Stress can deeply affect your overall health, particularly for women who want to conceive.
Life can be stressful, and everyone reacts to stress in their own way. However, what you might not know is how much it can interfere with your reproductive and overall health.
What is stress?
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger — whether it’s real or imagined — the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the “stress response.” While some stress can be beneficial and motivate you to perform under pressure, chronic stress can have numerous negative effects on your health.
The impact of stress on your health
Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms and affect your overall well-being. It can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses. It can also affect your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and diseases. Stress can lead to mental health problems like depression and anxiety, and it can also affect your behavior, causing you to make poor food choices, smoke or drink alcohol more than usual or lead to insomnia.
Stress and Reproductive Health
Chronic stress can also affect a woman’s reproductive system. It can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, reduce sexual desire, and exacerbate symptoms of menopause. Stress can further lead to fertility problems. The hormones that your body produces when you’re stressed can disrupt the balance of hormones needed for ovulation and implantation of a fertilized egg.
Stress for women trying to get pregnant
If you’re trying to get pregnant, managing stress is particularly important. High-stress levels can disrupt your menstrual cycle, making it harder to predict ovulation and time intercourse appropriately. Stress can also affect fertility hormone levels and the development of follicles in the ovaries, further complicating conception.
If you’re feeling stressed while trying to conceive, it’s important to find ways to relax and maintain a positive mindset, as difficult as that can be sometimes. Consider practicing mindfulness, yoga, or other forms of stress-relieving activities. Speaking with a counselor or joining a support group may also be helpful. While it’s normal to feel stressed during this time, finding ways to manage that stress is important to both your mental and physical health.
Managing Stress for Better Health
Fortunately, there are many ways you can manage and reduce stress. Regular exercise is one of the most effective stress-busters. Other strategies include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and taking time each day to relax and do things you enjoy. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can also be helpful.
Maintaining a strong social
A support network can also be beneficial for managing stress. Don’t hesitate to reach out to loved ones, friends, or a mental health professional for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
It’s essential to take care of your mental health as part of your overall wellness routine. If stress is continually getting you down, don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional who can provide guidance and resources.
Dr. Sirichet Anekpornwattana (Fertility doctor) (1 June 2023)
- Stress effects on the body, American Psychological Association
- Chronic stress puts your health at risk, Mayo Clinic
- I’m So Stressed Out! Fact Sheet, National Institute of Mental Health
- Coping with Stress, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
- What is Stress? The American Institute of Stress