The Impact of Stress on Fertility
Have you ever heard that one of the biggest keys to successfully getting pregnant is eliminating stress and relaxing as much as possible? Many people believe this is an old wives’ tale, citing baseless 19th-century claims from doctors that women shouldn’t receive higher education, as it was too stressful. The theory, led primarily by Harvard-trained physician Edward H. Clarke, was that women could study subjects like math and science or have children — but not both. The intensity and effort put into developing their own brains surely meant that women wouldn’t have the resources left over to sufficiently grow babies.
Fast-forward a couple hundred years and of course, today we know that isn’t even remotely true. However, researchers have found evidence that stress does indeed affect fertility on some level. The question is to what degree.
We know that as many as one in eight couples in the United States experience infertility issues. We also know that even under the most ideal conditions, women have just a 15-25% chance of getting pregnant in any given month. Armed with that information, if stress has even a minimal impact on fertility, everything possible should be done to reduce it. At Viera Fertility in Melbourne Florida, we want to do everything we can to help you become pregnant. To that end, let’s take a deeper look at the impact it has on fertility and what you can do to lessen it.
How Stress Impacts Fertility
Very few large-scale research studies have been conducted on the link between stress and fertility and more research is certainly needed. What researchers have found, however, is that there seems to be a clear relationship between infertility issues and elevated stress levels.
One study observed women with higher-than-average levels of alpha-amylase, an enzyme secreted through the salivary glands in response to stress. They were nearly 30% less likely than women with lower levels to become pregnant within a year. Further, their likelihood of being diagnosed with infertility was more than double.
Couples undergoing in-vitro fertilization participated in an additional study. Results showed that women with elevated levels of cytokines, cell-signaling molecules that react to stress, are significantly less likely to become pregnant after an IVF cycle.
Other less scientific — but probable, nonetheless — theories exist about how stress affects fertility. They include stress being a factor in disrupting sleep and therefore throwing hormones out of whack, reducing libido, and even causing irregular periods.
Tips To Reduce Stress Levels
Alice Domar, Ph.D., confirmed these findings to The American Institute of Stress, saying, “I do believe stress can have an impact and I think if you can reduce depression and anxiety, pregnancy rates go up. I don’t know why but they do.”
One thing we do know is that reducing stress is beneficial to your overall health, and there are several easy, totally natural ways to do that. While there may be no hard proof that these things directly increase your odds of becoming pregnant, they certainly can’t hurt.
- Get educated about infertility. Learning about various causes of infertility and treatment options can help you better understand them and make them seem less overwhelming — and less stressful.
- Learn breathing techniques. Michigan Medicine makes a strong case: “Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body.” Breathing techniques help lower blood pressure and inhibit the production and release of stress hormones.
- Practice yoga and meditation. Like breathing techniques, yoga and meditation are excellent for quickly relieving tension and bringing down stress levels. In fact, Mayo Clinic recommends yoga as a stress-buster. As a bonus, yoga in particular strengthens balance and the core muscles.
Contact Viera Fertility Center
If you’re at all concerned about how stress may be impacting your ability to get pregnant, please contact Viera Fertility or call us at (321) 751-4673 for a consultation. One of our experts at our Melbourne fertility clinic will walk you through the first steps, which typically start with fertility testing. We look forward to speaking with you soon and being part of your journey to parenthood.