If you're having trouble getting pregnant, you may be wondering if stress in your life is a contributing factor. The research is contradictory on this question and it really boils down to your individual situation: it could be, but probably not. On the other hand, does not getting pregnant cause stress in your life? The answer is a resounding yes!
Stress is an ever present factor in everyone’s life, whether you are trying to have a baby or not. It is a fact of life and it cannot be avoided, but stress can be managed effectively.
Couples struggling with infertility may feel as much stress as those fighting cancer or heart disease. Women, in particular, may experience infertility as an assault to their sense of identity and self esteem. It is an obstacle in their life plan that they cannot overcome by working harder or longer as they have so effectively done with other goals in their life. They may blame themselves and feel at fault and overly responsible. In some cases, cultural demands to have children put enormous pressure on a woman to have a child or be viewed as damaged goods.
The very process of undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) is an emotional roller coaster. Waiting for the results of infertility tests and procedures is an emotionally trying experience of rising hope and crashing disappointment. Just going through all the appointments, taking the medications, and navigating the maze of financial issues is extremely challenging and stressful. But how do you know when you have crossed the line from feeling understandably challenged and stressed to the point of being “stressed out” and possibly contributing to your having trouble getting pregnant?
A definite and sign that you have crossed the line is when feelings of anxiety and depression become chronic instead of being related to the ups and downs of a specific procedure. You may become consumed with pessimistic thoughts about the inability to become pregnant. Your job suffers, you lose interest in having fun, you’re overly sensitive, you withdraw from family and friends, and communication with your spouse suffers. Your appetite and sleep habits may be adversely affected; you feel fatigued all the time. In the extreme, you may have thoughts of suicide. If you are experiencing any of these signs, professional counseling can help you honestly examine your feelings, readjust your priorities, and improve your coping skills.
Learning how to manage stress effectively before it becomes a chronic problem is a life skill that is useful to have regardless of fertility issues. Steps to take in managing stress include:
First and foremost, communicate your thoughts and feelings, no matter what they are.
Read useful and helpful books on fertility so that you know what is typical stress.
Talk to trusted others who have been through treatment who can provide a roadmap.
Avail yourself of stress reduction techniques such as relaxation exercises, yoga, massage therapy, and acupuncture.
Exercise regularly to release tension.
Avoid taking in too much caffeine or other stimulants.
Finally, understand and feel confident about your treatment plan to address your infertility.
To make a plan for addressing fertility issues with a qualified specialist, make an appointment at one of InVia's four convenient Chicago-area fertility clinics.