By Barbara Poczyniak R. Ac.
Let’s talk about stress and infertility. In my practice one of the most common areas to address when helping women with fertility challenges is having them identify the level of stress in their lives.
In this article we’ll cover:
- Assessing Your Stress
- The impact of Stress on Fertility
- Stress and Ovulation
- Acupuncture and Arvigo® Therapy for Infertility
Assessing Your Stress
A certain level of stress is required in life as it can help us ‘get things done’ and is an essential trigger for self preservation. But for so many of us, higher levels of stress have become a part of life, and regularly steal time away from our much needed ‘rest and digest’ modes.
When we think of stressful times in our lives, typically what comes to mind may be ‘high stress’ events like exams, work layoffs or a bad breakup – and you certainly add infertility to this list! Especially for those confronted with fertility challenges, it may not be possible to walk away from what is constantly stressing us out.
Long morning commutes, traffic congestion, piles of housework or bills and even an overflowing email box can push our buttons over and over again throughout the day. Subtle stress has also been shown to build up from our growing use of electronic screens, and for some of us the constant need to be updated leads to stress as well.
Check in with your own stress levels. Consider how stress manifests in your life, and for how long.
- What are your common signs of stress? This can look different for everyone.
- How often do you feel tired or sleep deprived? Consider switching up your sleep style.
- How often are you irritable or impatient? Learn more about common culprits that cause irritability.
- How often are you feeling out of sorts?
- Do you find yourself over-indulging in food to feel better, or maybe forgetting to eat?
How does stress affect fertility?
Although high stress levels have not yet been conclusively proven to affect fertility, women (and their partners) who are experiencing fertility challenges certainly have been known to have higher levels of stress. A doctor’s diagnosis of unexplained infertility or other issues that may affect fertility can increase stress levels as well, even if it is subconsciously. For women who are going through IVF, the program’s schedule of visits, tests and procedures can also bring stress up to a whole new level.
Can ovulation be affected by stress?
Chronic stress levels can affect healthy ovulation by interfering with progesterone production. One of progesterone’s many functions is to maintain pregnancy. It is required to nourish the uterine lining, preparing it for the fertilized egg to implant. Progesterone and the stress hormone cortisol are made from the same precursor hormone (pregnenolone). Although cortisol is produced by the adrenal gland, it cannot be made without pregnenolone.
When a woman’s body is in an ongoing state of chronic stress it sends a signal to “fight or flight”, leading to a surge in cortisol production that is often at the expense of progesterone production. This is actually referred to as “the pregnenolone steal”, where stress is usually the main thief behind the process.
Acupuncture and Arvigo® Therapy
Improving fertility through Acupuncture and Arvigo® Therapy puts the general focus on re-storing balance and boosting circulation to the reproductive system, but I find one of the most important side benefits of both of these therapies is the potential for stress relief.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can act to normalize stress levels by regulating the stress-induced increases of blood level cortisol. Acupuncture has also been linked to an increase in our body’s production of endorphins.
The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® focus on restoring and balancing the flow of nourishing fluids and energy to the reproductive and digestive systems. Focusing on the lower abdomen area (the uterus and ovaries) and upper abdomen this therapy helps to release any tension or restricted breathing.
If you or someone you know if struggling with infertility and stress – we’re here to help. Contact us or book an appointment online to learn more about how Darou Wellness can support you through a personalized fertility treatment plan.
Contact us: 416.214.9251, firstname.lastname@example.org
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