How Does Stress Reduce Fertility?

stress and fertility

How Does Stress Reduce Fertility?

Benney Ojo

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How does stress reduce fertility? Stress hormones reduce fertility as hormones like cortisol or epinephrine rise and often remain high during times of chronic stress.

On the other hand, reducing stress may help enhance proteins within the uterine lining that are involved in implantation. Stress reduction such as practicing relaxation techniques helps increase blood flow to the uterus, and this greatly affects conception.

We are living in stressful times. The economy is still struggling; jobs don’t seem to be easy to come by, businesses are struggling to survive and the cost of running a business is extremely on the high side.

It’s getting to the point where people do not want to read the newspaper anymore. These stressful living triggers our stress hormones and reduces our fertility but we all have a role to play by finding a balance, looking for what best works for you.

How to Use the Relaxation Response to Reduce Stress

The relaxation response is about practicing relaxation techniques and adapting to what works best for you. It is meant to counter the stress (or “fight or flight”) response. The fight-or-flight response metamorphosed as a survival mechanism. It goes like this; when we encounter a life-threatening situation, a surge of stress hormones prepares us to fight or to flee. As a result, our hearts pound, our muscles tense, and we are suddenly on high alert – our fight-or-flight response has been activated.

Sadly, so many people tend to activate the fight-or-flight response several times during a typical day, several annoying and stressful situations can activate the fight-or-flight response such as long queue at the fuel station, crowded banking hall, traffic jams, etc. All these surging stress hormones affect the body system which can lead to high blood pressure, increased heart rate, muscle tension, and infertility.

Beautifully, the relaxation response may help people to counteract the toxic effects of chronic stress by slowing breathing rate, relaxing muscles, and reducing blood pressure.

Steps to Elicit the Relaxation Response (from Dr. Herbert Benson’s book – The Relaxation Response)

  • Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Deeply relax all your muscles, beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face. Keep them relaxed.
  • Breathe through your nose. Become aware of your breathing. As you breathe out, say the word, “one”*, silently to yourself. For example, breathe in … out, “one”,- in .. out, “one”, etc. Breathe easily and naturally.
  • Continue for 10 to 20 minutes. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes, at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened. Do not stand up for a few minutes.

Do not worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation. Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace. When distracting thoughts occur, try to ignore them by not dwelling upon them and return to repeating “one.”

With practice, the response should come with little effort. Practice the technique once or twice daily, but not within two hours after any meal, since the digestive processes seem to interfere with the elicitation of the Relaxation Response.

You can have any soothing, mellifluous sound, preferably with no meaning.
Avoid stimulation of unnecessary thoughts.

Several relaxation methods have worked for different people, helping to relieve stress such as massage using essential oils with massage oils, deep breathing exercises, etc, so how exactly do you trigger the relaxation response? What exactly do you do to relax? Did the above relaxation response work for you? Do you massage?

Please let us know by sending us your comments.

Benney Ojo
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