Feeling stressed or anxious?
Stress may be affecting your fertility.

by Antonia Ruhl & Lia Mills

Feeling stressed? Anxious? We are constantly under some sort of stress in our daily lives. Although, most of the time we deal with them very well, there are some situations that we are unable to adapt or to cope, thus resulting in physical and emotional imbalances.

For example, there are incidents that may happen on a daily basis (the pressure of work, argument with a shop assistance or with a family member, going to work, driving in heavy traffic, etc), which may create unexpected circumstances in our lives. Generally, we are able to adapt to these circumstances and the stress is resumed. However, for some of us, even brief moments of sudden stress can induce physical reactions such as headache, pain, indigestion and anxiety.

Chronic stress is the result of continuous, unchanging circumstances, like persistent physical pain or unpleasant situations. Stress Response is regulated by the endocrine glands, which are controlled by the hypothalamus and the pituitary. The hypothalamus controls almost all the vegetative and endocrine functions of the body as well as many aspects of emotional behavior. The pituitary is the controlling gland of the body by releasing hormones generated by the hypothalamus to all other glands of the body (reproductive system glands, adrenal and thyroid gland). Stress may affect the balance of hormones that play important roles in fertility for the production and maturation of eggs, such as Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH).

In males stress may affect testosterone production and may decrease sperm counting, and increase risk of sperm damage by altering sperm morphology.

For couples trying to conceive, there are some situations that may trigger stress and may impair their fertility such as:

  • Choosing and making decisions such as: which fertility treatment should be followed, what is the cost and if the treatment will have a successful outcome.
  • Going through fertility investigations (blood tests, laparoscopy, ultra sound, sperm analysis, etc).
  • Feelings of inferiority when comparing with family members and friends who have children
  • Having sex only when ovulating, and having sex only with the intention to conceive. Couples may lose the ability to have fun together and make spontaneous sex.
  • Constant questions from relatives and friends, which can be hurtful and insensitive.
  • Blaming each other for their impaired fertility.
  • Women waiting for their period each month may increase anxiety and depression.
  • High level of anxiety while waiting for the fertility treatment outcome.

How is your fertility affected by stress?
Stress leads to hormonal imbalances and has profound effect on a female’s hormonal cycle and male’s hormones.

Some of the effects of stress on fertility are:

  • Disruption of progesterone and oestrogen production
  • Disruption of testosterone production
  • Affects Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) production
  • Increases prolactin hormone level
  • Disruption of liver detoxification pathway that breaks down excess of oestrogen for excretion from the body.

Management of your stress will depend on how long you have been stressed for, how severe the stress is and how the stress has or is affecting you physically and emotionally. A holistic approach which covers physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects is the best approach to handling stress.

Diet, herbs and nutritional supplements play an important support to decrease your stress levels. There are some diets that will decrease the stress on your cardiovascular system, nervous system and endocrine system (adrenal glands and pancreas):

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Avoid smoking
  • Decrease refined sugar and refined carbohydrates intake as they are low in fiber and nutrients
  • Eat good quality protein such as fish, organic eggs, free range chicken to maintain cellular energy
  • Decrease salt intake
  • Decrease saturated fats
  • Eat foods that have high content of B vitamins, EFA’s, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. All vegetables, sea vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and wholegrain foods are very high in all vitamins and minerals.
  • Drink at least 7 glasses of purified water daily to keep your body hydrated

There are some ancient breathing techniques that relax and energize your body. An easy breath technique that you can perform for 10 to 15 minutes daily on an empty stomach called “Conscious Breathing Technique”:

  • Become aware of your breath. Do not change your breathing pattern. Be aware of your inhalation and exhalation.
  • Just observe your breath
  • Say mentally “I am breathing in, I am breathing out.
  • Become aware of the air coming in and out from your nose, chest and lungs
  • Feel your lungs expanding and relaxing
  • Now feel your abdomen moving upward and downward with each exhalation.
  • Now just observe the whole processing of breathing
  • Then, slowly bring the awareness back to your whole body moving your fingers and toes, and then open your eyes and stretch.

To balance your emotions and release stress and self-limiting
beliefs that are preventing you to live a life of happiness and achievements Therapies that we offer in our clinic are:

  • Hypnotherapy
  • Time Line Therapy
  • In addition, we offer Reiki which is a Natural Therapy that balances your entire being and increases wellbeing

Easy tips for stress relief:

  • Do not take on too much. Share your workload with your family and co-workers
  • During the day have small breaks and take deep breaths to clear your mind and energize you
  • Moderate regular exercise
  • In your spare time listen to soft music
  • Let go of things that you cannot control
  • Have time for yourself and learn a meditation technique
  • Eliminate self-limiting beliefs
  • Have regular full body massages
  • Have intimacy and lots of fun with your partner