More and more men and women come in to our clinic with infertility. In the old days most of my fertility patients were in their 40’s. Nowadays it’s almost as common for me to see young people in their 20’s as it is to see older men and women. Sometimes these patients have serious health issues in addition to infertility, but just as often they seem perfectly healthy on the surface.
There is one factor that unites almost all: S-T-R-E-S-S
After working stressful jobs, parenting their children, sitting in traffic and not eating well, many (if not all) fertility patients are frazzled. Add to that the stress of not being able to conceive–many are beyond frazzled and are serious depleting their health resources. In women stress can cause anovulation, amenorrhea and other menstrual irregularities. Men may experience decreased sperm count, motility and altered morphology. Erectile dysfunction, impotence and oligospermia may be caused by stress. In addition, stress is a risk factor in diabetes, which is frequently a factor in infertility.
In other words, stress is the enemy of couples trying to conceive! If you want to improve your fertility naturally, reducing stress and over-work is one of the most important strategies.
Already at a peak of stress, most fertility patients do not take the time to do an inventory of risk factors for infertility, but rush into costly medical treatments, seeking a quick fix. I often find them in my clinic several years later, their savings depleted and with an even higher level of stress.
Before rushing into any medical treatment, it would serve these couples well to do a self-inventory to identify if stress could be playing a role in their fertility challenges. Here are some questions that might be used in doing this self-inventory.
- Are you eating home-cooked meals? Are you taking the time to sit and have family time at meals?
- Do you have any quiet time during the week?
- What is your favorite thing to do to relax and how often do you do it? (TV does not count – click on this article to find out why)
- Are you exercising too little or too much (exercising too much is often a sign of imbalance)
- Are you having any of the following symptoms: anxiety, depression, insomnia?
If you determine that stress may be playing a role in your infertility, here are some simple tips to reduce stress. Integrating small things into your day, can often have a big impact.
Take a Break
At work, take a break every hour and do breathing exercises and stretching, or chair exercises. It may seem counter-intuitive, but taking a break often makes you more productive in the long-run.
Make time to exercise at least 3 days per week for 1/2 half hour. Choose exercise that you like or feels easy to fit into your day.
Stress is often caused by improper diet and deficiencies in micro- or macro-nutrients. Eating home-cooked meals is often an antidote to stress not just because of improved diet, but the social and bonding time with family and friends is a huge social support. Eating together also improves intimacy between couples which can really take a beating when dealing with fertility issues
The Great Outdoors
Being outside among trees and critters is scientifically proven to reduce stress! Instead of watching TV, you can improve your intimacy at the same time by taking a walk in the woods together.
Sometimes You Need Help
Trying to do it all is often too hard and leads to stress and isolation. Reach out to family and friends for support in daily life. Sometimes self-care is just too hard and you’ve forgotten how to relax. Oftentimes, getting help from a professional makes a big difference. Acupuncture, Dietary Therapy and Chinese herbs are some of the best tools to help get you back to center.