How Stress Affects Your Fertility

"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop. - Ovid

Last year really kicked my butt. The stress from all the changes, some good, many not so good, negatively affected my hormonal health. The wonky periods and acne I experienced over the summer proved that.

While I wasn't TTC, I'm still WTT (my love for acronyms runs deep), I'm fairly certain if I had tried, it wouldn't have gone as I would have hoped. Hormones and periods gone awry usually aren't a sign of optimal reproductive health. Quite the opposite. 

The connection between fertility and stress in all its forms, whether psychological or physical, is complicated. The, "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" question comes to mind. Which comes first? Does stress lead to difficulty conceiving or does difficulty conceiving lead to stress? 

I'm going to go with both.

Without question, having trouble getting pregnant is incredibly stressful. And without a doubt, modern life can be stressful, which can negatively impact your hormones, which in turn can affect your fertility.

Stress, Cortisol, and Your Fertility

Stress, whether as a result of chronic disease, an emotionally taxing event, or over even over-exercising, messes with your cortisol levels. The up tick in cortisol can make you insulin resistant and raise your blood sugar.

When that happens longterm, your testosterone can raise to higher than normal levels. Which prevents ovulation from happening. No ovulation = tough time getting pregnant.

Stress also causes free radicals to be produced. These free radicals can cause premature aging of and damage to your eggs. One more reason to eat an antioxidant rich diet.

Now, don't stress about stress. Easier said than done, I know. This isn't about beating yourself up for being stressed out or blaming yourself for less than optimal reproductive health.

If you're human and alive (which I'm assuming you are if you're reading this) you're going to experience stress. It comes with the territory.

Fortunately, your body has built in pathways to manage stress. And there's a lot you can do to assist it.

How To Manage Stress When You're Trying to Get Pregnant

Here are 15 ways you can better manage stress and put a damper on its affect on your health and fertility:

  1. Incorporate adaptogenic and tonic herbs into your daily routine.
  2. Make yourself a cup of green tea and sip it mindfully.
  3. Listen to relaxing music. Think classical or meditation music.
  4. Spend time in nature. Forest bathing is an amazing way to destress.
  5. Diffuse your favorite scent. Ylang ylang, mandarin, chamomile, and lavender are my go-tos.
  6. Snuggle with your favorite furry pal. Petting a pet is good for you and your 4 legged buddy.
  7. Schedule a girls night with a group of fun loving and supportive women. 
  8. Take some time to journal about your thoughts, feelings, fears, and dreams.
  9. Give a new fertility friendly fitness class a go.
  10. Head over to Pinterest and find a new DIY arts and craft project. Maybe try coloring in an adult coloring book. Or just doodle. 
  11. Watch your favorite funny movie or sitcom. 
  12. Tend to your spiritual health. Pray, meditate, and spend time with your spiritual community.
  13. Eat a variety of colorful fruit and vegetables, salmon, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans, peas, and lentils.
  14. Cuddle with your special someone.
  15. Practice deep breathing, making sure to exhale slowly and completely.

One of the best things you can do for your overall and reproductive health is find ways to rest, relax, and build resistance to the effects of stress. I hope these tips help you do just that.

Be well!

Before you go, let me know in the comments below how you like to unwind.