Recent research from the University of Emory found that stress can cause fertility problems. Researchers have identified that women who have particularly high levels of stress hormones in their body, are less likely to conceive. The study found that the hormone levels impact on ovulation. The researchers concluded that reducing stress was a successful treatment option for women who were suffering from ovulatory problems. The study was specific to women who had stopped having menstrual periods, though the researchers felt the theory could potentially be applied to other women facing fertility problems. Stress can also cause fertility problems in men, with stress already linked to decreased libido and erectile dysfunction. Stress can also reduce sperm count, reducing your chance of conception.
Lifestyle factors are known to play an important part in fertility issues. Weight, diet and alcohol consumption are already known to impact on fertility, and couples are advised to adopt a healthy lifestyle when trying for a baby.
How to reduce stress
Now that you know stress could be contributing to your fertility problems, you’re probably keen to get your stress levels under control. The following tips could help you to de-stress:
● be realistic – one reason why people find themselves feeling stressed is simply that they are expecting too much of themselves. There are only so many hours in a day, and you can only get so much done. Take a look at your to do list, and try to be realistic about what you can hope to achieve each day.
● exercise – regular exercise is a great way to reduce your stress levels. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every other day. Try walking home from work, going for a run in the evening, or getting up in time for an early bird swim. Something as simple as 30 minutes of exercise could leave you feeling a lot better.
● talk it out – you can’t avoid stressful situations, but what you can do is try to handle them better. Instead of bottling up all of your emotions, confide in someone you can trust. Talking about your feelings could help to leave you feeling less stressed.
● rest – you need to be well rested to be able to handle what life throws at you. Aim for at least eight hours in bed at night. If you can’t sleep, rest. Ban smartphones from the bedroom, and make sure you’re not checking your work emails at 3am when you can’t sleep!
Berga, S (2005) The diagnosis and treatment of stress-induced anovulation [On-line] http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/15758865 (Accessed November 2014)