The cost of infertility is a price no one is willing to pay. It’s not just the fact that you can’t bear a child after at least a year of trying. There’s the shame, the feeling of worthlessness and helplessness, and the disappointment and frustration that is mostly directed toward the self. It is safe to say, infertility causes stress.
But does it work the other way too? Does stress cause infertility?
While it is clear that infertility is stressful, there’s little to no scientific evidence as to whether or not stress directly causes infertility. But there have been findings that declare stress could be affecting a woman’s ability to conceive. Here’s how.
Does Stress Affect Women’s Ability to Conceive?
Infertility is not uncommon. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, as many as 6.1 million or 10 percent of women aged 15 to 44 have difficulty conceiving. Moreover, about 12 percent of the women population from the same age bracket are suffering through difficult pregnancies, resulting in the pregnancy failing to reach full term. Miscarriage is on a steady rise.
It is worth noting that fertility is not just a women’s problem. Men, too, suffer from it. Infertility in men is either the result of abnormal sperm production (sometimes from something like the mumps), genetic defects, or other health issues like diabetes or bodily infections.
Women, on the other hand, experience infertility due to different reasons, mostly health problems concerning the major organs involved in pregnancy, namely the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. If any of these are affected by a health condition (e.g., polycystic ovary syndrome, depreciating ovarian reserve, premature ovarian insufficiency, obstruction of the fallopian tube, abnormal uterine contour), pregnancy becomes a hard—if not impossible—work.
But are health conditions affecting the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus the only reason for infertility? The answer is yes, but there are other factors that could contribute to an increased risk for infertility and one of them is stress.
In a study conducted by Kristin Looney and Alice Domar in 2018, they confirmed that psychological factors have an effect on ART (assisted reproductive technology) cycles in women. An earlier study proved this true, after researchers Hillary Klonoff-Cohen, Eric Chu, Loki Natarajan, and William Sieber had one hundred fifty women under in vitro fertilization (IVF) or gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) take a questionnaire in clinics in Southern California. The goal was to see whether stress during ART cycles affects pregnancy or live birth delivery rates. The result? Acute and chronic stress affected the number of oocytes retrieved and fertilized. Stress also had effects on the women’s pregnancy and live birth delivery.
Now that we’ve established that may contribute to infertility in women, it’s time to discuss the ways it does.
How Does Stress Affect Fertility?
Here are two of the many ways stress affects a woman’s ability to conceive.
1. Getting less sleep.
Stress causes a lot of things, and one of them is a bad sleep cycle. According to Sleep.org, stress makes us overthink the things we did in the day. We worry a lot about what happened and the what-ifs and the what-could-haves that we spend too much time dealing with our thoughts than relaxing. And if you didn’t get a good-night’s sleep, your body produces more stress hormones, making you more stressed, causing you to sleep less and less. Not enough sleep then leads to obesity, which can cause fertility issues.
2. Eating too much.
Stress and overeating is like salt and pepper; had they been served during meals, they would have always gone on the same plate. When we’re bothered by a lot of things, emotionally and mentally, we tend to eat a lot, without a care for what it is we’re actually putting in our mouths. We care less about whether the food is healthy or not, and this leads to obesity, which, as mentioned, can cause infertility. In a study conducted by Zeynep Öscan Da? and Berna Dilbaz, it’s been found out that while there are obese women who are still able to conceive children, there is an increase in the risk of infertility in obese women. This is because when one is obese, more hormones called leptin are produced. This increased production means a disruption in hormone balance, which then leads to reduced fertility.
What You Can Do
There are a lot of things you can do to alter the effects of stress on your body.
- One, stay active. Find something that genuinely entertains you, something you can spend hours doing. This will distract you from your unnecessary thoughts, helping you think less about things that are stressing you out. You can do exercise too. Exercising has a lot of positive effects on the body but it does wonders to the mind too. Exercise produces endorphins into the body, the very hormones that help relieve stress and pain.
- Getting yourself a magnesium and melatonin sleep cream which are beneficial in supporting a restful night of sleep.
- You can get a therapeutic body that helps ease stress. A good example is CBD oil with terpenes. It is infused with 99 percent pure CBD crystalline isolate, which helps combat depression and anxiety. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t have any side effects.
- But more than making sure you’re following a healthy diet or being more active physically active, it is important that you pay attention to your mental health as well. The very first thing you need to do is to sit with your partner for a serious conversation about how you’re feeling and what it is doing to your body. Be open. Or if you don’t want to have that talk, get your partner to do something with you to alleviate how you feel. Go on late-night dates. Sit through a marathon of feel-good movies. Enlist your partner. Do not attempt to do this alone.
- You can also talk to a counselor or therapist if you want some tips for dealing with stress while trying to get pregnant.
- You can use Whole Family Product’s Organic USP Progesterone Cream to balance your hormones.
- Lastly, you can also join support groups for women who are going through the same thing. The feeling of having someone who can understand you and are seeking the same answers as you can be very helpful.