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Stress and Infertility

Stress is defined as any event that a person considers threatening and harmful to herself. Stress causes an increase in the activity of many organs in the body. This increased activity is balanced by hormones secreted by the adrenal glands and the nervous system. Acute stress causes an increase in heart rate, an increase in blood pressure and respiratory rate, and a cold sweat in the sweaty palms and body. Chronic stress can also cause depression, changes in the immune system and sleep patterns.

Infertility due to Stress

Although infertility and IVF treatments are stressful, there is little evidence that stress causes infertility. In rare cases, high stress levels can alter hormone levels and cause irregular ovulation. Some studies have suggested that high stress levels can cause fallopian tube spasm in women and reduce sperm production in men.

Research has shown that women treated for infertility have a similar or even higher level of stress than women dealing with life-threatening diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Infertile couples experience chronic stress each month, hoping that they will become pregnant, and then confront frustration if pregnancy does not occur.

Why Is Infertility Stressful?

When infertility is diagnosed, many couples feel that their bodies or life plans are no longer under their control. Infertility creates a great trauma as the chance of being one of the most important goals of life is threatened. Their experience in life has shown them that they will succeed as long as they work hard on something. However, infertility may not be one of them. Infertility tests and treatments can be physically, emotionally and financially stressful. All these procedures disrupt the privacy of the couple and cause the stress level to rise.  In addition, the time, appointment days and hours spent on treatment can further exert pressure on couples by adversely affecting their business lives, responsibilities and careers.

Stress Reduction Tips

  • Stay in touch with your partner.
  • Get psychological support so that you don't feel abstracted, isolated. You can get individual or couples specific counseling and therapies, join support groups, read books about infertility, and help you deal with your feelings.
  • You can try stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga and acupuncture.
  • Avoid excessive caffeine, tea or stimulants.
  • Exercise regularly to reduce physical and emotional tension
  • Have a medical treatment plan where you and your partner can feel comfortable. This means a center where you feel safe.
  • Find out as much as possible about the cause of your infertility and treatment options. Consult your IVF specialist for this. You can also get information from web pages that you believe are accurate and reliable.