The Role of Stress in Infertility



Our childbearing years seem long when we are young and dreaming about starting a family, but schooling and careers take time. If we wait too long, the birthdays can slip by until we are acutely aware of each one we celebrate without children in our lives. Although there is no need to panic, the situation can cause considerable anxiety if our bodies are not as willing as our mental and emotional priorities.

         The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that a women under 35 years old having regular sexual intercourse without the use of birth control for one year and not pregnant to consider having a fertility evaluation. Women over 35 should be considered needing an evaluation after six months of regular sexual intercourse without the use of birth control and no pregnancy. Sometimes we hear of a woman trying to conceive for years that gives up and yet becomes pregnant. It may be that the act of giving up actually fosters the fertilization because of the role stress plays in the inability to conceive.

         Dr. Allen Morgan, director of the Shore Institute for Reproductive Medicine, in Lakewood, New Jersey, thinks we should focus on the physiological effects of stress and how they may interfere with conception, because levels of hormones such as cortisol or epinephrine often rise with repeated and chronic stress, and these changes may be related to preventing fertility from occurring. Morgan believes reducing stress may assist in enhancing proteins within the uterine lining which can lead to better odds of implantation. Decreasing stress may also increase uterine blood flow.

         In research published in the journal Human Reproduction, doctors compared pregnancy rates in couples that reported being stressed and those that were not and found pregnancy was much more likely to occur during months when couples reported feeling happy and relaxed. Conversely, it was less likely to occur during the months they reported feeling tense or anxious.

      The support of family and friends is crucial when a woman is undergoing fertility therapy because infertility itself is stressful. The desire for pregnancy, along with treatments and lack of success can lead to chronic stress. Reducing stress is always easier said than done, and sometimes we need to take a step back and look at what is important on many different levels. How a person handles stress is something we do have control over—taking some time to evaluate the stress in our life and how we cope is a good starting point. If we are an anxious person and small stresses cause us to become overwhelmed, we may need to talk to a professional to provide tools to use in working through certain situations.

         Some other stress-reducing habits include making sure we are sleeping well, eating a healthy diet and practicing a sensible exercise regime. Meditation and yoga have proven to be excellent stress reducers, and research is optimistic about acupuncture and massage. Furthermore, journaling and surrendering to a higher spiritual being may not only reduce stress in fertility situations, but promote both good mental and physical health overall.

Doctor of Nursing Practice Leta Vaughan works with fertility patients at WomanCare, where women have access to counselors, nutrition and exercise support, and trained, fertility-focused massage therapists. For more information, call 847-221-4800 or visit WomanCarePC.com.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Brendan Mattson is a doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine (DACM) and serves as academic dean of graduate studies at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM).

What a Difference a Summer Solstice Makes

On June 20, at 11:24 p.m., Chicagoans can perform the annual ritual of saying hello to the sun on the first day of summer. The word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the sun appears to stop at this time and again at the winter solstice.

Hello Gyro

“Imagine an exercise system that strengthens the body enough to be used in training world-class athletes, stretches more safely than any form of yoga and expands the core training concepts of Pilates into natural full-body movements like those used in everyday reaching and walking, along with jumping and swimming.

Recipes to Enjoy Some Fresh Spring Veggies

Functional Movement

With an emphasis on flowing movements and functional exercise, many athletes are turning to Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis techniques to increase overall agility and performance.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

Traditional Chinese Medicine Applied to Birthing

Chinese medicine can be used in a variety of ways to promote fetal and maternal health during both the pregnancy and postpartum periods.

New Whole Body Wellness Program at Lakeview Integrative Medicine

Silvia Panitch, M.D., and her team at Lakeview Integrative Medicine, are introducing a functional medicine mind and body Emotional Wellness Program for those diagnosed with mild to moderate depression, anxiety, insomnia or ADHD.

Functional Movement

With an emphasis on flowing movements and functional exercise, many athletes are turning to Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis techniques to increase overall agility and performance.

5K Run & Walk Recognizes Clinical Trial Volunteers

The independent, nonprofit Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) will host a Medical Heroes Appreciation 5K Run & Walk in Chicago from 6:30 to 8:15 a.m., June 19, at Burnham Park.

Festival Celebrates International Migratory Bird Day

Spring bird migration is well underway, and the International Migratory Bird Day Celebration offers participants many ways to welcome back birds, learn more about bird migration and ways to get involved.

Kudos ~ Living By Design

Leslie Sann, MA, LCPC, was named winner of the Inspiration category in the inaugural International Excellence Body, Mind, Spirit Book Awards in March.