Stress and Fertility
It's true—worrying and obsessing about your inability to get pregnant can make it that much harder. Some doctors believe that higher levels of stress hormones can make it harder to get pregnant, because they can affect levels of estrogen and progesterone and affect menstrual cycles. However, it may be a vicious cycle of stress. Dealing with infertility, from the disappointment of negative pregnancy tests to the physical and emotional toll of going through treatments in the hopes of getting pregnant, can also be very stressful -- and possibly prolong the difficulty. There are women who get pregnant easily even if they smoke like a chimney, drink a six-pack after dinner, and think of exercise as a waste of good texting time. Then there are the women who do all the right things but months and years pass and the strip in the home pregnancy kit refuses to change color. Relax, say well-meaning friends. Chill out. Let it happen. But as unwelcome as the advice may be, it may be right. New evidence suggests that stress does affect fertility. A recent study found that women with high levels of alpha-amylase, an enzyme that correlates with stress, have a harder time getting pregnant. Researchers do not yet understand the role stress plays, since women can and often do get pregnant even under intense stress. And the effect can feed on itself. If you are stressed and you don't get pregnant quickly, then you get more stressed. A study in Taiwan proved that 40% of participants seeking infertility treatment were diagnosed with depression or anxiety. Sometimes, the treatment itself can be stressful, adding even more uncertainty.