Stress kills, but it also makes for reproductive havoc. These factors have been scientifically proven on both counts and felt by people everywhere. Stress can lead to headaches, stomach ulcers, and weaken our immune defenses. It can cause anxiety, depression, panic attacks and heart attacks – The list goes on… However, did you know just how much it can decrease your chances of conception? Stress does negatively impact male and female fertility.
One of the most noticeable ways stress can wreck havoc on fertility is by dampening the romance factor. It can cause libido in both men and women to plummet. It can make one very tired and lethargic, and as we all know, lovemaking requires a certain amount of energy! Stress also makes people very cranky; and it’s difficult for some to bond with their partner or become aroused when they’re bombarded by negative emotion and thought. Sometimes stress makes us just want to be left alone!
However, stress also directly impacts the hormones and reproductive organs in both men and women. It increases the production of a chemical called cortisol, which in turn negatively affects sex hormones and the reproductive activity within the body. High levels of cortisol have been associated with infertility problems and weight gain.
Stress in men can create a condition called oxidative stress which results in low sperm count, weakened sperm motility, fragmented DNA within the sperm cells, and abnormal sperm. It can also cause impotence and ejaculation problems. Stress in women can result in a cessation of both ovulation and menstruation (while menstruation can be unpleasant, it is essential for good female sexual health). It can negatively impact the chemical and physical processes of egg maturation and release. Even if an egg is successfully fertilized, stress can cause chemical changes and spasms in the fallopian tubes and uterus to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting. It can also cause miscarriage after successful implantation.
Unfortunately, couples faced with fertility issues often find themselves in an ugly cycle of stress on top of stress! Stress may be causing their infertility, which in turn causes disappointment and more stress, which keeps fertility further hindered. So what to do? How can you break the cycle? It’s sometimes easier said than done, but stress must be dealt with if fertility is to be restored. Step one is to identify sources of undue pressure; write it down, make a list if you must. Once you know the sources you’ll have a better idea about how to approach them.
Scientific research presented to the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology indicates that certain types of “talk therapy” can reduce stress and increase chances of conception. Research at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) found that women who had ceased to ovulate regained fertility after cognitive behavioral therapy. Other research indicates that laughter can reduce stress and increase ones odds of conception. Below is a list of tactics to fight stress:
Emotional Freedom Technique
An amazing relaxation tool with benefits — it can be used to ‘turn off’ (like a switch) practically any negative emotional that is currently afflicting you.
Schedule your daily activities in a way that you have time to really unwind.
While cleaning house or cooking or just doing nothing, put on some music that heightens your mood, relaxes or soothes you (and your partner).
This is something you and your partner can do for each other. You don’t have to be a professional masseuse; just the touch of the hands is soothing, reassuring and a sensuous prelude to lovemaking. However, a trip to a day spa for professional deep tissue massage is well worth it, and some spas offer couples’ packages.
Very effective for relieving stress! If you don’t belong to a fitness club, you can rent or buy instructional DVDs.
Carve out a quiet space in your day to silence mind chatter and do some deep breathing.
Talk It Out
If you don’t have a trusted friend on board whom you can vent to, it may be worth it to see a counselor. It will allow you to let it all out and perhaps give you a fresh perspective.
Eliminate caffeine. Treat yourself to a relaxing herbal tea such as chamomile, hibiscus, lemongrass or linden.
If you keep telling yourself “I’ll never get pregnant” then you won’t! Replace that negative voice in your head with positive imagery. Visualisation has been shown to have deeply effective, physical benefits for fertility.
A little romantic getaway with your partner can have such a refreshing, reinvigorating and rejuvenating effect on you, your partner and the relationship. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, it can even be in your own city but it can be really fun. Enjoy each other!