Your Stress, Your Fertility
Deciding to become pregnant is thrilling, but the thrill can turn to confusion if your first few efforts don't result in pregnancy. Is stress the culprit?
Much research has been devoted to the link between fertility and stress, and although experts disagree, more and more doctors are recommending stress management therapies for their patients struggling with fertility issues. And recent research has helped to cement the connection between stress and fertility.
While some experts continue to assert that while infertility causes stress, stress doesn't cause infertility, the possible or probable connection between the two is certainly heartening. However, connecting stress and infertility could have a downside: People might blame themselves for their inability to conceive, causing more stress and exacerbating the problem. Certainly, there are many reasons why people aren't able to conceive immediately or ever, and people who are already having difficulty conceiving shouldn't blame themselves or their lack of coping skills for their fertility issues.
However, stress management techniques can help people feel better about themselves as they work on conceiving. And because mind and body are so inextricably linked, managing stressful feelings, especially those compounded by worry and anxiety at the inability to get pregnant right away, may give fertility a boost.
If stress interferes with estrogen production (it does) and testosterone production (it does), it is certainly reasonable to suspect that deep relaxation, meditation, self-care, and other techniques that help to combat the stress response might help to balance your body and restore its equilibrium, which could help to promote fertility.
For centuries, women have used herbal remedies to enhance fertility. Try a tea made from any one or a combination of the following: alfalfa, nettle, raspberry leaf, red clover, and rose hips. Women over 40 can take 5-10 drops of dandelion root tincture before meals and add bitter greens such as dandelion and arugula to salads to aid the body's absorption of vitamins and minerals. Lady's mantle may strengthen the uterus, and chasteberry, false unicorn root, and partridgeberry may balance hormones.
If you discover that you have a specific barrier to fertility, whether it can or can't be treated, practice stress management for any of the following: for speedier healing after surgery, to promote the effectiveness of your medication (through visualization — it's scientifically unproven in such cases, but who knows?), or to help you help your partner with whatever treatment he is receiving.
Stress management can also help you deal with the feelings of loss you will experience if you are told you will not be able to conceive. Give yourself time, attention, and the permission to mourn. Take care of yourself, or let others do it, too. Then, let stress management help ease your search for other options such as adoption, or let it assist you in entering a new stage of life in which you construct a full and rewarding life as an autonomous adult.