How Stress is Connected to Infertility in Women

In most cases, infertility is a silent struggle. Women with infertility have increased levels of anxiety and depression. Infertility can have a great influence on a person’s relationships with family and friends. The connection between infertility and stress has been a matter of debate for years, but several studies have shown a connection between stress levels and decreased chances of pregnancy. 

It is very unlikely that stress alone can cause infertility, but stress is definitely one of the many factors interfering with a woman’s ability to get pregnant. It is very obvious that infertility patients go through depression, distress, anxiety, and a reduced quality of life. A study showed that people who are infertile have more symptoms of stress.

How to Deal with Stress Related to Infertility?

Learn: Collect information about the normal responses to infertility. Have a conversation with other people who are going through the same issue. Understand your condition properly and know about the treatment options available.

Communicate: Communicate with your partner about what you are feeling, understand their requirements, and allow your partner to feel and cope differently about the same. Avoid having a conflict and try to talk about your personal differences.

Practice relaxation techniques: When you are under psychological stress, your body gives a fight-or-flight response. The same happens when you feel you are in danger. Breathing exercises, meditation, and imagery exercises can help bring your body to a relaxation response state.

Take care of your health: Make sure your body is healthy and get a full body exam every year. Consume a healthy diet daily, exercise regularly, get adequate and proper sleep, and have proper detoxification and recreation sessions to maintain mental as well as physical health.

Therapy: Counseling and therapy can help with fertility stress, there are many other benefits of cognitive-behavioral therapy. This therapy helps identify negative thoughts that trigger emotions. It aims at letting out irrational thoughts and framing realistic ones.

How do Cortisol Levels Affect Female Fertility? 

The activation of HPA axis hormones regulates the adaptive response to stress. These HPA hormones cause the anterior pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which causes the secretion of cortisol. As shown in studies, high levels of cortisol negatively influence the ability of an oocyte (egg before being fertilized) to become fertilized properly, leading to a decline in the growth estrogen-to-progesterone ratio and reducing the potential of oocyte development. It is observed that women under stress have higher cortisol levels that coexist with a thinner endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus). Constantly elevated cortisol can lead to many complications that can disturb the normal process of reproduction and result in infertility.

Psychological Impact of Stress on Women Trying to Conceive

When a person is unable to conceive, they have a constant feeling of profound loss and a significant life crisis. It is highly stressful to experience infertility and go through its treatment. It interferes with many aspects of life, including relationships, work, and family. The stress of infertility and its treatment often leads to depression, and anxiety and having anxiety and depression often lead to infertility; it is a complete cycle. People going through IVF or other treatments experience much more anxiety and depression than the general population. Taking care of your mental health by getting psychiatric sessions, psychotherapy or general counseling by a professional can help reduce the stress, anxiety, and depression caused by infertility and its treatment.

In conclusion, recognizing the signs of stress is the first step toward addressing the problem of infertility. As there are a lot of things causing stress in our day-to-day lives, it is better to take care of our mental health as it impacts our chances of being fertile. It is important to have constant checkups for personalized guidance. Taking steps to reduce stress can lead to increased chances of conception.