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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Can stress cause infertility , can the stress of infertility treatments prevent my conception ?

This is the most disturbing question in the minds of men and women fighting infertility. The most important piece of advice you will receive from well - meaning people , when you are struggling to conceive is , " Relax , it will happen ". Even if you are reacting to your situation normally , like every human will do , the ' relax ' advice makes you to worry that you are worrying too much about getting pregnant ,  and hence that stress has come as a stumbling block to conception. Once you start to believe so , you will be stressing all the time not to stress ( instead of working on your stress to make the situation better ) ; you will be worried about how not to worry - as a result , you will slowly be caught in a stress cycle which is not productive. Worrying how not to worry , instead of reacting to the situation appropriately , can never lead to any constructive action , unfortunately !
We are all made to believe that stress is bad for us. The truth is ,  stress is an inevitable part of human life , it helps us to become courageous , it makes us caring and empathetic , and most importantly it makes us resilient ( that's what the new research says ! )  What else do you need to fight infertility ?
The idea that stress is toxic to our body is an old school of thought. As scientists developed proper models and tools to explore further into stress and it's effect on our body , it became clear that stress is not bad , after all. It is our body's defense mechanism to cope with difficult situations. Stress actually makes us healthy - it boosts our immune system , makes us physically and mentally resilient and has a positive impact on our brain health.
Further more , research has also pointed out that , people who believe stress is bad for them tend to experience the negative side - effecets of it ,  and people who think stress helps them to perform better , reap the best out of it. How can it be ? For example , if a person going through infertility treatment starts to believe that the stress of the treatment is causing him / her  not to conceive , they naturally quit their treatment. This happens many a time. People start to believe that the stress of infertility treatments is stopping them from conceiving. Once such a thought enter their mind , they quit treatment and try to take a route which is least stressful - for example , natural cures ( homeopathy etc ).  If the cause of their infertility needs allopathic treatment , they will never conceive in spite of their decreased stress ( for example , if the problem is blocked tubes or low sperm count ). In such cases , their belief that stress is harmful hindered their ability to endure difficulty and fight back. The end result is ,  they end up wasting their precious fertile years and unintentionally decrease their chance of conception. On the other hand , people who accept their stress caused by infertility and use it in the best possible manner will tend to achieve their baby dream much more easily. This is because , they are least likely to give up , they remain energetic , stay focussed and motivated. They rise to their challenge and give their best. They can also use their stress to become best care givers for people who are in a similar situation as they are.
There are three beneficial stress responses ,  ' challenge response ' is one among them. This stress response reduces inflammation and helps you to rise to your challenge. So consider your infertility as an interesting challenge and make the most out of your beneficial stress. To give a simple analogy , imagine a mad dog running towards you. You have two options : you can try not to stress yourself too much and wait patiently for the dog to approach and bite you , or , feel the stress and respond accordingly by running as fast as you can to escape the ferocious dog ( the challenge here is to run faster than the dog ) ( although ' a dog chasing ' is a type of threat response , I have used it as an analogy for ' challenge response ' )
If someone tells you that stress is bad for you , please do not believe them. Stress is not bad. It is not evolved to harm you and your body , but to help you. Nature wouldn't want the human race to end , nature wants that we thrive and flourish. If stress is so bad for us , our body would have developed mechanisms to evade stres all together.
When infertility strikes you , it is a very normal reaction to worry. Worry leads to further actions - you find a doctor , you read a lot about it , you ask for multiple opinions , and you spring into action. If someone says that this is wrong and you must relax , something is wrong with them and not with you ! Except for the threat response , aka , fight and flight response , no other stress response leads to a toxic state. During threat response , it's true that inflammation is increased , our decision - making ability is impaired , hormones which suppress our immune system are released and our brain cell's health is compromised. BUT,  remember , the threat response is only short lived and is helpful too , for that particular situation. Other that that , no other stress impacts us negatively.
Infertility is stressful , there is no doubt about it. If you see it as an interesting challenge and tackle it accordingly , the stress of it will only help you and your body to fare better. Believe in your body , it will not let you down. Don't be afraid of the stress , it is only working hard to make you much stronger , courageous and resilient. Don't you know that the coals which withstands high pressure turns out to be precious diamonds ? If you withstand the stress of infertility and infertility treatments ,  you are more likely to give rise to precious babies :)

1 comment:

  1. As a fellow comrade in the ivf battle, i have to say that we should do oyr best to handle stressful situations esp related to ivf. Stress and fear are natural, but if the body and mind are exposed on regular basis, they will have a neg effect on health,i.e. ability to conceive and even sustain pregnancy. I know cases where women miscarried after being exposed to the stressful situation. Thetefore, we should not underestimate the effect of it.


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