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Are Stress and Infertility Co-related?

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The co-relation between stress and infertility has been long debated. Although stress does not directly affect fertility, it might affect certain bodily functions, which in turn can affect fertility. Let us consider what stress really is and what some of its physiological effects include.

What stress means

Stress is a situation that challenges or threatens our normal state of mind. Although we need some kind of stress to challenge and keep us motivated, chronic stress is not good for you. Chronic stress, if left untreated, can lead to anxieties and phobias of various kinds.

How stress affects your health

Every individual reacts differently to stressful situations. In some people, stress can affect the area of the brain that regulates some reproductive functions. For instance, the hypothalamus gland in the brain regulates the hormone that is responsible for timely egg release from the ovary. This is the same gland that controls the testosterone hormone levels in men.

If you are going through physical or mental stress, it can hinder ovulation, which means you will either ovulate later than expected or not ovulate at all. Such changes in ovulation are known as stress-induced anovulation. However, the good thing is that if you are experiencing delayed ovulation due to stress, it cannot cause permanent infertility.

Is stress causing the infertility or infertility causing stress?

If you have been trying for a baby for a long time or have been diagnosed with infertility, it could be causing or adding to the existing reasons for stress. This is especially applicable in case of women. They go through stress each month while trying to conceive.

Couples going through infertility are advised to meet counsellors who assist individuals and couples going through infertility. Many fertility clinics today have in-house counsellors, who help couples discuss the emotional challenges faced during infertility and related treatments such as IVF, IUI and ICSI.

Ways to reduce stress

  • Be positive – Having a positive attitude will help you cope with the stressful situations you come across in life.
  • Engage in regular exercise – Regular, moderate exercise is known to have stress-reduction capabilities.
  • Change your diet – Include foods that are healthy. Reduce eating foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats. Eat a few hours before bedtime.
  • Get enough sleep – Meet your body’s sleep demands. Giving your body rest can help you de-stress.
  • Avoid taking recreational drugs, caffeine and other stimulants
  • Spend some time doing things you like. It could be something as simple as cooking, visiting places, reading a book, listening to music, etc.
  • Learn meditation or yoga –  This is also known to be a very effective way to deal with stress

If none of these methods seem to help you relax, it is recommended that you meet a fertility specialist. A fertility specialist might be able to help you identify the exact cause of infertility and prescribe lifestyle changes, medications, or a combination of both, to help improve fertility.

Do you feel stressed out? Have you been able to identify the stress triggers? Share your valuable thoughts with us in the comment section below.

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