Stressing Out About Infertility
Infertility can be caused by physical factors such as blocked fallopian tubes. Infertility diagnosis and months of trying to get pregnant can add undue stress to both partners. In effect, stress worsens the underlying cause of infertility and prevents the body from maintaining normal function. Finding ways to lower stress can increase the chances of having a baby.
High stress lowers the chance of pregnancy
Studies have shown that daily stressors can significantly reduce a woman’s ability to conceive. One study found that women whose saliva had high levels of alpha-amylase, a stress marker, took 29% longer to conceive compared to women who had less of the enzyme. Researchers have linked stress to infertility since the 1990s. Today, researchers know that stress hormones such as cortisol can negatively impact a woman’s reproductive system.
1. Don’t overexercise
Excessive and strenuous physical activity can backfire when the healthy habit turns into an obsession. High-intensity workouts can stress out the body and inhibit ovulation. High stress can reduce the release of the hormone progesterone. Instead of bringing the pain to every workout, women could find new exercises that can increase the chances of conception, such as walking, swimming, or yoga.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
Stress can induce overeating as a means to relax. Being overweight, however, can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy. Being underweight can also cause fertility issues. A woman’s body mass index (BMI) can be a baseline for women to consider. A BMI under 18.5 or over 24.9 is a cause for concern.
3. Eat a healthy diet
Part of maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise is eating a healthy diet. Stress can inhibit decision-making skills and lead to a diet high in sugar and highly-processed foods. Women who follow a Mediterranean-style diet full of fish, whole grains and vegetables have a far better shot at getting pregnant than women who eat junk food every day.
Lifestyle factors that worsen the odds
Experts also cite stress as one reason why some women often have less sex than others. High pressure throughout the day can make some women turn to caffeine or alcohol as stimulants. Excessive consumption of both substances can lower the chance of pregnancy. Health experts recommend women’s caffeine intake to be below 200 milligrams a day and women should avoid alcohol altogether when trying to conceive.
Consult a specialist
Women who are concerned about stress and infertility should consult with a healthcare professional to find ways to improve fertility and increase the chances of getting pregnant. Healthy lifestyle changes can go a long way to improve fertility, but sometimes, a specialist can provide a deeper understanding of underlying infertility causes.