How Stress Can Affect Your Fertility

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while, you’ve probably had dozens of well-meaning friends tell you to just relax, to stop actively trying and it’ll happen. While this gets more frustrating than reassuring very, very quickly, there is a kernel of truth to this: studies show that stress can affect your fertility, and make it much harder for you to fall pregnant.

The pituitary gland is the link between your hypothalamus (brain) and your endocrine system (hormones). It communicates with your ovaries through your bloodstream; first, it releases hormones that tell your eggs to mature, and then it releases hormones that cause ovulation. When you’re stressed, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland are engaged in another chain reaction; the hypothalamus releases a hormone called CRH, which causes the pituitary to produce another hormone (ACTH), which in turn triggers the adrenal glands. This stress circuit temporarily shuts down your other hormonal systems, including reproduction, so your body can divert all of its energy into dealing with the perceived threat.

Or, in simpler terms: if your brain is busy with stress, it may not send the right messages to your ovaries, which means you won’t ovulate. If there’s no egg, the sperm have nothing to fertilise, and you won’t fall pregnant. Even if you are still ovulating, some studies suggest that stress can reduce blood flow to the uterus and cause issues with implantation.

If you’ve got a stressful job or are really invested in getting pregnant (as most prospective parents are), it’s not as easy or simple as just deciding to be less anxious. There are natural treatments like herbal medicine and acupuncture which can help get your stress levels down, and your system back on track, before you decide to try more invasive methods like IVF or artificial insemination. If you’d like to know more, contact the clinic and we’ll be able to provide some natural fertility advice based on your specific situation.

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