Getting pregnant requires a unique set of circumstances and a bit of luck. While stress has not been directly linked to infertility, the physical demands on the body during stressful situations are enough to trigger natural protective instincts. Stress is a reaction to situations that can cause harm to the body, which means the body will do everything it can to protect itself, even throw off menstrual cycles and ovulation to prevent pregnancy.
When a couple tries to conceive, problems with infertility can lead to stress. Stress, having a physical and emotional effect on both partners, can impede fertility physically and mentally. Physically, the body can release increased amounts of hormones as a natural reaction to stress. Mentally, stress factors can cause erectile dysfunction and lack of interest in sex.
Physical Effects of Stress on Fertility
When the body feels stress, it immediately goes into protection mode. Life preservation ranks higher than reproduction, so getting pregnant when stress levels are high can be difficult. This has nothing to do with a physical inability to conceive, but with genetic wiring. Stress was once defined as physical threat. Today, we react to emotional and perceived stressors in the same way we react to physical stressors. The body does not know the difference and thus reacts the same in both situations. With stress levels high, menstrual cycles can be thrown off cycle or cease all together. This can make ovulation prediction and conception extremely difficult.
Mental Effects of Stress on Fertility
Sex was once viewed as a means of maintaining population. With billions of people living on the planet today, population is no longer an issue. Getting pregnant is no longer a necessity, but a desire some couples have to experience with each other. An emotional link is often associated with sex and conception in today’s society. When stressed, two people may not be physically in tune enough to have sex at all, let alone conceive.
Prolonged stress and extreme stress can even effect erectile function. Men who have trouble achieving or maintaining an erection may be caught up in the cycle of infertility. Inability to maintain an erection due to stress causes more stress and thus more erectile dysfunction.
Couples trying to conceive need to step back and take inventory of stress levels in work and home life. Irregular periods, erectile dysfunction, and intimacy issues all attribute to fertility. Once stress problems are recognized, couples can seek out solutions that reduce stress, regulate menstrual cycles, and help them to naturally conceive.