Discussing the link between stress and conception can sometimes cause even more stress for a couple trying to conceive. What a double whammy! Let’s be real, you are not reaching for SpermCheck because conception is going smoothly. You might be feeling a little stressed about the state of your fertility. Conception is not coming easily and you are wondering what is up. Your belly may have started to fill with conception worry butterflies. Some people might call this “stress”. So, are your nerves getting in the way? Or is it the quality and quantity of the sperm? Good question!
Let’s face it, life in general is stressful. It’s not good for our heart, or even our weight. We know this. But the advice about stress and conception changes as fast as the weather in San Francisco!
Should you be trying fertility acupuncture, meditation and fertile yoga? I don’t think it can hurt, but does it help or matter at all?
Let’s look at couples undergoing fertility treatments at a clinic. A recent report investigated whether anxiety or depression affected the chances of becoming pregnant after a single cycle of fertility treatment, such as IVF. In this review, they looked at studies of 3,583 women from 10 different countries, and combined the results to draw conclusions. Results showed that women who became pregnant after the treatment cycle did not differ significantly in levels of anxiety or depression before their treatment than women who did not become pregnant.
Does that mean that all yoga programs and efforts to reduce the stress for infertility patients should stop?
I don’t think so. I think we should look at it another way – this study is reassuring in that all of the emotional upset of fertility problems and the stress of treatment itself should not damage our chances of becoming pregnant on a given cycle. But by adding in all of these additional support systems we are simply helping our bodies and our minds survive the infertility experience. Fabulous!
This study was conducted by researchers from Cardiff University and the University of Thessaloniki in Greece (without any funding). It was published in the peer review British Medical Journal and is in my opinion very reassuring to most people trying to conceive.
Anxiety and its kissing cousin Stress are simply uncomfortable feelings to walk around with all the time and are not very good for our overall health. As far as baby making goes, I also know that I conceived both of my boys during the most terrifying part of my life – facing infertility.
I love this study. It will help some of us stop stressing over whether or not our stress is hurting our chances of making a baby! I also think that reducing the stress levels in our bodies through fertility yoga, guided meditation and getting additional support through support groups and patient organizations can be very helpful in coping with the uncomfortable stress of infertility.
It simply makes good sense for us to pay attention to our stress levels. And sometimes, just getting the facts about whether our (or our partners’) sperm count is normal can greatly reduce stress! Knowing the facts about what is going on with our own bodies can be a huge stress reliever.
So…release the guilt and self blame AND strike a meditative pose!
|Pamela Madsen was the first Executive Director of RESOLVE NYC and is the Founder of The American Fertility Association. Pamela is an internationally known fertility advocate who has appeared on Oprah and countless other major media outlets. Currently, Pamela is a fertility coach and publisher of The Fertility Advocate. She is also a blogger for Psychology Today and SpermCheck Fertility.|