In his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, executive coach Marshall Goldsmith highlights habits that already-successful professionals may have to upgrade if they want to reach the next pinnacle of success. And, in some cases, they may have to change or refine the very things that they have attributed to their success in the first place.
Where am I going with this?
Well, I think that the same thing can be true of fertility. Stay with me for a moment.
So many of my clients are highly educated, highly motivated, highly focused...and highly successful. This also translates into many of my clients working long hours, traveling a lot, managing lots of responsibilities at home and at work, sleeping erratically, eating erratically and exercising erratically. And, as a result, feeling stressed and tapped out most of the time.
Now, this may be great for their professional trajectory (at least in the short-term), but it is not great for their health and well-being. And, if it’s not great for your health, it’s also not great for your fertility. If you keep de-prioritizing your health for your career, your body will eventually fight back.
And so, I say: What got you here (to resounding professional success) may not get you there (to your goal of easily and naturally conceiving a healthy baby).
Yes, I am being a bit dramatic here...but not that dramatic. Here’s why:
When we are continually stressed, our bodies actually divert the raw materials needed to make our sex hormones (e.g., testosterone, estrogen) to making our stress hormones (e.g., cortisol). This is a biological reality. Your body will always prioritize survival over procreation. Stress used to mean running from a lion; now it means running from your unrelenting boss’s expectations or your crazy Aunt Judy. And while your boss or Aunt Judy isn’t truly threatening your survival, your primal brain doesn’t know that...and responds as if it was. Any acute or chronic stressor is perceived as a threat to our survival and our body responds accordingly by pumping out cortisol (stress hormone) over estrogen / testosterone (sex hormones). Over time, that means that we don’t have the necessary sex hormones to Build-A-Baby.
When we aren’t eating a balanced diet, our body doesn’t get the raw materials (e.g., macronutrients and micronutrients) it needs to make our sex hormones. Again, without sufficient sex hormones, we can’t biologically procreate - it’s that simple.
When we having underlying health conditions that are increasingly common (e.g., pre-diabetes, hypothyroid, endometriosis, PCOS), we may be led to believe it’s not that big of a deal. Not true. Your hormonal system is incredibly complex and also intricately interconnected. When one hormone is off, it affects the others like a cascade of dominoes. If you have a sluggish thyroid, it affects your ability to get pregnant. If you have metabolic syndrome, it affects your ability to get pregnant. If you have conditions like PCOS or endometriosis, it affects your ability to get pregnant.
And so, the bottom line is: your go-go-go lifestyle, which has brought you much professional success, may actually be standing in the way of your personal success (read: vibrant health and the ability to conceive a healthy, happy baby). That's the not-so-great news. The even better news is that you can do something about it...starting now. Professional success and personal success (e.g., healthy body, healthy relationships, healthy baby) are not mutually exclusive. In fact, in many cases, rock-solid personal success (read: stellar health) fosters exceptional professional success. You can have both (if you want to) so don't let anyone convince you otherwise.