Is your body ‘failing’ you?

Image from flickr – I searched for ‘lost faith’ and this came up. I like it.

I’m often slightly broken hearted when I hear a patient say she has lost faith in her body – because it is failing her. Often by the time she comes to see me this woman has good reason to believe she has been let down by her body. She has been to hell and back, and then around the block again, however much of the problem lies within this very belief, that her body is broken and isn’t working and never will work again. This belief is a bad seed, planted deep into her thoughts and into her body.

One thing I know for sure is how to get the body working. I can find what needs fixing and then I can get straight to work to fix it. In the fertility game, many practitioners are quick to blame the female and jump into forceful, quick fix treatments. Like in every area of life, I know that quick solutions aren’t often useful. They can leave the body even more depleted, more broken and only increase the belief the body is incapable, because band-aid solutions don’t solve the problem and never will.
Last week I was asked to comment on a story, the general gist was “can long term sadness lead to infertility?” My short and simple answer was “you betcha bottom dollar it can!” Here is how it happens – Over a period of time as emotional strain, and stress wear her down, the body recognises it’s unsuitability to reproduce. It switches off all the signals the brain is sending to the reproductive organs. This means that egg quality, ovulation, and endometrial lining all begin to be compromised because the body knows that right now, at this point in time, it’s not capable of supporting a pregnancy.

Western medicine jumps straight onto getting ovulation happening again with medication – which in some instances can be very useful, but in women who are feeling emotional strain, increased hormones in the body will begin to have the opposite effect as the ovaries actually begin to become ‘sluggish.’ Ovulation enhancing treatments work by putting more fertility stimulating hormones into the body to make the reproductive organs work actually starts to backfire. These women who are having these signals ‘switched off’ are the worst candidate for this type of treatment (i.e. clomid) as their ovaries begin to tire and slow down. This is the total opposite effect of what the drugs aim to achieve. In addition the lining begins to thin, and the cervical mucus begins to dry up. It’s a fertility nightmare!

So what do we do? Quite simply – we get those ovaries working again! We increase uterine blood flow, treat the emotional state of the patient and equally important and often overlooked – we get to work on the male. I think many readers would be surprised to discover how often the root of fertility issues are actually not physical but emotional. The actual stress of trying to make a baby is affecting the woman and the actual problem lies within the males sperm. You might like to read about how to improve sperm quality here.

The best example I give patients to help them understand the importance of quality semen is by sharing how much of the tiny embryo comes from each of them – 50% from him, 50% from her. Now if the embryo is fertilised and this 50/50 counterpart comes together, it begins doing it’s thing of dividing and making cell upon cell which eventually becomes the baby. At the same time, the embryo is releasing pregnancy hormones, in which the woman’s body responds to BUT without this release of hormone from the embryo, the woman’s body has nothing to respond to. So it is vital that the quality of the embryo (remember 50/50) is paramount otherwise this release of hormone will be weak or insufficent. If the semen is of extremely poor quality, you might be in fact only getting 10% input from the male, meaning we see a 10/50 relationship. Like the division of household chores – if its not even – noone is happy! This is definitely not enough to encourage the female body to continue with implantation and also not enough work done on the embryos behalf of secreting hormone to tell the woman she is pregnant. The embryo itself is responsible for this initial release in pregnancy hormone, NOT the female. This is just one cause of recurrent miscarriage but a great example of why it is so important to consider both partners fertility.

So rather than getting set on the belief that your body is failing you – how’s this for an idea? Start recognising that it is talking to you. Your body is telling you that something isn’t working well. Use this message as a sign to set about fixing it. As frustrating as it is, your body is literally screaming at you that something needs to change. Quick fixes may work once for someone, one day. The rest of the time, it may take a little effort to get things back on track – but probably far less time than how long it’s taken to break. Look for long term solutions that work. Band-aids work well for wounds, not ovaries.


  • December 8, 2011 By Linda 11:15 pm

    Ugh. Stuck at this very point right now. Spent over a decade being angry at my body for PCOS/pituitary prolactinoma/twisted ovary/prolapsed uterus/endometriosis. Fell pregnant in May and then angry at my body for miscarrying. Now angry at my body because I haven’t had a period in 150+ days, and because I doubt it’s ability to *get* pregnant, to *stay* pregnant, to do what I need it to do. I feel so betrayed.

  • December 9, 2011 By NatKringoudis 7:14 am

    Linda – I can hear your pain. It can be so unfair sometimes – but moving forward your body is showing you signs that it isn’t happy either – decoding why this is happening to you is the key.

    PCOS/Endo provide obstacles for fertility – but not necessarily dead ends. Issues with the pituitary will undoubtable affect hormone regulation and having prolapse and a twisted ovary again, another hurdle. It’s wonderful that you got pregnant – certainly a step in the right direction but it doesn’t take away the pain of feeling betrayed with miscarriage.

    I’d be happy to try to help you understand what is going on – feel free to email me.

  • January 28, 2012 By Gemma 9:27 pm

    This post just moved me to tears. Love the image too. Very poignant.

    I’ve felt exactly this for the last 10 years, more so over the last 2. I’m finally starting to come out of it though. If you let something negative try to define you, it will. Infertility, PCOS, whatever your illness, that’s all it is. An illness. And illness was designed to be healed by the body. We just need to know how to use the abundant tools that we have to do so. While a quick fix is not always possible, I believe the knowledge and acceptance we gain along the journey is worth more than perfect health itself.

    Your newest reader


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