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Does Stress play a role in your fertility? Find out the latest studies…Part One in our Two Part Series

The Effects of Stress on your Fertility

It’s almost 11 months of trying.  Over the course of those months you’ve had several diagnostic tests—you’re beginning to lose count of them– all came back ‘picture perfect’ which leaves you with the horrid “unexplained infertility” diagnosis.  Now you’re just anxious and a bit under the weather, which seems like that all the time!  On a recent doctor’s visit you are told to relax, take a vacation, or maybe find that special place that gives you peace.  Huh?  Then your Ob-Gyn tells you the ‘S’ word no woman wants to hear when she’s trying to get pregnant—STRESS—really?   

Isn’t that the word physicians’ use as part of an escape clause whenever they lack real answers to your health problems?  Besides, stress is such an intangible and evolutionary part of ‘being;’ who doesn’t get stressed?  Exactly how does stress affect getting pregnant?  A recent study conducted, suggests that there definitely is a correlation between stress and the inability to become pregnant.
“Stress may cause one set of reactions in one woman, and something else in another, so ultimately the reasons behind how or why stress impacts fertility may be very individual, says Margaret D. Pisarska, M.D., co-director, center for reproductive medicine at Cedar Sinai Medical centre in Los Angeles and editor in chief of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine News.
It’s also the reason why two busy, “stressed-out” women will have two different pregnancy readings.
The old wife’s tale is true…stress can be a major contributor to your inability to conceive.

How Stress can Affect your Ability to become Pregnant

You don’t have to be stressed-out to the point of missing a period for your attempts to conceive begin to feel like an exercise in futility; even low levels of stress will affect ovulation.  In a recent ground- breaking study published in the journal–Fertility and Sterility–scientists for the first time were able to link high saliva levels of the enzyme alpha amylase—a biomarker for stress linked to delayed conception in healthy women.
There are mounting studies and a breadth of knowledge coming out of the science community that puts the biochemical facts of stress and infertility side by side.  Yet, doctors (and thereby scientists) admittedly state they cannot draw a clear and obvious line linking the nebulous hand of stress to infertility.  Confused?
What physicians do know is that stress interferes with the brains signals that tell your ovaries to do their monthly job of producing an egg; they know that when a woman’s hormones are disturbed during times of stress–a cascade of events occur that involve cortisol and epinephrine–key players affecting the ability to become pregnant; and they have seen multiple pregnancies occur from stress-reduction techniques by women who have been trying to conceive for many months without success.
These cases are a fraction of biological indicators that connect ‘the infertility dots’ closer toward stress.  Scientists recognize this impact on a woman’s reproductive system and acknowledge that the data simply cannot be ignored.
Next up…Part Two of our article discusses how stress can elevate the hormone cortisol…

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