The Challenge Of Getting Pregnant
Many women have the dream of bringing new life into the world. Starting a family is a fantastic achievement but not always so straightforward. While some couples have no issues getting pregnant, others struggle with infertility. Fertility issues are rising due to poor lifestyle decisions, hormonal imbalances, and environmental factors. Fertile or not, the process of getting pregnant is also stressful, raising anxiety levels or even causing depression. The impact of mental health is often overlooked or underestimated, placing an additional obstacle to pregnancy. Stress also is a factor that must be controlled when couples choose in vitro fertilization (IVF) to address infertility.
The stress and fertility connection
Some stress can be a normal physiological response to an external situation or stimulus necessary for survival. However, constantly being on high alert or in a stressful state can harm mental and physical health. Many of today’s diseases and conditions are influenced by stress, including infertility. Hormones like estrogen, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH) must be balanced for optimal reproductive health. Excess stress increases cortisol, which disrupts this delicate balance. Over time, excess cortisol leads to poor egg quality, irregular menstrual cycles, anovulation, and poor sperm health in men. Studies show that stress contributes to infertility and natural conception.
Does stress impact IVF?
Some couples who want to do something about infertility will sometimes turn to IVF for treatment. IVF is a delicate medical process that extracts eggs and sperm to create an embryo in a lab. The embryos are assessed, and the best candidate is transferred to the woman’s uterus. IVF can be stressful at all stages, from injecting hormone medication to undergoing egg retrieval to waiting on the outcome. Stress and depression also impact the individual’s motivation to participate in healthy behaviors like exercise and a healthy diet. Conventional wisdom is that high cortisol levels do not affect the process. However, multiple studies reveal a relationship between high stress and failed IVF cycles.
Try these stress-relieving strategies
Chronic stress plays a vital role in getting pregnant naturally and with techniques like IVF. Managing stress is a necessity to improve the chances of success. Consider talk therapy for advice and coping mechanisms during the IVF process. Joining support groups can provide connections with a community going through a similar process. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is another strategy that combines meditation and yoga to reduce stress and improve health. Additionally, diet and exercise can help. A healthy diet, walking, swimming, and biking are all great ways to reduce cortisol levels and inflammation.
Mental health matters
Couples trying to get pregnant naturally should consider stress reduction during the process. Stress can lead to unhealthy practices and impact hormone production, leading to poor reproductive health. The same goes for those attempting IVF after dealing with infertility. Managing stress during the process is vital as IVF can be physically, emotionally, and financially demanding. Taking the time to care for physical and emotional health will maximize fertility. While high stress levels do not guarantee failure, taking steps to lower cortisol can help with starting or growing a family.