Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
What about infertility isn’t stressful? The cost of treatments is stressful, meeting other couples with babies is stressful, scheduling sex is stressful, the strain on the relationship is stressful, the disappointment is stressful, and worst of all the stress is stressful. So when we talk about stress in this article, our goal is not to stress anyone out further, but to offer coping mechanisms for dealing with stress for men and women.
In the past, psychological problems were often the first thing doctors pointed out when a couple could not conceive, but the new studies are not correlated with this archaic way of approaching fertility. Unlike old misconceptions, new studies have found scientific data that supports the fact stress hormones negatively affect reproductive systems in females and males. There is nothing wrong with you or your man if you are stressed out. Over half of the United States working population reports that they feel overly stressed, and not all of them are worried about conceiving on top everything else.
The point is we want you to know if you find yourself being stressed, to not stress out about being stressed. People all over the world and in different time periods were able to conceive in stressful environments, so having a baby is not beyond your reach. You will learn, or maybe already know, that a major way of reducing stress is just to let go. So if you are stressed, do not compound the stress by worrying about the stress, allow yourself to be human without any residual guilt from a natural reaction. We should not feel bad if we are stressed about a deadline, the children we may have now, an overly nosey neighbor and all of the stressful things that everyday life brings us.
How to Battle off Stress
1. Reduce the amount of stress in your life.
This is probably the most challenging step to reducing stress, and that is why we put it first. While it would be nice if couples could drop everything until they got pregnant, for most couples that is impossible. Don’t be discouraged, making even the smallest altercations can help reduce stress. You can try anything as big as finding a less stressful occupation or small as finding easier and faster recipes to cook for dinner. Take some time to jot down some minor changes that will help reduce stress in your life, try to at least come up with 3 things to change. Once you realize what you can change, the only thing left to do is take the action.
2. Change your reaction to stress.
Do you ever spend entire nights or idle time thinking about how a situation is going to play out? Do you ever find yourself over reacting if your spouse forgets a minor chore? Learning to be honestly more passive and less reactive to situations can dramatically reduce stress. Even when you feel yourself starting to feel stressed out, just try to smile. It may be difficult at first, but it is amazing how quickly you can trick your brain into thinking you are not actually stressed out with something simple as smiling.
3. Add something to your life (that you will enjoy) to reduce the amount of stress in your life.
This is not your cue to go out and grab a martini each evening. There are plenty of healthy, easy and sometimes even fun habits we can add to enrich our lives while reducing stress and improving our overall health.
One idea for this section we would particular like to emphasize is adding regular exercise, even if it is just a walk, as a healthy way to reduce stress and prepare your body for pregnancy. You may or may not already know this, but pregnancy, recovery and taking care of a child is a physically draining experience. The more physically fit ready for it you are, the less physically draining it will be.
The following are some different ideas that you can and/or your partner can consider to reduce stress. These are just some of our ideas, so remember almost anything that will relax you is a good idea.
- Reserve time every day to do something you love
- Start a hobby
- Spend time outdoors
- Start a yoga practice
- Be mindful when you eat
- Take a relaxing bath
- Go to a museum, gallery or other place you enjoy
- Set up social dates with your favorite people
4. Pursue Natural Changes to Boost Fertility and Reduce Stress
There are lots of natural and gentle ways to help encourage the body to a state of fertility. A lot of these methods also will help you reduce stress levels. Sometimes the body becomes imbalanced with all the stress, chemicals and toxins of everyday life, and cleansing your body can make all of the difference. The following are three different approaches to natural fertility treatment plans.
- Diet Changes: You are what you eat, and there is no doubt that our diets have a major impact on our level of fertility and stress. Eating healthier makes you feel better, give you more energy and increase the chance of a lifetime of good health. All those good for you foods like fatty fish (mercury free), dairy, non-processed foods, lean meat, fruit and veggies help your body to feel healthier. One big no-no for stress and fertility is caffeine. While 200 mg of caffeine is save, 12 oz of brewed coffee, more than that increases stress and reduces fertility.
- Natural Therapies: There are so many different natural therapies to try out there to help reduce stress while increasing fertility levels; it can be hard to choose which one. We have many different articles about the different natural therapies on our website, so please research your different options. Stay in your comfort zone, because we don’t want you to feel more stressed about getting de-stressed through natural therapy.
- Natural Supplements: Herbal medicines have been used for a long time. With combination of modern studies and ancient techniques you can find a natural supplement that will reduce your stress levels and increase your fertility level. We would like to encourage you again to explore the different natural supplement available to find a supplement that is right for you, and remember never add a supplement to your routine without consulting with a doctor first.
The Research Behind Stress and Fertility
For those who want to see the evidence behind stress affecting fertility, we included the following studies that closely examined the correlation between stress and fertility. There is constantly new information being added, so feel free to send us any studies that you may come across on the topic.
1One study looked at the sperm quality of men produced when under stress. They found that the quality drastically dropped with extra stress.
2Another study from Berley looked at the effect of stress on female and male fertility, and they found the actual answer as to why fertility is negatively impacted by stress in both genders. The scientists found that the hormones released by stress, like cortisol, inhibit body’s main sexy hormone, gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). This ultimately decreases sperm count, ovulation and sexual activity.
3Lastly, a study found that stress reducing activity can be helpful to fertility. In this study they examined women undergoing fertility treatments. They added a stress reducing regime to some of the women, and they found these women were more likely to become pregnant than those not practicing in stress-reducing activities.
1Louis, Germaine Buck. Stress reduces conception probabilities across the fertile window: evidence in support of relaxation. Fertility and Sterility, August 2010.
2 Jurewicz, J. The effect of stress on the semen quality. Pub Med.
3Reproductive System, Fertility. ScienceDaily.
Parker-Pope, Tara. Lowering Stress Improves Fertility Treatment. New York Times, May 2011.
Richards, Sarah Elizabeth. Stress and Infertility the Weak Link. Slate, June 2009.
Stambor, Zak. Stressed out nation. American Psychology Association, April 2006.
Murkoff, Heide. Foods that Make You Fertile. Everyday Health, May 2010.