While stress is not a cause of infertility, research has shown that high levels of longstanding stress can significantly impact the ability to conceive during infertility treatment. The positive news is that by decreasing stress, patients can experience higher fertility potential as well as healthier and happier well-being.
Many patients don’t realize how much stress impacts health and fertility potential. The goods news is that stress is one of the fastest variables to change in the body, and taking proactive action through yoga, psychotherapy, meditation and potentially acupuncture is not only beneficial but enjoyable.
1. Stress does not cause infertility
Unfortunately, infertility can cause stress. A study in the journal, Human Reproduction, found that 30 percent of women seeking infertility treatment have depression and anxiety.
2. High levels of stress can double the risk of infertility
A recent scientific study found that women whose enzyme alpha-amylase levels, a stress-related substance, were in the highest third had more than double the risk of infertility
3. Stress affects reproductive potential
Stress can lengthen the amount of time required to become pregnant, negatively impact semen quality, decrease the success of fertility treatment, and cause depression and anxiety.
4. Reducing stress is good for the body and mind
Taking positive action to reduce stress through mindfulness-based activities has been shown to reduce blood pressure, decrease anxiety, lower depression, enhance a positive mindset, calm the mind, improve sleep, and help overall wellbeing.
5. Consistent stress-reducing activities can aid in pregnancy
A study from Fertility and Sterility found that women who underwent a 10-week stress management program while undergoing IVF treatment had a 52 percent pregnancy rate compared to a 20 percent pregnancy rate in the control group.
6. Yoga can reduce stress and boost pregnancy
Yoga has been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression as well as decrease inflammatory response to stress events. During a six-week Yoga for Fertility class at Pulling Down the Moon where participants learned yoga poses specific to reproductive function, breathing and medication instruction and group discussion, participants experienced significantly decreased anxiety as measured by the State-Trait inventory.
7. Psychological treatment can improve emotional symptoms and lower stress
Receiving support, whether in a group or individual setting with a psychologist, has been shown to be important and effective stress management. Treatment can improve mood, decrease anxiety and depression, and positively impact pregnancy rates during fertility treatment. Mindfulness training programs also give helpful tools for relaxation and increased peace of mind, which can ease the stress of fertility treatment and prove a valuable life skill.
Medical contribution by Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, M.D.
Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron is board certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and has been practicing medicine since 2004. She completed her Obstetrics and Gynecology residency at the University of Chicago, and then completed her three-year fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Northwestern.