Here is why the answer is so complicated.
Several studies show the effects of stress on fertility, however, there isn’t a solid yes, or a no in these studies. Please, do NOT get overwhelmed by these studies and make sure you get to the end of the article, where I share how to avoid stress, that actually does hinder your chances of getting pregnant.
I attended a seminar in 2012 where Professor Jacky Boivin shared her recent studies and the evidence, that stress doesn’t affect our ability to reproduce! You can imagine how the room full of couples, suddenly went silent!
Professor Boivin shared, that women clearly do continue to conceive in harsh conditions of poverty, malnutrition and/or war. She advised, that it is about what we do, the drinking, the smoking and it is our social position, age and lifestyle that are also associated with our reproductive system.
We also know, that cortisol, which is a stress hormone, is also a sex hormone that affects sperm count in men and ovulation and menstrual cycle in women. And another study shows, that social stress and nutritional stress experienced together, can create infertility (hinder conception).
The overall general understanding is that sometimes, when we are try to eliminate the stress (whatever it may be), the thing that we do to achieve that, may act as a stressor. So, when you are already stressed, the next thing that comes along that supposed to relieve stress, actually acts as stressor. Remember, I’ve asked you NOT to get overwhelmed?
One study shows (2015,) that the effects of chronic stress on fertility persist long after the stress is gone. This is because a hormone that suppresses fertility, GnIH, remains high even after stress hormone levels return to normal. This is very important to understand for those who have been trying to conceive for a long period of time.
Given scientific research, we can only assume the things we should be doing (or not doing), but at the same time, it leaves us wondering why so many, aren’t affected by stress at all. Across the world we see couples conceiving without any conscious effort whatsoever.
Here is my personal and professional experience. For everyone, setbacks and difficulties are unavoidable parts of our lives. It is impossible to live a completely stress-free life, especially when you’re trying to have a baby and failure to conceive makes you emotionally involved. Of course, we take is as a personal setback. It is personal. Your whole life is affected by it. Your confidence and the way you think about yourself changes.
Let’s begin with what stress actually might be and then explain whether what you do, affects your fertility. We have been using the word ‘stress’ for many years and most of us believe that it is a reaction to an outside stressor. It may surprise you, that the word ‘stress’ comes from engineering and it refers to describing strain on the structure. It actually isn’t precise and clear what stress is.
There’s only one thing that’s been clear to us! Stress isn’t something that is out there! It is what we make of things that occur in our lives that cause us to be stressed. We can call it an imbalance that occurs within us. Unfortunately, we live in a society where we often don’t take responsibility for our own feelings but we look for diagnoses or we blame.
If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll discover that we can’t take stress out of our lives. We can’t remove loses, misfortunes, unfairness and not even ‘bad’ people. We can improve our lives by perhaps changing our jobs or moving our home, but the stressors remain within us wherever we go. Even when we deal with what causes us to become stressed, there always will be other potential stressors to look out for!
This is important to acknowledge when we are trying to get pregnant. No matter what goes on around you, how old you are, your diagnoses, it is about how you feel about it. No matter how we look at it, we all experience the world around us differently. We never invalidate how we feel or shame ourselves for it and we always approach ourselves with compassion and never blame ourselves. Then we can try changing our perception, that helps us avoid stress hindering our efforts.
In my personal experience and working with clients I found, that stress relative to conception affects our fertility, but not necessarily the stress that you may be experiencing in your life that’s not connected to fertility.
For example, social stress affects your fertility only if you are telling yourself that you’re becoming too old to have a child, or putting pressure on yourself due to some social expectation. Or, you may feel overwhelmed by failure to conceive and therefore, concerned that you may not be able to get pregnant. Most of these pressures come from our beliefs about fertility and the biggest negative influence is the internet.
To recap, it is your personal, most inner experience about your ability to get pregnant, that affects your body and therefore your fertility. It is the thoughts that you carry with you and the feelings that directly influence your body and its ability to conceive. It is important that you don’t fall into another trap of self-blame, but instead learn how to influence your fertility and encourage your body to create a new life, regardless of outside stressors.
Learn how to maximize your fertility with stress free approach and conceive your beautiful baby, whether naturally, or using assisted methods in my Free E-book:
Love and Courage