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The Viscious Cycle of Stress and Infertility

a blog by Jennifer A. Redmond, April 19, 2014

A study published in Human Reproduction that links long-term stress to infertility is making news. And for infertility patients it can be maddening. Stress causes infertility, infertility causes stress... It seems like it’s a viscous cycle.

The study, led by Dr. Courtney Lynch, followed 501 couples for up to 12 months as they tried to conceive. The women’s saliva was tested for measures of stress biomarkers, and results
showed that higher levels of stress are associated with a longer time to pregnancy and an increased risk of infertility.

“It is true that stress can have an effect on fertility, most commonly with ovulatory dysfunction,” says Dr. Lawrence Werlin, Founder and Medical Director of Coastal Fertility Medical Center in Irvine, CA. And, he adds, “There is no question that we live in a very stressful time. Whether financial, political, or personal, these stresses all take their toll. Add to this fertility issues, and stress levels are magnified one hundred fold.”

Werlin recommends stress reduction techniques that will help with overall well-being and your fertility:

  • A dedicated exercise program in association with good sleep habits can help improve both physical and mental health.
  • Counseling and support groups may be beneficial in allowing you to share your fears and frustrations, which helps to relieve your stress.
  • Acupuncture has been clearly demonstrated to reduce stress, improve over all wellbeing, and help with infertility issues.

Comments (2)

I am young. I am 26 years old. I am in good health. I have a healthy diet and exercise regularly. My husband is 32, in the military and exercises daily. When we first got engaged in 2011 we stopped using any sort of contraceptives because we were ready to start a family if it happened. But nothing happened. In 5 long, depressing years nothing has happened. Last year I started clomid and it wreaked havoc on my body. I was having extreme mood swings, painful menstruation, weight gain, and started to have heart and breathing problems. I stopped the clomid and began to see an improvement in my overall health but there are still things I struggle with today. I often have people ask me, don't you want kids? When are you starting the fertility treatments again? You're wasting time, soon you'll be too old. But they don't know that every month either when I get my period or I take a pregnancy test it takes weeks for me to recover. I spend days hating myself for not being able to do the one thing I am expected by nature to do. They don't understand that I typically spend the next 2 days resisting urges to kill myself so my husband can find someone else and finally start the family that not only he wants but everyone expects of us. People don't understand that every time I see pictures of my friends and families on social media with their newborn babies I hate myself a little bit more. I'm losing hope. I'm angry. I'm tired. I'm depressed.

Hello Anonymous,

Thank you for taking the time to share your personal experience and thoughts regarding the struggle to conceive. I'm so very sorry to hear that you've been feeling so conflicted, but you're not alone in your struggle. Many women face the same challenges with their own fertility as you do. Please don't give up. I'm sorry to hear that you had a negative experience while on Clomid. Did your OB/Gyn prescribe you the Clomid? Have you ever consulted with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (Fertility Specialist) before? If not, it would certainly be in your best interest to consult with a fertility specialist as he or she can pinpoint exactly what the problem may be and help you conceive.

For more information and for assistance in finding the right fertility specialist to meet your needs near your location please contact our dedicated Patient Care Advocate team by calling 855-955-2229.

We're happy to help and only a phone call away!


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