Parenthood is one of the major transitions in adult life for both men and women. The inability to conceive a baby after multiple attempts over time can have serious repercussions on the mental health of men and women. Moreover, the psychological stress may cause hormonal imbalance in the body, leading to a further impaired reproductive performance.
Infertility brings along mental stress and social seclusion in couples who are not prepared. Studies have shown that childless couples are significantly more stressed than couples with at least one child. If a couple has been trying to conceive for more than 12 months with zero results, consulting a fertility specialist is highly recommended. Once the problem is diagnosed and identified, it is crucial to keep stress in check to make the best of the treatment.
In order to keep stress under control, it is important to follow a healthy lifestyle in the first place. Here are a few suggestions to help keep stress levels down and thus preventing its impact on one’s fertility:
• Make sure one gets adequate sleep – lack of sleep or even oversleeping can throw the hormone levels off balance; a 7-8 hour sound sleep per day is recommended.
• Ensure a balanced diet including plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. It is better to avoid processed foods, food with colouring agents and preservatives, excessive alcohol, food supplements, steroids, performance enhancing drugs, etc.
• Get enough exercise daily. Obesity is also a part of the vicious cycle involving stress and infertility, and it is important to lose weight for a successful pregnancy.
• Meditate or start practicing Yoga to keep the mind calm.
• One should seek psychological therapy and counselling, if they feel that the stress has gotten out of hand. Seek emotional support from friends and family members and spend quality time with them.
• Exploring one’s passion and interests often keeps work stress at bay. Taking a vacation or travelling on weekends also help, but ensure that the travel itself doesn’t become stressful.
Stress relief should be a part of every couple’s conception plan when they are going through an IVF process. At Nova IVI Fertility, there are clinical counsellors who help with the medical and emotional struggle that a couple goes through. Use of cognitive behavioural therapy, use of support groups, group interventions emphasising education about the planned treatment, the success and failure rates and relaxation or coping training reduces patient’s anxiety, depression as well as the so-called infertility-specific stress. Relaxation response training techniques implemented by psychologists like progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, and imageries help to significantly reduce the stress levels of couples.
Today the advanced medical technologies available at Nova have significantly improved the success rates of IVF, and given hope to many childless couples.
Read the article published in Kungumam Thozhi in Tamil here: