Is there a link between stress and infertility?
When struggling to get pregnant, a common concern patients have is how stress may affect their chances of conceiving. Oftentimes, family members will say to them, “If you just de-stress, things will work out fine.” While well-meaning, this sort of advice is often inaccurate.
Does stress cause infertility?
Multiple studies have looked at the effect of stress on achieving pregnancy, and the vast majority of well-designed, large studies fail to show a definitive link between stress and fertility. Similarly, many studies looking at alternative medicine therapies, such as acupuncture, have failed to definitively show a consistent benefit toward achieving pregnancy.
It is true, however, that in extremely stressful situations, the brain will shut down menstrual function, thereby preventing pregnancy. This sort of extreme emotional and physical stress can be seen in female Olympic athletes, for example, who often do not have their periods for months at a time. But for most folks, the effect of stress on achieving and maintaining pregnancy is unproven.
Is infertility causing my stress?
While stress is not thought to cause infertility, infertility most definitely causes stress. Activities that serve to decrease stress are often helpful for the patient’s quality of life when undergoing infertility evaluations and treatments. Many centers, including Fertility Associates of Memphis, offer acupuncture and other ways to minimize stress and help patients cope psychologically, even though the direct effects on infertility are unproven.
Why is infertility stressful?
Infertile women report higher levels of stress and anxiety than fertile women, and women dealing with infertility are more likely to feel depressed. This is not surprising since the far-reaching effects of infertility can interfere with work, family, finances, and more. Most couples are used to planning out their lives, so when it’s hard to get pregnant they feel as if they don’t have control of their goal to become parents.
Just about everyone in today’s world has stress – between home, work, school, and other daily demands. Therefore everyone needs some sort of outlet for stress relief. Activities that have been shown to decrease stress include regular exercise, yoga, acupuncture, prayer, yard work, meditation, and others. The common denominator in all these activities is some time away from the stress to give your mind and body some relief. Finding ways to reduce your stress, tension, and anxiety can make you feel better and help you cope while trying to get pregnant.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about stress you may be experiencing and ways to cope with it. To schedule an appointment with one of our board certified physicians at Fertility Associates of Memphis, please call our office at 901-747-2229.