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The Truth About Stress and Infertility

The Truth About Stress and Infertility

If you’re trying to conceive a baby and are experiencing more difficulty than expected, you are probably already tired of hearing people tell you to “just relax.” Simply being told to relax often isn’t perceived as very helpful.

Still, it is true that stress does have a link to infertility, so you should make concerted attempts to be more mindful. The link between stress and infertility is still being studied, but we do know that stress isn’t good for you, and that certainly includes when you’re trying to get pregnant. Dr. Edward J. Ramirez of the Fertility & Gynecology Center - Monterey Bay IVF explains more about what we know.

Your first visit

When you come in for a basic infertility evaluation, Dr. Ramirez will ask all sorts of questions about your health and your daily habits. As he learns about your life, he might be able to rule out some causes of infertility. He may also conduct tests for male or female infertility factors. 

Factors that negatively affect your fertility include smoking and following a poor diet. In addition to uncovering these habits, he’ll also ask about how much stress you’re experiencing and how you manage it. 

How stress affects your fertility

Uncontrolled stress affects your fertility in many ways. For example, stress can throw off your delicate hormonal balance. If your body detects that you’re stressed, you may not ovulate on schedule. If you don’t release an egg, you can’t get pregnant.

A study showed that women who had high levels of alpha-amylase, an enzyme produced when you’re stressed, took nearly 30% longer to get pregnant than women without those high levels. 

You’re less likely to have sex when you’re experiencing a lot of stress, as stress often has a dampening effect on your libido. You’re also more likely to engage in other unhealthy habits that can negatively affect your fertility, such as smoking, drinking, or using drugs.

What you can do about it

If your stress is having an impact on your fertility, you can do several things to manage it more effectively.

One important thing is to develop a habit of mindfulness. Whether you achieve this through a meditation habit, regular prayer, yoga, or something else, the important part is to try to remain grounded in the present moment. Admittedly, this can be difficult when you’re trying to conceive, as you obviously have a hoped-for outcome. 

But learning not to worry about what will or won’t happen in the future is often the key to learning to control your stress. So often, we experience stress when the future is unknown and we can’t seem to stop ourselves from thinking about it.

Journaling your thoughts also can help you to develop this mindfulness habit. Simply doing a “brain dump” on paper of all the things that you’re worried about can help you set them aside.

If you think that stress might be impacting your fertility, the first step is to make an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Ramirez. Call our office in Monterey, California, today or request an appointment online.

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