Stress and Infertility

February 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Fertility

A lot of people believe that those who chose to be homebodies after graduation generally had more kids while the career-oriented achievers in the class either had only one or no children at all. Which led to a debate whether it was by choice – the homebodies have more kids because they have the time to make them and rear them, or if it was something actually related to the perceived stressful environment that working couples are exposed to?

Working full time is synonymous to being busy and always on the go. The theory is that the physical and mental stress of keeping a career will inevitably affect hormones and organ functions which can then lead to, among others, infertility. However, homebodies who had several kids contend that they are exposed to just as much stress as those working in office environments. Household chores and taking care of kids can be just as physically and mentally draining as beating deadlines but this has not prevented them from having more kids.

The fact is that infertility is more than lifestyle and the stresses associated with it. Infertility affects one in seven couples all over the world. Infertility and the failure to carry the pregnancy to term is a medical condition that, in many cases, is reversible with the right intervention. Infertility can be caused by problems in either or both the man and woman’s reproductive systems.

In a small percentage of cases, the cause of infertility cannot be determined at all. Often, the solution can be as simple as getting the timing right or as complex as a combination of fertility pills and surgical procedures that make it possible for a couple to conceive. In all cases, taking a vacation away from work and stress will, unfortunately, not be enough to resolve infertility.

While there are no conclusive studies that can actually directly relate stress and infertility, it is important to note that stress does lead to lifestyle choices which have been proven to reduce fertility. Stressed individuals have been known to smoke and drink more and these are directly related to diminished quality of sperm and egg cells.

The failure to conceive and successfully carry the pregnancy to term can also lead to anxiety and increased sexual dysfunction. In this case, it is infertility that is actually causing the stress rather than the other way around. The pressure to conceive can be daunting for many couples. Often it strains the relationship which makes it even more difficult to work on getting the right timing to get pregnant. When a couple tries a fertility solution, team effort is necessary especially when using fertility calculators. If stress on the marriage results to the couple having sex less then fertility indeed suffers.

Research on the link between stress and fertility is still relatively new and more studies will probably provide a clearer picture about the connection. What is important is to not get too caught up in the mechanics of getting pregnant but work on getting the right attitude to pregnancy and parenting. If working on getting pregnant is stressful, imagine what it’s like raising the kid.