Lifestyle Causes of Infertility: Stress
Going through infertility and difficulties getting pregnant is bound to increase stress levels; but did you know that stress itself can pose a significant threat to your reproductive health? In fact, stress is one of the biggest lifestyle factors that can impair both female and male fertility.
If you are experiencing stress, this could be the cause of infertility. For couples trying to conceive, learning how to deal with stress can improve the odds of getting pregnant, while giving in to the effects of stress may only hinder fertility.
Your Body Under Stress
Stress is defined as any occurrence that causes a sense of threat or upset. This can range from mild events such as work stress, to traumatic stressors such as being in a car accident. Any type of stress typically signals the onset of particular processes in the body.
When your body is under stress, corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) hormones are released. These hormones activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system in the brain, which in turn release chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. Among these messengers is the stress hormone "cortisol."
In addition, your body will exhibit physical stress symptoms such as sweating, shaking, increased breathing and increased heart rate.
Stress and Infertility
Stress has long been linked with fertility complications, but just what the mechanisms behind this cause of infertility are remains unclear. For the most part, it is believed that since the same mechanism is used to regulate stress hormones as well as sex hormones, experiencing stress may disrupt the hormonal balance necessary for reproduction.
- anovulation (absence of ovulation)
- irregular menstruation
- hormonal imbalance
- reduced sperm count, sperm volume and sperm concentration
- decreased libido
- erectile dysfunction
- lowered concentration of LH or testosterone
The Mind/Body Connection: Dealing with Stress
Research has shown a deep connection between mental factors such as stress and their effects on the body. In particular, stress has been linked with immune system activity, which can significantly affect fertility.
It is also theorized that individuals who are under stress are more likely to engage in habits that can hinder fertility. These can include smoking, taking drugs, improper eating, exercising less and sleeping poorly. Indeed, it is important to avoid letting stress affect your overall health, since the body needs to maintain fitness in order to be able to conceive.
If you and your partner are dealing with the stress and emotions of infertility, it is recommended to engage in stress relief activities and learn how to deal with stress in order to improve fertility.
Learn more about how to cope with infertility.
Consider redecorating your home in order to create a truely stress-free environment. Find out more about how you can change your home decor.