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  • Becky

What Can a Milkshake Teach Us about Fertility?

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

It would be amazing if I wrote this article to tell you that drinking a milkshake every day makes it more likely that you’ll get pregnant, wouldn’t it?!

I hope you’re not too disappointed, but that is, in fact, not the case. What I want to share is pretty cool though, too.

Some of you might know that in addition to being a fertility coach, I’m also a personal trainer. Every year I have to take continuing education classes to maintain my certification. The other day I was watching a video about helping clients train their minds along with their bodies. As part of their introduction, the presenters spoke about the power of the mind and proceeded to share a powerful example which I will now share with you. The study relates to food (that’s where the milkshakes come in!), but it ties in beautifully with fertility, so bear with me on this.

The Experiment

Back in 2011, a group of researchers decided to find out whether a person’s mindset has an effect on the way the body processes food. In particular, they chose to measure ghrelin—a hormone released when you get hungry. (“Ghrelin makes your stomach growl” is a good way to remember it.) After you eat, your ghrelin levels fall in proportion to the number of calories you’ve eaten. When you eat a large meal, your ghrelin drops significantly and you’re no longer hungry; after a light meal, ghrelin doesn’t drop as low and you might feel like you still want more to eat. But what if your thoughts also have an impact on how much your ghrelin levels change?

Enter the Milkshakes

In order to answer their question, the researchers recruited 53 people and divided them into two groups. One was given a high fat, high calorie treat that came in a container labeled, “Indulgence, Decadence You Deserve. Indulge yourself with this rich and creamy blend of all our premium ingredients—sumptuously smooth ice cream, satin whole milk, and sweet vanilla. It’s heaven in a bottle and irresistibly gratifying.”

The nutritional label for the Indulgence shake.
The label used in the study for the Indulgence shake.

The other group was given the low fat, low calorie Sensi-Shake. That label read: “Sensi-Shake, Guilt Free Satisfaction. Get sensible with the new light healthy Sensi-Shake. It has all the taste without the guilt—no fat, no added sugar, and only 140 calories! Sensi-Shake is light and tasty enough to enjoy every day.”

The label for the Sensi-Shake that was used in the study.
The very different Sensi-Shake label.

But here’s the thing: it was really the exact same shake in each bottle!

The expected result then would be that everyone’s ghrelin levels would drop equally regardless of which shake a person drank.

The Big Surprise

I will spare you the experiment protocol (you can find it here if you're interested) and get right to the punchline. The people who thought they were going to drink an indulgent, high fat, high calorie shake showed both a greater rise in ghrelin before they drank it (they were anticipating something delicious and satisfying), and then a steeper decline in ghrelin levels after they finished, than the people who thought they were being served a low fat, low calorie shake.

Their minds were directly controlling their body’s responses!

Let’s Get Back to Fertility

This experiment provides a very clear, and somewhat startling, illustration of the power of the mind over the body. And it directly relates to fertility.

If you tell yourself that you’ve got a fertility problem, then you’ve definitely got a fertility problem.

If you tell yourself that your next treatment round isn’t going to work, it’s probably not going to work.

If you tell yourself that your body just isn’t able to get pregnant, it’s probably not going to be able to get pregnant.

Pick any negative thought that you repeat over and over to yourself and it can very quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Using Your Mind to Help Your Fertility

The first, and maybe most important step is to change those negative thoughts into positive thoughts:

I am fertile, and I will work with my body to figure out how to make this happen.

This is a fresh treatment cycle. Nothing that happened in the past matters, and there is no reason to think that it won’t work.

My body is capable of amazing things, including pregnancy.

I realize that this can be a difficult mindset shift if you’ve been struggling with infertility for a long time. And I also have to clarify that this is not the same as “toxic positivity.” This is not about happiness and joy radiating out of you all the time, at all costs. Rather, it’s about using your mind to steer your body in the direction you want to go!

Your mind has so much more control than most of us understand, and it’s too powerful a tool to leave on the table when you’re trying to maximize your fertility.

If you'd like to work more on harnessing your thoughts to improve your fertility, let's set up a time to talk.



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