HOW DOES STRESS IMPACT FERTILITY?

The daily stress experienced in life is often a main factor related to infertility. Let’s learn about how they are linked, and what can be done to relieve it.


BY: KENDRA TOLBERT, MS, RDN, CDN, CLC

Stress can come at us from all different angles, from the day-to-day grind to unexpected life changes. Its effects can negatively impact every aspect of our health including our hormonal health, with wonky periods to prove it.

And periods gone awry usually aren’t a sign of optimal fertility. Quite the opposite.

The connection between fertility and stress in all its forms, whether psychological or physiological, is complicated. It can be hard to figure out which came first.

Does stress lead to difficulty conceiving, or does difficulty conceiving lead to stress?

Well, it’s both. Without question, having trouble getting pregnant can be incredibly stressful. And without a doubt, modern life can be stressful and negatively impact your hormones, which in turn can affect your fertility.

How does stress impact fertility?

Stress, whether as a result of chronic disease, an emotionally-taxing event, or even over-exercising, results in in the release of stress hormones, including cortisol. And that uptick in stress hormones affects the hormones that govern your menstrual cycle. Elevated cortisol can also cause insulin resistance and raise your blood sugar, both of which are not good for your reproductive or overall health.

When stress is ongoing, it can delay or even can hamper ovulation altogether:

No ovulation = tough time getting pregnant.

Stress also causes free radicals to be produced, which can cause premature aging of and damage to your eggs. One more reason to eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods.

Now, with all that being said, don’t stress about stress.

If you’re human and alive, it’s inevitable that you’ll experience stress. It comes with the territory. Fortunately, your body is biologically equipped to manage it, and there are many things you can do to support it.

Here are some ideas that can help you better manage stress, and put a damper on its effect on your health and fertility:

  1. Make yourself a cup of green tea and sip it mindfully.
  2. Listen to relaxing music. Think classical or meditation music.
  3. Spend time in nature.
  4. Diffuse your favorite essential oil scent, and practice deep breathing.  Make sure to exhale slowly and completely.
  5. Cuddle with your special someone, or snuggle with your favorite furry pal.
  6. Schedule a girls night with a group of fun-loving and supportive women.
  7. Take some time to journal about your thoughts, feelings, fears, and dreams.
  8. Watch your favorite funny movie or sitcom.
  9. Tend to your spiritual health. Pray, meditate, and spend time with your spiritual community.
  10. Eat a variety of colorful fruit and vegetables, salmon, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans, peas, and lentils.
  11. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep. Sleep works wonders.
  12. Do something silly that brings a smile to your face and joy to your heart. Blowing bubbles or dancing to late 90s pop music works like a charm every time.

One of the best things you can do for your reproductive health and fertility is simply to find ways to rest, relax, and enjoy life.

Adapted from the original article.

Kendra Tolbert, MS, RDN, CDN, CLC is a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified lactation counselor, and certified aromatherapist based in Alexandria, VA. Through her private practice, she helps women and couples prepare for pregnancy and enjoy healthier, happier pregnancies. Learn more about Kendra at Live Fertile.

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