Stressing about getting pregnant can make it harder to get pregnant. In addition, the stress of daily living can reduce your chances of conception.
Both constant and sudden stressors can impact your ability to successfully conceive. Though both men and women can suffer a lower success rate of fertility when under a great deal of stress, women may face greater fertility challenges.
Compounding Stress and Infertility
While stress can impact sperm counts, motility, and overall semen quality, the impact of stress on the female body can compound into serious conception challenges. Factors including ovulation delay, low ovarian reserves, and unhealthy uterine blood flow can all impact your ability to conceive and maintain a healthy pregnancy.
- Ovulation- Many couples facing infertility challenges work hard to track ovulation cycles to determine the best time to conceive. However, emotional stress can extend the ovulation cycle, making access to the fertility window more challenging.
- Ovarian Reserve – The term ovarian reserve refers to the quantity of viable eggs remaining in the ovaries. Tests to determine egg availability cannot successfully determine the quality of the eggs, only the quantity. While stress can impact ovarian reserve, age is the most common indicator of ovarian reserve.
- Uterine Health – High levels of stress can reduce healthy blood circulation to the uterus, lowering the chances of a fertilized egg successfully attaching to the uterine wall.
Timing, Stress and Infertility
All of us experience stress at different levels throughout the month. However, a study from the University of Louisville indicates that stress during the ovulation window can have a negative impact on the chances of getting pregnant.
Stress and the Ovulation Cycle
The ovulation cycle consists of two different phases:
- The follicular phase refers to the stretch of time after the period but before ovulation. The egg matures within the follicle. This cycle can last anywhere from 7 to 40 days, and can be impacted by stress.
- Ovulation occurs. The mature egg is released and travels down the fallopian tube.
- The luteal phase will prepare the uterus for implantation if the egg is successfully fertilized. The follicle that served as the home for the mature egg changes and produces progesterone to thicken the uterine lining.
Managing Stress Throughout the Month
Each of the phases above can be altered or challenged by stress. Furthermore, if blood flow to the uterus is poor, this may mean that a fertilized egg would have a lower chance of implantation.
Monitoring and Managing Stress as a Couple
Teamwork is required to manage stress for both of you to have a better chance at a successful pregnancy. Communication is key, as is working toward a healthy physical environment for both of you for optimum fertility.
Physical stressors: If you have an exercise routine, protect it. If you don’t, start one. Simply taking a daily walk together can increase both your health and your connection.
Emotional stressors: Even if you’re getting along great with your partner, other people in your emotional sphere may be increasing your stress. Non-pregnancy stressors, such as work or school, can put pressure on your body and emotions. If you’re feeling a great deal of pressure to conceive, you may find that there’s a great deal of pressure on your relationship. Both men and women need to guard the relationship and be ready to tell anyone putting pressure on you to give you some emotional space.
Overwhelming stress isn’t good for anyone trying to conceive a child, but women face more stress vulnerabilities due to the number of steps in the conception process that can be derailed by physical or emotional stress. If you’re struggling to conceive, try and work to protect one another from external stressors.