10 May Is Stress Affecting My Ability to Get Pregnant?
For a long time, physicians told couples there was no scientific correlation between stress levels and infertility. Even so, we were also aware of the “higher-than-normal” number of couples who adopted – – and then got pregnant. Then, there are the couples who had a baby using fertility treatments, or who gave up altogether – – and then got pregnant at home.
Managing Stress Supports Your Fertility Goals
So, endocrinologists and fertility specialists kept digging.
Part of the reason it took this long to get more solid answers is that the very complex and micro-level world of the body’s reproductive system, hormone balance, and inflammatory issues were all coming into our awareness. Innovations in laboratory practices as well as continued technological advancement in medical equipment allow us to see the micro- and nano-level infertility factors in new ways.
The Relationship Between Stress and Infertility
As a result of these advancements, recent research has correlated strong relationships between stress and infertility.
Recently, a 2020 study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience showed that, “…a population of nerve cells near the base of the brain — the RFRP neurons — become active in stressful situations and then suppress the reproductive system.” Also, there is a large body of studies that correlate stress, inflammation, and immune system suppression – which also relates to fertility.
As a result, forward-thinking fertility specialists know that supporting our patients in making healthy lifestyle choices, including a focus on stress management, is a powerful way to support their fertility goals.
What Are Your (and we) Going to Do About That?
There are several things you can do to reduce stress and its effects on your body. A fertility specialist should work to support you in healthy lifestyle choices, including stress management, as they tackle the more clinical aspects of your fertility treatment plan.
Make stress management part of your everyday life.
Actively utilizing stress management tools are essential. Yes, it can help to improve fertility, but stress reduction improves almost every other aspect of your life as well.
Read, Relaxation Tips to Relax and Stay Calm, for specific ideas on how you can reduce overall stress to improve overall health and wellbeing.
Focus on a healthy, anti-inflammatory nutrition plan
When you (and your partner!) focus on a healthy, anti-inflammatory nutrition plan (approved for you by your physician or fertility specialist), you support your health at the building-block level.
Click Here to read a general overview of what an anti-inflammatory nutrition plan looks like. These plans are especially helpful in naturally treating inflammation-related infertility factors such as endometriosis and PCOS.
Get daily doses of moderate exercise.
Not surprisingly, daily exercise is right up there on the list of “de-stressors,” plus exercise supports weight management and reduces inflammation. As with any changes in nutrition or supplementation, your exercise plan should also get a thumbs-up from your GP or fertility specialist. Your safe exercise plan should be just fine throughout your fertility treatment plan as well as in the early stages of pregnancy.
Focus on healthy sleep habits.
Almost equally important are your sleep habits. Sleep research is a fascinating scientific arena because what happens when we sleep, and why we need so much of it, continues to be a mystery. What we do know is that healthy sleep cycles are important for:
- Hormone production and regulation
- The detoxification of amyloid plaques in the brain and other “stress-related” build up throughout the body
- Reducing inflammation
- Boosting immune system function
We’ve also learned that light exposure before and during sleep can disrupt your body’s sleep function. Not to mention, studies have shown both lack of sleep as well as too much sleep can negatively impact fertility. Visit sleep.org’s post, Can Sleep Affect Fertility, to learn more.
Finally, don’t forget about the need to surround yourself with the support you need. Even if you prefer to keep your fertility journey secret from family and friends, reaching out to the infertility community can be an amazing way to connect with like-minded and like-experienced individuals and couples. It can be an incredible source of comfort and stress relief!
Would you like to work with fertility specialists who take a comprehensive approach to fertility treatment and care? Contact us here at Virginia Fertility & IVF.