Stress alone does not cause infertility, however, there is a link between stress and lowered chances of pregnancy. It appears your body knows that stressful times are not a good time to have a baby.
Recent studies have confirmed links between the women’s levels of day-to-day stress and declined chances of pregnancy, with a study by the Boston University School of Public Health (2018), finding that women who had high levels of perceived stress experienced lower levels of fertility than those with less stress.
Stress is common among people who are trying to get pregnant. Stress can also impact your hormone levels and menstrual cycles. Stress hormones such as cortisol get triggered by stress, subsequently, they disrupt the connections between the brain and the ovaries, which can affect ovulation. Any system that is not necessary for survival can shut down. This is why your period can be late or stop completely when you have ongoing high stress. Hormonal imbalances can affected in both men and women. In men, stress was associated with reduced sperm concentration, speed, as well as abnormally shaped sperm. Stress may also affect implantation
It is stressful having trouble conceiving, and especially when it starts taking longer than expected to conceive or if you have had a pregnancy loss. Stress levels rise the longer you have issues getting pregnant. To compound this some people when stress take up behaviours and habits that can impact on their fertility. This can include drinking too much alcohol or coffee, smoking, and stress can led to poor sleep either too much or too little which can also intensify stress and can intensify stress and other mental health issues. Stress can decrease libido which is not helpful when trying to conceive.
Mental health matters when I comes to fertility, research has shown that women with history of depression are twice as likely to experience infertility. Women struggling with infertility have the same levels of anxiety and depression as women diagnosed with cancer or HIV. Infertility is stressful for both men and women. There is less focus is on men going through infertility however the stress is the same.
Everyone is different some couples will become pregnant the first month they try however most couples conceive within a year of trying. That can feel like a long time. Worrying about not getting pregnant is not constructive and anyone who says just relax is not being helpful because we all know that it is easier said than done. If it is taking time and the best think you can do it try to enjoy the journey, rather than stressing, reach out for help to learn how you can manage your own stress. Your healthcare provider can supply you with resources. You can explore mental health interventions like therapy or stress management techniques such as mindfulness techniques
Extensive research on more than 2700 women and men that were seeking fertility treatment found those who practised cognitive behavioural therapy, and mindfulness meditation training were 2 fold as likely to get pregnancy that couples who did not use these stress management tools. The study was published in the journal of BMJ.
It is important to find what works for you so that you can enjoy the journey of trying to get pregnant and give yourself the best chance of success.
- Exercise. Staying active will help keep fit, it will also help your mental health. Exercise can improve sleep quality and release endorphins that make you feel good and lift your mood. Simply going for a walk or joining a class.
- Breathing exercises
- Positive relationships and connections with friends and family
- Meditation / Mindfulness
- Hypnotherapy /Guided Imagery
- Counselling/talk therapy
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
- Good Sleep Hygiene
- Nutrition & healthy gut
You can Learn techniques to stop your negative thinking that undermines your resilience and optimism. Negative thoughts lead to negative emotions and depletes us, learn to develop the tools to challenge negative thoughts and emotions relieve stress. Mindfulness & Meditation and other techniques can and help relieve stress. Stress management technique can become a ritual and a daily habit to help get a feeling of positivity and relax, calm down the nervous system and balances hormone levels.
- Sleep better
- Relieve anxiety
- Strengthen your immune system
- Stop the unwanted and unproductive negative thoughts
- Support letting go of bad habits and addictions
- Create healthier habits
Eugenie Pepper is a psychotherapist and clinical hypnotherapist. Eugenie studied counselling at the Australia College of Applied Psychology and is a Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner and facilitates programs to support women through infertility, conception, pregnancy and pregnancy loss. Eugenie is passionate to support her clients to achieve their goals through hypnotherapy, counselling and the incorporation of science-backed positive psychology tools.
The Key Mindfulness Program combines Clinical Hypnotherapy, Positive Psychology tools, Meditation, breathing techniques, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Tapping and other sciences backed techniques to help you overcome anxiety and manage stress. Methods are derived from current research in psychology and neuroscience.
“I guide my clients to achieve positive outcomes by teaching them the strategies and skills they need to have the confidence and knowledge to support themselves. I encourage my clients to believe in themselves and develop a positive mindset, to empower them to have the ability to deal with any situation that may occur. I assist people to find the keys they need for wellbeing and to develop a positive and flourishing life.”