Stress can lead to infertility

Submitted by Jenifer on May 16, 2013
It is only natural for a couple to undergo some stress when they do not conceive soon after they start trying for a baby. However, did you know that stress could be one of the main factors keeping you or your partner from getting pregnant?


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Stress has become a part of our everyday lives, because of our demanding careers and the constant need to perform well in studies as well as other activities. Therefore, most of us are quite used to dealing with at least some amount of stress. However, if the levels of stress are too high, you are at an increased risk of health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, a stroke or even a heart attack.

Many health experts also advise couples to avoid getting all worked up when trying to plan a baby, as stress may have an adverse effect on female fertility.

Women who lead hectic lives or have very demanding jobs may find it more difficult to conceive, especially if they are not coping with the stress in the right manner. This is because excessive stress could disrupt their regular menstrual and ovulation cycles by triggering off hormonal imbalances.

In case your healthcare provider believes that stress is the reason you have not been able to conceive, you may be asked to adopt a few relaxation and stress-coping techniques like exercising, yoga, meditation, deep breathing and massage therapy. Many women in such situations have also been able to conceive after simple “talk therapy” or counseling.

Of course, not all women who are stressed suffer from fertility problems; it is only when stress causes your ovulation and menstrual cycles to become irregular that you may find it difficult to conceive. However, the exact impact of stress on fertility in women is still a controversial topic as researchers continue their studies in order to look for answers.

Impact of stress on fertility

Couples who have been trying to conceive for a long time without any success, often hear “just relax and let it happen” from their family and friends. The difficulty in getting pregnant is bound to cause excessive stress in any woman; however, very often women find it difficult to conceive mainly because they are so stressed out.

According to medical research the link between infertility and psychological distress is hard to explain. Dr. Jacky Boivin from the School of Psychology at Cardiff University, Wales has been studying the impact of stress on fertility in women for more than a decade. She claims that on a biological basis, the various systems regulating our moods and behaviors also interact with the systems regulating reproduction. While she cannot really explain the reason for the correlation between stress and female infertility, she conclusively states that excess stress applied at different stages of a woman’s menstrual cycle can suppress or even inhibit conception. Therefore, women who are highly stressed because of their personal lives or their fertility problems take longer to conceive as compared to their less distressed counterparts. However, Dr. Boivin adds that the extent to which stress affects fertility in the long term is still not clear.

Ways to get rid of stress

Almost all of us experience at least some amount of stress on a daily basis. However, excess stress can lead to ailments like headaches, fatigue, irritability, nausea, cramps and appetite loss to name a few. Dealing with excess stress on a long-term basis could lead to serious health problems such as hypertension, chest pain, depression or strokes. If you do find yourself getting worked up quite often, it is important that you adopt a few effective stress-reducing techniques. Given below are some of the most highly recommended ways to get rid of stress –

  • Exercise – Many people work off their stress by jogging, running, swimming or cycling. When you work out, your body releases endorphins, commonly referred to as the natural pain relievers. This biochemical substance induces a feeling of happiness, thereby relieving excessive stress. If you do not have the time to join a gym, engage in strenuous physical activities such as dancing, gardening, cleaning the house and so on.
  • Sleep – The lack of proper sleep often causes people to become moody and irritable, thereby increasing the levels of stress. In order to reduce stress, make sure that you get at least 8 hours of sleep each day.
  • Eat right – When you feel nervous or anxious about something, you are more likely to reach out for comfort food like chocolate, cookies, chips and so on. However, foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat could make you feel worse physically, once the rush wears off. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains instead.
  • Breathe deeply – You can beat stress instantly with a few deep breaths. Make sure that you sit or lie down in a comfortable position and inhale deeply. Hold your breath to the count of ten and then exhale slowly. Repeat these steps around 3 to 5 times and you will feel the anxiety leave you almost immediately.
  • Get a massage – Make sure that you set up an appointment with your masseuse at least twice every month. Getting a massage not only relaxes your muscles but also increases the level of serotonin in your body. This chemical promotes better sleep and enables you to relax before the levels of stress can build up.

There are several other ways though which you can get rid of excess stress. However, it is best to check with a doctor before trying any stress-reduction techniques.

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