Our bodies and minds are much more attuned to each other than we tend to believe.
During particularly difficult and tough times in our life, our bodies tend to respond in surprising ways. In short, this means that if you are struggling mentally or emotionally, it’s only a matter of time until your body shows physical signs of struggle and your health follows suit.
The inverse is also true. If you fall sick or are struggling with some event or experience, your mental and emotional health will also be affected.
The latter is, unfortunately, the case for many out there who are trying to conceive or struggling with their fertility for numerous reasons.
The stress of fertility challenges
Our first instinct when someone we know and love is going through a difficult time is to ask them to relax or take a break.
On most occasions, the person who is feeling stressed cannot act on this advice however much they may want to. This is especially true for fertility struggles.
Although it has been estimated that one in every eight couples struggle to conceive or encounter difficulties in sustaining a pregnancy, infertility continues to be a topic that is only discussed in hushed tones. If it is discussed at all.
The silent taboo surrounding this topic makes it difficult for anyone—regardless of their gender identity—to come forward and receive the medical support they deserve.
Those who are struggling with their fertility have reported feelings of anxiety, loss of control, depression, and isolation. When left unaddressed, this mental distress can lead to more permanent psychological harm and a lifelong struggle with mental health.
How does stress affect fertility?
The question, how does stress affect fertility, doesn’t have the most straightforward answer.
Recent research reveals that when steps are taken to intervene and lower psychological distress, a notable increase in pregnancy rates has been reported.
Scientific study encounters many roadblocks, however, when it comes to identifying the real relationship underscoring stress and infertility.
One is that formulating a valid theory about how those struggling with infertility may be holding up, mentally, relies on self-reporting, which cannot be checked for accuracy or measured independently.
Women struggling with infertility have reported higher rates of mental stress in the form of anxiety and depression, making it clear that these struggles can cause mental distress. How this mental distress could cause fertility challenges, however, is unclear.
In 2018, a study found that among 45 couples hoping to conceive through IVF treatment, women who had a high level of a specific kind of molecule associated with stress were less likely to conceive after the treatment.
A 2014 study showed that individuals with higher levels of salivary alpha-amylase (an enzyme that appears in response to stress) were 29% less likely to conceive after one year of trying.
Although these findings suggest that there is a definite answer to, “how does stress affect fertility?”, given the correlation between stress and fertility struggles, experts warn that these numbers should not be taken at face value. Relaxation is not a cure for fertility challenges.
Another factor to consider is that increased stress can often lead to unhealthy lifestyles in terms of sleep, diet, exercise, and the consumption of alcohol. All factors that can conclusively lead to fertility struggles.
There may not be one answer to how does stress affect fertility, but when you are at your best mentally and emotionally, you are more likely to make better decisions and your body will feel its best no matter what you may be going through.
The healthy way to approach fertility struggles
It is important to understand how normal it is to struggle with fertility or encounter challenges along the way.
On top of the personal distress this can cause, the road to diagnosing fertility challenges and finding the root cause is not always easy. In fact, the reasons for low fertility may be unexplainable.
Regardless of what their status may be, however, there are multiple options available for anyone hoping to conceive a child.
The right support can change everything.
When you choose fertility clinics that offer more than just expert, consultant-led services and cutting-edge treatments, but also support for mental and emotional wellbeing during this period, the experience of this time will be different.
Not only will the right emotional support improve the chances of boosting fertility rates, but it helps people manage the tumultuous emotions that may arise during this time.
Choose fertility services that keep you informed and in charge when it comes to making one of the most important decisions in life.