Reducing stress isn’t a fertility cure, but it can increase your chances of getting pregnant! Here, infertility acupuncturist Kristen Burris explains how stress and infertility are connected, and offers over 20 ways to reduce anxiety.
Burris offers these tips for getting pregnant in response to a reader’s question on Does Career Stress Lead to Infertility in Women?, here on Quips & Tips for Couples Coping With Infertility. Here’s what the reader said:
“We’ve been married for four years and trying to get pregnant for three. I’ve been meeting the gynecologists for two years and undergone a lot of fertility tests and treatments, but still here I am with no baby. To combat the infertility, I worked from home [to reduce stress], but nothing has clicked so far. I am planning to completely get rid of the office work so that I can stay peaceful…any suggestions for me?”
Below is Burris’ response, plus an explanation of how stress and infertility interact. For more information on getting pregnant, click Making a Baby: Everything You Need to Know to Get Pregnant.
Stress and Infertility – How Anxiety Affects Fertility Levels
Quitting your job doesn’t always equate with less stress. There are some questions you want to ask yourself, such as: Can you afford financially to quit your job? Does your job bring you happiness and satisfaction? If you do quit your job how will you fill your daily life: sitting around watching television or taking up yoga and cooking with whole foods? The latter will bring more healthful rewards and increase your fertility; the former will bring weight gain and depression. Quitting your job may actually add more stress to your life, but that is for you to decide.
If your job is producing an extraordinary amount of stress then yes, it will increase your fertility to quit. Most people don’t realize the stressors we endure in modern day life! As I write this, I have numerous stressors I’ve learned to ignore: the traffic driving by just beyond my computer screen, the phone ringing, music in the background, the lingering list of to-do for Christmas preparation, the pesky worry of the future that pops up from my conscience to every day awareness, my husband typing on his computer… you get the idea.
We don’t perceive these things as stress, but most people are constantly multi-tasking – even in a peaceful office with aromatherapy and soothing music. The majority of people have intense pressures from spouses, in-laws, neighbors, bosses, and financial institutions. This constant attack we endure stresses our sympathetic nervous system, putting our body in a constant state of fight or flight, wreaking havoc on our endocrine system, and literally shutting down our reproductive system.
Fight or flight is a state in which we feel under attack. Some theories suggest this was built into our bodies for survival against savage animals when we lived in the wild. When we feel our lives are at stake, our pupils dilate to see better, our breath quickens, our heart rate increases dramatically — all propelled by adrenaline so we can run quickly to survive!
Unfortunately our digestive, urinary, bowel and reproductive systems get cut off – which affects our ability to get pregnant. There is no need to reproduce when all of our energy needs to be expended in order to survive.
Anxiety, Stress, and Infertility
How this translates to modern day time – and fertility and getting pregnant – is that our stressors are constant and overwhelming. The modern conveniences push us to do more, work more, be more. The intensity of the daily news is so traumatic one can’t help but be stressed by the devastating news of the world at large. We are constantly answering phones, texts, emails, paper mail just to get out the door in the morning and get our real work done. We are constantly bombarded by advertisers, telemarketers, politicians, local business men and women, churches, schools, and neighbors, to give, drive, celebrate and donate. We have accepted this as the way of life, but it costs us our health, weight, emotional well-being, and fertility.
We often run out the door with coffee sloshing in our mugs, taxing our adrenal glands and slowing blood flow to our reproductive organs. Maybe a handful of crackers are shoved haphazardly in our mouths as we race down the road to sit in traffic and ward off maniac drivers. Then we turn on the radio to be bombarded with talk and gossip and dread. We rush into our offices only to find our irritated boss with a deadline to meet and a pay cut delivered and it’s only 7:30 a.m.! The madness must stop. We need to slow down, calm ourselves, and take a good look at our lives to discover how we can reduce stress and anxiety, and thus increase our chances of getting pregnant.
Ways to Reduce Anxiety to Increase Fertility
- Work no more than 40 hours a week
- Always plan something fun on the weekends
- Exercise is a priority not a luxury
- Swap coffee for green tea or Teccino (herbal non caffeinated coffee substitute)
- Learn to meditate or buy a Mind-Body CD
- Take a yoga class for fertility
- Enjoy laughter with girlfriends
- Make love when you are NOT fertile
- Love your job or change careers
- Turn off your TV
- Go on a news fast
- Have lavender aromatherapy at home, work and your car
- Listen to classical music
- Learn to Belly Breathe
- Get acupuncture – unexplained infertility responds well to acupuncture
- Spend time only with people who nourish you; avoid those who don’t
- Rent a funny movie
- Join RESOLVE (a non-profit organization that helps couples who have a hard time conceiving or staying pregnant)
- Just say no to baby showers
- Let it go
- Use an ovulation predictor kit (the Clear Blue Easy Ovulation Predictor Kit is around $200 is more helpful than just the wands)
Infertility is one of the hardest things any human can face, but you will get through this! Try to find the gems in the journey: meeting fabulous people, rediscovering compassion through your own suffering, a stronger relationship with God, and a more complete understanding of who you are and what you can endure.
If you have any questions or thoughts on stress and infertility, please comment below…
Kristen N. Burris, L.Ac., M.S.T.O.M. is a nationally recognized Acupuncturist and Herbalist; her specialties include women’s health, fertility, pregnancy, difficult menstrual cycles, menopausal symptoms, digestive problems, and pain. Visit her at the American Acupuncture Center.