Just like most of the world, I am writing this from the comfort of my own home during these unprecedented times. My thoughts are continuously on my patients – those who have been trying to conceive, those who were just about to start their IVF only to have their cycles cancelled, those who are near their due dates and need some assistance. If someone told us we would be in this situation a year ago, we could not have contemplated it. There are a few words that keep coming into my mind that prompted me to write this blog – control, comfort, connection.
As we know, when we are trying to conceive, we feel a loss of control. That is a word that I have heard time and again and I certainly remember it from my own experiences. I have controlled everything in my life and now I am having trouble conceiving and I have no control over it. Very similar to the current situation, we have no control over our new normal. So maybe it is time to accept that lack of control and be ok with it.
When we are trying to conceive, we are constantly looking at OPKs checking for the “right time to conceive”, analysing every symptom that we experience, then re-analysing it, sometimes over and over again. Was that an implantation cramp? Was that implantation bleeding? Was I pregnant and didn’t know about it? It becomes an obsessive project. The stress of it all can play havoc on our psyche and our bodies. The lockdown is certainly increasing the stress we are experiencing. I read with interest a report that said women’s menstrual cycles are experiencing massive changes – some women aren’t getting periods at all, some are getting two a month, some are experiencing severe pain when they never had a problem before. TMI here, but after no period for 2 years and the ripe old age of 55, I have just had a period. What’s all that about?
Its very easy to explain in Chinese Medicine terms – Liver Qi Stagnation. Based on Chinese Medicine theory, the Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi. When we become stressed, that smooth flow becomes disrupted and causes changes to our mood (anger, frustration, depression), and our menstrual cycles (the Liver channel flows through the genitals). People can all of the sudden experience painful periods, clots in the blood, or amenorrhea (no period at all).
So ….. is this the right time to be focussing so much on conceiving, when our bodies are all over the place, periods are haywire, flight or fight mode kicking in? Would now be a good time to relinquish that control and just let life be? Should we be comfortable with ourselves right now? Can we look back at this time (eventually) and say yes, that is when I was able to sleep in more, watch TV that I haven’t had time for, not rush around so much, just seek comfort in my own existence.
Connecting with our partner again is an important aspect right now. How about having sex just for enjoyment, like we used to? The focus on having sex “at the right time” can cause a huge amount of stress on couples. Now is a perfect time to experience those feelings that you used to have, find pleasure in each other again without the stress of doing it when the OPK says you should (and I admit I have a part to play in this as I am constantly telling people to look for their cervical mucous!)
That said, please keep looking after yourselves. Nutrition and daily exercise will always play an important role in fertility and there is no reason to discontinue that. Maybe discontinuing the worry is what we should be focussing on.
Please look out for next week’s blog – IVF and Lockdown