Infertility is one of the foremost topics of discussion when it comes to women’s health and well being. There are several underlying causes and factors that contribute to infertility. While hormonal conditions have been vastly studied in connection to infertility, little is known on the impact emotional well being has on fertility.
What is stress and how do I identify it?
Stress is generally identified as feeling tense or wound up on most occasions relating to the psychological impact of external or internal factors. Careers, family, finance, and medical illness are some of the key contributors to stress.
Also Read: Can I Get Pregnant If I Have Endometriosis?
Since different individuals handle stress differently the impact stress has internally cannot be quantified. Some of the ways in which you can identify stress in your daily routines include:
- Reduction in productivity
- Limited time for health-related activities
- Preoccupation with tasks that are the source of stress
- Fluctuations in mood
- Negative thought process
- Changes in bowel movements
- Prone to infections
These are just a few. Women can manifest a whole spectrum of symptoms or just one or two from the list. Initially, women can overlook a lot of these, but when these start to affect daily functioning it is ideal to take some time out and tackle the stress.
How does stress impact my system’s functioning?
Stress is known to release hormones such as cortisol which in moderate amounts assist with regulating sugar and increasing energy levels. However, prolonged stress impacts the system negatively increasing inflammation, wreaking havoc on the other hormones as well as lowering immunity among the other cause and effect related to stress.
Stress hormones can also have an impact on your fertility hormones and the way your reproductive system functions.
What is the possible impact stress has on my reproductive system function?
Stress hormones work to elevate your flight and fright response and therefore any other system that is not required during this response is slowed down, one of these includes the reproductive system. Some of the possible ways in which stress can impact your fertility include:
- Slow down the feedback loop favouring the release of reproductive hormones (slow down or halt ovulation)
- Stress sometimes increases habits like smoking, unhealthy diet or sleep disturbances
- Uterine lining thickness, as well as embryo implantation, can be affected due to hormone imbalances
These are just a few of the possible causes. Stress can increase what is known as reactive oxidative species (ROS) in the body. This can accumulate in the area where your eggs are produced and either reduce the egg quality or halt egg production. ROS also disrupt hormone function and their impact on egg production. Therefore during each menstrual cycle of a stressed woman there is a chance that she is not producing any healthy eggs.
However, since stress can be related to both physical and psychological factors the impact of fertility cannot directly be linked to only stress in a person’s life. While stress can be a component, studies still have to prove that it is a direct consequence of underlying fertility issues.
How should I tackle the stress that I experience in my daily life?
The ways in which stress impacts your system can be reversed quite easily once the stress is actively controlled. Women have been experiencing stress for many centuries and are still able to conceive, so stress on its own is just one of the factors that are responsible for changes in one’s ability to conceive. Working on all the factors that contribute to your stress and unhealthy lifestyle is one of the first ways to approach tackling issues relating to your fertility.
Some of the ways in which you can be more proactive about the stress that you experience in your life include:
- Identify the situations and the people that are possibly causing stress in your life. Understand what about these situations induce stress in you.
- Highlight what are important stressors and ones that do not require sufficient attention. Another important way to list is the ones that are in your control and the ones that aren’t. This will give you a better idea on what to expend your energy on and what to overlook.
- Know that stress has a negative impact and doesn’t change the long term course of a situation.
- Have productive ways to channel stress that you experience. These could include exercising, pursuing a hobby or meditating.
- Take “time-outs” throughout the day, especially if you are particularly stressed. Breaks can include a 10-minute walk, reading a few pages of your favourite book, solving a puzzle or chatting with a friend.
- Indulge in a support system. This can include your partner, group of friends, or groups of individuals that work on tackling their daily stress. Talk out stuff that requires a sounding board.
- Try to surround yourself with positivity and solutions rather than negativity. This will allow for more productive ways to deal with stress and will automatically reduce the amount of stress you take upon yourself.
Stress is inevitable. Women can experience stress from different aspects of their life. While studies are still in its infancy when associating stress and fertility, it is known that stress contributes to inflammatory processes in the body. Stress hormones can disrupt reproductive hormone function.
However, as highlighted above, stress is reversible. The impact stress has is short term and often easy to tackle once identified. Observing yourself on edge often, unable to handle tasks you originally would are just some of the signs that you might be having some underlying stress. Actively work on it. Do not hesitate to seek professional help when required.