The kinds of Stress Affecting Infertility

Infertility is a problem encountered by many men and women around the world, with varied causes that affect either male or female.

One of the possible factors that may contribute to infertility is stress. Coming in different forms, stress can affect a person’s hormonal and nervous systems, which certainly impacts fertility. Scientists have even discovered that high levels of stress hormones can actually stop ovulation, in turn making conception difficult.

Stress can be caused by many different factors: the environment; work; family, or; a very stressful event like a major accident or loss in the family. Because of this, a person’s body may react by releasing powerful neurochemicals and hormones to prepare it for action (fight or flight). There are different stressors that can affect a person.

The following are some of the general types of stress that a person may encounter, which may also affect her/ his fertility:

  • Age Factor and Time Pressure: Infertility is most common among women aged 20-45, and fertility declines as a woman or man ages. As soon as they encounter problems in conceiving, time pressure suddenly becomes a factor and adds to the stress that they are experiencing.
  • Physical Stress: This can affect both male and female in different ways. In men, for example, it has shown to cause significant decrease in sperm quality. Physical stress can also be brought about by lifestyle factors such as alcohol intake, caffeine, being overweight, smoking, drugs, excessive exercise, over work and heat.
  • Emotional Stress: This can be caused by a sudden severe and saddening experience. Due to the stress, a person may experience sleep disturbances, dramatic weight fluctuations and inconsistent eating patterns and chronic tiredness which in turn can affect the fertility of a person.
  • Financial Stress: Preparing for a baby can actually be quite stressful due to all the preparation a person has to undergo. This would also include financial preparation through work, business, etc. But this also brings about great stress to both mind and body due the different demands this may entail.
  • Relationship Stress: Due to a possible combination of all the above mentioned stressors, social relationships may also be compromised, thus bringing about more stress. A person may begin blocking out some people and negating help that is being offered.

These are just some examples of stress that can contribute to the infertility of a person. At present time there isn’t enough data that can draw a close link between stress and infertility, but there are studies that have shown that “when stress-reduction techniques are employed, something happens in some women that allows them to get pregnant when they couldn’t get pregnant before” (Allen Morgan, MD, director of Shore Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Lakewood, N.J.).

Some of these stress reduction techniques are acupuncture, massage therapy, proper exercise and diet, and other methods that are aimed at reducing stress.

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