With the progression of time along with social and economic advancements, the stress levels among young folk have been on a steady rise too. This is especially true for couples who are just starting their family or are planning to expand it, considering the increase in roles, responsibilities and expenses. Work-life balance continues to take a hit. What many couples fail to take into consideration is that too much stress can seriously hamper fertility – in both men and women. Once you start trying to conceive, it doesn’t matter how many you check or whether you study , if stress continues to overshadow your life, all your efforts are in vain.
In this article, we will look at how stress affects fertility, and how couples can fix it in time to improve their .
There’s plenty of research to suggest that there is a direct link between stress, anxiety, depression and fertility. It also has an impact on the chances of getting pregnant in other ways. For example, when you are too stressed or not feeling particularly upbeat, you are less likely to have sex. So, your sex life takes a direct hit – if you’re not having sex, you’re not going to conceive.
It is also noticeable that these feelings often lead us to comfort foods (some of them might not be the healthiest foods), smoking, drinking more than you should; all of which are known to make you less fertile. Drinking, for example, also negatively impacts performance in bed. If you are too drunk, you might not be at your sexual peak. All these things lead to a reduced likelihood of getting pregnant.
Among men, too much psychological stress reduces sperm count as well as affects the ability of the sperm to fertilize an egg. A stressful lifestyle affects the sperm quality and mobility, reducing chances of conception, since the sperms are incapable of reaching the egg in time.
Hypothalamus, the center of the brain, regulates some of the hormones that are required for normal ovulation. In women, chronic stress impacts the hypothalamus such that the balance of sex hormones is damaged, resulting in irregular ovulation. This makes it difficult to plan sexual activity to coincide with ovulation, since the ovulation calculator is unable to predict your fertile window correctly. A similar reaction is also seen in men resulting in an irregular testosterone level and sperm production.
Too much stress has also been known to affect the process beyond conception. A research found that there were issues in the fertilization and implantation of the egg in the uterus due to excessive stress. Many women having fertility issues undergo the IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) process to become pregnant. A study by University of California San Diego found that women who were stressed met with little success during IVF treatment, compared to women who led a relatively stress-free lifestyle. Stressed out women had fewer eggs retrieved and fewer eggs implanted as compared to women with less stress. It is also worth noting that another study suggested that such women when allowed to de-stress had better results.
The best way would be to stop for a bit and just unwind. Whatever helps you unwind is your best friend in dealing with stress and improving your fertility. Whether it is going for a peaceful walk in the evening, exercising, watching movies, or hanging out with your friends, you should do it. Some of the more common and effective ways to deal with stress are:
Exercise as well as meditation, can calm your nerves and help you clear out the chaos in your mind. It promotes mental clarity and is one of the best ways to achieve a sense of calm. Regular exercise is also the best way to regulate hormonal balance, keep your overall system healthy and your fertility on track.
One of the greatest side-effects of stress is poor sleep, which in turn can throw your entire system out of balance. Lack of sleep can make you more stressed and frustrated, lower your metabolism, cause fatigue, affect hormone levels and affect your libido and fertility. Make sure you get a minimum of 8 hours of undisturbed sleep every night. Switch off all electronic devices one hour before bedtime, listen to peaceful music, sleep on clean sheets and darken your room completely when you’re about to sleep.
When a couple is trying to conceive, they often end up timing it so that it coincides with when the woman is ovulating. This whole planning and scheduling tends to take the fun out of the whole thing and instead only create more stress for the couple. The best way to increase your chances of conception is to just loosen up and go with the flow. Have fun, experiment and make it an enjoyable activity for both of you. This will help release oxytocin in your body which in itself is a direct reduction of stress.
Many doctors prescribe this as a way to fight stress. Scribbling down your worries on a paper, even if for just a few minutes a day, can help you clear your mind and feel more in control of your life. It is known to positively impact an individual and reduce anxiety and stress.
If you’ve tried and tested every trick in the book and still feel overwhelmed and helpless, don’t hesitate to get professional help from a psychiatrist or a psychologist. Couple’s therapy is also a great way to work through things together, strengthen your relationship and get better together. Fertility problems can affect even the healthiest couples, and a professional can navigate through this better than anyone.
Stress has become a universal problem, affecting people from all walks of life. Your journey to starting a new family shouldn’t be set back or made difficult because of this. So, don’t hesitate to take necessary measures to minimize the stress in your life. If you need any more insights or advice, ask us in the comments below!