How Stress Affects Fertility and Pregnancy (And How to Manage It)

April 21st, 2019
pregnancy-stress

When it comes to having a baby, you wouldn't expect stress to be a part of the process.

However, as months go by without a positive pregnancy test, anxiety can begin to creep in. What might start as a niggling sensation at the back of your mind can quickly turn into a sense of panic.

The question becomes – can stress and anxiety negatively affect your ability to conceive?

Sadly, many scientists and doctors believe the answer is yes.

What is Too Much Stress?

The unfortunate reality is: stress is unavoidable.

Whether you're trying to get pregnant or not, there will always be stressors in our day-to-day lives. Maybe you’re running late for work, have a big report due soon, or perhaps you forgot to buy a birthday present.

There are many aspects in our lives where there can be situations that can cause minor anxieties. Many believe that normal, everyday stress isn't harmful to fertility. Extreme stress, on the other hand, can be a problem – but not necessarily on its own. The issue in regard to fertility is not usually the stress itself. It’s the way we mentally and physically respond to stress. In turn, specific behavioral responses can make conceiving difficult.

Responses to Stress that Affect Fertility

Think back to a time in your life when you felt extremely stressed out. How did it make you feel? Were you making the best lifestyle choices for yourself throughout that period?

The answer is probably no.

When we’re under duress, we tend to treat our bodies poorly. In turn, these bad decisions can affect our ability to get pregnant.

Here are some of the most common responses to stress

  • Getting either too much or too little sleep
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Emotional eating and poor food choices
  • Little interest in sex
  • Drinking too much coffee

Making healthy choices while trying to get pregnant can be essential to your success.

When women are drinking more coffee than normal or getting inadequate sleep their bodies can’t function correctly. This can end up making it more difficult to conceive.

Can Alpha-Amylase Enzymes Give Us a Hint into Infertility?

Lifestyle responses to stress aren’t the only ways it can inhibit a woman’s ability to conceive. Recent studies have shown biology comes into play, as well. A chemical enzyme called alpha-amylase is a known stress indicator. Scientists have proven that a woman whose saliva shows higher levels of alpha-amylase took approximately 29% longer to get pregnant than those who had less of the enzyme.

Whether a woman’s stress is derived from attempts to conceive or from everyday anxieties, it seems our bodies can sometimes tell whether the timing is right to have a child.

So, how do we learn to overcome and manage these stressors? What can we do to create the most hospitable environment for pregnancy possible?

Managing Stress to Benefit Fertility

When couples are struggling with infertility, the phrase “just relax” can sometimes feel offensive. If a woman is dealing with disease, increased age, or genetic anomalies, relaxing might not be the answer to her reproductive issues. Despite this, learning to relax more certainly can’t hurt.

Since stress has been proven to affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant, using stress management techniques and exercises could at least improve her chances at conceiving. Depending on her interests, there are a million different things a woman could do to lower her stress levels.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Develop a Gentle Exercise Routine

Taking time out of your week to exercise is one of the best decisions you can make for yourself. Not only is it good for your body physically, but it also elicits improved emotional health. When we work out, our body releases chemicals called endorphins. These interact with the way our minds perceive pain. In addition, they generate a positive feeling throughout the mind and body.

If you’d like to use exercise to overcome stress while trying to get pregnant, we highly suggest yoga. Not only does this ancient practice do wonders for your body physically, it’s known to promote relaxation and positive mental health.

Using Meditation to Deal with Fertility Stress

Though simple in nature, it can take time to understand precisely how meditation works. Once men and women discover how to do it, they begin to understand just how much it can do to quiet their minds. By carving out only 15-30 minutes a day for meditation, women trying to get pregnant will quickly see benefits. Ultimately, meditation can help alleviate the adverse side effects of stress and provide a new way of approaching problems.

Practice Self-Care

Let’s say this loudly for the people in the back:

Do not feel guilty for taking time out for yourself.

Whether you’re trying to have your first child or already have kids at home, life is hard. Add trying to get pregnant to the list and it can get downright exhausting. When everything’s stacking up and you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to practice a little self-care. There’s no black and white definition for implementing self-care into your weekly routine. You should do what makes you feel good.

Spend fifteen minutes a day quietly reading a book.

Go for a walk.

Take a luxurious bubble bath while you drink a glass of wine.

Do whatever feels right to you. Self-care is about thinking only of yourself for a while. It’s not about pleasing everyone else or worrying about what others may think.

Learn to Communicate

Learning to communicate doesn’t have to mean talking to your partner. Allow yourself to be open about any struggles you’re feeling in your life. Talking to your friends, doctor, or even a fertility support group can be calming. Look for your tribe of people that will help build you up throughout problematic moments in your life.

Managing Stress Can Help You Get Pregnant

There’s no way to eliminate stress from our lives completely.

However, if we take a little time to practice some of the previously mentioned techniques it can make overcoming stress quite a bit easier.

When you decide to have a baby, it should be one of the happiest times in your life. When people allow themselves to get bogged down by all of life’s little anxieties, it can take away from the important moments and experiences and prevent us from achieving our goals.

Whether it’s from a biological standpoint or poor decisions, heightened stress isn’t good for a woman who wants to conceive. Allow yourselves the space to do what’s right for yourself and your future family.

 

Comments

Share Your Thoughts