Stress and Fertility - Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant



Being Stressed Can Lower Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

The stress you feel in your day to day life causes your body to produce a variety of different hormones, many of which are not helpful if you are trying to get pregnant. Adrenaline, one of the stress hormones, signals your body to be ready to run. This is known as "fight, flight, or freeze" response. 

This is an evolutionary response that was extremely valuable and kept your prehistoric relatives safe and alive but not so valuable now.  The chance of you being chased down by a bear is very slim but our body doesn't know the difference between the fight or flight response due to an actual bear or something non-life-threatening.   

Of course, some of the stress you feel in your day to day life can make your life a bit miserable, but you won't die from that.  Your body doesn't know the difference though and will produce the same fertility unfriendly hormones in both situations.

 

Negative Effects of Stress on Fertility

For women, ongoing stress can cause hormone imbalances. If your reproductive hormones are not being produced in the correct amounts, ovulation could be impacted or your uterine lining may not develop enough to sustain a pregnancy. 

For men, studies show that stress can have a negative impact on sperm motility, sperm count and sperm morphology.  The stress that both you and your partner experience on a daily basis can make getting pregnant more difficult than it should be. If you are overly stressed, your libido will probably suffer as well.

Honestly, it's pretty difficult to be "in the mood" when your body's hormones are saying you might encounter something that needs to be fought or run from. Ultimately, if you are not having sex, the chances of getting pregnant are slim to none. If your body thinks that a fight is impending, it will not be cooperative in your baby-making endeavors. Really, why would you want a baby if a bear could get you both? Yes, I know, there is no bear, but the chemicals and hormones your body pumps out when you are under stress say that there might be!   

While this response is valuable when there is a life or death situation, day to day stress doesn’t warrant this bodily reaction. If you are trying to get pregnant, helping your body de-stress will increase your chances of getting pregnant.

 

Reduce Your Stress By Adopting These Practices

There are many ways you can reduce the stress you encounter in your life. These practices will help calm your mind, allowing your body's stress response to reset itself. The journey from high stress to healthy reaction to life can be a bit hard but every positive change you make will help retrain your automatic stress responses.  

Meditation:

Numerous scientific studies have shown that meditation can be an effective way to reduce stress and help build resilience to future stressful situations. Circle and Bloom has a great free meditation that will get you on the path to fertility relaxation. There is some more specific stress reducing mediation programs available too.  

Exercise:

In addition to helping improve your overall health, regular exercise can also be an effective stress buster. When you exercise, your brain produces feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins.

As the endorphins in your body increase, they help counteract the “the bear is going to get me!” adrenaline that stress causes. Less adrenaline means fewer feelings of stress.  

 

Counseling:

Sometimes, everything just seems too overwhelming and stress-inducing. A trained therapist can help you learn how to effectively deal with the stressors in your life. 

When you are in the midst of a stressful situation, chance are you are not seeing things all too clearly. Talking with an uninvolved third party can help bring clarity and hopefully a plan that will help you move forward.  

Sleep:

Aim for between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. When you don't or can't get this much sleep, it makes you less able to deal with the normal day to day stress. For women, erratic sleep cycles can throw your hormones off as well. Definitely not what you want if you are trying to get pregnant.

You may have to implement some of the suggestions above first to help lower your stress. When you are super stressed, chances are it is making you unable to actually fall asleep as your mind replays all the stress on a loop.    

Can Stress Affect Home Pregnancy Test Results?

Some women become really worried that since they are overwhelmed and stressed that this might some how affect the pregnancy test. Luckily, stress will not change the results of your pregnancy test. If you have hCG in your urine, your pregnancy test will pick it up no matter how stressed you are!

 

Resources:

Effects of work and life stress on semen quality. Janevic T, Kahn LG, Landsbergis P, Cirillo PM, Cohn BA, Liu X, Factor-Litvak P. Fertility and sterility. 2014 May 23; 102(2): 530-538

Effects of stress on reproduction in non-rodent mammals: the role of glucocorticoids and sex differences. Tilbrook AJ, Turner AI, Clarke IJ. Rev Reprod. 2000 May;5(2):105-13. Review.

A prospective study of psychosocial stress and fertility in women. K A Sanders N W Bruce Human Reproduction, Volume 12, Issue 10, 1 October 1997, Pages 2324–2329,https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/12.10.2324

Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Kabat-Zinn J, Massion AO, Kristeller J, Peterson LG, Fletcher KE, Pbert L, Lenderking WR, Santorelli SF. Am J Psychiatry. 1992 Jul;149(7):936-43.


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