Many couples who experience fertility problems are unaware that stress can affect their ability to start a family. If you’re part of a career-driven couple that’s struggling to conceive, your first step in addressing the problem should be to enlist a fertility specialist to help you look at ways to reduce stress.
A 2011 article published in the Harvard Business Review asked: “Why Are India’s Women So Stressed Out?” It cited a Nielsen survey of 6,500 women across 21 countries that showed that 87% of Indian women reported feeling stressed most of the time and 82% said they had no time to relax.
The article notes that “career opportunities for women in ‘the New India’ are rapidly expanding, but family expectations and social mores remain rooted in tradition.”The challenge of juggling so many balls – career, marriage, family – can cause great stress, and this stress plays a role in fertility.
“More and more research seems to confirm a link between stress, anxiety, depression, and infertility,” says Alice Doman, PhD, executive director of the Domar Center for Mind / Body Health at Boston IVF. Her opinion is featured in “Can Stress Cause Infertility,” posted on www.parents.com.
The article also notes that chronic stress can alter signals to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the centre of the brain that regulates some of the hormones that trigger the ovaries to release eggs each month. Male fertility is affected by stress as well, with testosterone levels and sperm production suffering as a result.
Stress can also interfere with fertility treatment. A study from the University of California San Diego showed that IVF treatment was not as successful among women who were experiencing high levels of stress. The study found that these women experienced “less success every step of the way (fewer eggs retrieved and fewer eggs successfully implanted) compared to women who were not as tense.”
If you’ve been trying to conceive but haven’t been successful, meet with a fertility consultant to determine whether stress reduction techniques could help.