Stress may affect your fertility in several ways, though there is no clear evidence about how it does it. Even without clear evidence, most doctors believe that if you can reduce depression and anxiety, pregnancy rates go up. That counteracts one of the biggest myths out there which is "just relax and you’ll get pregnant.” It's far from that simplistic. If there are certain physical problems, then just relaxing won't make them go away.
Stress is everywhere these days and 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 has a physical and emotional effect on both partners which 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 a 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 a 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 altogether. This can make ovulation prediction and conception extremely difficult.
Stress can prevent ovulation and regular periods
Stress can interfere with normal ovulation. This is also called stress-induced anovulation (SIA), often termed functional hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA) or functional hypothalamic chronic anovulation. If you don't ovulate then you won't get a regular menstrual period. So if you don't ovulate regularly, one of the causes could be stress.
Mental effects of stress on fertility
Sex was once viewed as a means of maintaining the population. With billions of people living on the planet today, the population is no longer an issue. Getting pregnant is no longer a necessity, but a desire some couples want 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 affect erectile function. Men who have trouble achieving or maintaining an erection may be caught up in the cycle of infertility. The 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 from 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.