The Impact of Stress on Fertility and Pregnancy
We live in a crazy, busy society, as the demands and pressures of modern life create stressful situations for many individuals. While many find ways to manage these emotions effectively, if left unaddressed, one may experience a variety of mental and physical health issues.
If you’re pregnant or are trying to conceive, it’s particularly important to reduce and manage stress wherever possible. Here is everything you need to know about the issue at hand and how you can tackle it head-on to create a more relaxed pregnancy and lifestyle.
What is Stress?
Stress is a difficult word to define because it manifests differently for different people. In the most general terms, it is a strain on the brain and body caused by adversity or overwhelming demands. Both adversity and overwhelming demands can mean a lot of things, so you can see how even experts struggle to develop a definition. There are two main categories of stress — eustress and distress.
Eustress is also called positive stress. Examples of eustress might include things such as:
- Landing a new job
- Getting married
- Winning the lottery
- Going on vacation
This type of positive stress is generally considered good though it can cause the release of taxing chemicals that can affect both brain and body. Think back to the last time you were really excited about something good; it’s likely you felt physical symptoms in your body – like “butterflies” in the stomach or a racing heart. That’s the effect of these chemicals at work! Now let’s look at the flip side of eustress — distress.
Distress is what most people associate with the word stress. It is perceived to be negative and often caused by adverse circumstances. In some ways, symptoms of distress may feel like eustress though the cause may be unpleasant.
- Financial problems
- Loss of a loved one
- Arguments and conflicts
When left unmanaged, distress can lead to a variety of additional mental and physical health issues. The good news is that although this can have an impact on both fertility and pregnancy, there are ways to get your stress level under control — and to keep it that way.
Stress and Fertility
It isn’t just an old wives’ tale — in actuality, worrying about conceiving can prevent your ability to do so. In a recent WebMD feature, Dr. Margareta D. Pisarska, M.D., explained how stress can play a role when it comes to getting pregnant. Dr. Pisarska believes chemicals, such as cortisol, may affect a woman’s ability to conceive. Reducing stress may raise the chances of successful conception by enhancing the proteins in the uterine lining that are essential to implantation.
In a study published in the medical journal Human Reproduction, it was shown that the months during which couples reported feeling relaxed and happy were the months when they were most likely to conceive. In another study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, the same results were found for those undergoing fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Stress and Pregnancy
It isn’t just fertility that’s affected by stress. According to the March of Dimes, too much stress during pregnancy can increase a woman’s chances of delivering prematurely or having a baby with a low birth weight. It can also raise an expectant mother’s blood pressure and lead to hypertension and heart disease, if left untreated. In studies performed by the University of Pennsylvania on mice, the detrimental effects of stress were shown to reach the fetus through the placenta. Fortunately, there are plenty ways to avoid or reduce harmful stress.
How to Reduce Stress
If stress is a problem for you, the first step is to try to identify the causes. Next, take immediate and realistic measures to prevent stressors – and then try to effectively manage those you can’t. There are all kinds of ways to get manage these issues, and what works for one person may not work for another. Here are some basic strategies to consider.
- Ask for help from others
- Exercise (Get approval from your doctor first!)
- Take deep, gentle breaths
- Listen to relaxing music or ambient sounds
Informing your medical provider about your emotions is crucial, as they can evaluate you and determine your best course of action. When it comes to at-home strategies like those listed above, trial and error might be necessary to find the best stress-busters for you. Just make sure to stick with it until you find something that is right for you.
Choosing the Right Fertility Clinic
The right fertility clinic can make a big difference when it comes to reducing your stress levels. At Red Rock Fertility Center in Las Vegas, our patients enjoy a stress-free environment thanks to our soothing water structures, neutral colors, and Himalayan salt lamps, and acupressure massage. This relaxed atmosphere combined with the expertise of our experienced fertility doctors in Las Vegas offers patients the best chance for realizing their dreams of starting a family of their own.