Stress and infertility don’t go hand in hand, but stress can make it more difficult to conceive and even affects men too! So, what is it about stress and trying to conceive?
Having a hard time getting pregnant can be a real stress itself. While staying calm and letting nature take its course is much easier said than done, there’s certainly some truth to it.
STRESS TRIGGERS HORMONE PRODUCTION
While the exact link between fertility and stress remain a bit of a mystery, many doctors believe hormones like cortisol or epinephrine that flood the body during stress could play an important role.
What we do know is that stress can affect a part of your brain called the hypothalamus, which regulates your hormones, including the hormones required to release your eggs. Not just you either – it regulates your partner’s testosterone levels, too. So, the real issue is that stress can delay your ovulation AND if your partner is experiencing stress too, it can weaken his sperm.
Doctors may not know the exact links between stress and trying to conceive, but growing research shows that a connection is hard to ignore.
Some studies have found that when stress-reduction techniques were used, some women were able to get pregnant when they couldn’t get pregnant before. Other studies point to the idea that stress (and sometimes “trying too hard”) may play a role in up to 30% of all infertility problems. Additionally, some studies indicate that it’s possible that reducing stress may help enhance proteins within the uterine lining that are involved in implantation and may also increase blood flow to the uterus, which also affects conception.
SIGNS YOU MAY BE STRESSED
If you’re trying to conceive and you’re under stress, your cervical mucus may indicate that something’s not right. As you approach ovulation, you would typically have an increase in cervical fluid wetness. However, during times of stress, you may find that typical wetness is disrupted by days of dryness interspersed throughout – almost as if your body is trying to ovulate but is getting thrown off by the stress that is delaying ovulation.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF STRESS
It can be important to note that there is a considerable difference between constant and sudden stress. Your body can adapt to high, but consistent, stress levels. Once your body acclimates to consistent stresses, you will likely still ovulate each cycle. Sudden stress on the other hand, like a car wreck or an unexpected death in the family, is much more likely to interfere with your cycle and delay ovulation.
EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT
Of course, every woman’s experience with stress and fertility is unique. Some women find that the stress of going on a week-long vacation is enough to delay ovulation. Others have found that a severely traumatic incident like a close death didn’t impact their cycle at all. Some women found that positive stress, like that from planning a wedding, was enough to throw off their cycle. You’ve heard it all before, but everyone is different, and the reasons behind how or why stress impacts fertility may also be very individual.
WORK OUT WHAT IS STRESSING YOU AND MAKE POSITIVE CHANGES
Try making changes in your life so that you feel more relaxed and pick up healthy habits that help to reduce stress. Start by making little changes, like meditating or doing yoga for 5 minutes on Monday and work your way up to 30 minutes by the weekend. Give acupuncture a try. Eating healthy is always a given, as is exercising (even a short walk counts). Start keeping a journal. Even take a break if you need to.
Check out apps like Expectful Meditation that offer guided meditation for your fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood journey.
THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is that stress should not prevent you from getting pregnant, it just complicates things and makes it more difficult for some women. If you’re having sex every two to three days throughout your cycle, stress-induced delays to ovulation should not stop you from conceiving. A delayed ovulation simply lengthens your entire cycle.
You can confirm whether you have ovulated by tracking your basal body temperature. You should see a sustained rise about a day after ovulation, indicating the onset of your luteal phase, which lasts until the start of your next menstrual period.
HELP IF YOU NEED IT – KINDBODY CARES ABOUT MAKING YOUR DREAMS OF PARENTHOOD COME TRUE
Everyone’s fertility journey is different. At Kindbody, our team approach focuses on helping you navigate the journey and make your dreams of parenthood a reality. If stress-reduction techniques don’t appear to be helping you conceive, it may be time to seek help.
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