Every fertility journey is unique, and although what people on this journey have in common is a shared goal of parenthood, the road to getting there is different for every individual and couple. This is one of the reasons I don’t use the word ‘infertility’. It’s a term that groups together people who are having a wide range of experiences under one label. Not only is this term thrown around a lot in the fertility space, but it can be an incredibly disempowering diagnosis and label, impacting our thoughts, beliefs, and overall well-being. In this post, I will explore the reasons why language is so powerful on this journey.
The language we use to describe our goals and experiences on the road to parenthood is extremely powerful because the words we use turn into the stories we tell ourselves about what is possible and what is not. I am very intentional about the words I use when working with clients and encourage everyone to question and challenge how they are being described and labelled. For example, within the medical model, individuals are diagnosed with infertility when they have been on this journey without conception for one year (for people under the age of 35) or 6 months (for people over the age of 35). Infertility is a word used to describe people who are experiencing barriers to conception that may include their age, medical conditions, lab results, or in many situations, it may be ‘unexplained’.
‘Unexplained infertility’ is the label used when fertility testing has not identified a cause to explain the lack of conception that is being experienced. These terms serve a purpose within the medical model and are used by well-intended, caring, and hard-working professionals. So why are these terms problematic? Well, let’s dig into it. The dictionary defines ‘infertility’ as the inability to conceive children. The word ‘inability’ implies a fact, destination, or outcome, suggesting it cannot be changed. It becomes an illness requiring treatment and cure, an identity we never wanted but can’t seem to release. It focuses on what is not possible, and places responsibility and blame on the individual experiencing it, for not being ‘able’ to conceive, rather than focusing on what is possible, and what can be changed. Another known linguistic offender is the phrase ‘trying to conceive’. The dictionary defines ‘trying’ as making an attempt or effort to do something. This is problematic because it automatically implies that it might not happen. When we tell someone we’ll try to make it to their event, there’s a solid chance we aren’t actually planning to go. Try is non-committal, and sets us up for failure.
The words and labels we use matter, because they influence the way we think. Our thoughts impact our emotions, beliefs, actions, and outcomes. The research shows that if our thoughts generate positive emotions, we experience health and well-being; if our thoughts generate negative emotions, we experience a stress response, which inhibits health and well-being. Whether consciously or not, when we are assigned a label or diagnosis, or use language that is not aligned with our goals, we may start to believe that we will be unable to conceive, that it will be really difficult, that it will never happen, that we’re too old, or that there’s something wrong with us. These thoughts cause us to experience fear, doubt, and worry, and become belief programs playing on repeat in our minds. These programs become a part of our identity, influencing our decision making and actions, and therefore having a huge impact on our fertility outcomes. This fear often causes us to spring into action mode, doing everything and anything we can, no matter the costs (financial and otherwise).
Many of you reading this may have already done ‘all the right things’, from impeccable nutrition and diet, exercise, meditation, acupuncture, and supplements and still nothing has worked. You may be at your wit’s end, wondering why you can’t seem to make this happen. The research shows that our thoughts are so powerful that they can negate the benefits of self-care, exercise, and nutrition. A dysregulated nervous system can cause hormonal imbalances, chronic illness, and impact our mental health, so it goes without saying that it will also impact our fertility. You could be doing all the ‘right things’, consciously focusing on what you want, while your unconscious programming quietly and painfully sabotages your outcomes. So, if you have already tried everything you can think of, and it’s still not happening, it’s may be time to turn your attention to your thoughts and the words you are using to tell your story.
It is absolutely possible to become aware of the programs running in our minds, and learn how to shift them to be in alignment with our goals. Not sure where to start? It can be really challenging to recognize these programs and patterns of thinking on our own, and this is where coaching and education come in. A Harvard study showed that individuals accessing a supported mind-body program were twice as likely to conceive as those who didn’t. 76% of them did so naturally (without medical intervention) within 12 months, regardless of age, diagnoses, and years spent on their fertility journey.
Wildflower Fertility programs focus on you as a whole person (mind, body, heart, and soul), and help you become aware of how your thoughts, emotions, and programming are impacting your fertility outcomes and overall well-being. I will help you identify and release what isn’t aligned with your vision of parenthood to both improve the experience you have on this journey while also increasing your fertility and conception capabilities. As the cherry on top, the benefits and manifestations you’ll experience in my programs will transcend fertility, and support you to uplevel other areas of your life, too. For more information on what program is most aligned with your goals, click here.