question backgroundMany couples that are in infertility treatment say they feel a lot of stress. Some have substantial amounts of stress. Many of them wonder if their stress is thwarting their conception efforts. The truth is, it might, but not in the way they probably think.

Here are some common FAQ I hear about stress and infertility treatment:

Q. Is my stress the cause of my infertility?

A: Many experts believe stress can affect a couple’s ability to get pregnant. Some studies find a correlation between stress and infertility. Even these studies are unable to pinpoint exactly why they are related, however. Stress might affect fertility one way in one woman and a different way in another.

Q: Does stress affect my ovulation?
A:
Maybe. In a 2005 study, the University of California at San Diego said that women with the highest levels of stress ovulated 20 percent fewer eggs than women who were less stressed. Whether stress affects your ovulation depends on several factors, including the function of your ovaries to begin with and whether ovulation is the cause of your infertility. In addition, another condition might be causing problems in your ovulation at the same time you are feeling stressed about the state of your ovulation, giving the appearance that your stress is directly related.

Q: Will stress reduction increase our chances of getting pregnant?
A:
Maybe. In a study out of Ohio State University, the lead author said that women who were having trouble getting pregnant should consider ways to reduce their stress to reduce the presence of certain hormones in their bodies that may or may not be affecting their ability to get pregnant. In the study, the women with the highest amounts of alpha-amylase enzyme in their saliva, which is an indicator of long-term stress, were twice as likely to be infertile. Reducing stress will reduce those levels and perhaps change their risk level.

Q: What are some good ways to reduce my stress levels?
A:
There are several ways to reduce stress. Some couples find an activity they enjoy doing together, like a daily walk or taking a cooking class. Some experts are exploring the benefits of massage. Other couples embrace traditional Chinese medicine’s use of acupuncture to address their stress levels.

Stress and infertility treatment are often companions. Couples trying to conceive are often feeling stress about their treatment, which isn’t going to help them achieve their goal, according to some experts. However, addressing the stress is always a good idea. It might not be able to get you pregnant, but it certainly isn’t going to hurt.

Sources:

Bouchez, Colette. “Stress and Infertility.” www.webmd.com. Web. 5 March2 2015. < http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/features/infertility-stress>

Bakalar, Nicholas. “Stress May Affect Fertility.” well.blogs.nytimes.com. 24 March 2014. Web 5 March 2015. < http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/24/stress-may-affect-fertility/?_r=0>