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Psychological Stress and the Impact on Fertility

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Psychological Stress for Women

When women experience high levels of psychological stress, it can actually stop the body from completing the ovulation process. Without ovulation pregnancy is an impossibility. Even when ovulation continues, however, stress can still affect a woman’s level of fertility. Persistent stress can cause reduced blood flow to the uterus, as well as a reduction of proteins in the uterine lining. Both of these factors are needed for successful egg implantation in the uterus.

Psychological Stress for Men

When men experience psychological stress, they are more likely to have a lower concentration of sperm in each ejaculation and the sperm are more likely to have mobility problems. Type of stress is important in determining how sperm quality may be affected. Stressful life events, family stressors, and perceived stress are more likely than work-related stress to cause problems in sperm quality. Depression and anxiety have also been shown to decrease fertility in men.

Psychological Stress Between Couples

Fertility problems are difficult on both partners when a couple is trying to conceive. There can be blame, guilt, sadness, and frustration. Communication between the couple may suffer, causing each partner to feel isolated and alone. However, you are not alone and the more open communication you have about what you are feeling about the process the better.
Sex may take on a new meaning that neither partner is happy about. It is not uncommon for partners to find sex more difficult as treatment progresses, because they feel as though they have “failed” each time they try to conceive and are unsuccessful. It is important to discuss this with you partner and talk about ways to maintain the intimacy of the relationship when sex has become a dictated task and a topic shared with fertility treatment staff. If couples stop having sex they are not going to conceive – keeping a good relationship is important.

Psychological Stress Due To Fertility Treatments

Fertility treatments can be expensive and invasive and are sometimes unsuccessful. All of this can lead to a lot of stress. Then, if you are doing a IVF treatment that involves taking hormones, stress and other emotions can escalate higher than normal. Anxiety and depression about the fertility treatments can grow as treatments continue, and level of stress can affect how long a couple is willing to stay in treatment.
For many people the physical aspect of the treatment is the easiest part of the fertility process, and it is the constant psychological roller coaster that takes the largest toll of their wellbeing. It is important to acknowledge how the treatment process is affecting you. Finding a counselor who specializes in fertility problems can be an invaluable support for individuals and couples going through fertility treatment.