Can Stress Affect My Fertility or Cause Infertility?
Here at the Heartland Center For Reproductive Medicine, PC, we believe that patient education is very important. Many patients who visit our Omaha office have actually benefited from the information that we have provided. Patient education means more than answering questions about effective fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). Questions about diet, exercise, and wellness are also addressed to help patients take control of their own general and reproductive health.
With that in mind, we want to turn our focus to a common problem many of us deal with, and one that can actually make getting pregnant difficult: stress.
Stress Can Have an Effect on Getting Pregnant
Various studies in recent years have noticed a correlation between high levels of stress and anxiety and difficulty conceiving naturally. One study in 2010 analyzed the saliva of women who suffer from excessive stress. The heightened presence of alpha-amylase (an enzyme associated with high stress levels) made women 12 percent less likely to become pregnant through natural conception.
Some fertility experts and medical specialists think that stress may be the cause or contributing factor in up to 30 percent of all infertility cases. In general terms, stress can lead to poor health, obesity, and unhealthy habits such as smoking, all of which can affect a person's ability to conceive. There are some specific effects that stress can have on men and women, however.
The Female Fertility Issues Related to Excessive Stress
The most commonly posited theory as to why stress affects female fertility has to do with the hypothalamus, which is important for regulating certain metabolic processes in the body and stimulating the release of certain hormones. Stress can affect the release of hormones during ovulation, delaying the release of egg or making it less likely for viable eggs to be released. This can throw off ideal timing when trying to conceive.
The Male Fertility Issues Related to Excessive Stress
With men, excessive stress can lead to reduced sex drive and issues with achieving or sustaining an erection. Indeed, stress is often a contributing factor to erectile dysfunction (ED), and it can be difficult to have intercourse and conceive naturally in such cases.
Stress Relief Is Worth Considering
Given that stress can affect your fertility, it's important to consider various options out there for reducing stress and anxiety.
One of the best options out there is exercise. Regular exercise helps keep you healthy and feeling great, and it is often a great release if you have built up stress through the day. Yoga, running, cycling, and various sports are ideal. Your exercise routine doesn't have to be strenuous or too vigorous. Sometimes just going for a walk or regularly stretching may be enough.
In addition to exercise, meditation and other kinds of relaxation techniques are very helpful. Sometimes focused breathing and other means of relaxation can mean all the difference between feeling stressed and feeling even-keeled.
If you find it difficult to relieve stress on your own or would like some recommendations on stress reduction, be sure to speak with your physician.
Other Options for Fertility Treatment
While stress relief may be helpful to many patients, you may still require additional assistance when it comes to starting a family. Our team will be more than happy to discuss treatments such as IVF in greater detail if you have difficult conceiving naturally. We are here for you.
Learn More About Fertility Treatment Options
For more information about your many treatment options available to start the family you have always wanted, be sure to contact our fertility specialists today. The team here at Heartland Center For Reproductive Medicine, PC looks forward to meeting you in person and going over all of your options for care in greater detail.