While stress may or may not necessarily cause infertility, infertility definitely causes stress. Stress is any change in your routine or health. It is very important to get stress under control as this may be the single most factor in helping infertile women achieve conception. When the mind is in a state of disarray, the whole body is too.
All the hormones in the body are interrelated. When the body is under stress, this causes high production of high levels of cortisol which in turn leads to significant reduction of progesterone, resulting in estrogen dominance. A high level of estrogen is the leading cause of polycystic ovarian syndrome wherein the imbalance leads to formation of small cysts in the ovaries. This may hinder fertilization and render the woman infertile. Likewise, when the woman is under stress, spasms may occur in the fallopian tubes and uterus, causing problems in ovulation and implantation.
For men, the disturbance brought upon stress on the hormones may alter the production, quality, count or motility of sperm.
Physical effects of stress
Pushing your body hard at work and play causes you to burn out and lead to depletion of the energy it needs to restore itself. This lack of energy causes sluggish activity, poor mental performance and hypoglycaemia in extreme fatigue. All these are stressors and may affect the normal functioning of the body’s daily processes.
Another effect is the lowering of the immune defence. Reducing stress may help in enhancing the proteins within the uterine lining that are involved in implantation. Likewise, this may also help in increasing blood flow to the uterus, which also affects conception.
Emotional effects of stress
Couples who are constantly trying to conceive may oftentimes feel that their efforts aren’t enough. After months of trying and doing everything coming down to nothing, they may feel that there must be something missing in their efforts and that something that must be done. They may start to doubt themselves, feel guilty, pity themselves and resort to self-blame.
In recent studies, “trying too hard” may actually play a role in up to 30% of infertility problems. In the same research, it was discovered that pregnancy was more likely to occur during the months couples reported feeling happy and relaxed. It was less likely to occur during the months they reported feeling anxious or tense.
Infertility Treatment – Stress Reduction Techniques Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese method of inserting long needles into various pressure points throughout the body in order to stimulate the flow of energy and benefit different body organs. It may not actually reduce stress but it may help in restoring balance on the effects of stress in the body. Acupuncture has been reported to improve blood circulation to the pelvic region and reproductive organs. With this relaxation of the reproductive organs, there is increased possibility of producing healthier eggs or sperm.
In the Oriental point of view, stress causes the liver to become hot and inflamed, therefore pressure points that are associated with the liver are used. Ear acupuncture or auricular therapy has been known to treat emotional and physical stress effectively. In general, acupuncture helps in stimulating the central nervous system and helps increase the production of endorphins and encephalins, which are naturally occurring chemicals in the body that improve a person’s mood and overall feeling of well-being.
Yoga for infertility stress is designed to make women take their minds off the tension of infertility and reduce their anxiety. Emotionally, women can feel empathy and support from others who are also dealing infertility problems of their own, thus reducing negatives, stressful feelings about themselves. Yoga focuses on bringing the body at present at all times, so that stressors of infertility can be temporarily set aside.
Most people who get on deep meditation do so because of its beneficial effects on stress. Hormones and other biochemical compounds in the blood indicative of stress tend to decrease during deep meditation practices. Fertility massage helps your body heal, restore and rejuvenate thereby releasing stressors from your system.
Massage therapy works by decreasing the body’s physical signals of stress, including heart rate and brain waves. In the same manner as acupuncture, massage helps relax the uterine muscles from spasms caused by stress.
Not only does reducing stress assist in natural conception, it also proves to be useful in assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF. Of those who were able to produce eggs, those who were most stressed were 20% less likely to achieve fertilization success.
Patients with the highest level of stress at the time of ovulation had ovulated 20% fewer than those women with less stress. Moreover, the process of undergoing these fertility procedures can cause a great deal of stress that that it can stop even the most successful treatments from working. These findings do not suggest that stress management is a definitive treatment for infertility.
Until today, doctors and researchers alike are still trying to understand, but they do know that once stress reduction techniques are employed, there seems to be something that happens to a person that allows them to get pregnant when they couldn’t get pregnant before. These approaches help normalize menstrual cycles, improve quality of sperm and egg and improve quality of relationships and life of the couple.