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Resources for Partners

Stress can have a detrimental impact on male fertility and quality of life while trying to conceive in the following ways:

  • Loss of libido
  • Indulgence in coping habits that negatively impact fertility such as smoking, drinking, recreational drugs or having a dysfunctional relationship with food, either under or over eating
  • All of the above have all been proven to adversely affect the quality of both sperm and eggs
  • The immune system can be weakened and and you may experience health issues which could have a knock-on effect to fertility
  • You are more likely to stop trying to conceive, not commence or abandon treatment due to emotional stress rather than medical prognosis
  • Insomnia can put additional stress on the body
  • IBS and lack of the correct absorption of nutrients 
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Negative impact on relationship with partner, friend and family
  • Impact work and career
  • Feelings of guilt, shame
  • Depressive thoughts

The flip side of this being studies that show that practicing mind-body techniques such as mindfulness, cognitive behaviour technique and visualisation have the following benefits:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Return the body to its natural state of relaxation response
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Increase signalling connections in the brain
  • Reduce negative feelings such as anger, anxiety and depression
  • Allow you to better handle pain, both physical and emotional
  • Make you more compassionate
  • Decrease feelings of loneliness
  • Reduce inflammation in the body
  • Improve your immune system
  • Give you time for yourself
  • Increase patience, trust, acceptance and creativity

 

Reset your parasympathetic nervous system when you feel stressed

Listen to this 3 minute MP3 to reset your body and bring it out of stress respomse. Commit to do listen at least once a day every day for the next seven days. 

Very quickly you will be able to bring yourself out of stress response into relaxation response by listening to this track and/or practising the 5 to 1 countdown featured at the beginning of the MP3. Once you have this skill you will then be able to turn to it whenever you feel moments of high stress or pressure. This can come in handy when you are required to give a sperm sample for example or are going into an important meeting or discussion.

Daily Chill Out for Mums and Dads-to-be

Here is a longer relaxation track that I originally wrote for couples to listen to you when they are halfway through their pregnancy. In this case imagine your partner is pregnant and how she will look and how you will feel looking after her while she is pregnant. Talk to your partner about this track after listening.

Visualisation

What we imagine in our minds influences our perspective, our physical body and how we think and feel about a topic. We have imaginations so that we can play out scenarios in our mind to get a feel for them, make decisions about what to do next and decide if something is safe. 

The most famous study of physical influence is one conducted at Harvard in 1994, where they got one group of people to play a five-finger piano sequence, physically play it, hear the notes and they asked them to do that for two hours a day. Then the control group imagined playing that same sequence and imagined hearing those notes and at the end of the study, they found that the areas of the brain that lit up while someone was physically playing the piano were the same in the people who imagined playing the piano, so the brain was being influenced in the same way. 

Athletes take advantage of this and I can’t imagine nowadays that any athlete, any Olympian, wouldn’t be using visualisation because there are so many studies that show that you can improve your game, improve your muscle mass, improve your finesse. 

Athletes say that visualisation for them feels just as important as their physical training. So, they might be training physically for six hours a day, and then they will be using their mind and visualising for up to two hours a day. So that could be visualising crossing the finish line if they’re a runner. It could be scoring that basket or scoring that goal. 

Alex Holden, the guy who free climbed up the North face in Yosemite, visualised it hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times alongside the physical preparation and training. Then when he was doing it, it felt normal. It felt natural that he was climbing up this giant mountain face with no ropes, but he’d done it so many times in his mind, there was no fear there. 

The benefits of visualising are as follows:

  • Visualising is like giving instructions to your body. “This is what I want, this is how it should happen, this is safe and it is desirable for this to happen.”
  • It can be fun, it’s taking time, and this could be for just a few minutes, to stop and think about what you want in a really positive and powerful way. 
  • It can give you a sense of empowerment because so much of the time we can feel so out of control when we’re going through infertility and so much is out of our hands. 
  • Doing something for yourself, where you’re connecting with your body, taking yourself into deep relaxation which has so many benefits as mentioned above.

Visualising Conception

It can be helpful to watch an animation of what happens during conception. So watching the sperm swimming along, breaking into the egg, then watching that egg break into all the different cells as it grows into an embryo. Please see the videos below.

Visualising your family of 3

One of my favourite visualisations where I guide you on a journey into your future to imagine being a family of three and you and your partner putting your child to bed and reading him or her a story. Listen to this one with your partner and discuss what type of parents you want to be afterwards.

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