Stress Vs. Fertility
So we're moving from beautiful Spring into gorgeous Summer, a great time of year for clarity, mental creativity, concentration, structural thinking and planning. My favourite seasons.
So, when a couple decide to try for a baby, there are a few lifestyle factors that seem obvious for people to change. Many ladies come to me and say “we have cut out alcohol”, “we have given up smoking”, “we have started to exercise” and the focus is always on the physical aspects of fertility (which are very important) however I never hear any changes that are made to assist someone’s emotional health. If you have ever confided in someone that you and your partner are struggling to conceive, I am sure you have heard the dreaded words… “just relax” or “just stop stressing about it”, which no one wants to hear, as if it is so easy to do! When you want something so bad, it is all you can think about, it is bad enough with a car, house etc, but when it is a baby you are emotionally connected in the biggest way possible. So I thought I would explain why it is so important to relax during the journey of trying to conceive.
The Science ❤
Let’s talk about our body hormones and the chemical processes involved in conceiving. Adrenaline and cortisol have many roles within our bodies, they are both produced in the adrenal glands. These two primitive hormones were made for life or death situations, ‘fight or flight’, where they are quickly released into the body for a short period of time, then removed, in order for the body to return to a homeostasis. They have some wonderful positives and help us achieve many sporting goals, such as a one rep max in weightlifting, or a 100m sprint however they also have negatives and our bodies were not made for these to stay elevated for long periods of time.
Cortisol, which we hear spoken about so frequently, is the most damaging of the two. When we wake our cortisol, levels are raised and throughout the day, they should slowly decline allowing us to have a good nights sleep but the constant flow of this into the body increases insulin levels which stimulates yet more testosterone hindering fertility. Adrenaline stops us from utilising progesterone and also causes us to have high levels of prolactin which inhibits the production of the hormones responsible for triggering ovulation and allowing eggs to mature. Both also affect GnRH (Gonadotropin-releasing hormone) which is responsible for releasing FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinising hormone), you will probably have heard those two names as they are the first blood tests doctors usually run when investigating infertility, they are part of the finite process in releasing a mature egg. So you can start to see how stress affects fertility.
Unfortunately times have now changed, and so many of us, have busy lives, stressful jobs and these hormones stay elevated throughout the day and our bodies cannot cope with this.
Time to make a plan ❤
Whilst there will always be triggers for stress, which are out of our control, (such as an anniversary of a previous miscarriage, I will write a blog about that soon), it is important to try to identify the factors we can influence and change.
My top 5 ways to reduce stress to hopefully boost fertility.
1. Spend time outside with your partner.
Being outdoors has so many benefits from boosting Vitamin D, to releasing endorphins as you breathe in that lovely fresh air, but it also gives you an opportunity to reconnect with your loved one. Unfortunately I have seen infertility break down relationships, so spending time together is vital, away from the day to day chores. It does not need to be for a long period of time, just a 5 minute walk at the end of your working day, around the block holding hands, will reconnect your love.
2. Pamper time.
I love this part, girlie time!!! Learn to love yourself and your body will respond in a positive way. Take time twice a week to pamper yourself for at least 30 minutes. Now head to the bathroom, away from the chaos, lock the door…. light some candles, play some relaxation music, run a bath, add some beautiful herbs and essential oils, submerge your body into the water and feel all of your worries melt away in seconds. This was vital to me after losing my mum. P.S do not check facebook 😉
3. Yoga / Pilates / Meditation
These wonderful classes focus on the mind and the body. During the above, the instructor will really focus on breathing, which takes your mind away from your phone ringing, your boss giving you more jobs, as correct breathing is not easy (as silly as that sounds) and you do have to concentrate. Both Pilates and yoga relieve built up tension in the muscles throu