We’ve all experienced stress at one point or another in our lives. But just what is stress, exactly? Stress is an event or experience that a person feels or perceives is threatening, overwhelming or scary. Many people experience “perceived helplessness” and feel stuck or hopeless about a situation or feeling, whether it’s a specific feeling or a generalized one. Physically, in order to protect itself, the body responds with a “fight or flight” response. Often times cortisol and hormones levels fluctuate and stress can take a toll on one’s immune system, adrenal glands, digestion, and one’s fertility. However, it is not clear how exactly stress impacts fertility. It is not exactly known whether high levels of stress can prevent pregnancy or affect a woman’s chance of conceiving, but we do know that reducing stress provides a better quality of life during times of intense personal challenge, and may reduce health issues overall which may impact fertility. Sometimes, infertility patients respond to the stress of being unable to conceive by aggressively pursuing treatment and procedures. Other patients withdraw and isolate from family, friends, and community. Neither of these extremes is ideal for patients who seek to treat their infertility and build a family.
Having less stress in your life while pursuing fertility treatment may not, in and of itself, result in a pregnancy. However, developing better coping strategies to manage stress related to an infertility diagnosis and treatment can help you feel more in control and improve your overall well-being. Specifically, it has been shown that stress does interfere with making rational and well-thought-out decisions. Reducing stress can allow patients to research, explore, and consider all the options available with a clearer mindset. By reducing stress, the pros and cons of one treatment course over another can be more effectively weighed and considered. Therefore, overall, reduced stress is good for your health and therefore one’s fertility. While no one expects patients to approach fertility treatments stress-free, finding ways to minimize stress while pursuing treatment can help. It is helpful for patients to look for ways to reduce the burden of infertility treatments and medical protocols.
There are many stress-reducing techniques; some of the more popular methods recommended to fertility patients are:
- Aerobic exercise (may be reduced during treatment)
- Collaboration with experts in stress reduction
- Guided imagery / Mind-Body Exercises / Tai Chi & Qi Gong
- Listening to music
- Massage therapy
- Mind-body groups
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy
- Self-help books
- Spending time with loved ones
- Support/educational groups
- Visualization & Visualization CD’s
- Walking/hiking and Being in Nature
- Yoga or Stretching
- Breathing Exercises
The goal of stress reduction is to minimize stress by finding the technique that serves your needs the best. If you have any questions about trying to conceive, fertility and stress reduction, feel free to call our clinic! We are always happy to help! Our fertility acupuncturist helps patients customize a way to reduce stress during preconception care and during fertility treatments in order to optimize one’s chances of conception and feel great. If you are stressed out, try one of the above options. You’d be surprised how much it can help. If you have a friend or family member who is struggling with infertility, our team of experts is always available to discuss treatment options and ways to improve vitality and reduce stress.