Anxiety May Be Causing Infertility Issues, Here’s How


There are a lot of couples out there who are trying to have a baby right now. The movies and TV can make it look so easy, but it can take a healthy couple up to one year to conceive a baby. If you add on a couple who has undiagnosed fertility issues, it can take even longer. Trying to conceive a baby can be incredibly stressful, and that cannot be underestimated. The more a woman tries, and the more negative tests that she sees, the more anxious she becomes.

She can start to wonder if there is something wrong with her reproductive system, or if there is something wrong with her husband’s sperm? She can start to worry that she may never be able to have children, or if there are expensive fertility treatments in her future. Adding on to all of this are the facts that she seems to be seeing pregnancy announcements all over her social media pages, and everywhere she looks in public there is a pregnant woman.

RELATED: Stress From Meaningless Social Interactions Decreases Fertility

After explaining all of this, it is easy to see how a woman who is trying to conceive can become anxious, stressed and how much of an impact it can have on her mental health. There is also the idea that anxiety and stress can have a large impact on a woman’s ability to conceive, and she may wonder if this is going to become an endless cycle? Getting anxious because she is not pregnant causes more anxiety, then, in turn, more fertility issues.

Does Anxiety Impact Fertility?

The short answer to the question of whether anxiety can cause fertility issues is, yes. According to Modern Fertility, there have been countless studies done that have shown that anxiety and stress can play a part in a woman’s inability to conceive. This has a lot to do with hormones. When a woman is stressed, she releases a high amount of stress hormones, like cortisol, and this can lead to changes in her body. Cortisol can have an impact on her reproductive health and can cause her menstrual cycles to be irregular. An irregular menstrual cycle can make it hard to track ovulation and conceive.

A good explanation of this is that when the human body is under stress, especially extreme stress, it goes into a ‘flight or fight’ mode and this means that it is going to temporarily “shut down” parts of the body that are not needed. The reproductive system would be one of those systems that the body deems not essential as it tries to deal with the triggers.

Behavioral Changes

According to WebMD, the body is incredibly smart and it seems to know that when a woman is stressed or anxious, it may not be the best time to have a baby. However, it is not just the physiological changes that can make it hard to conceive, stress can cause a woman to act in a way that is not conducive to conceiving. When a woman is highly anxious, her sex drive may be lowered so she is not as eager to engage in sexual activity with her husband.

She also may be more inclined to drink more coffee, smoke cigarettes, and have a glass of wine every now and then and all of these behaviors have shown themselves to hinder a woman’s ability to conceive a baby.

What About IVF?

If a woman has to endure IUI or IVF to conceive a pregnancy, she may worry that anxiety may also ruin her changes. Fertility treatments are not cheap, and most women hope that the first shot is going to be the one that works. The problem is that going through fertility treatments can be incredibly hard on a woman’s body and mind. If anxiety affects fertility in healthy women, will it also affect fertility with IVF, and impact the woman’s odds of the pregnancy sticking?

The good news is that studies have been done to show that there does not seem to be much correlation between anxiety and success rates of IVF. A previous study was done and published in PubMed that found that physiological and psychological stress does not appear to have negative impacts on the success rates of IVF.

Reducing Anxiety For Conception

If there is one thing that women detest hearing when they are trying to conceive, it is when people tell them to “just relax,” and that it will happen when it happens. This is the number one thing you never want to tell a woman who is trying to conceive. However, the advice itself may not be negative and there are some things that women can try and do to calm their anxiety while they are trying to conceive.

According to The Bump, there are some strategies that women can use to try and bring their anxiety down. One of the best things to try is to keep a journal and don’t be afraid to be completely honest with what you write. You don’t have to let anyone read it, so don’t hold back. Writing things down can help get a lot off our shoulders. Of course, support is another important thing to remember, and women should look to friends and family members that they trust to whom they can open up.

Getting outside and breathing in fresh air can also do a lot of good. Taking a nice walk every day can help to clear your head. You can either go with a friend, or take along some music or podcasts and enjoy some time on your own. Walking is also great exercise which can only help your odds of conceiving. Of course, one of the best things that a woman should do if she feels too overwhelmed is speak to her healthcare provider. They may be able to offer some more strategies to help a woman take control of her anxiety. They may also be able to help rule out any medical reasons why a woman is not conceiving, which can take a lot of anxiety of their shoulders.

Sources: Modern Fertility, WebMD, PubMed, The Bump


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