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Autonomic Nervous System & Fertility

Marcie Miller, LMT at Pulling Down the Moonby Marcie Miller, LMT – Massage Therapist with Pulling Down the Moon

The Autonomic Nervous System is a subdivision of the the nervous system that regulates proper organ function, maintains homeostasis, and helps us adapt to change. Within the ANS are two branches that govern bodily operations: the parasympathetic and the sympathetic. Imagine each branch on opposite ends of a seesaw; they sway together with one end acting more strongly than the other at any given time in order to ensure balance.

The parasympathetic division dominates during relaxation and allows healing within the body, nutrient absorption & waste disposal, calming of the mind, and improved endocrine (hormone) and immune system function.

On the opposite end, the sympathetic division is in charge of action, increasing the heart rate, blood flow to muscles, and mental activity.

The Affect of the Autonomic Nervous System

Autonomic Nervous System - Parasympathetic and Sympathetic
Autonomic Nervous System – Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Divisions

When the Autonomic Nervous System is in balance, our body’s organs and systems are in harmony, we feel equipped to handle challenges with confidence and control. We have time to rest and rejuvenate ourselves before the next challenge presents itself.

When balance is disturbed our sympathetic nervous system is perpetually “on” causing the fight or flight response. We become overwhelmed by stress, often allowing little offenses large portions of our energy; we end up pushing ourselves too hard at the expense of sleep, sanity, and health. In times of extreme distress when the body’s main concern is survival, the reproductive system becomes the least important (in terms of personal survival) and therefore is often the first system to shut down.

Taking care of ourselves is tantamount to taking care of life’s responsibilities. Relaxation, meditation, massage and bodywork, deep breathing, yoga, acceptance and letting go are all ways to help bring the body into balance and create a more healthy living space within yourself.

A few years ago, a woman came to me for massage during her fertility treatments. Each cycle, one of her five frozen embryos was transferred, and each cycle she received a Fertility Enhancing Massage (FEM). Every session she came in pretty wound up and  stressed with the pressure to conceive, but she would leave our office transformed, blissful, and floating on air. After 3 failed attempts she finally made the decision to take care of herself not only physically but mentally well. She told me, “This is our last cycle and they’re putting the last two embryos in. But I’m done stressing, whatever happens, happens.” By allowing herself to let go of expectation she helped the sympathetic nervous system take a much needed break; the parasympathetic brought her body back into balance and now she has two little girls who will one day thank her!

Learn more about massage for fertiltiy, call 888-604-7525 or schedule an appointment online.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist, please speak with one of our New Patient Liaisons at 877-971-7755.

This article was submitted as a guest writer. The opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the opinions of Shady Grove Fertility Center.

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