Life has a funny way of dangling milestones that intersect each other. Whether it’s chasing that long-awaited promotion or marrying your soulmate, growing your investment repertoire or growing your family, there’s always so much to do in so little time. And yet, all of these little achievements somehow seem to hold equal importance. It’s no surprise that as a society, we’re perpetually stressed.
Few people know that stress and infertility are intertwined. The greater the stress, the tighter the tether.
Our bodies are equipped with clever mechanisms that withhold conception during periods of intense angst or stress. When the body is taxed beyond a certain threshold, a hormone called adrenaline is produced, that indicates to the body that it isn’t quite prepared for conception. Adrenaline arrests the usual functioning of progesterone, a hormone that is vital for fertility. It also triggers a higher production of prolactin, that consequently causes infertility.
Stress plays as much of a role in male infertility as it does in female infertility. Like in women, stress augments the levels of an array of hormones, such as adrenaline, catecholamines and cortisol, which together, arrest the working of a primary male hormone known as gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). As hormonal tables shift, it is common for sperm count to reduce and libido levels to lower. But there’s another way that fertility can be hindered. GnRH is produced by the hypothalamus and causes the release of the luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). As a result, the testicles are stimulated to manufacture androgens. When androgen levels increase and cross a certain level, they supply negative feedback to the body, and arrest the production of LH as a result. If the production of GnRH is derailed, it can skew male fertility, leading to infertility problems.
Reducing stress levels is something that is entirely within your control. Of course, life doesn’t come with a button that allows you to toggle between stress levels so naturally, setting stress levels to zero aren’t an option. But with a few controlled measures, you may be able to alleviate the impact of stress on your fertility.
Nobody said that reducing stress levels would be easy. However, tweaking your lifestyle can go a long way in managing your health. Stress doesn’t only play a role in hampering your fertility; it can also wreak havoc with your peace of mind, your physical wellbeing and your mental health. By evaluating your lifestyle, you may find ways to cut elements of stress out of your life. If your job is demanding, ask yourself whether it is worth it. And if it isn’t, look at alternatives that may demand less of your time and energy. Reconsidering your career options may not always be practical, in which case you can frame your lifestyle to accommodate fewer stressful situations and more positive scenarios. Read on to know how.
Everybody handles stress differently. While some of us are more measured in the face of anxiety, some of us are wired to react inordinately in stressful situations. It’s the latter section that often gets the raw end of the deal when it comes to stress-induced infertility. By consciously controlling your reactions and behaviour during times of stress, you can rein in your tension. But how, you ask? Well, begin with the basics. Observe how you react to situations at the workplace, or at home. Do stressful situations haunt you well into the night, or leave your mind whirling with disturbing thoughts? If they do, you should speak to a psychologist to learn how to handle your thoughts better. Your thoughts intrinsically shape bodily functions. With practice, you can govern your thoughts to follow a predictable sequence.
Channeling your energy into forms of therapy can help you relax and divert your mind from the humdrum of your daily routine. Here are some activities you can consider:
Stress can cause a bouquet of symptoms, of which infertility can perhaps leave the largest vacuum. However, stress-induced infertility can be conquered by easing into a more conducive lifestyle. By leaving your stress at the door, your home will serve as a more wholesome environment for the arrival of your little one. And you’ll see that limiting stress can work for the better, in more ways than one.