Impact of Stress on Fertility

If you’ve been experiencing fertility concerns for a while, you may have also noticed how stressful it can be, and it is natural to feel upset and frustrated if conception is a challenge.

Unfortunately, stress and infertility tend to become a vicious cycle though, making it even harder to become pregnant after being stressed about not being pregnant. While it may feel like you’ve reached your limits or feel like there’s no hope, rest assured there are many avenues to continue to look down as well as many resources to mitigate stress-induced infertility and fertility-induced stress.

What is stress exactly, since we all use that term so often?

Stress is an emotional or physical feeling of tension. It is often a subconscious response to a stressor, which could be from a tough boss, physical workout, too much on your plate or worries about a health concern. It leads to numerous symptoms such as exhaustion, pain and irritability, but can also affect hormone cycles, sleep, digestion and even your immune system.

As mentioned previously, stress has a considerable impact on fertility. If you’ve ever had a late period during the same month of high stress, you’ve experienced how stress can affect hormones. When the body is under stress, cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine are preferentially made over progesterone. Even more simply put is that when the body senses high amounts of stress, it signals that this is not an ideal time to have a baby. Additionally, these stress hormones can modify levels of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, both of which are needed for ovulation and follicle maturation in women and testosterone and sperm production in men.

Stress however doesn’t just impact hormone production in regard to fertility. High and prolonged periods of stress also impact lifestyles, such as affecting sleep, caffeine intake and sometimes alcohol intake, all of which further impact the ability for the body to prepare for a child. High stress in the household can also decrease sexual function, time for intercourse and pleasure

Because of the numerous effects that high stress has on all aspects of health, it is imperative for couples wanting to get pregnant to engage in stress management practices. This applies to both partners and can include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga or other exercise
  • Engaging in hobbies you enjoy
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Mediation/ mindfulness
  • Massage
  • Working on “letting Go” of the idea of getting pregnant; if you’re having a hard time getting pregnant, releasing the stress around not getting pregnant has shown to improve pregnancy rates

Stress can affect nearly every aspect of your health and when it comes to fertility, it is a major factor. We all deal with stress, but it matters how chronic the stress is and how we manage it when it comes our way.

If you are experiencing trouble with fertility, please reach out. It is likely that frequent causes of infertility have not yet been looked at with conventional doctors. Factors include much more than just hormones. Dr. Alioto would love to support you and your partner in your journey toward parenthood, using non-invasive and root-cause-based approaches to supporting your fertility naturally. Whether you’re just started out on your fertility journey or you’ve had multiple rounds of IVF, there is still hope!

The above information is not intended to diagnose or treat a disease and is not a substitute for appropriate medical care.

Learn more about Naturopathic Medicine and much more in our other blog posts.

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