Infertility Stress: Is it Stopping You Getting Pregnant?

Like it or not, we all encounter stressful situations every day … and it is a major reason why you are possibly failing to get pregnant.

Let’s consider the link between stress and infertility.

Biologically ‘Hot-wired’ To React To Stress

I’m sure you’re familiar to the following scenario from a wildlife documentary:

A lioness with young cubs is confronted by a pack of snapping hyenas. She has two choices – fight and repel the attackers, or flee the scene hoping to save and protect as many of her cubs as possible.

This is a classic ‘fight or flight’ scenario which governs our own instinctive reactions when similarly confronted with stressful situations.

Now in such situations your body produces a chemical reaction. The hormone cortisol is released into your body as a response to stress.  Small doses of cortisol make you less sensitive to pain, give you a quick burst of energy and sharpen your reactions and awareness. Pretty useful if you are confronted with truly life-threatening situations like our lioness and her cubs …

However, if your stress is constant – and for many of us living in the modern world it is, overwhelmed as we are with concerns for our jobs, finances and demands placed upon us – cortisol levels don’t switch off and keep rising.

One consequence of this is the elevated cortisol levels interfere with functions of your hypothalamus, a region of your brain that produces sex hormones.

Negative Impact Of Cortisol On Fertility

Until very recently the effect of stress hormones such as cortisol on fertility was only a theory.

But in 2009 a study by Berkeley University of California uncovered new evidence showing how cortisol interferes with the function of the sex hormone Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH).

This has consequences for both women and men. If you produce low levels of GnRH it can result in irregular ovulation, low sperm count and sexual dysfunction.

And that’s not all. As well as inhibiting the effects of GnRH cortisol also increases the levels of another hormone called Gonadotropin-Inhibitory Hormone (GnIH).  As the name suggests, GnIH aggravates infertility by preventing the release of Gonadotropins which are absolutely essential for conception to occur.

Boost Your Fertility – Eliminate Stress

Eliminating stress totally from your life is pretty much impossible. Indeed, your very job or lifestyle may demand you experience a degree a stress to function and perform effectively.

That said, it is indisputable … it’s easier to conceive when you’re under less stress.

A paper in the Human Reproduction journal demonstrates pregnancy is unlikely when couples report feeling anxious or stressed. Conversely, the likelihood of pregnancy increased during periods when couples reported feeling happy.

And if you are considering artificial reproductive solutions such as In Vitro Fertilization, stress levels can seriously affect your chances of success.  A study published in Fertility and Sterility noted that women with high stress levels released 20% less eggs during ovulation than women with low stress levels. Furthermore, those who were more stressed were also less likely to have a successful pregnancy.

So … to improve your chances of conceiving, don’t compromise and learn to live with stress, or how to reduce stress … eliminate infertility stress altogether.