Healing Past Trauma To Increase Your Fertility
Holistic Women’s Health expert Josie Bouchier talks about the importance of healing past trauma, grief or stress when embarking on the fertility journey
Trauma & Fertility
The most unexpected benefit of a fertility journey is the opportunity for growth and healing. The same is true for trauma. And sometimes the two go hand in hand, especially if the trauma was endured near the reproductive organs or interfered with the person’s ability to feel safe and protected. Examples of trauma include previous birth, miscarriage, abortion, injury, abuse, childhood, natural disaster, or medical procedure.
“While trauma can be hell on earth, trauma resolved is a gift of the gods—a heroic journey that belongs to each of us.” ~ Dr. Peter Levine, Originator and developer of Somatic Experiencing® and the Director of The Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute
Past trauma can be intertwined with present day grief and stress. In Chinese medicine, grief and stress cause stagnation in one or more organ systems in the body, which inevitably effects a person’s fertility. Fertility (and all good health) relies on a smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout all organ systems. When there is stagnation or stuck energy in one or more locations, there is disharmony or disease.
Organs & Fertility
One of the main organ systems in Chinese medicine that effects fertility are the Kidneys. Kidney energy is associated with resources, power, and protection. If at any time in your life you felt like your power was taken away from you, for example in a domestic or medical setting, that your life was at risk, or your basic needs for survival were not available to you or hard to come by, then your Kidney energy was injured and has probably sustained that injury over time, unless major healing took place.
According to Chinese medicine, our Kidney energy dictates our aging and fertility arc, in other words, it’s our “fertility blueprint.” Kidney energy dictates how many eggs we’re born with, when we’ll get our first menses, at what age we’ll start menopause, and when our hair will turn grey. When Kidney energy is weak, we have fewer or lower quality eggs, we have greying or thinning hair, and we approach menopause sooner.
Kidney energy becomes injured from over-work as well as trauma. A classic example is when someone develops a “shock” of white hair, seemingly overnight, after going through a major traumatic life event. The way to heal our Kidneys (and thus improve our fertility) is to slow our lifestyle pace, engage in effective trauma healing therapy if there was a traumatic event in one’s past, and regain and own our personal power. Brene Brown’s work is wonderful for learning how to regain and own your power. I also recommend Peter Levine’s book, Waking The Tiger and visiting traumahealing.com to find a practitioner near you who is trained in Peter Levine’s trauma healing techniques. Healing deep trauma requires working with a specialist, you cannot do it on your own.
In addition to the Kidneys, there are two organ systems in Chinese medicine that also play an important role in fertility and are particularly affected by trauma, grief and/or stress. Here’s a summary of how each organ system contributes to our fertility and some action steps we can take to heal and boost our fertility.
In Chinese medicine, the Liver oversees the smooth flow of energy in our body. Anything that requires micro movements, like menstruation, ovulation, and implantation, for example, is orchestrated by the Liver’s smooth flow of energy. When we experience any kind of stress or anger, our Liver Qi constricts and becomes stagnated, eliminating the smooth flow of energy in our body. This can look like clots in our menstrual blood, tender breasts (the Liver channel runs through the breasts), cramping, mood swings, irritability, and reproductive disorders like endometriosis.
As a result, we self-medicate and crave things that temporarily smooth out our Liver Qi, but create more Liver Qi stagnation in the long run, like caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and spicy food.
Tip: If you crave any of these things on a consistent basis, look at your stress levels.
The way to restore Liver’s smooth flow of energy is to embrace a low-stress lifestyle and eliminate or minimize “liver loaders” like caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and pharmaceutical drugs. (Some pharmaceutical drugs are necessary of course, so consult with your doctor first.) Starting a meditation practice, consistent acupuncture, yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong, or even walking in nature on a daily basis can help lower stress levels and soothe an angry Liver, thus restoring hormone balance and fertility.
Spleen Qi is synonymous with digestion in Chinese medicine, in a literal and metaphorical sense. If we have healthy Spleen Qi, we digest our food with no gas or bloating, we are able to transform food into blood and energy easily, and we also integrate or “digest” experiences and thoughts easily into our psyche. Healthy Spleen Qi holds a pregnancy (i.e. prevents miscarriage), produces adequate blood volume and provides us with plenty of energy.
When we have weak Spleen Qi, we experience frequent gas and bloating, spotting before or after our cycle, fatigue, multiple miscarriages, auto-immune disorders, and obsessive thinking. Poor diet, stress, over-thinking (which often happens with grief or stress) can injure or weaken the Spleen Qi.
The two most effective ways to heal the Spleen is to strengthen our digestion and create healthy boundaries, especially if there is an auto-immune component that is preventing pregnancy. To read more about the connection between healthy boundaries and fertility, as well as some self-inquiry questions, see my guide to healthy boundaries to improve fertility and digestion.
Simple Chinese medicine guidelines to strengthen the digestion include eating small but frequent meals so you don’t overwhelm the digestion, primarily eating warm, cooked foods with warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, orange peel, and fennel. It’s also beneficial to take 100 steps after every meal to aid the digestion and avoid “damp” foods like dairy, gluten, and sugar (including alcohol).
- According to Chinese medicine, food is one of the most powerful healing agents available to us. Food can enhance our body’s ability to function at optimal levels, or it can inhibit our body’s organ systems, including our reproductive system. See our guide to the 10 best fertility boosting foods.
- Morning sickness occurs in 50% – 70% of all pregnancies, usually between weeks six through sixteen. Sometimes nausea and/or vomiting can return at the end of pregnancy, or it can last the entire time, it’s different for every woman. In this article we share why morning sickness happens and how to minimize it.