized most. I firmly believed that I was most helpful to the patients by focusing not on their personal stories but on the progress of their gametes and embryos in my care in the embryology laboratory, I still hold this belief. In September 2008 my personal and my professional life mirrored each other but the image reflected back at me was not of the confident embryologist but that of a patient.
I suffered a late second trimester pregnancy loss. I was then forty-one years old, with a new life partner who was also an embryologist himself with twenty years of clinical work at the bench. We knew the statistics inside and out of a forty-one year olds chances of achieving a healthy live birth. We waited for one month after the dilatation and evacuation surgery I undertook to remove the demised fetus. My partner, Gary, had named the baby Jason, following the beautiful report, we received from the detailed ultrasound scan at 18 weeks. This pregnancy loss was followed by six consecutive natural cycles that achieved biochemical pregnancy only. Now the couple who had spent their twenty year careers helping thousands of other infertile couples to achieve a family needed this same help.
Our next step was to undergo ovulation induction cycles. This would be easy for us, both the man and woman each armed with academic study, their own contributions to the field with basic and applied research and twenty years of scrutinizing patient treatment cycles. That is what I thought. What I experienced however was a profound insight into my own insecurities and fears. My vast knowledge of infertility, reproductive biology and twenty years of intimate knowledge of assisted reproductive medicine was not able to stem the tide of my own thoughts. My mind had never been so active, never giving me peace from the constant what if this and what if that. It became clear to me that a great percentage of the stress associated with my own infertility and infertility treatment was generated and magnified by my own mind.
No one would argue that this self perpetuated stress was not real or was unjustified. The failed cycles month after month at my age meant lower and lower chances of us conceiving at all with my eggs. The costs were an issue as was the feeling of being a passive recipient in such an intimate event. I was so used to feeling like I was the one who others turned to for help but in this I was not able to fix my own problem. As difficult as this was it brought me great insight into what the people I had been helping from the laboratory side of things were going through. It was a powerful emotion that now I could not help but identify with the full challenges that face the patients I continue to help.
Hypnotherapy is a powerful tool to change our thinking patterns that create and magnify stress, in a time efficient manner.
The most exciting fact about hypnosis is how it works as a powerful tool to bring about the personal changes you want to make. Many people have heard the concept of the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. We encounter so many incoming messages every second that if we had to use our conscious mind to deal with all those messages we simply would not be able to function. Think about driving a car. Our conscious mind is concerned about the other cars and the traffic conditions. Plus we may be talking to our passengers. However we are also driving the car, sitting on the seat and following a well known route home. The driving itself the knowing we are sitting appropriately in the seat and getting home successfully is all handled by the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind takes care of all the things we do automatically so that we can pay attention to the new and messages that come to our conscious mind.
We know through many studies that the unconscious mind acts to protect us, however sometimes that protection may lead to unwanted behaviors. Hypnosis is so effective in addressing these unwanted automatic behaviors because the hypnotic trance allows us to quiet the conscious mind and obtain direct access to the unconscious mind. Stress is a learnt behavior by which the unconscious mind acts to protect us from the perceived threat. However in the instance of infertility or infertility treatment the stress itself acts to make the desired outcome of a successful pregnancy even more difficult and certainly a much more unpleasant experience.