Mindset or positive mindset is seen as preferable to a fixed one. Mindset is our collection of beliefs and thoughts that shape how we see and interact with the world around us. When you have a fixed mindset you are less resilient and may be more prone to anxiety, depression and other difficulties in coping with change.
When it comes to fertility your mindset can have an impact on your fertility health. Research provides evidence that your mindset can shape stress responses. A stressful mindset is impacted by factors such as life satisfaction, perceived health, and coping strategies. Recognizing your mindset may help you on your fertility journey.
Mindset and Your Microbiome
The microbiome is highly sensitive and reactive to the effects of stress. Research can confirm that there is a relationship between stress and the microbiome composition across a person’s lifespan. Microbial volatility is influenced by stress; the more stress someone has, the more volatile their microbiome is.1
One study shows that 90% of serotonin, the so-called “happy hormone” in our body, is produced by the good bacteria in our gut. Lower levels of good bacteria are associated with a greater risk of depression and anxiety.1
Mindset and Your Fertility Health
One study reported that women with infertility report elevated levels of anxiety and depression, so infertility causes additional stress compared to fertile individuals. Patients who are struggling to conceive report feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, and loss of control.2 These feelings are normal and valid; no one should feel ashamed, guilty, or embarrassed about having difficulty getting pregnant. Feeling disappointed and sad when things are not going as we want them to is natural.
However, feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, and loss of control can trigger a downward spiral. A study found that psychological symptoms negatively impact fertility.2 Research shows that when a woman is undergoing assisted reproductive treatment, both partners are likely to experience psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. While this is more frequent among the woman undergoing the treatment, it affects men too.3
Communicating with your doctor about your physical health is important, equally, you must talk about your mental health too. A survey of 414 women reported that their doctors only asked them about their mental health one-third of the time.3 Sometimes your mental state gets pushed aside when doctors focus solely on your physical health. Talking about and treating physical symptoms can seem more straightforward, for both doctor and patient. When it comes to your fertility, it is important to take care of both your physical and mental.
Here are a few tips to help to improve your mindset.
- Be open with your doctor. They may not ask you directly about your mental health, but don’t be hesitant to update them so they can connect you with the appropriate resources.
- If you are struggling to maintain a positive mindset, try to take a few minutes out of your day to centre yourself and focus on being mindful.
- This can include taking some deep breaths, writing in a journal, or thinking of 3 things to be thankful for.
- Be mindful and positive as much as you can. While the path to fertility can be frustrating, difficult, and even heartbreaking, don’t give up! A more positive mindset leads to less stress.
- Find support groups (see more about support here).
- Try using an app to help you develop mindfulness or meditation.
A healthy and positive mindset means that you can deal with stress and anxiety more easily. It doesn’t mean that you won’t experience those negative feelings and emotions, but that you will be more resilient and recover from them more quickly. Having a healthy mindset will improve your path to fertility. Other pieces of the fertility jigsaw will contribute to supporting your healthy mindset, for example, Exercise and Movement and Support may be key to helping your overall mindset.