Stress and the Fertility Connection
By Tampa Bay Parenting | March 16, 2016 | Health + Wellness, Parenting
Stress is a part of our daily existence. Trying to balance the demands of work, relationships, family, and finances can create a significant burden causing physical, emotional and psychological distress. Sometimes we do not recognize the amount of stress we are experiencing because our bodies release hormones to compensate and allow us to remain functional. While some degree of stress can motivate and help us perform more efficiently, the chemical signals released during chronic or excessive stress can have detrimental effects on our health.
In fact, chronic stress can have harmful effects on almost every system in our bodies. Excessive stress has been linked to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, gastrointestinal problems, sleep disorders, depression, and immune system disorders. While a connection between infertility and stress has been suspected, recently published studies have demonstrated that women experiencing high levels of stress (as measured by release of a stress related enzyme in the saliva) had lower conception rates per month compared to women who were less stressed. The study did not demonstrate that stress causes infertility but rather that stress may reduce fertility rates. This information suggests that couples who want to become pregnant should assess their overall health, lifestyle choices and well-being and take steps to maximize their healthy living choices including managing their stress levels. Interventions including mindful relaxation such as The Mind/Body Program, yoga, meditation, support groups, individual and couples counseling, acupuncture, exercise, journaling and massage are all important and valuable tools in achieving stress reduction.
Fortunately, many options are available to help Tampa Bay couples reduce and cope with their response to stress. Kathy Fountain, LMHC, brought the Mind/Body Program for Infertility to the Tampa Bay area and provides individual counseling in addition to the Mind/Body Program. Sherry Longbottom, RN, CYT, featured on ABC & WFLA, offers Fertility Yoga and Meditation classes. Additionally, numerous Tampa Bay mental health counselors, support groups, acupuncturists and massage therapists provide treatments centered on coping with infertility.
Ultimately, couples who have not been successful in their attempts to conceive within 6 – 12 months of discontinuing prevention methods should seek an evaluation with a physician trained in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. Since fertility diminishes with age, delaying an evaluation can reduce the opportunity for success. A combined approach addressing both the mind and the body offers couples the best chance of achieving their dream of becoming parents. Visit floridafertility.com for more information.
Dr. Sandy Goodman is board certified in both Ob/Gyn and Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility. She and her partners at The Reproductive Medicine Group, Drs. Betsy McCormick, Samuel Tarantino and Tim Yeko have helped thousands of Tampa Bay couples struggling with infertility to become parents.