Understanding the Connection Between Stress and Infertility
Patients frequently ask our fertility specialists whether there is a direct link between stress and infertility. Dr. Joel Batzofin will tell you: Yes and no. The endocrine system and its network of hormone-releasing glands control multiple functions, including the reproductive system and fertility.
When you feel stress, a chemical reaction occurs that can disrupt the body’s delicate inter-connectedness. Stress hormones impact everything from blood glucose levels to blood flow.
Every person reacts differently to stress, so we will evaluate on an individual basis. In general:
- In females, ongoing high levels of the stress-induced hormones cortisol and epinephrine can interfere with ovulation or embryo implantation.
- Men under a tremendous amount of stress may experience erectile dysfunction.
That said, Dr. Batzofin believes in a mind-body connection to fertility potential, so will always offer stress reducing strategies as part of any fertility treatment regimen. For men and women with an unexplained infertility diagnosis, we will spend even more time concentrating on stress relief.
Scientific Support Linking Stress and Infertility
Despite a myriad of studies on stress and infertility, we still do not have a definitive answer as to whether stress levels alone can prevent a pregnancy. When you consider the empiric evidence–general observations—we can conclude that there exists an apparent connection.
Acupuncture as a Fertility Booster
The studies on stress and infertility that most reproductive endocrinologists can agree on involve acupuncture. In one often-cited study, women in Germany incorporated acupuncture into their IVF cycles. They achieved pregnancy at nearly twice the rate of the women who did not have acupuncture.*
Stress and IVF
A study published in the 2005 Fertility and Sterility, a publication of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), found that women who reported feeling stressed during a cycle of IVF produced 20 percent fewer eggs than women who felt calm. These same women were 20 percent less likely to have a successful fertilization.
How Stressful IS Fertility Treatment?
According to the ASRM: “Many women who are being treated for infertility have as much stress as women who have cancer or heart disease.” There is no doubt that the rigors of fertility treatment will cause you to feel anxious or stressed.
At New York Fertility Services, we make every effort to help you feel calm and reassured throughout the fertility treatment process, whether it is honoring appointment times or providing warm blankets in each treatment room. Visit the patient resources section of our website to learn more about alternative medicine, and the stress-reducing benefits of acupuncture, yoga, meditation and massage.
You can read more here on the affects of stress on fertility, and strategies for managing your stress.
Unfortunately, stress and infertility–like white on rice–cannot be separated. We promise to help give you every opportunity to finally resolve infertility, and to mitigate the symptoms of stress until that day arrives.
Contact us at New York Fertility Services for a consultation with one of our fertility specialists.