Updated: Mar 29
Maybe you were recently diagnosed with unexplained infertility, or maybe you’ve been working through it for years now. Either way, as we come to the start of a new year, you’re most likely trying to figure out how to set yourself up for success in the coming year.
I’m not really a fan of big new year’s resolutions. They usually fall by the wayside pretty quickly and we end up accomplishing very little. Small changes, on the other hand, can be very powerful. In that spirit, I’ve made a list of three small changes you can make that will help you kickstart your new year and move you closer to resolving your unexplained infertility.
Small Change #1: Mind Your Mindset
Everything you think, your body hears and reacts to. When your thoughts are full of negativity and self-doubt, your body responds in kind and you get something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
As an example, if you’re continually telling yourself that you’ve got unexplained infertility and you’ll never get pregnant, you’re throwing a huge barrier in your own way. And it’s a pretty big downer, too!
On the other hand, when your thoughts are more positive, imbued with self-confidence, self-love, and self-respect, you get much better results. And you feel way better along the way.
Having a positive mindset is not about unicorns and rainbows around every corner. That’s simply not real life. Bad, sad, and frustrating things happen all the time and your goal is not to suppress them or ignore them. Instead, having a positive mindset can help you deal with the bad in a more productive, solutions-based way.
How to Get It Done:
If you don’t currently keep a fertility journal, it’s something I highly recommend. You can read much more about it in this post. But here’s a useful journaling exercise you can use to work on your mindset:
What are the negative thoughts you most often find yourself thinking?
What is the basis for these thoughts? Past experience? Assumptions? Wild guesses and fantasy?
If your thoughts are based on past experience, how can you reframe them and make them less negative? (For example, if you think, “I’ve never been able to get pregnant in the past, so why would my luck be different in the future?”, you could replace the thought with, “It’s true that I haven’t yet been able to get pregnant, but I have no way of knowing what the future holds.”)
For all your thoughts that are based purely on assumptions and your imagination, make a list of the positive thoughts that you would like to replace them. (For example, “I’ll never be able to solve my fertility problems.”, might become, “Every day I’m moving closer to becoming a mother.”)
Get yourself a pad of sticky notes and jot each positive thought down on one or two notes. Then stick them up around the house, your office, your car—anywhere you’ll have to look at them several times each day.
As an alternative, you could put the list on your phone and set alerts throughout the day to remind yourself to read through them.
Small Change #2: Manage Your Stress
Stress plays a huge role in how our bodies behave and what chemicals our bodies produce. Lots of ongoing stress means that lots of stress hormones are produced and pumped through our bodies on a continuous basis. In the long-term these hormones can cause all kinds of problems including high blood pressure, heart problems, depression, and digestive issues. They also have a major impact on your reproductive system and your fertility!
Stress signals to your body that it’s not safe—that it’s under attack—and your body’s natural reaction is to shut down any system that isn’t essential for survival. Your reproductive system is not at all essential for your survival, so it gets powered down pretty quickly. It loses the rich blood supply it needs to build up a good endometrial lining; and the hormonal balance necessary for everything from healthy egg maturation, to implantation, to birth, and all the other steps along the way get thrown off. Additionally, it often decreases your sex drive; because really, if you’re under attack, you probably won’t be having sex!
How to Get It Done:
Take an Honest Look at Your Stressors
Right off the bat it’s obvious that unexplained infertility is, all by itself, a huge stressor! So that’s one. But this is a good time to take inventory of all the other things in your life that might be causing you serious stress:
Communication with your significant other
Relationships with family and friends
Once you have a clear understanding of what you’re working with it becomes much easier to brainstorm solutions to your problems (hello, journal!), or ways to simply avoid particular people or situations.
I’m not talking about a week away in the tropics (although that would be lovely! Ha!) I’m talking about regularly scheduled time to relax and recharge. It could be anything from 15 minutes of reading before bed each night, to a walk on your lunch break, or a weekly dinner with friends.
Everyone’s self-care looks different, but the goal should be the same: a regularly scheduled activity that you enjoy, that makes you feel good, and that allows you to relax, recover, and recharge.
Small Change #3: Tune In to Your Inner Voice
We all have one, but we don’t all pay attention to it. For some of us, it’s that oft-mentioned “gut feeling,” for others it’s just a vague sense that something isn’t right. Sometimes it’s even a recurrent pain in one part of your body, like a big knot in your shoulder. However you experience it, it’s so important that you listen.
No one knows you and what you need better than you. I’ll say it again: you are the world’s foremost expert in you, and what you think and feel is incredibly valid. More so than anything anyone else will ever tell you.
Do you suspect that the course of treatment your doctor has laid out for you isn’t what you really need? You’re probably right.
Do you feel like you need to say no to some commitment so you can spend that hour doing something to make yourself feel good? You’re probably right.
Do you secretly suspect that your unexplained infertility diagnosis is a mistake and there really isn’t really anything wrong with you? You’re probably right.
Ignore the voice at your own peril. It wants you to succeed and is doing all it can to help you.
How to Get It Done:
Sitting quietly in the moment is one of the very best ways to get in touch with your inner voice. I know it sounds kind of “woo-woo,” but I promise you it’s really not. When I was trying to get pregnant, I finally tried meditation out of desperation. Boy, do I wish I’d tried it a lot sooner!
If you’ve never tried it before, I’ve written another post about meditation for fertility and why it’s such a great tool.
Perhaps you suspect you already know what your inner voice is telling you, but you’ve been ignoring it. In this case, journaling could again be a great option. Get everything down on paper and then use it as a guide for what to do next.