If you’re trying to conceive without success, it’s almost a guarantee somewhere along your journey some well-meaning soul advised you to “just relax and it will happen.” Well, don’t be so quick to dismiss their advice. According to a few recent studies, there is some connection between stress and fertility.
It’s difficult to assess the degree to which stress impacts your fertility when you are in such a stressful situation as trying to conceive without success. Each month when it becomes apparent you are not pregnant you likely feel all the “feels”; you’re frustrated and sad and feel a bit hopeless. You’re angry and growing more anxious and depressed by the day. While these feelings are legitimate, the stress of what you feel may, in fact, hamper your ability to conceive. It’s a very exhausting and debilitating cycle and something on which you really must get a handle.
How Stress Affects Fertility
Much of the “how” stress affects your fertility depends a on the way you react to stress. The effect of day-to-day stress shows up in many different ways; some people develop ulcers, some have chronic conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, others suffer from insomnia, depression and anxiety. Others seem to let stress roll right over them with little to no affect at all. They are the fortunate few!
In order to understand how stress is affecting you and how it carries the potential for fertility issues it’s necessary that you understand the stress-response ingrained in human beings since the dawn of time.
Your body releases certain stress hormones when you perceive a threat. Your heart rate rises, adrenaline begins to pump through your system and your blood pressure rises. This is the fight-or-flight stress response that’s been a part of human existence forever. It’s your body’s basic survival response whether you’re being chased by a T-Rex or you missed a deadline at work or find your flight home cancelled yet again. In cave people days the T-Rex didn’t chase you for months on end. They either caught you or went on to a more appetizing pursuit and your stress abated. In today’s world stress is pretty constant.
The physiological response that pushes your metabolism into high gear also interferes with blood flow to your reproductive organs, causes weight gain and other physical issues that may interfere with ovulation. In fact, in a study by the NIH researchers found that for those women with elevated levels of alpha-amylase (an enzyme that indicates a stress response) conception was much more difficult. Results indicated those with the highest concentration of the enzyme, over six menstrual cycles, were 12% less likely to conceive over those with lower alpha-amylase levels. These women had no indication of prior infertility or underlying issues.
Reversing The Influence of Stress on Fertility
Stress influences your overall health which, ultimately, affects your fertility. Many people who feel overburdened and overwhelmed by stressors in their lives opt for less-than-ideal coping mechanisms; eating, imbibing in way too many adult beverages or overusing prescription meds or other risky behaviors. None of these coping methods are healthy for you or your future as a parent.
Staying as healthy as you possibly can, mind, body and soul, is necessary to a positive outcome. Managing your stress while you are undergoing treatment for infertility influences your success. Doctors concur that stress affects somewhere around 30% of all infertility cases. Given that, it stands to reason the reverse would also be true. Here are a few ways you can deal with all of the stressors that come your way before they impact your health and your fertility.
- Meditation and Guided Meditation
- Cardio (but nothing too aggressive or difficult). Check with your doctor.
- Walk in Nature
- Yoga (Again, check with your doctor.)
- Visualization Exercises
- Support Groups
- Listening to Music
- Painting, Sculpting or Other Artistic Outlet
There’s always a way to cope with feelings of overwhelm. Take the pause, use mindful breathing and practice self-care. You may not master the art of Zen overnight but you are helping yourself anytime you incorporate these healthy coping strategies.
Get the Answers You Need from The Professionals You Trust
Do you suspect you or your partner may suffer from compromised fertility? Have you been trying to conceive without success for more than 12 months (six if you are over 35)? If you suspect your fertility is suffering from your overburdened and overwhelmed life or any other reason contact LA IVF. Our team of compassionate fertility professionals help get to the root cause of your compromised fertility so that you can realize your dream of growing your family. Reach out to us today.