Stress and Infertility: How Stress Affects Your Fertility

on Aug 02, 2012

by Dr. Prabha Sahgal, MD

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Stress and Infertility: How Stress Affects Your Fertility?

Doctors have long said that stress can cause infertility. Find out the ways stress can affect your fertility and what you can do to take a deep breath & relax.

While no one can say yet that stress is definitely a cause of infertility, researchers have shown that it can actually be a problem for couples trying to conceive. Opinions are divided because there are some who argue, that women can conceive under far more stressful situations than what we understand by everyday stresses, generated by modern life’s chaotic rhythm or the desperate efforts some couple make in order to conceive. It is true that women in countries affected by famine and social disputes have no troubles conceiving because of stress, but it is also true that stress affects a woman’s ovulation, often delaying it or making women anovulatory. Claim Your 20 Free Pregnancy Tests – Click Here

So, even if it is not 100% sure that stress is what is keeping you from getting pregnant, there are strong possibilities that stress has something to do with your infertility, especially if you do not suffer from any biological condition that causes infertility.

Stress can delay ovulation


High levels of stress affect the functioning of your hypothalamus, the area of the brain responsible with sending and receiving signals from your reproductive system. Since your menstrual cycle is a complex system of communications between your ovaries and your brain, stressors on your brain can affect your fertility cycle. This is how stress can delay your ovulation or in severe cases, prevent you from ovulating at all.

Stress can cause fewer mature eggs available


Some studies point out the fact that women who were constantly stressed and anxious about their in-vitro fertilization had 20% fewer eggs that they could fertilize. Furthermore, the same studies showed that women who were highly concerned about missing work had 30% fewer eggs available to be fertilized.

Stress affects each woman differently


Stress is managed differently by each woman, so the set of reactions that stress generates in one woman may not be the same with the set of reactions it generates in another. Think about gaining or losing weight because of stress. While some persons gain a lot of weight in stressful periods of time, others lose weight significantly when faced with the same circumstances. One thing is for sure: stress is not healthy, especially for a future mom.

How to reduce stress


Figuring out when you ovulate might help you deal with stress and might increase your chances of getting pregnant, as it will give you back some control of your fertility cycle. Sometimes you have to try for several months in a row before getting pregnant. Keep in mind that you only have a few fertile days during a cycle, so there is no need to stress out the whole month. If your fertile window has passed and you were unable to conceive, wait for it to come again the next month. Meanwhile, try some relaxation techniques instead of staying awake at night wondering what is wrong with you. You never know what a powerful mind can do. Stay calm, cool & collected. And remember that 90% of couples with no underlying infertility issues will successfully fall pregnant within 18 months of trying. So let that reassuring statistic tame the stress demon.

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Stress and Infertility: How Stress Affects Your Fertility, 4.7 out of 5 based on 15 ratings

Dr. Prabha Sahgal MD, is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and subspecialty board certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Dr. Sahgal holds a B.S. degree from MIT in molecular biology and currently serves on the ConceiveEasy board of directors.

  • runrunforest1977

    i have stress haw to avoid my strees

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  • Monica Scott, RN

    Various reasons attributes to your conception problems, ranging from azoospermia (no sperm) to irregular periods; from possible uterine disordes to abnormal hormone levels. Couples don’t usually get pregnant on their first attempt, but if a year goes by and you still aren’t getting pregnant, it is always a good choice to see your gynecologist. Several medical conditions could be the underlying cause of your fertility struggles and the first step is identifying the problem. Most fertility tests are simple and fast, and they offer great insight into what is causing a delay in conception.

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  • ElderlyPrimaGravida

    i am 44 years old, have failed to menstruate for 2 months. Have received results of hormone tests – FHS level 11.7 with oestradiol at 217.6; THS is 4.15. Should I be very concerend with these results in terms of conceiving? All other tests within normal ranges – Haemotology screen normal, leucocytes normal, Potassium, Sodium, Calcium all ok; Urea, Creatinine Glycaemic all good, with Creatinine clearance 130ml/mn. Have been experiencing significant stressors in the last year, but otherwise health seems ok. Your thoughts please?

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  • Bhatti Ninder

    I used opks every month to get pregnant. From last two months, opks are not detecting my ovulation. What can I do?

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  • Dr. Prabha Sahgal, MD

    Your hormonal imbalances are clearly perceived by your irregular menstrual cycles. Since you’re trying to conceive, it is best that you take birth control pills to initially regulate your hormones to increase your chances of conception. Stress greatly prevents you from conceiving, and you should try to avoid it.

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  • Maureen Stephens, RN

    Knowing that stress is one factor that can prevent one from getting pregnant, it is best that you should avoid it. In order for you to keep away from stress, you should try to live a relaxed lifestyle. If your work greatly contributes stress to you, I do recommend that you take a vacation leave first when trying to conceive. Through this, you can effectively avoid stress and improve your chances of getting pregnant.

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  • Dr. Christine Lee, MD

    Since you OPKs or Ovulation Predictor Kits display no results, there is a good chance that you are suffering from anovulation. Anovulation is caused by varied factors including infertility issues, thyroid dysfunction, and ovulatory failures. I do recommend that you take 50 mg of Clomid on days 3 to 7 of your cycles for at least 2 months to help induce your ovulation and boost your chances of conceiving.

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