How Can Stress Affect Your Fertility Treatment?

Andrew Drakeley

Posted by Andrew Drakeley

14 August 2017

Business people with stress and worries in office.jpeg

Do you feel overwhelmed? Irritated? Anxious? Maybe you’re suffering from headaches? Having sleeping problems? Constantly worrying? These are all stress symptoms and may sound familiar if you’re worried about your fertility..

There’s much speculation about the effect of stress on fertility: for example, the NHS explains that stress can affect your relationship and therefore can result in a loss of sex drive. An article in Parents Magazine discusses a study from the University of California San Diego, which found that women who were more stressed had fewer eggs successfully implanted.

Another study examined two stress hormones in the saliva, measuring them at the beginning of the study and then again after the participants’ first period. The results revealed that 87% of women were able to conceive, but that the third of the subjects with the highest adrenaline levels were slightly less likely to become pregnant. Although this research into daily stress and fertility may not be conclusive, the study does show a link between stress levels and fertility treatment.

On the other hand, in 2011 a wider study conducted by researchers from Cardiff University and the University of Thessaloniki, Greece, showed that fertility treatment is unaffected by stress. The study looked at whether anxiety/stress affects fertility treatment after one cycle – for example, IVF. The investigation involved 14 studies and 3,583 women and found that there was no difference in stress levels between the women who became pregnant and those who didn’t.

The fact of the matter is that whether stress has a real impact on fertility or not, it has an impact on your mental well-being. Fertility treatment can be a lengthy process - with some setbacks - and controlling your stress is good for you and your relationships with your support network  If you need to de-stress during fertility treatment, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Stay active – this allows you to clear your mind of emotional stress
  • Take control – thinking that your problem can’t be helped creates a feeling of loss of control, a significant cause of stress. Focus on what you can control and accept that what you can’t is in the hands of experts you have chosen because you trust them.
  • Keep talking – often, sharing your problem out loud with friends or family allows you to get it out of your mind, making it easier to regain control
  • Use calming breathing exercises

Whether stress affects the success of fertility treatment or not, stress isn’t great for you. So try some stress–relieving tactics to boost your well-being – there are plenty more ideas to help you get your balance back here.

If you're thinking about how to fund private fertility treatment, perhaps because your NHS cycles have been unsuccessful, try our Fertility Finance Checker.

 

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Andrew Drakeley

Author: Andrew Drakeley

Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Women’s site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford. He holds subspecialty accreditation in Reproductive Medicine and surgery and is a fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, being appointed Consultant in 2005.