The Calm Path to Conception: Insights from Polyvagal Theory

Dr Agnes Ryu

The journey to pregnancy can be an emotional rollercoaster filled with excitement, anxiety, hope and uncertainty. At Dr Ryu, a leading natural fertility clinic in Wimbledon, we believe a calm and balanced nervous system provides the optimal environment for conception. That’s why we integrate insights from Polyvagal Theory into our holistic treatments.

Developed by neuroscientist Dr. Stephen Porges, Polyvagal Theory provides a new understanding of how our autonomic nervous system responds to stress and safety. It identifies three neural pathways that regulate our physiological and emotional states:

  • The Ventral Vagal Pathway: This circuit promotes social connection and feelings of safety. It allows us to remain calm, present and receptive—an ideal state for fertility.
  • The Sympathetic Pathway: Associated with the fight-or-flight response, this pathway prepares us for danger but can also hinder reproductive functions.
  • The Dorsal Vagal Pathway: This circuit triggers immobilization or shutdown in extreme stress. It can disrupt hormonal balance essential for conception.

Understanding these pathways empowers us to cultivate the optimal neural state for fertility—one of safety, connection and calm.  At Dr Ryu, we design personalized treatments to help couples manage stress, understand their emotional triggers, and activate the ventral vagal pathway. This creates an inner environment primed for conception.


The Mind-Body Connection

Polyvagal Theory underscores the profound connection between mind and body when it comes to fertility. Our emotional state directly impacts physiological functions like hormonal levels and menstrual cycles. By learning to regulate our nervous system, we can restore equilibrium to the body and enable it to thrive.

That’s why we emphasize the mind-body connection in our holistic therapies. This includes:

  • Acupuncture is a particularly effective way to increase vagal tone and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Many acupuncture points are directly connected to the vagus nerve, allowing needling to send signals that modulate sympathetic and parasympathetic flow. Treatments help downregulate the stress response, providing access to deep relaxation states essential for fertility. By lowering anxiety and balancing energy, acupuncture creates optimal conditions for conception.

    Furthermore, the vagus nerve stimulation induced during acupuncture sessions trains the body over time to more easily access calm, relaxed parasympathetic states. This increased capacity to find alignment between sympathetic and parasympathetic systems is maintained between treatments. The enduring effects of acupuncture on vagal tone make it a key technique for fostering an inner environment primed for fertility. Integrating it into treatment protocols can be transformative.

  • We often incorporate breathing techniques into our acupuncture sessions to enhance the vagal response. Clients are guided through a specific breathing practice that activate the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing the body into a state of calm. We also encourage clients to make breathwork a part of their daily routine at home and work. By practicing deep, mindful breathing each day, they can maintain a ventral vagal state and manage stress more effectively. Breathing techniques can even be applied during stressful medical procedures like IVF to aid relaxation and promote fertility. Our breathing program equips clients with a portable tool to find alignment between mind, body and breath on their parenthood journey.
  • When physical or mental tension manifests in the body, it can disrupt the free flow of energy and movement necessary for fertility. Our myofascial release techniques help reduce inflammation, pain, and restricted mobility by melting away knots, adhesions, and scar tissue. This helps activate the soothing ventral vagal pathway in the nervous system.

  • Often, old injuries and emotional wounds are held in the fascia and tissues as areas of congestion. These frozen pockets of trauma are gently encouraged to thaw through sustained pressure and movement. Releasing this stagnant energy re-establishes flow and communication between body systems, restoring vitality. Myofascial release provides a way to unwind the past, process old hurts, and come back into alignment – physically, mentally, and emotionally. The renewed sense of safety and connection it fosters primes the body for conception.

  • Education around nutrition, sleep hygiene, and lifestyle changes that optimize nervous system regulation for conception.
  • Custom herbal therapies to restore hormonal balance, improve energy production and promote fertility on a physiological level.
  • Meditation, yoga, spending time in the nature is encouraged to increase awareness, manage stress, and cultivate emotional equilibrium.


A Sense of Safety Is Key

Feeling safe on an emotional level is critical in conception. When survival feels threatened, the body down-regulates reproduction to conserve its resources. By cultivating the ventral vagal state through our therapies, we help couples feel grounded and secure. This sends signals to the body that it’s safe to conceive.

Along with inner safety, a sense of connection is also vital. Our treatments focus on strengthening emotional bonds with partners, family, friends, and community—bonds that comfort and reassure the nervous system. This social engagement system further enhances the inner calm necessary for fertility.

Our goal at Dr Ryu is to empower clients with the tools and insights to find alignment between mind and body on their journey to parenthood. By understanding and mastering stress responses, our clients are able to consciously cultivate a state conducive to conception.

If you’re hoping to conceive, contact us today to learn more about natural fertility enhancement.

Agnes Ryu

Agnes Ryu

Dr. Ryu is a clinician and biochemist specializing in integrative medicine. Her clinical interests include fertility, hormones, metabolism, healthy ageing, menopause, and natural breast cancer care. As an integrative practitioner, Dr. Ryu aims to uncover the root causes of health issues and strives to empower patients with the knowledge and tools to take charge of their own health.

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