Stress! Its impact on attempts to get pregnant

If you dream of your own child and are trying to get pregnant, but the happy event is delayed, the reasons for this may be related to excessive stress. Nowadays, there is more and more talk about the relationship between increased stress levels and infertility. Stress has a negative effect on both women and men.

It is important to accept that stress is not necessarily our enemy and that in their daily lives every person experiences certain levels of stress. But it is important – and absolutely achievable – to have our good habits and daily rituals that cheer us up and relax us, so as not to let the tense sensations overwhelm us completely. Especially when we want to create a new life.

In this article, we’ll help you understand the link between stress and reproductive problems and suggest easy and effective ways to give yourself more peace of mind.

What do we need to know about good and bad stress?

Yes, stress can also be “good”

We can most easily explain the concept of “good stress” as “mobilizing” to cope with a specific task. When we are faced with a goal and need to make an effort to achieve it, our mind and body go into active “working mode”. In this sense, stress is even lifting weight in the gym, it is also stress to have to accelerate the step to get on time in the bus stopped at the stop. Good stress is necessary for professional athletes to be able to perform in their best condition during competitions. When stress levels are normal, it is considered a natural and actually necessary part of the way each person functions.

Stress becomes destructive for us when we experience tension even without an objective reason – at the moment we are not dealing with solving a problem, we are not facing an immediate threat, we do not have to make a serious physical effort, but we are still very tense inside. In some cases, when we do not control tension in time and over time it becomes our permanent state, we talk about the so-called chronic stress. Constantly high levels of stress affect many systems and processes in the body and can lead to a number of health changes, including preventing us from having a healthy pregnancy.

Excessive stress and female hormones

Stress-related pregnancy problems are not a biological error, but a powerful defense mechanism.

Through it, nature protects the parent and the possible future generation from dangers. If we experience severe stress for a long time, our brain takes this as a signal that we are in a dangerous situation, that we are exposed to threats and deprivation. And this is not a good time for the appearance of a baby, which would make us even more vulnerable. Therefore, in the body, through changes in the hormonal picture, processes are triggered that make getting pregnant extremely difficult and even impossible.

What are stress hormones and why can they cause infertility?

Every stressful experience leads to increased secretion of the hormone adrenaline. And it, in turn, inhibits the action of progesterone, a hormone important for pregnancy. How can you feel that progesterone deficiency has occurred in your body? In this case, a typical symptom is water retention, which results in puffiness of the face, swelling in the ankle and abdomen, increasingly visible cellulite. More noticeable discomfort before and during a cycle may also signal reduced progesterone levels. And more: Varicose veins, a feeling of heaviness and soreness in the chest, weight gain in the thighs, migraines, the appearance of acne or hair loss.

Chronically low progesterone levels are also the cause of a very heavy or irregular period.

Cortisol is another stress hormone that can affect your chances of getting pregnant as well as during pregnancy. Moreover, its negative impact concerns the reproductive capabilities of both the female and male organisms. The explanation is that highly elevated levels of cortisol in the body inhibit the release of gonatotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), associated with the processes of normal functioning of the ovaries in women and testicles in men.

GnRH acts on the receptors in the anterior part of the pituitary gland, signaling it to release gonadotropic hormones – follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). They affect the ovaries in women and testicles in men. The hormones FSH and LH trigger the ovaries to mature and ovulate eggs, and in men trigger sperm production.

GnRH is not released uniformly but on pulses. In women, the frequency of pulses varies depending on which stage of the menstrual cycle you are in, and just before ovulation, GnRH pulses are more frequent.

Before in vitro procedures, GnRH is important to ensure the maturation of more than one follicle, as well as to prevent premature egg maturation and follicle rupture.

More stress = more bad habits

The hormonal imbalance that causes stress is not the only factor that can cause infertility.

Stress affects our ability to get pregnant and indirectly. When we suffer from chronic internal tension, it is not uncommon for this to push us to smoke or increased alcohol consumption. In stressful situations, it sometimes happens that former smokers reach for cigarettes again. Sound sleep is also a common sufferer of high levels of stress – we start sleeping restlessly, fall asleep with difficulty in the evening, or wake up suddenly at night and anxious thoughts bump into our minds.

All these factors can further hinder attempts at the desired pregnancy. In this case, we are again talking about a negative effect on fertility in both women and men.

Infertility Stress – The Vicious Circle

When we want a child and encounter trouble conceiving, we need to provide ourselves with more peace of mind to increase our chances of having a baby. But the situation itself is a source of very much stress, which can push the couple down the spiral of anxiety, worries and even despair.

A 2016 study looked at 352 women and 274 men who were undergoing fertility therapy. More than half of the participants studied showed symptoms of depression, and 3 out of 4 experienced anxiety. The longer the therapy lasted, but the baby still did not come, The more the participants’ anxious and depressive states intensified.

This scientific data probably does not report anything new to people who have personally encountered unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant. Couples who are afraid that they may not be able to make their dream of having a baby come true know all these excruciating emotions well. The enormous stress of a difficult pregnancy or an initial unsuccessful IVF can even cause a crisis in relationships between partners.

There are easy ways to live with less stress.

The ability to keep “bad” stress under control is extremely valuable. It is even more important when planning to become pregnant, as well as during the pregnancy itself.

It’s important to remember that managing stress isn’t necessarily complicated. There are enough effective and very easy rituals that act soothing. Many of them are universal, others a person discovers on their own – these are our hobbies and other specific favorite activities. Here are some affordable and proven good ways to reduce stress levels in your daily life:

•Movement. Physical exercises fight mental tension extremely successfully, and this is scientifically proven. However, if you are trying for a baby, limit training to a maximum of one hour a day.

• Time in nature.  Walk regularly outside the city or just in your favorite park.

• Enough hours of restful sleep.  Go to bed on time and if possible at the same hour in the evening, and before going to sleep read a book and do not look at your phone.

• Balanced diet.  Follow a reasonable diet in which there is a variety and there are enough fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Include folic acid intake, and if you have deficiencies, other dietary supplements suitable for you.

•Communication.  Pleasant meetings and conversations distract the mind from any worries we may have at the moment.

•Sex.  During intimate moments with the partner, the “hormones of happiness” are released in the body – endorphins and oxytocin. Enjoy these sensations and do not make sex a duty, even if you are currently trying to get pregnant.

To enjoy your pet, watch funny series, take care of flowers, refresh the decoration at home, walk around the shops, walk in the mountains… All of these things can also help you control your stress levels. The important thing is to regularly make time for your favorite pleasant activities.

Finally, we left one important piece of advice, namely not to turn pregnancy into an obsessive goal that you are fanatically pursuing. The desire to have a baby is really associated with a carousel of very strong emotions. But even at this stage of your life, you need to take care of yourself, to spend time fully with family and friends, to follow your other usual interests.

If you approach it with such an attitude, it will certainly help you both before and during the desired pregnancy!

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