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Does Stress affect Fertility?

Evidence is growing relating to stress and fertility, but when you understand what is going on in the body it’s no wonder we hear stories that people take time out from fertility or have that holiday in the sun and pregnancy occurs.

There are various research studies that look at how stress can impact fertility in both men and women, and has shown that too much stress can lead to infertility.

Stress is a change in our surroundings or our environment and requires the body to react and adjust in response to these changes with a physical and emotional responses which in most is a normal part of life. Not all stress is bad, but research shows a decline in our cellular health when exposed to ongoing stress and the constant release of adrenaline. Stress is a natural, physical and mental reaction to both good and bad experiences that can be beneficial to your health and safety.

What Happens During Stress?

Adrenaline is a hormone released in response to stressful events which prepare the body for the ‘fight or flight’ response. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones and increasing your heart and breathing rates. Your brain gets more oxygen, giving you an edge in responding to a problem. In the short term, stress helps you cope with tough situations

How Can Stress Effect My Fertility?

During stress and its many chemical changes within the endocrine system in the body something called oxidative stress occurs. It is this affect that has been identified in research as one of the causes of infertility in men causing sperm dysfunction. It is interesting to note that over the last 70 years’ sperm count has also reduced. Could this be down to the effects of today’s lifestyles?

But the research doesn’t just stop with the problems of male infertility as researchers published a paper in the Journal of Human Reproduction found that women who reported feeling more stressed during their ovulation phase were 40% less likely to become pregnant that month. However, women who were stressed at the end of their period were likely to become pregnant. This could be related to the increased amount of cortisol steroid and other hormones released during that time promoting ovulation, but more research is needed.