Stress causes Infertility : Writer Dr.Puneet Arora
In today’s modern, fast paced society, it is easy for people to become stressed. For years, scientists have been researching the causes leading to stress and its impact on human health. With the world becoming more technologically advanced each day, most of us spend a big chunk of our time with our cell phones, laptops or tablets, which are glued to our ears or our eyes. Apart from the other health hazards technologyhas to our eyes, spine and limbs, it also affects us mentally leading to stress, and stress in turn not a good sign for men and women planning to start a family.
It is seen that around 2-3% of couples are diagnosed with infertility in India every year. In men, studies link high levels of stress hormones as one of the reasons for the decrease in the production and quality of sperms. According to internal reports, male infertility occurs in about 30% of infertile couples. Psychological stress is seen to boost the levels of stress hormones while lowering the production of male hormone, testosterone, which may subsequently cause a loss of libido in men and affect their reproductive health.
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In women specifically, it’s important to differentiate between constant and sudden stress. If the stress level is high but fairly consistent, the body will likely acclimate to it and can still ovulate each cycle. It’s sudden stress – such as an accident or a death in the family – that can throw the cycle off and interfere with ovulation,and therefore can cause women to be unable to conceive naturally. This, however, varies from woman to woman. Some women find that even a trip out of town can delay ovulation. Others have found that a severely traumatic incident did not impact their cycle at all.
During pregnancy, a woman is often in various emotional states because of the hormones. A woman trying to carry a pregnancy to term during stressful times can also place the foetus at risk. Stress, as it does in many areas of our lives, interferes with the reproductive process and is a cause for infertility and miscarriages. Generally, a stressed person is not a very healthy person. People living with high stress levels are typically overly tired and filled with nervous tension, which may cause them to choose poor dietary and lifestyle habits.
How to manage stress?
In order to manage one’s stress levels, it is important to follow a practice or habit that helps in keeping it under control and not affect your life negatively. Here are few suggestions to help keep the stress levels down and thus less impacting the fertility.
• Make sure one gets enough sleep
• Ensure a balanced diet
• Get an adequate amount of healthy exercise daily
• Meditate or start practicing Yoga
• Seek counselling
• Explore ones passion and interest
Electronic devices impact our health directly or indirectly, but we can be smarter about how we use our smart phones. Simple lifestyle changes like avoiding sleeping with cell phones under the pillow, distancing cell phone and laptop from belly when pregnant and use of texting more than prolonged talking can go a long way in ensuring a healthy life.
Secondly, manage your work well. Stress at work is unavoidable and in that case, it is crucial to learn to cope well. When things are not going according to your wish, take a deep breath, relax and meditate often. There are many yoga and exercise techniques that relaxes the muscles and calms your mind. Remember, health is as important as your work.
How to deal with infertility?
It is important to understand that infertility could be because of lifestyle factors or certain medical conditions. If a couple has been trying to conceive for more than a year with no results, consulting a fertility specialist is recommended. Once the problem is diagnosed, it is crucial to keep stress under control. There was a time when In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) was mostly associated with older couples trying for a baby. But now the age of couples opting for IVF is getting younger and doctors believe that stress and hectic lifestyle are one of the leading factors contributing to infertility. Apart from the very thought that a couple is not able to conceive causing stress, IVF becomes a very stressful process for many because of the medications.
Stress relief should be a part of every couple’s conception plan even if they are going through IVF. In most IVF centres, there are clinical counsellors who help with the emotional turmoil that a couple is in.Today various advanced infertility treatments are made available in India, however 70% of all cases require only minimum treatment.
Writer Dr.Puneet Arora is a Fertility Consultant in New Delhi