June 17, 2018

Human bodies are more advanced than we know them to be and can prevent or facilitate certain biological procedures from taking place under specific conditions. One such condition is that of stress, which the body can detect, and can delay the process of conception during such times. The adrenaline hormone which is often secreted during times of stress prevents the body from making use of the progesterone and causes the pituitary gland to release prolactin, which can bring down fertility levels.

Stress-induced hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and catecholamines can inhibit the production of GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone), which control the release of sex hormones. This, in turn, lowers libido in both men and women, also affecting sperm count and quality for men.

GnRH is crucial to the fertility of women, as it controls the production of the luteinizing hormone (LH), as well as the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which in turn stimulate the ovaries to produce oestrogen and androgens. Any disruption to the GnRH levels can disturb the balance of all the hormones that are produced as an after effect of it. The effects of stress on reproductive health have become so prevalent that there is now a name for it: Stress-Induced Reproductive Dysfunction.

Trying to carry a pregnancy to term in stressful periods is risky for both mother and child, and in most cases, the body creates an environment that is completely inhospitable for conception to take place. This is why most IVF procedures are also accompanied by stress relief procedures for the couples seeking fertility treatment.

Most women that find stress to be the primary cause behind their fertility struggles should not find it too difficult to tackle the issue. All that is needed is to reduce stress levels by not putting yourself in situations outside of your comfort zone, changing the way you process and deal with stressful situations by practising calmer reactions. Certain relaxing practices like yoga, breathing exercises prayer and meditation, or even counselling for those who feel like they may need it, have been known to significantly reduce stress levels and help bring back fertility levels to what they normally should be.

In situations where stress is causing hormonal imbalances, certain herbs are recommended to soothe the body from the inside, such as Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera), chamomile flowers, lemon balms and bee pollen, among others.

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