I recently posted a blog about how depression and anxiety are linked to infertility. Depression and anxiety are stressful in themselves, but stress can come without them. And “ordinary” stress itself can affect your fertility.
Stress has been on the rise for some time, and so has infertility, so it’s not a surprise that there is a connection. It’s a mistake to believe that stress is all in the mind and won’t affect your body. The brain, after all, is the control center that governs the function of every other system in the body: the nervous, endocrine, digestive, and circulatory systems all depend on the brain.
Many factors go into stress, and different people react to it differently. But it can’t be ruled out as a possible factor if you’re experiencing infertility, because stress affects both the body and our behaviors in several ways.
Hormones—The hypothalamus is a gland in the brain that regulates the emotions, the appetite, and the release of sex hormones. In both men and women, stress can cause a decrease in the release of GnRH, the chemical that controls the release of sex hormones. GnRH affects ovulation in women and the development of sperm in men.
Pregnancy rejection—Some evidence suggests that the body is more likely to reject implantation when the woman is under stress because pregnancy would further stress the body.
Behavioral changes—When under stress, we often cope with our emotions through changes in our behavior. Some people will smoke or drink more often, which decreases their physical health. Others may have decreased libido, so they just don’t feel “in the mood.” This complicates things even further when you’re trying to conceive, because you may be having sex for the purpose of conception alone, making the loving act seem less loving and more like a project. This can cause additional emotional stress.
Remember that not everyone is affected the same way by stress. But it’s important to reduce your stress, not just for your fertility, but for an overall improvement in your peaceful enjoyment of life and your partner.
Although you can easily find advice on “how to reduce stress,” the best methods for reducing your stress depend on your particular situation. We can work together to find the right way to help you reduce stress and improve your overall health and relationships.