In honour of International Self Care Day next week, we want to talk about stress, mental health, and your fertility. Mental health is just as important as physical health. No matter where you’re at in your fertility journey, the thought of pregnancy can feel surreal, exciting, and even a little bit nerve-racking.
Whatever emotions you’re experiencing about getting pregnant, know that your feelings are valid. Deciding to grow your family is a big decision, and it’s normal to feel some fear and stress about becoming pregnant.
To celebrate International Self Care Day, join us on July 22nd at 4:30 PM for an Instagram Live (@drtanyawilliams) with Arti Meyers, founder of Yoga4Good. We’ll show you breathing and yoga exercises to relieve conception anxiety and soothe your body and soul.
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Making the decision to start trying for kids can be tricky no matter when you’re thinking about it. But in light of the current events, it’s understandable that you might feel even *more* stressed out about these decisions. ⠀ ⠀ Join Dr. Tanya Williams and @artimeyers of @yoga4goodcanada to learn how you can use yoga to relieve fertility anxiety on Wednesday, July 22nd at 4:30 PM EST via Instagram LIVE. See you there!
Is stress affecting your mental health and the ability to conceive? Read on to find out more about how stress can impact your mental health and your fertility.
Stress and your Body
Both long-term and short-term stress is known to wreak havoc on your mind and body. There’s no doubt stress affects your fertility. If you ever missed a period due to stress from studying for exams in college or working on a big project at work, you already know how even “normal” levels of stress can impact your menstrual cycle.
According to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, some cognitive and emotional symptoms of stress include difficulty concentrating, constant worrying, low morale, irritability, moodiness, feeling depressed, or not being able to relax.
Stress also manifests physically through headaches, muscle tension, stomach problems, nausea, or low libido (which means you’re likely having less sex when you’re stressed out).
And of course, whether you’re conscious about it or not, you might be coping with stress by eating unhealthy foods, binge drinking, or smoking. These three common ways people deal with stress are also detrimental to both men and women’s fertility.
How to Eliminate Stress for Fertility
First of all, it’s important to know that stress is a regular part of life. Stress is a survival instinct that keeps you safe from danger. Case in point, stress boosts cognitive function and your awareness in situations like driving on the highway in the middle of a snowstorm. For this reason, it’s impossible to eliminate every cause of stress in your life.
The catch-22 is that stress can contribute to your infertility and, in return, infertility can add to your stress.
Fortunately, in addition to practicing self-care, there are many lifestyle changes you can make that will help you get pregnant and stay pregnant.
Reducing Stress to Conceive
Most people aren’t getting enough restful sleep. The quality and the amount of sleep you get each night impacts everything from menstruating, conceiving, to giving birth. Since sleep naturally reduces stress, women trying to conceive should get seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
Studies show those who experience insomnia are four times more likely to have infertility issues than well-rested women. Additionally, research conducted by the University of Michigan found 53% of nurses under the age of 40 experienced changes to their menstrual cycle when their shift work started.
For this reason, be sure to hit the hay earlier and catch enough ZZZ’s when you’re trying to get pregnant.
Talk to a Therapist
Similar to the way you go to doctors for your physical health, going to therapy is one of the most proven ways to maintain your mental health. Speaking with a professional therapist can give you the tools and strategies you need to navigate the roller coaster of emotions people experience when trying to conceive. Therapy also gives you a safe space to process your fertility journey from conception to adjusting to life as a new parent.
Lowering physical #stress, through options such as exercise, therapy, meditation, support groups and #yoga, has been shown to improve fertility in both men and women. #TTC pic.twitter.com/hOaq35anaI
— TRM Fertility (@FertilityAlert) January 29, 2020
In addition to Western fertility treatments, the traditional Chinese medical practice of acupuncture may improve menstrual health and coping for women experiencing emotional stress during IVF treatment. While there’s no data that shows acupuncture increases live births or clinical pregnancy, some studies show that it does increase blood flow and contribute to relaxation, which can help your chances of pregnancy.
Taking the Next Step
Despite the many lifestyle changes a person can make to improve their chances of getting pregnant, there could be many reasons why you may be struggling with fertility.
Here at Dr. Tanya Williams Fertility Center in North York, we’re always there to help you on your journey to getting pregnant and having a fruitful fertility journey. Schedule an appointment with your family doctor and print out our patient referral form to get started.