Stress is something that often comes into question when talking about fertility struggles.
However, before looking at any of the body’s deeper reactions to stress, it is important to look at what happens when we are under stress.
Fight or flight
Our immediate reaction to stress is a fight or flight response. Our body prepares us for action by getting ready to run away from or fight off the stressor. Blood rushes to our muscles, our brain and other essential organs. At this moment, our body is not going to be prioritising fertility.
Does this response continue to happen?
There is a lot that we still do not know about stress and fertility. However, we can see that stress does not stop us from conceiving, which may come as a surprise.
The reason we know is that areas of the world with high stress levels, perhaps caused by extreme poverty or war zones, can also be areas with the highest birth rates.
We also know that the brain cannot differentiate between stress caused by work, relationships, trying to conceive, or any other cause.
If you are looking to read up on further research linked to stress and fertility, Professor Jacky Boivin has spent 30 years of her career in this one subject area, so it is worth having a look at her work.
So, can we ignore stress completely when it comes to fertility?
Although there is evidence which suggests that stress does not stop us from conceiving, this does not mean that we can ignore it altogether.
Being stressed while trying to conceive can lead to feelings of misery and overall feeling like you are in a dark place. For our overall emotional health, it is important to look after ourselves and maybe seek professional support.
You also need to consider what you are doing in response to any feelings of stress. Sometimes people can respond by comfort eating, increased alcohol consumption, working more as a distraction, or exercising too much to try and maintain physical control.
It is important to think about what strategies you have been used to manage your stress and whether they are impacting your wider physical and emotional health.
To positively manage stress, look at what you can do proactively to take control. Perhaps you could try home testing to feel more empowered or look for support groups or counselling. Strategies will be individual to you.
While your fertility may not be directly impacted by stress, your overall physical and emotional health can still be affected, and this is what you need to take action for.
Our fertility coaching services are available if you are seeking emotional support during your fertility journey.