Does stress have any impact on conception?
Is fertility negatively impacted by stress? Without a doubt, one of the most common expressions people hear when they’ve been trying to conceive but it hasn’t happened yet is: “you’ll see how you get pregnant as soon as you relax”. These types of expressions, apart from being painful, make you question whether or not they’re right.
In order to answer the question about whether stress influences pregnancy, we must first perform an exercise in differentiation. This involves distinguishing pathological stress from the stress someone experiences in an overwhelming situation or due to the current pace of life, sometimes faster than our bodies can handle.
When are we talking about physical or pathological stress?
Pathological stress is stress in the central nervous system that can be observed, for example, in patients who are extremely underweight or morbidly obese, or in elite athletes.
These types of situations of physical stress produce endocrines that are associated with fertility issues. A gymnast, for example, may not have periods as a result of her sport, and without a period she obviously cannot get pregnant.
The same situation can occur in women with morbid obesity. As this condition affects the central nervous system, males may experience a decrease in sperm production and females may not get their periods.
What do we consider to be everyday stress?
On the other hand, the stress we experience every day, due to our current fast pace of life, clearly has an impact on everything related to fertility.
For example, a male or female who is under stress, try as they might to conceive, won’t benefit from the same sex drive as a couple who leads a more relaxed pace of life. In this case, we’re not talking about a fertility issue per se, but lack of a healthy sex drive will definitely impact a couple’s chances of conceiving.
Additionally, everyday stress may also affect the female’s menstrual cycle by disturbing ovulation and, as a result, her fertility.
These are the reasons why, at URE Centro Gutenberg, we urge our patients to change their lifestyles by reducing their stress levels. This involves, among other things, getting regular physical activity, watching what you eat and eliminating poor habits such as alcohol and tobacco consumption. These matters are generally essential when it comes to trying to conceive.
If I undergo fertility treatment will I have to reduce my stress levels?
Once we cross the bridge between trying to get pregnant naturally and undergoing assisted reproduction treatment, we can say that almost one hundred percent of couples are already dealing with a high degree of stress. This is normal if we take into consideration the fact that many couples have dealt with months or even years of negative pregnancy tests before deciding to consult with a fertility specialist.
At present there is no scientific evidence indicating that this type of stress negatively impacts the results of treatment, but it is going to have an impact on how couples cope with the process. In other words, if a patient is already under stress, she is going to start treatment feeling nervous, anxious… and this may lead her to doubt herself and question whether or not she is doing the right thing. So her stress levels will affect how she deals with the process, but it won’t have any effects on the results.
The majority of couples who are under stress will be able to cope on their own. For this, it is fundamental to be well informed from the very beginning about everything that is going to happen so that you can take on the treatment process without anxiety or fears, while also fully trusting in the professionals who are going to help you.
The importance of strong emotional support
Though most couples are able to tackle this situation by themselves, as we said above, there is a small percentage whose stress can be considered pathological. This is when we recommend searching for an emotional support system that will accompany them throughout the whole process and help them to deal with any results.
At URE Centro Gutenberg we are aware of all of this. We know that the appropriate emotional support can help us to confront these circumstances with a more level head, and that’s why we offer this attention to those patients who need it.
Additionally, this emotional support service comes with a free initial consultation, during which a specialised professional will study your situation and offer you the tools and mechanisms that will help you throughout the process of controlling your stress.