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  • Jen Paschen

How Grief Impacts Fertility

When I lost my mother, I thought I could just fast forward through all of the stages of loss/grief.

I had been by my mother's side from diagnosis to death. I was with her when she died. It was my new reality. Why did I have to prolong the whole acceptance thing?

So, I accepted. I just wanted to get back to my new level of "normal"- take care of my own children, get back to work. My life was forever changed, and there was nothing I could do about it... or so I thought.

As the weeks passed, I found myself feeling more and more unlike myself- isolated, emotionally disconnected, fatigued, and disinterested in anything that didn't involve being in my room or going to sleep.

It became very clear to me that the harder I tried to convince myself that I was "ok", the more depressed I felt. It was f*cking awful.

Soon enough it became clear to me that there was no sidestepping the grief or tricking my body back into some new level of reality. Nope.

My body knew too well and wasn't letting me off the hook- certain songs, smells, and even the smell of fall triggered all kinds of feelings.

My body wasted no time in schooling me on the fact that everything I had experienced was now stored in my cells, muscles, and sensory organs.

No wonder when we experience loss/pain/trauma, we feel so fragile and the smallest things can trigger us right back to a specific time/place/feeling.

It's been 2 years since my mother's death, and in the past two years, I've worked really hard on embracing the grief, being with it, slowing down, being ok with feeling like garbage, crying out of nowhere, and lovingly being able to take in all the things that remind me of her. I live and love with grief. It is now a part of me.

So how does this pertain to my patients and my work as a women's health/fertility specialist?

Unhealed or unacknowledged emotions in the body create stasis.

When dealing with hormone balancing, blood flow, and all things fertility, we can not ignore the mental/emotional part of the equation. It is important to bring it to the table. Besides, there's really no avoiding our emotions; they will eventually show up.

There's a presentation in TCM that is particularly common with fertility patients- it's called a "hot/cold complex"- basically it's compromised blood flow in the lower half of the body and excessive heat and harassment in the upper part of the body.

It's like the body is operating in two different hemispheres- heat above and cold below. The treatment strategy is to harmonize and reconnect the body to restore proper blood flow/hormone balance.

Dealing with fertility issues brings up all kinds of emotions- grief, guilt, anger, jealousy, depression, anxiety, overthinking, mentally spinning out, irritability, and rage, to name a few...

And most people don't walk around expressing their feelings out loud, in public, all day every day. So feelings get stuffed down/buried, hidden, and ignored.

As our unexpressed emotions and tongue biting remain idle in the body- the symptoms of the hot/cold complex arise- and we will see things like:

  • increased hunger or thirst or decreased appetite/thirst level

  • headaches/migraines

  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep/vivid dreams or nightmares

  • bloating/digestive issues/IBS

  • menstrual cycle irregularities/painful periods

  • fertility issues

  • sinus issues/nose bleeds/congestion/allergies

  • seasonal sickness- spring allergies/sinus infections/upper respiratory infections

  • acne/cystic acne

  • cold sores/canker sores/nosebleeds/ bleeding gums/toothache

  • heart palpitations/dizziness

  • mental restlessness/overthinking/spinning out

  • anxiety/depression/sadness/grief/irritability

The good news is that the hot/cold complex is a common presentation with a straightforward treatment plan using Chinese herbs and acupuncture treatment.

Ultimately, we are reconnecting the body with itself- top to bottom- inside/out, the physical and the emotional.

We can not achieve and maintain good health without proper communication and acknowledgment for all we have gone through and all we are facing. Emotions are always part of the picture.

When we treat hormone issues or fertility issues, we focus on fostering warm blood flow and circulation to the lower part of the body, specifically in and around the reproductive organs.

When promoting optimal fertility- we need everything to flow/be warm/and allow the body to be in full, clear communication with itself.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine + other TCM adjunctive therapies are super gentle and effective in addressing/alleviating emotional imbalances/stuck emotions, toxins, environmental sensitivities and internal stagnation/hormonal imbalances.

Bottom line...if you are struggling in any way- seek support from a licensed therapist. If you’d don’t know where to begin or don’t know of a good therapist- we got you! We have a wonderful list of compassionate therapists who are available to help! Contact the office for more information.

Other helpful tips:

  • move your body- get outside for 20 mins/day

  • journal

  • get acupuncture/ herbal medicine

  • talk to a friend

  • find a support group

  • snuggle with your pet

  • do yoga

  • start an art project

  • garden

  • most importantly, have patience with yourself

Always here for you,

Jen Paschen, Founder of The Nest


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