Stress & Infertility. There is a lot to say about stress and its impacts on our bodies. From causing headaches, to skin conditions, high blood pressure, anxiety, muscle aches, gastro-intestinal problems (just to mention a few), and in general decreasing the body’s defense system. Stress can cause a wide variety of problems.
This is also true in fertility conditions. Women undergoing fertility treatments are under a great deal of stress for many reasons: they are trying to get pregnant and are constantly facing disappointment, there can be family pressure, they might be in hormonal types of therapy which can in-themselves cause a physiological stress or mood reaction, and there is a constant line-up of appointments – some of which can be painful and uncomfortable.
It is no wonder that the vast majority of women who are engaged in fertility treatments are very stressed. The problem is that stress can add to the cause of infertility. Though there is no hard evidence that stress has an effect on fertility, it is known that stress impacts hormonal balance, especially cortisol levels. Please see this article for an in depth discussion on the physiology of stress and fertility.
So, what can we do?
There are a few things that women can do to decrease their stress and increase their fertility:
- Breathe! Take time, while waiting for doctor appointments for example, to quiet your mind and breathe. Simple, affirming meditations will help too as well as yoga.
- Acupuncture! Even WebMD sites studies where women who did regular acupuncture treatments had a 42.5% rate of pregnancy versus 26.3% who did not receive acupuncture. What a huge difference! There are also herbal remedies that can help to reduce stress.
- Decrease caffeine intake. Caffeine causes tension, with the exception of green tea which can help ease tension.
- Regular, moderate exercise will keep the blood moving and the toxins clearing – especially in the brain.
- Acknowledge your feelings. This is an emotionally charged time and addressing your feelings will help to reduce stress. Journaling or joining a support group are ways to do this.
- Laugh! Allowing/forcing yourself to laugh will immediately decrease stress levels. Watching comedies and going out with friends are both great ways to de-stress.
Stress seems to be a part of fertility treatments, but it does not have to be. Taking time to find ways to reduce this stress is a vital step in conception.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.
Caroline Prodoehl, R.Ac., R.TCMP