What do you know about happy hormones and how they impact fertility?
Let’s get straight to the point – you’ve heard a lot about fertility hormones. And I’d be willing to bet you think you’re all over it … am I right?! But how much do you know about ‘happy hormones’ and how they impact your fertility journey?
Let’s start with the – let’s face it, boring but necessary – hormones:
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which preps your body for ovulation;
Luteinizing Hormone (LH) to trigger ovulation;
Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) which measures your ovarian reserve;
Estradiol (E2) one of the three oestrogen hormones which matures and maintains your reproduction system; and finally
Progesterone (P4) to prepare your uterus, by thickening the lining ready for pregnancy.
My guess is you’re all over these and could actually educate me on what they do, how they make you feel and when and how they are measured! Pretty sure by now you’ve got them covered.
So, let me tell you a little bit about what we refer to as ‘happy hormones’. Some are formally called neurotransmitters. Spoiler alert: these ones are less boring AND they also impact both your wellbeing and your fertility.
The truth is, fertility isn’t just about your physiology. Psychology is also incredibly important because, well, you are a giant network of connections between your mind and your body. Yep, you did read that right? MindBody medicine is well researched and results confirm this.
So, what are these happy hormones and how can they be a game changer for you during your fertility journey?
Before we dive in, keep in mind mindfulness and meditation will increase the uptake of each and every one of these hormones. How? Because mindfulness increases your ability to observe your mind, calm your system, help your body function and heal.
So, let’s get started. I’ll kick off with one of my very favourites – the ‘love’ hormone, oxytocin.
Oxytocin impacts you – and your partner’s – emotions and physiology. Oxytocin is released in your brain when you feel emotionally close. Oxytocin is an incredible chemical and plays a role in both orgasm and ejaculation! It’s also released during childbirth and is considered to be one of the reasons women can withstand such huge levels of pain and still be elated after birth (not to mention going back there again!).
It’s a favourite for a reason, so how can you get more oxytocin in your life?
Hug more – try extending your hug time and be really present. Tune in to how it feels to hug someone you love and who loves you.
More intimacy – sex right now can be all about the endgame – getting pregnant – so try enjoying sex purely for the pleasure and intimacy it brings.
Hang out with friends – strong friendships are amazing for our wellbeing. My tip, consider sharing a fun and/or unique experience with a friend.
Patting a fur-baby – either yours or someone else’s. Dogs are amazing – they help us release oxytocin (which is why they’re used in therapy) and they’re now being used in hospital sittings because they improve physiology as well. See, amazing!
Support a cause – the impact of realising ‘other people matter’ just can’t be underestimated when it comes to our wellbeing. So, pick a cause that matters to you and get behind it in any way you can right now.
Next up we have the ‘reward’ hormone, dopamine.
Dopamine is known as the reward, excitement and stimulation chemical. Dopamine assists our decision making based on how we feel about something. When you’re rewarded with a ‘shot’ of dopamine to your brain you’re more likely to continue doing that thing. Dopamine levels impact mood regulation, sleep patterns, appetite and your ability to express self-control. Wow.
It’s more than likely you have high levels of stress right now … which means you’re likely low in dopamine and high in prolactin – which is useful if you’re breastfeeding – but not so much if you’re trying to conceive so you can breastfeed!
How can you increase your dopamine levels?
Food – eat more protein and less saturated fats (more chicken, less chips!)
Gut health – gut microbiomes are linked with production of dopamine and serotonin, so make sure you look after your gut health.
Celebration – ticking things off a to-do list will flood your brain with dopamine. So, stop, notice and celebrate when you complete even the small tasks.
Self-care – prioritise the things that bring you joy and nourish you. Maybe it’s a bath or a manicure or even some quiet time reading. Make you a priority.
Curiosity – keeping your brain active, excited and interested by discovering new and exciting things.
Moving right along and we have the ‘happy’ hormone, serotonin.
Serotonin stabilises your mood, wellbeing and happiness. It can impact your fertility because studies on humans, monkeys and mice, show that serotonin plays an important role by influencing progesterone and oestrogen. It’s also instrumental for oocyte maturation and early embryonic development. And your partner’s serotonin levels are also important because they factor in sperm motility. This is an important one for fertility!
So how can you get more of this ‘happy’ hormone?
Gratitude – ways to do this are endless. Try writing a daily gratitude list before bed. Or you could try writing a note of thanks to a friend or colleague. Not feeling particularly grateful? Try our Gratitude Journal Prompts for some ideas to get you started.
Walks in nature – connect with the beauty of our natural environment. As you do try to be as silent as possible and take in the awe and wonder of nature. Yes, really.
Sit in the sun – vitamin D is amazing for stabilising your mood. Enjoy your morning coffee in the sun or take a walk at lunch and get some sun on you.
Exercise – cardio exercise like running, swimming or cycling helps release serotonin.
Savour – thinking about happy memories and feelings will increase your serotonin levels.
Let’s move on to ‘the runner’s high’ hormone, endorphins.
Endorphins are linked with your ability to feel happy and withstand pain. They have also been found to reduce ageing, increase immunity levels, strengthen sleep patterns and support physical flexibility. You will need all of these on your fertility journey!
How can you get more endorphins you ask?
Exercise – it’s not just good for your body, it releases endorphins. So, get your runners on and out there.
Dark chocolate – here’s some good news dark (emphasis on dark) stimulates the production of endorphins in your brain. But – like most things – in moderation!
Laughter – sitting down to your favourite comedy or getting together with friends you can have a great laugh with will increase endorphins in your brain.
Creativity – in whatever form it takes for you, creating something will also increase your dopamine levels – particularly if you finish your new creation. Think knitting, art, craft.
The hormones you hear mentioned by your specialists are key to your fertility. But, just as important, are these happy hormones to support you through your fertility journey. Remember women give up on fertility treatment due to stress than any other factor. So, reach for these hormones to support you and reduce your stress levels.
You can see that drawing on and increasing the levels of ‘happy hormones’ isn’t hard or taxing. But the benefits are huge. These hormones are just as important as the ones you hear so much about at your appointments.
In case you forgot, the uptake of all these amazing hormones can be improved through mindfulness and meditation … check out this blog if you’re wondering how meditation impacts fertility.
It would bring me so much joy to support you in releasing your happy hormones and Unlocking Your Fertility. If you’d like to know more reach out and let’s chat.