Getting Pregnant: Stress & fertility: stress & ovulation: Stress and pregnancy.
Helping Couples Get Pregnant For Over 20 years!

By Colette Bouchez

You're trying to get pregnant ...and this is all you hear:

"You're just trying too hard."

"You're too stressed - just relax - and it will happen."

"You've got to calm down and let nature take it's course."

If you've been working at getting pregnant  6 months or more, and still no conception, you've probably lost count of the number of times well meaning friends and family offered this, or similar advice.

Though the idea that "trying too hard" to get pregnant was once a popular notion, dramatic advances in fertility treatments - particularly in the past decade - all but did away with that idea.

Now, however, the wheel of life has turned yet again, and doctors are once more looking to the idea that stress - and sometimes,  "trying too hard" - may actually play a role in up to 30% of all  fertility problems.

"It's becoming more and more important, in terms of what studies we do, to focus our efforts on the physiological effects of stress, and how they may play a role in conception," says Margareta D. Pisarska, MD, co-director of Center for Reproductive Medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and editor -in-chief of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine News. 

Indeed, while doctors say that right now there isn't enough data to draw a clear and obvious link, many believe it's only a matter of time before we connect all the dots and see the bigger picture - and the links between stress, fertility and getting pregnant.

"What we do know now is that when stress reduction techniques are employed, something happens in some women that allows them to get pregnant, when they couldn't get pregnant before," says Allen Morgan, MD, director of Shore Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Lakewood, New Jersey.

While the exact pathways between fertility and stress remain a mystery, Morgan believes hormones like cortisol or epinephrine - which rise and often remain high during times of chronic stress - play a key role.

"It's also possible that reducing stress may enhance some of the endometrial proteins involved in implantation, or increase blood flow to the uterus, which also impacts conception," says Morgan.

Pisarska says  the effects of stress may be highly individual, different for each woman who is affected.

"Stress may cause one set of reactions in one woman, and something else in another, so ultimately the reasons behind how or why stress impacts  fertility may also be very individual," says Pisarska.

The Science Behind Stress, Fertility & Getting Pregnant

While doctors may not know the exact links between stress and fertility, a series of studies show the impact is hard to ignore.

In research published in the journal Human Reproduction, doctors compared the rate of conception in  couples that reported feeling stress, and those who were not.

What they found: Pregnancy was much more likely to occur during the cycles when couples reported feeling "good" - happy and relaxed. It was less likely to occur during the months they reported feeling stress. tension or anxiety.

But it's not just natural pregnancy cycles that are affected. In research published in Fertility and Sterility in 2005  experts at the University of California at San Diego, reported that stress may play a role in the success of  fertility treatments, including IVF.

After administering a series of questionnaires designed to measure patient's stress levels, the researchers found women who scored highest - indicating the highest levels of stress - had 20%
fewer eggs available for retrieval in any given cycle, compared to women who were less stressed.

Moreover, of those who were able to produce eggs, those who were most stressed were 20% less likely to achieve fertilization success.  Stress  was compromising their fertility, possibly affecting ovluation or egg qualityand reducing their chances of getting pregnant

NEXT UP: PART TWO : Is stress affecting your fertility...
                                 & what to do to turn things around!
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Copyright 2009 - 2010 -Colette Bouchez. Any and all use requires the author's explicit permission , which may be assigned or revoked at any time, for any reason. .  Any  unauthorized use of these articles shall be considered a breech of copyright law.